4 Ways to Escape the Trap of Emotional Divorce

4 Ways to Escape the Trap of Emotional Divorce

Have you ever found yourself feeling:

“I’m just so mad, so hurt—again. I’m not going to share my heart with him anymore. He doesn’t understand. It is too painful. We’ll live in the same house but he can do his thing and I’ll do mine.” 

Most of us, if we are really honest, have felt this way about our husband from time to time.

I call it falling into the trap of emotional divorce.

Imagine a solid glass patio door.

Emotional divorce is a bit like slamming that patio door shut on our hearts.

We still see the person on the other side, but there’s a strong, sealed panel between us.

We begin to close up our heart to him.

This trap can occur during stressful transitions in our lives-a move, a job loss, financial pressures, a new baby, caring for elderly parents, a child in crisis, etc. We are stressed and if each of us responds differently to the issue, we get irritated.

We are too exhausted to communicate.

We are afraid, and we unintentionally take it out on one another.

What do we do when we find ourselves falling into this trap?

1. Recognize what is happening and refuse to let that “patio door” separate you.

2. Make the decision to take a sledgehammer and begin to chip away at that glass wall. Thick patio doors don’t usually splinter into pieces all at once. It takes a steady chipping away at a tiny crack until the door dissolves.

3. Talk to a godly older couple and ask for their help. Most churches have older couples who would be happy to mentor you, pray for you, and encourage you. Get counseling as needed.

4. Remember God is for your marriage. He is the strong “super glue” holding you together. You can rely on Him. He will bring you through this time and your marriage will be deeper and stronger as a result.

“For nothing is impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37)

Blessings,

Susan

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Two Powerful Forces That Drive Your Teen’s Activities

Two Powerful Forces That Drive Your Teen's Activities

I have a ridiculous love of apocalyptic movies, so I watched Tommy Lee Jones in Volcano.

Because of course a volcano is going to erupt in the middle of a city. In great heroism, though, Tommy Lee creates a new path for the lava, so it goes to the ocean instead of destroying the metropolis.

It could happen.

I think teen souls are like hot lava that is going to flow. You can’t put a cap on their lives and keep them contained, but you can take powerful, heroic actions to direct where they’re going.

I have an 18-year-old and a 21-year-old, and they are everything I ever hoped they would be.

They love and serve Jesus.

They’re honest, hard-working adults who are pleasant to be around.

I’ve been trying to put my finger on how this happened, so I could share some practical advice with you.

Something I think we did well was to steer our kids in the direction we wanted them to go using the tools of permission and funding.

The Power of Permission

My son was a senior this past year, and he and his friends started scheming about making a big road trip after graduation.

Can you imagine how not excited we were about that?

But then one of the moms suggested that instead the group go to Hawaii and help a small church with their Vacation Bible School.

My husband and I were thrilled with this idea, so we gave Caleb our blessing to go do this Vacation Bible School, on a small island in Hawaii that is spiritually impoverished. He and his friends had a fun time playing in the ocean, but they also made a difference in the lives of little kids.

We started when our kids were very small –giving a hearty yes! to any activity that would benefit our children’s growth in their relationship with God and with godly people.

We signed permission slips and drove them to events and volunteered where we needed to.

We encouraged them to go hang out with good people at good activities.

The Power of Funding

We’re people of modest means, living a middle class life. We drive old cars and have more month than money. But we have used what money we have to direct the activities in which our kids have participated.

We paid over $300 apiece so our kids could go to Creation Festival, which is a three-day Christian concert and speaking event.

We paid for the kids to go to camp.

We paid for them to go to retreats.

We paid for them to go skiing and ice skating and backpacking with people of good character.

We spent money investing in their talents. We paid for voice lessons and bought guitars. My daughter is 21, and I keep buying her art supplies, to encourage that amazing gift she has.

Just about any activity comes with a price tag, so we showed our kids what was important to us by writing checks to fund a good life.

One thing our kids learned was that we loved to say yes.

We would give an excited, “Yes!”, with money to back it, when they chose excellent activities that honored the Lord.

They knew we would make personal sacrifices to help them live well. They also knew it pained us when we did, for some reason, have to say no.

So parent, be encouraged that you have great power in permission and funding. Are you using that power to funnel your child down a good path?

Blessings,

~ Christy Fitzwater

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Sometimes Love in Marriage Comes Down to the Smallest of Things

Sometimes Love Comes Down to the Smallest of Things

How can one jar of peanut-butter cause so much trouble?

No kidding, that’s what I wanted to know too.

Because apparently it was A Big Problem and he made that quite clear.

My husband was fed up with the sticky, slimy mess dripping down the sides of the peanut-butter jar and insisted we put a stop to the madness.

“Why can’t we keep this jar clean?! There’s no reason we should live like this and it’s driving me nuts!” He didn’t yell, but I could tell by his tone that he really meant it.

Oh, but there was a very good reason as far as I was concerned and protested against his somewhat ridiculous request.

Actually, there were eight good reasons. You see we have these things called children and one mother can’t be on top of everything!

Why so unreasonable? So demanding?

Now on his behalf, I have to tell you that my husband is not a complainer.

He doesn’t make negative remarks about my cooking. He doesn’t complain about having to throw on his robe in the morning and search for the essential items in the laundry room (oops! meant to fold and put those away…). He’s even good about patiently sitting in the car and waiting for me to get out the door. And that can be a pretty long wait sometimes.

But the goopy peanut-butter container? That just about does him in.

So how many of you moms can I count on to side with me on this one?

I mean, we have a bunch of kids and they all make their own peanut-butter sandwiches. Even the three young boys. Let’s face it – it’s a sticky, slimy world we live in.

And I basically communicated to him . . . .

Sorry. But that’s just the way it has to be. 

That we were going to have to learn to live with it. That he was asking the impossible. And I left him in the kitchen feeling quite justified in my defensive and huffy response.

Except for one thing . . . . 

Sometimes Love Comes Down to the Smallest of Things

Epiphany in the Parlor

I left the kitchen to recover and regroup in our front sitting room – our “parlor” as we call it and my very favorite room in the house.

It’s a special place.

The Parlor has pretty pillows, a tea tray, and a clear glass (yes, that would be GLASS) coffee table.

The kids are not allowed to eat in this room.

Or have their electronic gadgets.

No Legos, dirty socks, or rollerblades are permitted in the Parlor. Happy sigh.

I love this room.

Now wait! Are you beginning to wonder how it is that I can keep an entire room looking pristine even though we have all these children? With a glass coffee table, no less??

Well. It’s because it’s important to me, of course. Really important.

But I can’t keep the peanut-butter jar wiped down?

Right.

Yeah, that’s the question that got to me too.

You see, I have this tendency to take my priorities very seriously. And this room is one of those.

Not only that, but when the rest of my family do their best to keep it the way I like it?

It makes me happy.

I feel respected.

Maybe even loved.

I know. It’s a small thing. So maybe you don’t see why it’s a big deal to me.

But it kinda is.

If at all possible.

So maybe I don’t understand why all the fuss over the sloppy peanut-butter jar.

But if it’s important to him?

Makes him happy?

Feel respected?

Maybe even loved…?

Then I can do this small thing.

In fact, I’m determined to have the cleanest peanut-butter jar in town.

And if you ever find yourself anywhere near our area, I hope you’ll stop by ’cause I’d love to make you a peanut-butter sandwich. Or have that youngest son of ours make you one. He makes the best.

It’s true that you might have to step over a heaping pile of rollerblades on the front porch and overlook the baskets of clean laundry waiting to be folded in the living room.

But there should be a nice place for you to sit in the parlor.

And you’ll be sure to admire the amazingly spotless peanut-butter container, won’t you?

Because he sure does.

He likes it that way.

But better than that?

He loves me.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:4

In His grace,

Signature small
*Parlor photo is with thanks to Allison Harp
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35 Healthy Habits I Hope My Daughter Takes Along When She Leaves Home

35 Healthy Habits I Hope My Daughter Takes Along When She Leaves Home

I don’t know why the article caught my eye.

But it sure did.

I don’t think it would normally have intrigued me so, except that I have a daughter who is getting ready to leave home.

She’ll soon be boarding a plane to fly across the country to attend a new college. Nearly 3,000 miles away.

2,682.7 miles to be precise.

And about 2,682 miles too far, if you ask me.

So in this article was a list of a bunch of habits every girl should have, or something to that effect.

And I had that momentary mommy-panic that we all get now and then.

Oh no. What habits will that girl of mine take with her now that she’s leaving home?

This particular post was from a secular source and, while there were some things I could agree on, there were plenty that I found either empty—or even worse.

Habits I did NOT want her to have.

So that got me thinking. Why not come up with my own list? Why not share with her the habits that I would want for her to have?

My daughter Vienna

35 Habits I Hope You Take Along, My Dear Daughter

  1. Make your bed. Every morning. First thing. An easy way to get off on the right foot.
  2. Drink lots of water. Because it’s good for you.
  3. Smile. It will make your day go better, and that of those around you too.
  4. Dress for success. Take a little trouble to wear something clean and nice.
  5. Start each day in the Word. No better way to begin your day.
  6. Pray. About all things.
  7. Count your blessings. This habit alone could change your life. Or at least your perspective.
  8. Stand up straight. It will improve your appearance and add to your confidence.
  9. Get some fresh air. You’ll feel better if you do.
  10. Exercise. A few minutes each day, if at all possible. Even a good, brisk walk counts.
  11. Eat something green. Preferably dark green and organic.
  12. Limit the carbs. They are not your friend.
  13. Dip into your stash of dark chocolate. It’s full of antioxidants and can be a real mood-changer.
  14. Don’t even think about fast-food. Junk, junk, junk.
  15. Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. Even if you’re in a hurry, try to grab a piece of fruit and a boiled egg.
  16. Brush and floss your teeth every day. Twice a day. But you already knew that.
  17. Invest in at least one item that makes you feel pretty. A scarf, a bracelet, or a fun hat?
  18. Always arrive on time. If at all possible. Maybe even show up a little early.
  19. Regularly attend a good, solid church. Find a strong Christian community for love and support.
  20. Don’t ever use your credit card. Save it only for emergencies. A real emergency.
  21. Don’t spend more money than you make. A simple rule that will save you a lot of trouble.
  22. Put away a small amount in savings every month. Because you just never know.
  23. Wash your face before going to bed. Improves your complexion.
  24. Get enough sleep. Your body and mind will thank you.
  25. Keep a journal. Cheaper than therapy and interesting to look back on.
  26. Keep in touch with a few good friends. Take the time, no matter how far away they live.
  27. Laugh a little each day. It really is the best medicine.
  28. Make sure your nails look nice. Clean, neat, and maybe a light polish.
  29. Don’t forget your vitamins. Preferably a good women’s multi-vitamin and Vitamin D3.
  30. Take Echinacea.  Pop a couple of capsules whenever you feel like you’re coming down with something.
  31. Keep the Sabbath. Not out of law, but because a day of rest goes a long way.
  32. Read a good book. Something rich that doesn’t have to do with work or school.
  33. Early to bed, early to rise. The early bird gets the worm and all that. :)
  34. Always remember you’re a princess. A child of the King.
  35. CALL YOUR MOM. Every day. Okay, at least often.

Now if you practice these habits – that you’ve hopefully learned at home – then you will be well on your way to a happy and healthy new season of life.

And the wonderful thing about good habits? They really do add up more than you might think over time. You’ll be glad you took these with you and you’ll see what a difference they can make.

So I wish you God’s richest blessing as you follow Him in this next adventure across the country.

And I’ll be praying for you.

Every day. 

Because that, my dear daughter, is your mom’s habit. 

With much love,

Mom

*Your turn! Anything to add to this list or advice for our daughter who is leaving home? 

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When You Can’t Make Things All Better for Your Kids

When You Can't Make Things All Better For Your Kids

When you’re a mom, you’re used to fixing things.

You bandage the wounds, stop the fights, and find the missing shoes.

But sometimes it’s not that simple.

Sometimes, despite your great love for your child, you can’t make it all better.

How do you heal heart wounds?

How do you respond when you don’t know the answer to your child’s “why?”

And what do you do with sadness that can’t be swept away by ice cream?

You seek God.

And you teach your kids to do the same.

It’s the simplest thing, but the simple things are sometimes the most easily forgotten.

After all, you and I both know how quickly we turn to our phones, our friends, shopping, and food to medicate our own wounds. Even though turning to Jesus would be simple.

But He reminds us, doesn’t He? Sometimes He lets the pain go a little deeper, to allow us to feel our need for Him. And when we remember Him, we find His sweet presence, His embrace, His Word, and His love to be better than ever.

In those moments, we also remember how He pulled us through so many things… how we’ve grown the most through pain… how His grace is sufficient when the thorns in our flesh aren’t removed.

Our kids need to know this too. That’s why our Heavenly Father allows them to feel the sting of life in this broken world as well.

When a treasured pet dies, when the event they’d anticipated all year falls through, when the injustices of life burn into their hearts… they need Jesus.

How can we help them find Him?

1) Don’t overmedicate.

Pain serves a purpose. Yes, we need to love and comfort our kids when they hurt, but let’s resist the temptation to instantly numb them. God wants to be their comfort, and if we run instantly to entertainment, food, and distraction, they’ll miss out on the peace He offers.

 2) Share His Word.

It’s easy to assure our kids that God is going to help them, but our kids are smart enough to realize that parents aren’t infallible. Use the very words of God to comfort them, so they have something rock solid to hold on to. Help them memorize key verses that will meet their soul needs.

 3) Listen and love.

Sometimes our kids just need a good listener. Yes, they may wish someone could make it all better, but unloading their grief on a patient, sympathetic listener is the next best thing. Love your kids by listening to their hurt.

4) Teach them to speak truth to their souls.

Let your kids know that while it’s healthy to put their pain into words to you, it’s equally important to speak words of truth back to their own souls. Just as David did in the Psalms, we need to supplement honesty about our feelings with words of faith and hope in God. We must tell our souls the truth: that God is good, He loves us, and is working all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

Watching our kids hurt is painful. Probably worse than our own personal pain. But God’s faithfulness and comfort is every bit as available to them as it is to us.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

May God give you grace as you comfort your child.

And may He show Himself to your child in tender and powerful ways through the pain.

Blessings,

Jennifer

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Why Your Kids Need Never Be Bored ~ Ever Again

Why Your Kids Will Never Be Bored Again

Have you heard this lately?

“I’m bored; there’s nothing to do.”

It is so frustrating to hear this when you’ve just returned from a family vacation full of all sorts of activities for your kids.  Or you’ve had them in special camps at home. (And most likely they haven’t thanked you.)

Instead, now they have a few free minutes and they expect you to entertain them. It’s enough to make a tired, unappreciated mother scream!

We are raising our kids in an “entertain me” culture.

However, making sure our kids are always entertained is not our primary job.

In fact, always having a planned, structured day or an ever-ready TV show or “device” can rob our children of the ability to develop creativity.

Kids don’t need more toys; they need more encouragement to make up their own games, to create things out of nature, to devise plays, write poetry, create art, hunt for treasures (like worms!) in the backyard.

Some time ago we created a list with our grandkids.

It says: We never say, “I’m bored at the farm.” Here’s a list of things to do by myself or with another child.”

So far we have 54 things on our list and the kids keep adding to it. It has become a game to see how many more things they can think of.

So now when a child says, “I’m bored,” we send them to the list.

Our We-Are-Not-Bored List

OUR WE-ARE-NOT-BORED LIST

  1. READ
  2. CLIMB TREES
  3. PLAY FOOTBALL
  4. COLOR
  5. PLAY FREEZE TAG
  6. WORK A PUZZLE
  7. LOOK AT PHOTO ALBUMS
  8. PLAY TEA PARTY
  9. SLEEP
  10. PLAY SARDINES
  11. BUILD A FORT
  12. PLAY BINGO
  13. LAY ON COUCH IN PARTY BARN
  14. PLAY WITH ARMY MEN
  15. BUILD SOMETHING WITH HAMMERS AND NAILS AND WOOD (GET SCRAPES FROM HOUSES UNDER CONSTRUCTION)
  16. PLAY DRESS UP
  17. WRITE IN JOURNALS
  18. COLOR ON FLOOR IN BASEMENT WITH CHALK
  19. KICK SOCCER BALL
  20. PLAY IN THE ROCKS WITH TRUCKS
  21. COOK
  22. PLAY VOLLEYBALL
  23. GET A CUP AND COLLECT WORMS AND BUGS
  24. PLAY HOPSCOTCH
  25. DO HANDSTANDS
  26. PLAY BOCHE
  27. BUILD A TREE HOUSE
  28. PLAY PING-PONG
  29. SIT ON THE BENCH AND READ
  30. PLAY SCHOOL IN THE PLAY HOUSE
  31. ROAST MARSHMALLOWS
  32. MAKE JAM
  33. PICK BERRIES
  34. LOOK FOR STARS
  35. PLAY IN THE CREEK
  36. FISH
  37. PLAY WITH RIDDLE DOG (THROW HIS BALL)
  38. MAKE A SECRET TRAIL IN THE YARD OR WOODS
  39. CREATE A SCAVENGER HUNT FOR THE FAMILY OR FRIENDS
  40. MAKE A PLAY OUT OF A BIBLE STORY AND PREFORM IT
  41. BUILD A FORT IN THE WOODS
  42. COLLECT ROCKS AND PAINT THEM
  43. PLAY IN THE SECRET WARDROBE
  44. CREATE AN OLYMPICS COMPETITION
  45. PLAY IN THE SPRINKLER OR LITTLE POOL
  46. GET A BAGGIE AND COLLECT THINGS GO HAS MADE
  47. PLAY WITH TRAINS
  48. WRITE A SONG OR POEM
  49. PLAY WITH BLOCKS
  50. GET LARGE CARDBOARD BOXES (FROM AN APPLIANCE STORE) AND CREATE PLAYHOUSES OR TRAINS OUT OF THEM
  51. PLAY HIDE AND GO SEEK
  52. COLOR PICTURES AND SEND THEM TO GRANDPARENTS
  53. SEE HOW MANY DIFFERENT LEAVES YOU CAN COLLECT. (IRON THEM BETWEEN 2 PIECES OF WAX PAPER AND HANG THEM IN THE WINDOW. )
  54. SWING IN THE HAMMOCK WITH A BOOK
  55. …?

Why Your Kids Will Not Be Bored Again

Creating Your Own We-Are-Not-Bored List

Gather you kids and begin brainstorming together.

And make it a family fun time.

Turn it into a contest to see how many you can come up with and then post it. You can then let them add on to it over the weeks ahead.  

Rather than get frustrated, simply say,“Honey, you are so creative. Go look at the great list we developed and find something to do by yourself, or I bet you can even create something new!”

A wise parent doesn’t always entertain your child, but gives him or her an opportunity to grow and learn and create.

Blessings,

Susan 

Printable of 50 Fun Things for Kids to DoHere’s another list for further inspiration: Free Printable: 50 Fun Things for Kids to Do

*What kinds of things would you include on your We-Are-Not-Bored List? Please share your ideas!

 

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