My Birth Story, Part I: Pregnancy and War

You wouldn’t think the two would go together, pregnancy and war, but oh, they do. From the minute I started even thinking my body might be hosting a new life in the near future, I started preparing. I started taking prenatal vitamins 4 months (yes, pretty much right when we got engaged) before the wedding, because I knew we’d talked about babies and I wanted all that folic acid and all the iron and all the goodies because I’m a scientist and a planner.

Each day a tiny reminder that I hoped it would happen, months before trying.

Then the wedding came and those long conversations took place that were so exciting: we were on board for a baby, so help us God.

Even though I’d never tried for a baby before, and never had the experience of something going wrong, a part of me was still afraid. Maybe because so many close to me had struggled with their fertility, waited months or years, I was trying to be logical and excuse any possible delays. But God answered on our first plea with the faintest pink line. I was pregnant!

And then immediately, I was a secret-keeper! Boo!

They forget to tell you this part, it’s the unwritten instruction after “two lines means positive” on the pregnancy test, it goes “tell only the people who will be your support system in case of the M word.”

The M word. Literally the first grenade chunked at a mama who just learned there’s a tiny, tiny human in her womb.

Everything can just end, Helena. Those first weeks. We don’t schedule appointments til you’re 8 to 10 weeks. Oh okay.

Let’s do math: baby count starts at first day of last period aka 2 weeks before conception ish, then you have to wait till about 4 days before the next period is due to get a positive with those overpromising fancy sticks, so that’s “3.5 weeks” when I knew I was pregnant.

You mean to tell me that the next 4.5 to 6.5 weeks are just a blind waiting game? Bring in Google, what can I eat? What shouldn’t I eat? Is it okay to exercise? No rollercoasters. No hot tubs. Just be very careful in general, there’s no recipe for how to keep a baby in there, just know all their organs are forming so be the healthiest you can be, ever. Good God, okay. God help me.

Meanwhile, there are negative symptoms everyone says will happen, like a one-size-fits-all misery poncho I was supposed to wear. But I felt okay. I was extra sleepy but not nauseous. I was picky with what sounded good to eat, but I could eat smaller meals and I felt fine. I was excited in my secret, giggling with family and my best friends. I decided I wasn’t going to believe everything they told me, because I was already experiencing something different, answered prayers for no nausea, no sickness.

I began at this point to stop thinking of the M word and just to pray. I was referred by two Godly mamas to a book called Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you’ve seen God do miracles in front of your eyes, you can handle this book. Basically if you’re been scuba diving with Jesus and you’ve read the book of Acts and thought “I believe it,” then Supernatural Childbirth won’t sound crazy.

I began to pray for a pain free childbirth with no complications, no tearing, no prematurity, no hemorrhage. I prayed for 100%. Not 90, or 85, but the full birth miracle package. Why not, right?! It’s Jesus, for Christ’s sake. By the time we announced the pregnancy, both Buddy and I were sold out on a supernatural birth. I got really quiet about this, because it sounded crazy banana sandwich. Also, I didn’t want people who didn’t have that experience to feel like I thought I deserved something they didn’t have. I didn’t want to invalidate their trauma, especially if part of their healing was to share their story. Even if it was a terrifying, unique story that would clearly cause fear to a first time mom! I learned to listen with a filter.

Every time I got “advice” about pain or complications, I rebuked it in my head haha, like someone had just spoken death over me. I thought “that’s not my story.” My thoughts stayed the course, believe it or not. I trained my mind for war. Birth was gonna be my victory, my Jericho, my Valley of Berakah. I recited and memorized birth affirmations. I told my body it knew how to birth, and that birth was a normal thing, a common rite of passage designed by God, who is kind. He designed sex and birth. I signed up for both and thanked Him.

We decided that the birth would be very private, and chose a Godly, wonderful doula to be with us (Buddy and I only, aside from birth staff). We chose Atlanta Birth Center as our birth location and prenatal care provider. We chose a midwifery model of care. We did minimal testing, aside from gender DNA (I was way too curious). We only had one ultrasound at 20 weeks, and no cervical checks before labor began. No family in the waiting room, no immediate visits. We safeguarded that space for rest and recovery.

I can say now that pregnancy was wonderful. I was healthy. I had a virus that made me achy for 4 days, but that was it. I had to learn how to SLOW DOWN in the end, lest I’d hurt myself trying to get up too fast. I didn’t swell, nor had back pain. I slept well, even with the frequent bathroom trips. I wore my rings until it was the day to have the baby. I gained about 17 pounds, no diabetes. Baby was head down when she needed to be, my placenta was not in the way. All those answered prayers!

I prayed for supernatural birth. God’s answer, though not exactly as I asked, was even better. Here comes part 2!

Overflow and Fairytales

As a child, it was so easy to believe it all. I wanted to be everything when I grew up. Well, now it’s here. I’m grown up. This is the age when adults do adult things. I’m turning 29 in less than a month, and the people I babysat are grown up, too. As for me, I’ve been cleaning a lot, giving away some things, and making space for my reality.

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I backed off of the internet big time in the last few months, if you’ve noticed. I deleted the Facebook app and deleted a lot of people off of my “friends” list, and made my Instagram private. I almost stopped writing blogs altogether. Crazy, right? The truth is that Facebook isn’t ME. I’m a person, flesh and bone. I live in Atlanta. I have a phone, and an address. I drive a car, and I get coffee and meals with friends and my boyfriend. If you want to be my real friend, I’m available. I’ve been available since 1987, whereas I only got on Facebook in 2005. Back then it was just for college kids, and I wish it had stayed that way. It was much more useful to message someone in the same chem lab and get a study group together, instead of sifting through hoards of cat videos and awkward political posts that fill it up now. What’s the use? Pictures. Information. Announcements. Gender reveals. I would hope that my friends would tell me directly, right? When my best friend got engaged, I heard directly. When one of my best friend’s grandfather passed away, I heard directly. I don’t need the birthday reminders to tell me when my family has a birthday, or when one of my closest friends is turning a year older. It’s almost like we’ve settled into an audience seat instead of being IN other people’s daily lives.

I’m backing off of that so that I can make room for reality. And this is what I wanted to write about: reality.

This is my reality: I work over 40 hours pretty much every week between two jobs. That’s overtime. I get home and sometimes I’m wired, and sometimes I’m super tired. I have a few best friends, and I am head-over-heels in love with my boyfriend. I write a devotional on my spare time, because I think there are people who are willing but want direction. I secretly enjoy teaching, but openly enjoy writing. I think the Bible is inviting and approachable, and it makes me want to go there. Women’s ministry has blurred more into relational ministry than anything else. One friend is finally selling her wedding dress, and is praying that the buy is finalized soon. One friend is going through a tough divorce. One friend is looking at moving to a smaller place. One friend is celebrating that her child is finally cancer-free. You see? It started out as “ministry” but now it’s blurred into friendship. I’m working on boundaries and praying through what that looks like, but I’m beginning to understand that what started out as a “mission” and “calling” is slowly becoming my lifestyle and not something I switch on and off. This is me, and I have a heart for women and discipleship. I am also learning what parts of my life are reserved for only my closest people and mentors.

Now let me tell you about fairytales and overflow: they’re real. It’s a thing. Psalm 23 talks about God’s anointing and His perfect ability to shepherd us unto overflow. Overflow is a real place and a real concept for you and me. If you’ve been on the struggle bus like Job for years and years, don’t forget to read the last chapter. Don’t forget God’s punch line to that story of suffering: double restoration. That’s overflow. Jesus was crucified and buried, but He rose again. Overflow. Don’t get it twisted to call it a fairytale, and roll your eyes, and discredit it as naiveté. Don’t get embittered to the point where you despise the promise of God’s very real abundance. The only thing that could ever disqualify you from God’s abundance is your unwillingness to receive it. SO. I have three little words for you:

OPEN

YOUR

HEART.

You might need to tell your mind to shut up. You might need to tell your mouth to shut up. You might have to change everything you have, and start wearing bright colors again. Paint a wall sky blue. You might need to start hanging out with younger people who sing pop songs and eat lollipops, because you need hope. Roll down the windows of your soul and stick your head out. Play in the rain. Believe that it can happen again, that love can happen, and grace can happen, and that a new adventure can happen for you. You might need to get your passport and go somewhere insane, just so you can get over yourself. I challenge you to it. I challenge you to overflow, or rather to believe in it again. Believe in laughing til you cry. Believe in stomach butterflies. Believe in moments you can’t photograph, like a hot pink sky as the sun rises and little snowflakes fall down. An afternoon rain, falling on the greenest of grass. Counting shooting stars on a rooftop in the middle of the night. Digging your toes in the finest of sand, wondering just how the water could be so blue. Holding that person’s hand that feels so warm, knowing what an insane blessing it is to be in love and to be loved in this short life. Having a little child tell you that they love you, and giggle at you, and pull you to play. THAT. You can only have these things, truly, if your heart is open to appreciate them.

I thought my plant was about to bloom, but it took 22 days for it to actually bloom. Sometimes we think things are just around the corner, and we get disappointed in the waiting. Rest assured, that bloom was worth the wait. Whatever it is you’re desperately waiting for, expectantly, I pray you don’t lose heart. I pray you find your brave moments of joy while you wait. I pray you keep your heart open and stay willing to receive it from God in His perfectly unrushed timing. If it took 22 extra days for a tiny yellow flower, I believe the Lord is also working inwardly and purposefully on your promise’s reveal.

There’s a tragic thing that sometimes happens to people who have been through so much pain, and that is they forget what carefree and happy looks like. They’re traumatized and that trauma traps them like a bug under a jar. The good news is that we are made new in Christ. New means new. New means stop replaying it over and over in your head. New means stop dwelling there and move. New. New looks different and even acts different, and it’s not faking because it’s… new. You have permission to be new, you know. It’s not cheating on your past to be new, it’s giving your present a purpose and your future a chance. Jesus has the gift of “new” for you, and he wraps it with carefree paper and ties it with a ribbon of happy.

This life is only so long, and I pray you’re alive in yours, with the powerful ability to make an impact as an adult, yet the wonderful privilege of receiving overflow like a child.

Gentle

Gentle. Humble. Meek. Patient. Unassuming. Calm.

Dropping expectations, timelines, grievances.

Rebuilding, constantly. Choosing to start over and over, then scrapping it all and starting over again.

Laying low. Realizing I’m laying too low. Laying a little bit higher.

The silence has been teaching me things lately that words couldn’t explain. Void. The quiet hum you hear when all is truly, truly hushed. The clock ticking is all that illustrates this silence. The irony.

I can feel time. Things ten years ago feel like yesterday, and some things yesterday feel like ten years ago. Time is something else, isn’t it? I toy with the thought of being timeless, standing outside of this trap of time, where God sits enthroned before time and after it. I get to sit by Him when I close my eyes and inhale, and see it with my mind. It’s like sitting on top of a skyscraper, watching the small things below, and the lights twinkling. Humans need light. When I’m with Him, I don’t need light; He is the light. The breeze blows through my hair and when I’m with Him it all feels so silly and small. Momentary troubles, yes. Feeling understood with a single glance, yes.

20140922_190946Darling, don’t be misled by your eyes and your skin in the winter. There are times you can’t feel or see, but the proof is there right in front of you. The dry, bare trees that look so strained will be the very ones to bloom. Even now, they’re working inwardly on the bright petals and the scented flowers. Darling, you can’t always see what I’m doing, but you must trust me. Let’s wait together.

God, what does my heart want that it doesn’t already have? If something is missing, will You fill it? The Maker of my heart knows exactly what it needs.

God, make me gentle, humble, meek, patient, unassuming, calm.

I am learning to discern God’s invitations versus the ones that come to distract me and burden me. I want to keep walking in full surrender to Him and His plan. What’s mine is mine because He set it aside and put my name on it. Every plan of His comes to pass. I read Romans 8 out loud this morning, declaring it to myself. Some of it rang in my ears like new information. My mind is controlled by the Spirit, and this yields life and peace. When my mind is set on earthly things, I lose track of my Spirit peace. It’s common sense.

We get the fun privilege of willfully acknowledging we’ve been thinking of earthly things, and choosing instead to yield to the Spirit.

Holy Spirit, when my thoughts run to THAT direction, or to THIS worry, would You bind them and bring them back to You? I give You control of my mind. Would You give me words, pictures, and fresh ideas? Would You give me inspiration? Let’s be in constant conversation.

Fun fact: I hadn’t gotten a picture/word from the Lord in a while. Not that He wasn’t sending, but rather that I wasn’t asking. Today, He popped the thought in my brain of a pineapple. I thought that was so random and looked it up. Firstly, without having to think much of it, I’ve been praying for gentleness. A pineapple is not a gentle fruit, it has spikes and it’s so flavorful! I found out that it takes between 18 months and 2 years to grow a pineapple. That piece of information messed me up, in a good way. God’s timing is perfect. Another thing that came to mind was the first time I went to Thailand, all I craved for breakfast was a fresh pineapple smoothie. During that time of my life, I was hurting inside. God was addressing my fears. It hurt to admit how much I was afraid of, and how much my life didn’t turn out how I thought it would. It hurt to say “I do not know” and keep putting one foot in front of the other. God is bringing me around to some of those same lessons lately, in new ways. I’m in uncharted territory, and “I do not know” is my song and dance. I have to hold His hand for support in every step. I have to draw from His strength every single day. I have to yield emotions, fears, words, conversations, and even my phone, DAILY. There are times I’ve gone to call a friend to talk or vent, and felt myself putting my phone back down and breathing instead. I am learning to pray, all over again. I’m learning to  go to Jesus first. I’m checking my emotions like carry-ons at an airport, putting each item on a belt, walking past the detectors without shoes, with my hands up, clear. Each feeling, thought, emotion gets scanned, for my safety. I only put on what is mine. I only carry what is safe.

God, make me gentle, humble, meek, patient, unassuming, calm.

What’s your current prayer? What is Jesus teaching you? I’d love to hear it. ❤

Contentment

Sometimes it feels like I’m chasing after something I may never fully grasp. Maybe it’s the planner in me, or the drive to grow and improve, right?

 My eyesight is pretty bad on both eyes, and it could very well be from squinting to the future so much with the eyes of my heart. Is it possible to be content and just stay there? Must I always strive so much? These are questions I ask the Lord and I feel His peace rest over me like a cloud. I am mostly cloudy with a chance of thunder.

The worst is when my striving breaks, and I sit with no drive. It’s the feeling of eating without tasting, when your nose is congested. Where did all that flavor go? Will I even want it when it happens to me? The passing of the test, the promotion, the loud home? It’s as if God flipped the switch of my dreams to OFF. I wrestle with apathy and doubt. I start sounding a lot like Bohemian Rhapsody with my anywhere the wind blows, doesn’t really matter to me. And it isn’t true. It does matter. I know deep in my heart of the promises of God. I know. I know. I know. I realize. God put books and lessons and love in my heart, and it’s my joy to live to unveil them. There are faces I have never met which will absolutely melt me and propel me to heights of love I haven’t dared to imagine yet. Yet.

I’m learning to yield over and over to the higher ways of God. He knows better than I do. I’ve been warding off any bitterness, any hopelessness, and any fear. It’s been like killing mosquitoes in Tanzania. They’re practically robots, but I do have the shoe. Sometimes they get me, and it swells, and bothers me so. It’s just a reminder that I have something they want. If my dreams weren’t so precious, they wouldn’t be dreams at all. They’d be like a grocery list, attainable and predictable. I get to depend solely on the Lord. He is in full control, even when I dare to think others are. I will not barter with fear. I will not go down that narrow, dark alley of despair. My emotions get to take a knee to a Breathing, Undefeated King. It’s my turn to embrace complete humility, gentleness, and patience.

 

2015 Recap & Sweet ’16

I had no idea what was coming for me in 2015.

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For starters, I realized who my true friends are. They call, they care, and they answer. They ask the hard questions. They visit me, too! They choose me. They pray for and with me. They give me a ton of grace for those ‘in the middle’ situations, when neither of us truly knows what to do. Some are far away, and some new ones are near.

wpid-unnamed-1.jpg.jpegIn that, I realized some people lean on the side of convenience, and fade out into acquaintances. They only reach out when they need something. From being a missionary myself, I know the feeling of reaching out to someone with the sole purpose of asking for a donation, but I didn’t let that be the only time I talked to them. Now that I’m on the other side of that spectrum, it’s a little gut-wrenching to see it done differently. If you’re a missionary or fundraising in any way, take that into consideration. Don’t fake friendship for a donation, because that’s about as cheap as it gets. Hard truth to learn in 2015!

DogehospitalThis year I stepped back into the ‘working full-time’ American rat race. I paid down over half of my debt, by God’s grace. I got a great job, then I got a better job. I eased up on the first job when I took the second. I work 45-50 hours a week, which slides into overtime. I’ve been diligent, but I also feel like I said ‘yes’ when the Lord asked me to trust Him in giving outside of the norm, both financially and with the offering of time. By no means do I preach a prosperity gospel, but I know that God has consistently rewarded my life after times of testing, after times when I had to respond with a borderline illogical obedience. God has asked me to trust when I didn’t feel it was safe, and I did. Sometimes I did so begrudgingly, but I’m learning to trust cheerfully.

devo2It gets easier to trust when you understand what a failure is. I believe it is only possible to trust God with such great improbabilities when we realize the impossibility to fail within His hands. There is no room for regret when we hear His voice clearly. There is no room for fearful hysterics when I find myself hanging out inside His heart as if it were my living room. That’s what His presence is like. I learned much of this in 2015.

I cried a LOT in 2015. The best kind of tears and the worst. I had to learn how to discern whether to sit quietly and wait versus getting up, getting dressed, and taking a bulldozer to a wall.

I learned my safe places. I learned that I have a counselor who is beautifully available and powerfully wise. God put women into my life to mentor me and to listen. I have friends who can have a 2-hour conversation and empty out every loose thought from the attic of my mind, and vice-versa. We process verbally. And then there are those magical unicorn people, who take about 5 minutes to crawl into your heart and stay there until the next time you talk again for about 5 minutes 2 months later, and still manage to be in that top tier of best friendship, by God’s perfect grace. NO IDEA how that works, but it’s real.

10993419_10103282990183390_1811311628009497953_n-2In 2015, I met Buddy! It’s the coolest story, and this year I was given the gift of falling in love with him. God put us together and I have no doubts about that. He’s the INTJ to my ESFJ, and I can’t describe properly the spark we had when we met. God’s grace has brought us this far, learning to communicate and overcome fears. God’s gifts have the wrapping paper of courage, and the ribbon of God-dependency. They’re worth receiving, worth keeping, and they fully require God’s maintenance and alignment.

bookOh and in 2015, I wrote a book! You can get it at this link. I knew it would happen, but I didn’t realize it was happening this year. I had made it a goal, but it still felt lofty up until I got to it. It may be so with some of your dreams. They may seem ridiculously out there until you get up close to them and pin them down. God takes over and pushes you over the threshold when it’s His dream too.

alernterm1In 2015, I lived alone for the first time in 4 years? FOUR YEARS! If you didn’t know by now, I’m one of the most extroverted people alive in the sense that I function with people. I find that my habits and preferences like to submit to accountability. If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound? If I’m living alone and I lay in bed all day and “sort of sleep, sort of watch movies all day” does it make an impact on my life? WELL. These are things that normally don’t happen at all when I’m in community. I wouldn’t pass up a kitchen conversation, or a Target outing, or a park jog if I have the people to join me. Without people, the silence at first felt really strange. I figured out that we’re constantly looking to be INFLUENCED. We can’t just sit still and stare at a wall. We want to watch a show to make us laugh, or we want to read a book to make us think. We want to have a conversation to stimulate us, or workout to engage our bodies. We rarely ever “do nothing” and that’s a relief and a little scary at the same time. What do you tend to do with your time when you have the choice and you are all alone? Is it constructive? Does it agree with your values, your goals, your character? I learned a lot of this in 2015. Living alone was really hard, and sometimes detrimental to what I know is best for me.

In 2015, I kick-started Phylla House online, and it’s a sweet little private group on facebook. God adds to our number ever so slowly. We have conversations on the phone and in person, too, but having that level of connectivity has been a huge blessing.

SO… for 2016… here are a few things I’m hoping for and praying for:

  1. Ministry to grow in unexpected ways, through God’s prompting, and for us to grow closer together as a community of women. That also entails me being more intentional about social media. Within that, the #ATLdevo is returning January 6th! Be sure to subscribe here.
  2. I want to be more involved with my church, and that means I just need to step forward and be willing.
  3. I want to be more intentional about my health, and that right now starts with sleep. I ordered a gorgeous new hammock, and will be sleeping on that again, instead of a bed! It’s the most comfortable I’ve ever been, especially working nights and sleeping during the day.
  4. Studying for my Specialist in Blood Bank exam. I want this added certification, and I want to take the test in 2016. Whether I pass or fail, the goal is to study and attempt it.
  5. Being debt free!!! I am so close I can taste it.
  6. Sweetness. God will surprise me this year with sweetness. Fulfilled promises and completion. I’m going to learn more about delighting in the Lord.

Okay, that’s a wrap.

Love yall.

Happy New Year!

DAILY DEVOS RETURN…

As you all know, the #ATLdevo began back in September of 2014, and ran until about August 2015. Every single day, I made it a discipline to write what I was learning with Jesus, and posted it ONLINE, and not only that, but delivered every morning to the inboxes of 80+ people. NO PRESSURE!

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The feedback was incredible. Just incredible. Let me quote some of the emails/texts/messages I’ve gotten throughout this year of writing…

“We, your devo followers, are so thankful you said yes. I know you’re growing from it and it’s a big encouragement.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you for your obedience in doing this devotional. This devotional continues to raise me out of so many heart-heavy situations.”

“I look forward to these devotions every day! Thank you for your heart! It is making a difference in my life! Thank you for your obedience!”

“Oh my goodness, you don’t know how your messages speak to me. The last couple of ones I find myself crying and asking God for more of Him!”

“Very thankful for your ministry here. It’s been too long since I journaled about the goodness of the Father and too long since I’ve been still and quiet early in the day. Love the prompts as well! Keep serving faithfully as you are!”

“Thank you for your inspiration and interaction with daily verses and uplifting words. Your obedience to God is one of the many gifts He’s given. You are a treasure to those of us receiving them.”

“Thank you for your daily devotionals. Really great stuff and God inspired.”

“I have been going back and reading the Phylla House devos: SO GOOD! I might use them next year for my class :D”

“Thank you Helena, for allowing God to use you in our lives! Today’s devo… it was exactly what I needed.”

“Your devos are amazing and I can hear your voice as I read them! So great! Thank you for blessing me and so many others with them already!!!”

These are quotes in reaction to the devos I wrote in 2014 to 2015. I picked 100 of those devotionals and published them in a book! You can buy that book here!

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Why am I charging for this book? Well… I have 80+ people who got it for free, one page at a time, via email and reading the Phylla House blog where the devos were originally hosted. The subscribers actually got more than that, because some of the devotionals didn’t make it into the book. After that, I prayed hard and pulled the devos from the blog, edited them fiercely, and published them in tangible form.

The cool announcement is that I’M DOING IT AGAIN!!! Fresh devos, page by page, delivered to your inbox, free as birds, imperfect  probably, full of late-night/early-morning Love.  You can subscribe to the Phylla House blog and see it unveil one page at a time, as God teaches me over the next year. How does that sound?

And then, God willing, at the end of 2016, I’ll revise the devos and publish them in book form once more, in time for you to gift them to your friends and family, having “already read it” if you know what I mean 😉

I hope you’ll come along with me.

The journey starts again on January 6th, 2016.

Much love,

Helena

Emotional Abuse and Neglect

November 13th. It would have been my 7 year wedding anniversary this week, ya know, had it not been for the divorce.

I chopped my hair off, my beautiful long, blond hair and I felt so free! Of course, I asked his opinion many times, and he approved. I wouldn’t have cut my hair had my husband not approved! I thought that the change would make me more noticeable, more attractive. I wanted to be attractive, so he would look at me. I just wanted him to really look at me, instead of the computer screen he was so drawn to. I remember meticulously curling my hair, and walking into the bedroom to show him. He was at his computer, and he turned for half a second and looked back at the screen before he mumbled “looks good” and kept clicking. I felt a wave of shame wash over me. My eyes teared up. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Nothing I did was good enough to beat the screen. All that clicking wasn’t just for the games, but also for pornography. I never knew what he was really looking at.

Attention and conversation. How demanding, right? I wanted to be in relationship with the person I had  married. I felt ignored and unseen. I felt helpless, angry. I didn’t know how to express it. I was 21, and I didn’t want to be a nag.

I had an alcoholic college boyfriend call me a “bitch” once. Yeah, I typed it. It hurt so much to hear that word that I told myself I would never nag again, and that I would especially never argue with a drunk man who wants the bathroom door CLOSED while he’s puking. I thought he needed some air. My bad. Don’t even get me started on alcoholism. I’ve dated 2 alcoholics and I’d like to say that’s 2 too many. Nothing like having to drive his truck home every single time we went out in public, because Chugga Chugga couldn’t stop, and then cleaning up his puke in the bathroom because Chugga Chugga couldn’t handle his liquor. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. You’d think those were easy breakups, but they weren’t. I loved their families, loved their mamas. Good hearted men who loved me dearly. They just loved drinking a little bit more.

I’m sure I didn’t look thrilled day-to-day. I’m sure my tears got super old. Ew. What a drag! I’m sure my attempts to talk through it all were just SO draining to him. SO draining that he would say it felt like “cutting his chest open with a knife” every time I brought THAT up. Super. Guilt. Bottle it up. Never bring it up again.

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I found out how crippling and painful it was to marry someone who was addicted. Someone who valued a “THING” over their spouse, and any THING over Jesus. It was painful to watch the person you love the most waste their life and hurt themselves. I didn’t want to have children, and yet I wanted them so I could have someone to look at me and see me. Wow, right?

This is how the divorce started. This.

I daresay many divorces start like this. One person feels unwanted, over and over. They go looking for attention, for affection. Rejection leads to adultery. The opposite of the gospel, really. The very thing two people swear to one another at the altar, to be there for each other. Broken vows left and right, man.

BUT GOD… has shown me fantastic, healthy marriages. Men who are powerful leaders, making Spirit-led decisions, praying over their families, and boasting on how hot their wives are. They are the flower-pickers, the ones who hold the woman when she cries instead of telling her to stop. Men who are not perfect, but their priorities are right. To honor and cherish their spouse, to be home for the family, and to be present, devoted. Oh and these men are praised, let me tell you. Their wives go on and on about how wonderful, handsome, godly they are. Incredible fathers. Fantastic lovers, when the ladies are giving TMI! Oh, what a gift. My favorite person. My great love.

I believe firmly that it takes a change of heart to cause a behavioral change. God has to move in the heart. God has to break the chains of addiction, of fear, of rejection. God has to be sufficient. Idols have to be laid down. And grace has to abound. The ones who love us the most will fail us miserably from time to time, and that’s no surprise. But the ones who truly love cannot, cannot, CANNOT think that emotional abuse and neglect are acceptable behaviors. Women have to stand up against it, as do men.

Ladies, don’t marry the little boy who ignores you.

Men, don’t marry the little girl who turns away your affection.

Wait for people who love you well. Commit, then. And if you’re in a marriage like this, frozen cold like Elsa’s castle, feeling all alone in your frosty attentionless and sexless wonderland, I’m so sorry. Get help. Talk to mentors. Talk to a counselor. Talk to JESUS. Talk. Talk before you cheat. Talk before you leave. People CAN change, but they have to want to. That’s where Holy Spirit can come in and do His job.

I pray a blessing over people who are dating, that they have the discernment to lay down communication and their emotional needs out on the table before marriage. That they understand mutually how important this is. I pray a blessing over marriages that are struggling, that God will open up eyes and ears and hearts to LOVE. That those addictions have to go, in Jesus’ name. That sufficiency will be found in Christ, so that we can love other people well. I pray for the divorces that are about to happen and I intercede, Jesus, for the ones who are hurting SO much. If emotional abuse bruised, they’d be purple and black. Jesus, have mercy on their broken hearts. Be near to them. Bring them renewed hope.