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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Positively Opportunities for the Divorced

Divorced during Holidays---Opportunities for Change

So, how was your Christmas?  Isn't it amazing how much activity goes into celebrating such a solemn holiday?   I had a pretty good one this year, got to see most of the kids, enjoyed some nice music and worship times, and some really fun times of gift giving/receiving.   Hopefully, you found time for some meaningful worship time, some meaningful family time, and some ways to experience joy in all the hubbub.   

I don’t know about you, but I have thought a lot about those poor folks in Connecticut, Oregon, Colorado and now, Pennsylvania, who lost loved ones in rampages and had to celebrate Christmas with an empty spot at the table, too.  And frankly, I’d rather go through the experience of the difficulties of divorce than to suffer what those folks, especially those parents in Connecticut, have suffered.  

Tough as divorce can be, there are things that are tougher, and those of us who have experienced the ravages of divorce need to remember that during our frustrating times.

It is a good thing to know, that though much of life changes, and sometimes, even your marriage status due to divorce, the meaning and power of Christmas remains.  Perhaps some of you went through a difficult divorce year, dealing with frustrations of managing split schedules, feeling the loneliness of those hours when children were celebrating elsewhere while your home was empty and maybe, just maybe, even dealt with the hardship of finding your motives and meanings twisted and misinterpreted due to influence by an angry ex.  Many of us know those kinds of things (and more!).  But if you experienced any of that this year, I also want you to observe a couple of other things as well.  First, have you paid attention to the time you DID have with your children?  This Christmas especially, you know there are families such as those up in Connecticut who would give anything to have had even ONE hour with their children on Christmas!  Don’t allow yourself to get so focused on what did NOT go well that you lose sight of the things that DID go well, and the time you DID have with your children and loved ones.

Secondly, I would encourage you to also focus a bit on those hours the children were elsewhere and you were left to yourself.  What did you do with that time?  Were you at some other kind of celebration or worship time?  Did you spend some of that time with other friends or family members?  Maybe it was your time to clean up the house after the gifts, or to read over the Christmas cards that came, or do a few odd jobs that have been waiting your hand, or maybe even just to relax a bit while watching a ball game or to read a good book.  While your Christmas may have changed, those changes that feel so much like loss, also create opportunity for change to do something new or fresh.  So don’t only consider those changes as loss, recognize that the changes also contain the gift of opportunity, and so maybe you were able to do some things this Christmas season that you would not have been inclined to do (or even able to do) in other years.  Let those be something you celebrate as well.

With those things in mind, you have the same situation about to occur again in the upcoming New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  Things may be different, but that different may include some positive opportunities as well.  As you look forward to New Year’s Eve, realize that it, too, is a holiday that can be tough for those caught in divorce….especially around midnight when people are giving their spouses a New Year’s kiss.   However, it can also be a time to start something fresh, something  If that is you, think that you can create for yourself in the form of new traditions and taking advantage of new opportunities.  Instead of waiting till midnight on Monday to be caught off guard, begin now to think of ways to celebrate in fresh ways. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Music, Christmas and Divorce...a recipe for healing

Christmas Carols, Mall Music and the Hallelujah Chorus!

So, just got home from practice at church for a Christmas musical presentation.  They do a really nice evening service with the choir singing a cantata, and bring in instruments for an accompanying orchestra…..I have both attended and played in the orchestra (nobody wants me to sing in the choir---especially those who have heard me sing!).  ANYWAY…..

As I got back home and was thinking about the music, it occurs to me that I haven’t mentioned anything about music, Christmas and divorce on the blog.  There really are some huge points of contact.  Probably I should clue you in to the fact that I am a sentimental sap, and it definitely impacts my perspective.  I remember so many times just after the divorce, when Christmas music would play on the radio or off the CD's, and sometimes it was all I could bear to let it play through the song.  Some of those Christmas songs that promise Christmas with that special someone ring so hollow in the time after a divorce.  Some of the songs bring back memories of family times that have now become a part of the past instead of the present….memories that can be pretty painful.  And some of the songs kind of spit in your face…especially that first year after a divorce….songs about the joy of the season and the wonderful time Christmas is….songs that simply do not match the emptiness of a broken heart.

On the other hand, some of those songs will serve to remind you that even though your marital world has changed, there is a constancy in life, tradition and God, that remains in spite of the changes.  People will still wish us A Merry Christmas, Christmas Eve remains a Holy Night, Santa will still need that red nose to guide the sleigh, and Snoopy will share a drink with the Red Baron while the Christmas bells ring.  There is such a wide variety of moods and meanings in the Christmas music, and, for me, the Christmas movies. 

So if you are one who is mourning the loss of a marriage (or maybe even the loss of a spouse or loved one), may I suggest that you allow the music of this season to be a vehicle for inner healing.   Allow the emotions they evoke to guide you through some of your inner struggles, hopes, fears and joys.  Let the tears flow when you hear someone sing that they long to have Christmas with that special someone or carolers come with Christmas wishes to a lonely widow (I really like that song).  Let some of the fun songs take you back to happier times, when reindeer hooves made clicks on the roof, or when you try to keep straight how many lords go leaping and how many dancers are dancing.  Some can bring you back to the core of what the holiday is really about, perhaps as you listen to Handel’s Messiah, or remember the midnight clear in the little town of Bethlehem.  And maybe you can find some new song you can claim as your own in a new chapter of your life……I’m always big on the Chipmunks, the Jingle Dogs, and Michael W. Smith’s Christmas recordings.  (In fact, some of the songs, such as poor grandma with her reindeer collision, are only allowed when I am in the house by myself.) 

In fact, I ran across a pretty nice idea in my own devotional readings the other day.  Carol Knapp, a writer for the Guideposts Devotionals, suggested finding a phrase in a Christmas song that has meaning for you, and allow it to be the theme of the season for yourself.  The example she used was the phrase “wonders of His love” out of “Joy to the World” as a phrase that really helped her one year reflect on Christmas in a new way, and see God’s work in the world around her as she prepared for Christmas.  Maybe you might want to adopt her idea….it’s a pretty good one, I think.  Anyway, the angels sang, Mary sang, Elizabeth sang, and every generation of Christians have sung of Christ’s birth ever since that incredible birth in the manger.  Find a way to join them and sing as well (even if you have to do it where nobody can hear, like I do!).  Well, I better get practicing.

TL:dr  Christmas music can be God’s tool for God’s grace in your soul this season.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sesame Street and Divorce

Hey Sesame Street, Thanks for Caring!

So did you see that Sesame Street is tackling divorce.  Kind of an interesting story, of which I only know part, but will pass along what I do know.  First, Sesame Street has been on the air for 40 years, and has only tackled divorce one time, back in the 90’s, with the possibility that Snuffleupagus’s parents were facing divorce, but they dropped it because kids got too upset about it.  Now, they are giving it another go, trying to avoid the mistakes of the past, but still dealing with this highly prevalent issue.  In fact, according to their own website, they say that: 

Divorce is one of the most common major transitions in children's lives, with 40 percent of all children experiencing the divorce of their parents. With Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce, Sesame Street has created much-needed resources for families with young children (ages 2-8) as they encounter the tough transitions that come with divorce."

Forty percent of all children (presumably in the U.S., though it doesn't say).  Pretty amazing, isn’t it?  And terribly, terribly sad.  Just one more thing in our world that children have to deal with because of the choices of grownups. 

I think Sesame Street has taken on a big challenge themselves and walking a very tough line.  I commend them for trying, the needs they seek to address are very real.   And some will like what they do, some won’t, it’s almost a no win situation for them, but the folks at Sesame Street have tried to make a choice to try to help some kids and parents desperately in need of that help.  Their goal is to provide something that divorcing/divorced parents can use to assist them as they talk to their children.  With that goal, they try to avoid imposing any moral judgments on divorce, choosing to adopt a fairly neutral stance.  It is a difficult task, but one that is potentially critical.

I watched the video they have online, and thought I’d offer my two cents into the discussion.  In the discussion, the little puppet named Abby Cadabby (which is pretty weird in itself) is a youngster whose parents are divorced.   She simply states that she lives at one house with her mommy and at the other house with her daddy.  Just says this is how her life is….no further comment.  You know, that isn’t a bad thing to do.  Yes, there may be rights and wrongs, parents who brought about a divorce by poor choices and bad behaviors, but regardless of that, the situation a child lives in afterward is simply the reality they have to face day by day.   How do you address something as a common reality, without also describing it as “normal.”   That is what I think many people are afraid of, that the skit will somehow teach children that divorce is “normal,” when the preference would be that the norm that should be highlighted is for a husband and wife to married, “till deal do us part.”  But to make that argument misses the point.

The point isn’t whether or not divorce is “normal, right” or anything like that.  The point is, it IS normal for a child in a divorce situation to have a different kind of home life, and normal for that child to have a variety of difficult feelings and confusing thoughts.  I mean, good grief, even the divorcing parents experience difficult feelings and confusion….how could the children NOT?

What the videos do is a pretty good job of highlighting the fact that a divorce between a mom and dad is not something the child caused, nor is it inappropriate for the child to struggle with their feelings as their world changes so radically.  It seeks to help the children understand that their parents love them, and to not mistake the mess of the divorce with an abandonment of love for their kids.  I think the reassurance for the kids’ sake is an important reassurance to offer….and I can imagine a parent watching this with their young children and, as a result, reminding the child that they are loved.  Of course, if I were speaking to the adult, I might would challenge the adult in what their definition of love is….to evaluate whether their love is one that will lay down their own interests for the good of others, or whether it is conditional and self-serving.  But as for the CHILDREN, they need to know the security of their parents’ love, especially as they witness love between mom and dad disappearing. 

I also like that Gordon, in explaining divorce, refers to it as something that parents decide when their marriage doesn't work out….”even though they try and try.”  Of course, one could argue about how hard they tried and so forth, but remember the audience of the video:  the writers speaking through Gordon aren't trying to justify anything, simply trying to describe in a pretty neutral way what it was the children of divorce have witnessed. 

In addition to the video clips, there are other tools available there to use, including some suggestions of things you can use to encourage your kids, things they need to hear.  And because the video is in the context of explaining to two OTHER puppets what it means that Abby’s parents are divorced, it could also be helpful for those who have young children whose friends have parents divorcing.  What I think I like best about the little video is that it tries really hard to avoid any implication of a stigma upon the child because they come from a “broken home.”  That esteem lowering adage has been the plague of children of divorce for many years. 

Bottom line, thanks to Sesame Street for trying to help.  Is everything they have created for this perfect?  Probably not.  I can pick at some things if I wanted to do so, but why would I?  Children in divorced homes need all the help they can get, and parents who are trying to help their children do, too.  I appreciate the effort, and if there is something somebody disagrees with, they can certainly either not use that part, or simply explain their viewpoint to their children themselves.   I hate that there is such a great need, but I appreciate that somebody is actively doing something to try to help “40% of the children.”  If you are looking for something to help your kids with, or know somebody else who is, Sesame Street’s production is at least worth looking into.  Thanks, Elmo! (and all his friends)

For the Sesame Street episode and a link to their resources:


TL:dr  Sesame Street has put together a pretty useful tool to help kids struggling with divorcing parents.  Worth giving a look see.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Where was God in Connecticut?

Christmas Tragedy in Connecticut/Oregon

So did you hear about the divorce on Sesame Street?  There was a segment on the Today’s Show about it, and info on the net, and I wanted to add my two cents to the topic.  Then I heard about the tragedy at the elementary school up in Connecticut…..so Sesame Street will have to wait a day or two….but check back…..because this other event demands our attention first. 

Twice in such a short time, young men take up arms and open fire on unsuspecting people…..today, sadly, including a large number of very young children.  I would like to contribute some comments into the discussion, but if you are reading this and haven’t done so yet, please stop reading long enough to offer a prayer for those poor families caught in the crossfire of this tragedy.  Just as that first Christmas was tainted with the blood of children, the lifeblood of those 20 children has marred the Christmas season for our nation, and especially for those mourning families.  Remember the passage Matthew quotes from Jeremiah (in ESV): 
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”  --Matt 2:14 

I want to focus first and primarily on the event in Connecticut, understanding that much of the information applies to Oregon’s shooting as well (as well as Columbine, the Colorado theater, Virginia Tech….all those senseless murders).  Before I get too deep into it, I have heard a number of times in these things the statement that these shooters long for fame and their place in history.  I sometimes wonder if the attitudes would change if the names of these heartless killers were never made public…if they were always only known as “John Doe,” and the fame to go to the victims, or the heroes like Allen Fonseca, that young man in Portland Macy’s who rescued so many.  I heard some mourn the loss of young life, those children who were robbed of lives of careers, marriages and so on.  And it is true.  But may I suggest that you and I also let that fact remind us each that none of us knows the number of our days…at any moment any one of us could be called before our Maker to give account of our lives there in eternity.  Let us live in such a way that we will be ready for God, no matter when our time comes.

Well, as people have tried to make sense of all of this, we continue to hear the same rationale suggested over and again:  the easy access to deadly weapons, violence in the movies or on video games, mental illness…..there are others that will be rolled out once again over the coming days.  And, of course, often one hears about troubled or broken homes.  I especially heard a number comments about mental illness.  But I don’t hear what I believe is core to the issue, because that answer isn’t politically correct these days, and nobody wants to hear it.  But you will hear it here. 

Some years ago, famed psychiatrist Karl Menninger, founder of the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, published a little book titled, Whatever Became of Sin?  That book has become a classic that to this day raises the issue of how we classify the deeds of people in our world.  You see, without diminishing the realities of the mental illnesses so many suffer with daily, there is a truth deeper than mere mental illness.  This world is scarred by the bigger reality known as sin.  Every philosophy class I ever taught at the college level always included a section from the book dealing with the question of evil in the world.  Why?  Because no matter what you believe about God and humanity, you are forced to deal with the existence of evil.  Those who believe that people are basically good are hard pressed to explain, then, how events such as these recent shootings can occur.  While desiring to blame it on something wrong with the individual who perpetrates the deed, yet ignore the fact that they themselves also partake of a nature that expresses itself in evil ways at times.  Sometimes it is manifested in deeds such as we have just seen, but other times it appears in the form of selfishness, or pride, or indifference to the suffering of others.  In fact, I would argue that the very thing that brought about this whole blog, divorce, is also a symptom of the imperfect, broken and sinfulness of our world.  Some of us like to point to people who do things we consider worse than our own deeds to build our own egos, but we neglect to compare ourselves to the perfection of God, and thus ignore the reality that even the best of us are caught in the taint of sin.  Original sin is what many call it. 

What became of sin?  We have tried to eradicate it in our culture by renaming it.  We claim the sinful things people do are actually the result of not sinfulness, but ignorance…thus education is the solution.  And yet we ignore the fact that there are very many highly educated people whose lives are filled with the most awful of sins.  We claim it is due to disease, and try to solve the problem with medications, only to find the medications get abused and the “diseases” are used as excuses to justify ongoing bad behavior…..sin.  They announce the problem is poverty, so we begin programs to lift people out of poverty….ignoring the wealthy whose lives are as filled with aberrant behavior as any poor people anywhere.  Others would say it is because of our lack of effective laws, and try to legislate their way out of these situations….but murder has been against the law since the dawn of history, and we are no nearer its eradication than were the Roman rulers or our Founding Fathers.  Or the cause is mental illness, and so people combine their medicines with lots of talking to counselors whose discussions can bring understanding and maybe help change some habits, but has no power to cleanse the soul, forgive the wrongdoing, or change the heart out of its sinful condition.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Every one of these areas we raise are important areas and it is valid to address them.  But to think that by so doing we will change the nature of humanity is simply believing a falsehood.  We will never educate, medicate, counsel  or finance our way out of the condition of our hearts caught in the taint of sin.  Because those are not the cure, only redemption can transform a human heart, and only Christ has the power and authority to bring that redemption. 

Oh, there are those who say that there cannot be a God, because if there were, He would never allow these kind of things to happen.  But the scriptures teach that we would see this kind of things and worse more frequently, if it were not for the fact that God’s Spirit restrains the free reign of evil and Satan’s influence.  No, it is only the grace of God that keeps these events limited in number, and it is only the grace of God that has the power through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, to bring the cure that is needed to change our hearts.

It is a sad thing we experience here on earth, to see how the twisted nature of sin wreaks such havoc and evil in our lives.  But until we recognize it for what it is, and seek the power of God to change us, that evil will grow in one fashion or another.  And as we see fewer families raising their children with the moral guidance of church and scripture, and so many in our nation continue to scoff at the coming judgment of God upon our lives and deeds, we will see more and more of the awful deeds such as we saw today.

So it is with deep sadness in my heart for those suffering folks on our coasts in this time that I offer my prayers and a call to invite them to find strength and hope in God.  No matter what conclusions the psychologists and social workers and politicians and police investigators present as the cause, until all creation finally bows every knee before Jesus in heaven, there will be tears to wipe away and injustices to grieve.  In the meantime, may God’s peace and comfort be to those whose hearts are breaking from cruel bullets in our malls, theaters and schools, as well as those who have lost loved ones in embassies and on battlefields around the world this year.  You all have my deepest sympathy.

WAAYYY TOOOO LONG, so dr:  The murderous deeds this week are evidence of the evil infecting our world called sin, crying out for the healing that comes only from Christ.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Does Beyonce get paid what she is worth?

Beyonce Makes HOW MUCH???

Have you heard on the news that the singer Beyonce just signed a big dollar contract with a soft drink company for advertising?  They were really going on about how much money she was being paid, and then it spun off into other celebrities and their salaries.  Which kind of left me thinking, and thinking a bit with my cynical side, if you will.  It strikes me as terribly sad that some of the highest paid people in our country are people who sing songs, play games, or pretend to be something they are not.  Now, for those who would point out all the people in those fields who are NOT making big dollars, I know that is true.  But that doesn’t change the fact that Beyonce is going to be making those big bucks, or the big name movies stars make obscene dollars for what they do.  Not because I think they don’t do a good job.  Or that I don’t enjoy their music, the movies/plays, or watching a good sports event here and there (even had some season tickets to some of those things in the past).  Nor do I say that the contributions to our society aren’t good in some ways.  But I want to raise some thoughts in this area.

Let me center on the movie business.  I was watching a movie the other day, and was struck at how often we see movie stars portraying a variety of roles of people doing really important things.  Like portraying soldiers who defend a nation….like the show about Leonidas and Xerxes, doctors who save lives under duress, rescue workers who risk their lives to save people in distress like the Costner movie about the Sea Rescue Divers, firefighters battling raging flames, politicians who stand for the cause, attorneys who take on the big, evil companies, even teachers who turn around the lives of struggling schools and kids.  You know movies and shows like these things.  But here is my point:  isn't it kind of out of whack that somebody PRETENDING to do these important things get paid VASTLY more money than the people who are ACTUALLY doing those things.  I think of the financial concerns some of the families of soldier victims down at Ft. Hood have after the shooting…no big huge salary came to those soldiers for giving their lives in the service of their nation. 

What if people really were paid according to the importance of the work they do for society.  What would teachers be paid?  Or, how about the bus drivers who deal with lots of issues as they transport those children to be taught?  What would the nurses and aides be paid who shower elderly in nursing homes or change bedpans in hospitals?  Or how about those folks who come by the house week after week to pick up and haul off the trash we place by the curb.  Or the individuals who go out in the icy weather to repair power lines for people whose electricity has been knocked out by winter storms.  Imagine the salary that would have to be paid to those police officers who rushed to the tragedy up in Portland, Oregon or similar events.  Even that individual who works faithfully in the church nursery week after week, so that the parents can participate in Bible study classes or times of worship…the examples are endless.  Frankly, I’d much rather have to do without films where people pretend to be good police officers than to live in a society without the reality of good police officers, wouldn't you?

What does this have to do with divorce?  Well, nothing, kind of, and everything.  And that is this:  if you are person, who through the tragedy of divorce, have done your best to be consistent with the higher values of your life, and have sought to make every effort to responsibly guide your children through the treacherous waters of growing up with parents who split up, then you should know, there isn't enough money on earth to pay for what you do.  However, that is okay, because Jesus made pretty plain that the best rewards aren't here on earth anyway…..they are in heaven where we are to be storing our true treasures.  Society may not recognize the value of what many people do.  But God recognizes it, and will make appropriate rewards at the appropriate time.  Just remember, your salary is not necessarily indicative of the importance of what you do.  Enough said, the rant is over. 

TL:dr  Financial rewards aren't always very good indicators of the importance of what people do in our society.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas for the newly divorced

Tips for Christmas on your own

So Christmas is coming.  How about a list for those of you who are facing the holiday after a divorce……some tips to maybe make it a bit better….especially if it is your first Christmas as a divorced person.

1)    Select some traditions out of your past Christmas celebrations that you are going to make a point to retain this year.

2)   Find a way to create at least one or two NEW Christian traditions that carry your own personal mark on them.

3)   Of course, if you have children---young or grown----things always depend on the goodwill of your ex….if you have one who plays games or ignores court orders, planning Christmas can be really tough.  The first tip is that YOU choose to be a person of goodwill….you abide by the court schedule, do what you can to make it an easier experience for the kids.

4)   Don’t forget YOU are important, too.  Don’t just cave on everything by accommodating the whims of your ex……it easily becomes “given an inch they take a mile” sort of thing.

5)   You aren’t Santa Claus, real life is you may not be able to fulfill every Christmas wish, nor should you feel obligated to do so.  The goal is to have a good Christmas, but a realistic Christmas, and one that maintains as best a normality as possible for the sake of your kids.  Remember, they are probably grieving the loss and change as well… even if they are adults.

6)   In divorce, money can get very tight with lawyer bills and new housing and making ends meet.  Don’t let your emotions and guilt run your wallet….make a budget and stick to it.  It won’t help to create post-Christmas regret with your credit cards. 

7)   If this is your first Christmas apart, do your best not to aggravate your sense of loss or loneliness.  Don’t isolate yourself from friends and family, avoid places or experiences that do nothing but remind you of what you have lost.  Instead, choose to get involved in some fresh, meaningful celebrations.

8)   Remember I said in #4 above that YOU are important, too?  Well, you are still important here at #8.  Do something in your Christmas that is a gift for yourself.  It can be a night away, or a purchase of something you wouldn’t normally buy yourself, or an experience you always wanted to have.  But do something that is for YOU, that will bring a bit of joy to your holiday.

9)   Remember, though, it isn’t ALL about you.  Find a way to do something to make Christmas a bit more special for somebody outside your normal sphere of influence.

10)  And, most of all, remember, it isn’t all about you, nor all about them.  It’s all about Jesus!  Make a point to make this one of your most worshipful Christmases ever by how you celebrate it with the Lord.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

On the Radio

On the Radio...I keep hearing Donna Summer as I type that!!   

Richard will be on the radio!!  We are really excited for a new interview that will be broadcast tomorrow (Sunday 12/9)!!   If you are in the Kansas City Area you can hear it on Q104FM and  Alice102FM.  

Anybody in the Kansas City area that wants to hear the interview can listen tomorrow morning...

If you're not an early bird (like me) - you can listen to it through the link listed below.  It is posted on  www.fox4kc.com/kcforum.

The direct link for the interview is: 


We also learned that there was an article in the Paramus, New Jersey paper.  If you want to see it, here is the link.


Thanks for supporting and reading, we appreciate every one of you!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Precious Present


Some people (translate as: “my wife”) thought my last blog was fairly weird.  I considered debating the point with her, but I had read it, too, so really? Defend it as NOT weird?  Really?  It’s okay, it was just kind of a fun one for me.  HOWEVER, I thought I might need to redeem myself quickly, and actually ran across something I thought was pretty good, so here is a blog worth reading (at least in MY opinion…..we’ll see how the critics respond).

One of my habits is to read some old Guidepost books.  I never get the new ones, just last year’s, or 15 years ago, because they are cheap and you can find them at thrift stores!  One I read this morning I thought contained some really good thoughts for people tied into the world of divorce, but also applicable to the rest of us.

The writer, Gina Bridgeman, recounted a story from the book The Precious Present by Spencer Johnson, telling of a man who was given advice by a wise man about the wonder of finding in life the “Precious Present” that would always yield happiness.  The man, upon hearing that, began his search to find that present.  It was only after much searching that he learned that the s “Precious Present” is THE PRESENT, as opposed to the past and the future.  In other words, true happiness is found by living your life in the present, not in the past or future.

That’s a pretty good truth, wouldn’t you say.  Now, of course we need to be careful to distinguish between “living in the present,” and living for today.  God warns against only living for today.  And, in fact, we are urged to live with an eye on the eternal realities of the world to come, not merely this earthly existence.  But, apart from that, there is a great deal of truth in what is taught by that lesson.

All of us know too many people who live only in the past….and it can be very difficult for a person who has been divorced to let go of both the fond memories as well as the devastating hurts of the past….especially if they were abandoned by a person they still loved.  Other people live way too much in the future……and especially those in the midst of divorce, as those people are waiting for that someday when everything will be better, when life finally begins!  Children long to be able to drive, teens to be out on their own, singles for the day they find the perfect person, the young couple longing for their first child, the parent of teens longing for empty nest, the parents of adults waiting for the first grandchild….it just never ends. 

How is it that the Professor described it to Marian in “The Music Man” when he was talking about this issue?  He said something like, “if you are always living for tomorrows, then all you end up with is a handful of empty yesterdays.”  Something like that.

That awful time in the process of divorce is very much that way….because you are so unable to plan until the court finally makes decisions.  And you are often grieving so much of the past, that it weighs on your heart each day.  But even during the limbo of waiting for the divorce process to end, one does best to realize that we are only given one day at a time, and in fact, only one moment at a time.  And each moment is truly a gift from God.  There is never a better time to turn over that new leaf, start that new good habit, express appreciation and love…..the Bible addresses this several times.  Phrases like, “Today is the day of salvation” or “Don’t boast about tomorrow” or when we make plans, be sure to include God:  “If God wills we will do this or that.” 

Don’t miss the important opportunities you have TODAY, no matter what your situation is, because you are obsessed with the past or the future.  Today’s beautiful sunset will only occur today.  Your child will never be exactly this age ever again.  The list is endless.  But know, God can work in your life, but He can only do it NOW, because NOW is all you have.  Yes, He may have worked in your past, but that is part of why you are who you are NOW.  And yes, He has plans for your future, but when they arrive, they will only arrive NOW.  Don’t miss the NOW God has for YOU!!!

TL:dr  Each moment is a gift from God.  We need to treat them that way.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Worthwhile Information

Pennies from Heaven Revisited!

So, haven’t said anything for a while about my little finds while out walking, so figure I ought to update you…..some interesting things.  However, first let me make sure you know, the internet radio interview did air on Sunday, and now can be replayed simply by going to their website, and going to the show section by date.  Mine will be found under Sunday, December 2nd  on the following link: http://toginet.com/shows/indiebookpublishing   Later it will be on my website once construction is completed….I’ll let you know when that happens, should be soon.

Okay, back to walking.  If you don’t know the story, you can go back to the August 3rd blog and read about my monetary and walking adventures, that describes times I found money while walking that God seemed to use to speak to me.   (You really should read it first if you haven’t.)  The walking, of course, relates not only to my own exercise, but exercise the dogs I take with me. 

So, I have been finding some interesting things of late.  First, you know all those animals that hibernate in the winter, and then come back out in the spring?  I think the opposite must happen with hardware fasteners.  That is, as I have walked recently, there has seemed to be an inordinate number of screws and nails lying along the path….mainly on the roads I cross or walk on.  And I don’t have any idea where they come from……because there aren't construction projects nearby.  Having had flat tires due to nails myself, I try to go ahead and pick up the ones I see, so that I can throw them away rather than have somebody get a flat or a hurt foot.  Maybe this appearance has to do with the recession.  Maybe the tire repair people have been driving around dropping nails and screws to up their business.  One never knows, I suppose.  So there isn't any great lesson in this, but I have sure gone downhill from what I was finding last summer.  But it gets worse!

The other day, when walking along, ran across a pooper scooper shovel thing.  Like the screws, the location of the scooper made absolutely no sense.  Unless maybe somebody went out trying to pick up deer droppings and got scared away.  But even then…..    Well, there are a couple of cats in our house, and a couple of litter boxes, and the scooper was actually pretty new looking and very clean……so we now have another litter shovel!  But I can’t help wondering if I have experienced a demotion of some sort, or if I am supposed to be learning humility and servant heartedness.  Naw….  I think I just need to start walking with my eyes closed!  I’ll let you know later how THAT works out!!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Merry Divorced Christmas!

“And a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed…….” 

Do you know those words?  They are, of course, from Luke’s record of the birth of Christ.  Are you in the Christmas spirit yet?  I’m not.  Too early.  But there may be some of you who are especially not in the Christmas spirit, because this Christmas you will have to celebrate without your spouse….it is the first one after your divorce.  And you face the season with dread, anxiety, uncertainty….maybe even poverty.  What do you do(Some of you may not be in this situation, but may know somebody who is…..read on, you may be able to help somebody through a tough time.)

One of the best things you can do….in my opinion….is to see this season as an opportunity for a fresh start.  You may feel very keenly the sense of loss…. and be oblivious to the fact that it is also an opportunity for something special.  I would suggest you consider it an opportunity for a different kind of Christmas….one that can bring new meaning for many years to come.  I believe you can accomplish this two or three ways….or maybe both ways works for you.  I know both had meaning for me when I was in your shoes.

The first method is to incorporate something new into your Christmas… something that will become uniquely yours.  It can be something simple like a new Christmas decoration.  Or maybe attending a Midnight Christmas Mass at a nearby Catholic Church.  I did some of these kind of things.  A friend told me about an excellent stage production of Dickens's Christmas Carol in a nearby city.  Since money was tight, I learned that if you went to the right matinees, it was affordable for me.  I went with my kids or friends or, later, my fiancĂ© for a number of years….until I moved away from the area.  Another difference was I decided to skip the artificial tree and go out to tree farms where the kids and I could wander and search for the perfect tree that we could cut ourselves…..even if there WAS six inches of snow on the ground.  I remember one particularly bitter cold outing after an ice storm with electric poles on the ground and slippery roads to negotiate.  That year, the wind convinced us that the best tree just happened to be right beside road we drove in! 

The second method might be to think back into your “ancient” past to discover and reclaim something special from days gone by….before you were married.  For me, that could be things like driving around to view Christmas lights in nearby neighborhoods, or allowing the kids to open just one present on Christmas Eve, or reading Luke’s Christmas story at home BEFORE the presents are opened. 

A third method is to consider the various Christmas traditions you have developed, and select which ones have special meaning for you.  When you find these, you then find ways to make them even more special.  This is especially important if you have children at home….in all the upheaval and change, they need to know that there are things they can count on as lasting.  For me, these things included honoring the tradition of attending Christmas Eve Candlelight and Communion services.  It meant having the children get out the old favorite nativity sets, and asking them to arrange them on the piano or counter.  It meant including certain favorite tree decorations (even if the memories brought tears), and putting them on the tree once again.

Don’t let the loss you are feeling this Christmas discourage you….although I know it is hard not to feel that.  But as a counterbalance, find ways to reclaim Christmas celebration in YOUR own manner, with YOUR own meaning, free to pick, choose, change and create something special. You’ll be glad you did.  Just don’t wait until Christmas Eve is upon you before you make some choices and plans.  Begin now to consider and to develop some options.

TL:dr  Christmas, though hard, can be special if you start making some choices now.

Monday, November 26, 2012

He's on the radio!!!

Radio Podcast

Hey folks, sorry for the mixup.  I hear some of you tried to listen to the interview on the internet, and found only frustration.  I found out today that the problem was a computer glitch at the network.   The interview will be aired one of the upcoming Sundays, I will let you know when for sure when I know.  However, you can shortcut the process if you’d like by going directly to the podcast at 

  Hope you had a good Thanksgiving.  In our worship gathering yesterday, we celebrated communion, called in some traditions, Eucharist, which is from the Greek meaning, “thanksgiving.”  Seemed to be appropriate to celebrate at this time of year, don’t you think?  Although, quite frankly, communion is ALWAYS appropriate to celebrate, I’d say, wouldn’t you?

  I’ll call that enough for today, and remind you to remember to pass along the blog or email address to those who might need the encouragement (or the book!) during the upcoming holidays…..special though Christmas is, it can be pretty tough for families splintered by divorce. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks in All Things


   Thanks to Best Buy, to WalMart, and to Sears and to all the other wonderful stores that make sure people plan their holiday around what time they need to camp outside of their favorite stores to get special deals.  Thanks to Macy’s for a wonderful parade, (which, by the way, I almost always watch part of and was privileged to see in person one time).  Thanks to…..well, how about God? 

  I apologize……kind of…..for having not posted anything for you lately, but a while back my 90 year old mother began to decline, and she passed into Jesus’ arms last week.  The service was Saturday, so this Thanksgiving, we are celebrating Thanksgiving without the uncle who passed away in August, and my mother.  On the other hand, dad just celebrated his 93rd birthday yesterday.  You see, there are things in life that cause us to sorrow and struggle, but there are also things to give thanks for as well.

  We watched a video during worship Sunday that reminded us al that during Thanksgiving, we need to realize how precious having a family is, and to give thanks for that rather than focus on the irritations that can arise.   ( Family Thanksgiving Song)  So if you are celebrating your Thanksgiving with family, take time to thank God for each one you see….even if it is just something you do silently in your heart. 

  There are some who are facing this Thanksgiving holiday for the first time without their spouse who divorced them, and, because of that, without their children.  It can be a lonely and sorrowful time.  If you know such a person, let them know today, or in the days ahead, that you are thinking of them.  And maybe even find a way to include them in some activity…if not a last minute Thanksgiving invite, maybe going shopping, or coming over for leftovers tomorrow night (by the way, I know I have mixed my plurals and singulars in these sentences.  I just don’t care, because he/she is just too awkward, I think).

As I give Thanks today, I wish all would remember that which we have forgotten, that there IS Someone to whom we need to give thanks.  God is real.  It is by His grace and sustaining power we live, breathe, move and “have our being.”  So if you are with family today, give thanks for that.  If your family has splintered this year, and you are experiencing that troubling shift in life, you can still find something for which to give thanks.  This is some 14 years after my divorce, and some 10 after my wife’s, and even now, there is awareness that things are different than they used to be.  But some of those differences have become very good, and very special….and that is something for which I give thanks, and something some of you may need to look forward to experiencing while you struggle today. 

A Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving Song
  And please, don’t ever confuse WalMart, Sears, Macy’s or Best Buy (or any of their commercial compatriots) with God, even though they may act like they are the most important, they are not.  Give thanks to the only one who really deserves our greatest thanks, God himself.  Happy Thanksgiving dear readers! 

P.S.  I did an internet radio interview the other day for Indie Books, and it will air on the internet this weekend.  Mine is the third interview in the show.   If you are interested in hearing it, the access information is below:

Sunday, November 25th, at 5:00-6:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on TogiNet Radio (www.toginet.com)
v To find the Indie Book Publishing Show Page, go to: http://toginet.com/shows/indiebookpublishing
v To listen live, click the “Live on Air” (yellow arrow) at the top, left side of the page.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Divorce Difficulties

Issues with the Ex

So was visiting with a friend the other day, and we were talking some about one of the big issues that arises after a divorce:  the issue of boundaries.  Sometimes, an ex will assume he/she is welcome to just walk into the house, especially if it was the house that he/she had lived in previous to the divorce.  And it is hard sometimes for the individual to figure out how to handle that, especially if the ex is a very forceful type individual. 

Even once inside the door, sometimes behavior can be very odd…..the visitor may try to look into other rooms, or sit uncomfortably close, or overstay the welcome you extended.  There is on word for this whole thing:  awkward.  Very awkward.  Especially if there are kids around who are witnessing the whole thing….how do you ask the kids’ mom or dad to leave, without appearing to be mean or vengeful? 

In some cases, divorced individuals do okay with this area, they are able to talk to each other, discuss appropriate and appropriate behaviors and boundaries to abide by.  But in many cases, there is often one person who is not able to willing to discuss these things rationally, and take everything personally and behave inappropriately.  So what do you do?

If you aren’t able to discuss these boundary issues, then a good next step is to define for yourself what you are comfortable with, and write it down.  Then take that information and include it in a letter or email to your ex (keep a copy for your own records, by the way).  The advantage of this is you don’t have to try to outshout them or get diverted from what you are expressing while providing clear guidelines you are willing to use.  But some ex’s still don’t respect the request, what do you do, then?  Some immediately jump to court and file restraining orders….which often creates a hostile situation and only provides “protection” after the fact……in other words, if they show up, you can call the police, but the police aren’t going to post a guard 24/7 to keep them from showing up. 

Instead, I suggested an alternative to my friend, a woman with two children at home.  My first thought was for her to always be out on the porch when he arrives, and simply do the discussion out there.  That often can settle the difficulty.  However, some people don’t let that discourage them….they are insistent about entering the home.  Another option could be to walk to the car and stand outside the car door, talking only through the window and thus, blocking their exit from the vehicle.  Again, not everybody responds even to that.  So, another option would be to have a supporting individual present when the ex comes by (realizing that often it is necessary for them to come to return the kids).  If you are a woman, asking a tall and muscular male friend to be there can be a good discouragement to some men (although some would pick fights instead).  Finally, if the problem occurs when children are returning from the other parent’s home, an alternative solution would be to arrange the pickup and drop-off at a neutral place…..”just bring them to the mall….I’ll meet you at such and so a place.”  (And you can explain a bit to the children in age appropriate information that you just want your home to be your private space….just don’t run down the ex while you explain.)  Or, if it isn’t a matter of children and the person refuses to cease, then perhaps one call to the police to report a trespasser would be enough to discourage their behavior.  

Bottom line:  this is all very stupid.  Nobody should even HAVE to try to figure out how to handle these things.  But some people just like to keep things stirred up.  Others like to “have their cake and eat it, too” thinking that they should be free to come and go as they please.  So if this is you, good luck…it can be a very troublesome problem.  Over time, though, the problem will probably fade and resolve itself as your ex finds other things to do with his/her time than snoop around your house.  By the way, if you have dealt with this yourself, and have some other good ideas to suggest, feel free to add comments to this blog. 

TL:dr  Ideas for handling a difficult ex.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Election: United in Purpose and Effort

Did you vote?

So, this is election day.  I went to vote.  Just once.  Actually, went to the station early, picked up a sample ballot so I could review everything in case there were things on the ballot I didn't know about (a habit of mine).  When I went back in later, there weren't any new names listed on the ballot, so I had to go ahead and choose from the people listed earlier.  And I did.  And I’m not going to tell you how I chose.  Because it isn't any of your business.  And how you vote isn't mine!  However, THAT you vote is very important to me……it is a privilege for which many of our ancestors fought and died, and a privilege many around the world would give anything to have.  I might point out that, presidentially, it really doesn't matter how I voted, because my state is not one of the battleground color-changing states…..so if I vote with the state’s color, my vote makes a difference, if I don’t, then it kind of disappears in the fog.  Oh, well.  Although, I did hear on the news a report about another state that is considered blue, but a few elections back was regularly considered red, and therefore, it demonstrates that things can change, and so, my vote, your vote, DOES matter. 

However, I wanted to address an issue that I think is very troubling.  All too often I hear individuals and sometimes politicians, demonizing the people of the other party, creating deep divides and mistrust.  I would argue that Satan has effectively used both parties!  And that God has also used both parties.  The scripture reminds us in Psalm 75 and Romans 13 that, even though we vote, ultimately the lifting up of leaders is at God’s discretion.  Lots of Christians are big fans of those verses when the leaders are people they like, less excited when their candidate loses.  I find it interesting that some of Paul’s comments about our responsibility to pray for and give proper respect to our government leaders were made by Paul under a Roman government that was EXTREMELY pagan, and during significant periods of his life, very hostile to Christians and Jews.  So what does that say to us when our favorite does not win?  Certainly they all need our prayer, and, if you are like me at all, sometimes our feedback and comments. 

A good friend of mine from battleground state Wisconsin, Sandy, posted on her facebook page something I thought was well said, and so I decided to share it with you in today’s blog.  She wrote:

“I just want to tell all of you today that I love you. If you are on my friend list, you are someone whom I respect and admire. Each of us has an understanding of part of a larger truth. I have disagreement with everyone on SOMETHING, whether it be religion or politics or favorite color. I love you even when we disagree. Especially when we disagree. Today is not about us and them. No matter who wins, it is not about glorying in our win or grieving about our loss. It is about connecting with the people with whom we disagree. If we win or lose, we can’t ignore the fact that close to 50 per cent of the population disagrees with us. We need understanding of the truths that come from others. We all have SO much common ground; politics is just about the methods toward our values. Let’s focus on those values we all hold dear, and listen, without rancor, to hear the stories and learn the truths from those with whom we disagree. Republicans and Democrats are first and foremost...people. So people, I love you all.”

She then goes on to quote 1 Corinthians 12, and the way God uses a variety of people with a variety of gifts to create a beautiful and functional complete body of Christ.  Indeed, she is right.  God doesn’t desire that all of us be the same, but that we join together, unite in purpose and effort.  (Sometimes our churches need to remember that, too, it seems to me.)  And, more importantly, we are called to love our brother, neighbor AND ENEMY, because God so loved THE WORLD……right?  I wonder, if we took my friend’s ideas, and learned to love even the 50% who think differently than ourselves, what kind of a country would we have?  I think it would be pretty neat to find out, don’t you?

TL:dr   An election and its results should not be big enough to make us forget that people are important, and to treat them as if they are.The