The Other Day

I think I’ve figured out what bothered me the most about the other day ~ Intimacy.

For me, attending Mass is an intimate experience. I am there to praise and worship; to connect with Jesus and be filled by Him. It’s a special time to be shared; not an obligation.

So, attending Mass with a man who is technically “my husband” but who is actually living elsewhere and participating in an intimate relationship with another woman; is disconcerting to say the least. It should be a spiritually intimate experience; but it’s difficult to share any type of intimacy in this situation.

But this Mass was about love; ok, they all are. However, this one in particular was about Jesus’ love for His earthly mother. He loved her. He honored her. Mary’s life is one from which we can  learn a lot. She loved. She sat at the foot of the cross as her Son hung there dying. She held Him in her arms after He was taken down from that cross.

She prayed.

So I prayed. Admittedly, I prayed for my children and myself first. I know. I’m working on it. But I prayed for him too.

It was still a difficult experience; and I can’t say it actually helped at that moment. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t. God hears all prayers; so I know He heard mine. Praying for the person who has caused me so much pain was/is the right thing to do. It’s what Jesus Himself did. In fact, I borrowed His words:

Father forgive {him, he} knows not what {he} does.

I may never see the results of these prayers; but that’s not important. What’s important is that I pray them; and continue to pray them. For both of us. I believe it’s part of my path to forgiveness.

Please know that I don’t mention this  for my own glory. I am not seeking to be praised for my prayers for someone else.  The purpose behind me writing about my painful journey is twofold: to give God the glory and to help someone else who may find themselves in a similar situation. If my pain glorifies God; and possibly helps someone else, then it will be worth it.

Untitled – On Purpose

Today was a rough day. I didn’t blog about it, but I had a second foot surgery in six months a couple of weeks ago. I had gone back to the doctor wondering why I was still experiencing pain after February’s surgery. At first, the doc thought that the muscles and tendons were just taking a little longer than usual to heal. But then he felt it – another, relatively large, cyst. In fact, he ended up finding two more. He looked at me and said since it’s giving you so much pain, you know what we have to do… So I scheduled the surgery.

It was different this time. This time I had no illusions of any spousal support. He was gone and I was alone. With two children too young to care for themselves. Fortunately, my mother was able to come and help. I was even able to employ some of Lorrie’s Freezer meal techniques to ensure that there was some food in the freezer for those days she wasn’t able to be there. So, while not ideal, it was ok. God provided for my children and myself.

I was officially cleared to walk, with caution, on Monday. He told me I still had to take it easy so I didn’t overdue it; and so that the inside could continue to heal. I was also told that I could drive IF I could get a regular shoe on my foot. Well, I can’t do it yet without pain.

And that’s where today’s difficulties come in. Today is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary in the Catholic Church. I know that there are some non-Catholic Christians who believe that we, as Catholics, worship Mary; especially with feasts like today. However, it really is as simple as this… Jesus grew up here on earth with the same commandments we were given; and following those commandments He honored His mother. And so, we follow His example and honor her too. It’s honor, not worship. But I don’t want to argue that point with anyone. The point is that I wanted to attend Mass with my children on this day that is special to us.

We had the option of attending Mass on Tuesday evening at our usual church a half hour away from the house; or tonight at our church or the church down the street. Going back to my doc’s rule, I tried to get a shoe on my foot. It wouldn’t go on. I was frustrated. Then my ex called and wanted to see the kids on Wednesday evening. I told him about church and the shoe not fitting; and he surprisingly said he was willing to to take us all to Mass and spend a little time with the kids afterwards. I was surprised, but hesitant.

So, if I wanted to attend Mass, I had to be humble and accept his help. I told him I’d accept, but I didn’t say ‘thank you’ fast enough and he yelled at me for my lack of gratitude. I immediately regretted accepting; but I had already told Diva, and she LOVES going to church. I was not going to disappoint her.

We went tonight; and it was difficult. The priest mentioned turning to your spouse for support during his homily. And here I was sitting near a man who is legally my husband, but who I know is going ‘home’ to another woman. I couldn’t stop the tears. I tried to wipe them before LegoFan saw them, but I was too late. It’s amazing to me that he seems completely out of touch with his and other people’s feelings; yet he is completely in touch with mine. He always knows. Always.

Breaks. My. Heart.

After Mass, he told the children that he was going to get them dessert and we went to Rita’s. They began to enjoy their dessert, but he rushed them and told them they could finish at home. As were getting out of the car, he took the kids up to the door and unlocked it. As I was getting my purse, his phone beeped. I looked at the screen. It. Was. Her.

So… He takes us to church and out for dessert. A strange, unsettling feeling.

Jesus, thank you for your love, and the strength to walk through this difficult time. I know you are by my side.

Courtship

I was participating in a blog hop last week over at A Woman’s Place and ended up at a blog called Liturgical Time. While I was there, I started to look around and found a series of posts Michelle did on the topic of Courtship.

The idea of courtship has intrigued me for a few years. But I really had no idea what it looked like. I didn’t date much in high school at all; not just because my parents were strict, but also because I just wasn’t very popular – I was pretty geeky. It wasn’t until college that I began to stretch my wings so-to-speak. I let loose – did a little drinking and a lot of dating. I made a ton of mistakes. I got my heart broken several times. I was even date-raped.

Why would I want this for my daughter? Heck, why would I want that for myself again either? Now that I’m going to be single again very soon; I have begun to think about how on earth I am even going to be able to meet someone, much less date and ultimately remarry.

As a 40-something, stay-at-home mom; I don’t get out much. We go to Mass and we do our shopping. We go to LegoFan’s doctor’s appointments; and during the school year, we went to Diva’s jump roping team practices. While Mass would be the ideal place to meet someone, none of these other places provide many opportunities. To top it all off, our church has over 4,000 families and it’s difficult to meet people period. Not to mention that there’s not a single single male pictured in our directory. Yes, I checked 🙂

Yet interestingly enough, a young lady whose page I follow on facebook, Stay-At-Home Daughter, became engaged recently. She wrote this post on her courtship with her now fiance, Chris. And she links to his blog, Striving For Wisdom, where he discusses why he chose Ashley over all other women. I read both blogs with tears in my eyes. What wisdom they have! This 40-something year old Mama can learn a lot from these two young people. If only I had half the qualities Chris sees in Ashley!

But that doesn’t mean I can’t learn them – yes, this ‘old dog can learn new tricks’ – I mean most of them are straight out of the Bible! And while courtship is not mandated in the Bible, I can see how it allows people to preserve themselves physically and emotionally; which is in the Bible.

In thinking about dating vs. courtship, I am becoming more and more inclined toward the latter. It’s a practice that I can see implementing in my daughter’s life; as well as my son’s. And it can start now. Even though they are young, I can instill in them the idea of courtship. And now that I am about to be single, I can show them. But I have one question…

What does courtship look like when you’re in your 40’s, have children of your own, and no parents close enough to guide you through the process?

Not Just A New Chapter

Last summer I made a decision to blog regularly. I had even decided to work with someone to redesign the blog and move it to a new domain.

However, none of it ever happened. My laptop stopped working and a nine-day fix turned into a two and a half month ordeal; resulting in a new laptop, but a corrupted hard drive. I lost everything!

But that loss pales in comparison to several life events that began to unfold during the summer as well. I have been debating whether or not to post about this; and every time I decide to post it, the debate becomes how much to share. I love reading blogs; and getting a glimpse of other people’s lives. I have loved getting to know several people I have ‘met’ in this blogosphere. But my pet peeve is reading blogs where the author seems perfect; where it seems that nothing negative ever happens in his or her life. While I don’t believe that bloggers should reveal all the intimate details of their lives, I do believe that if you are blogging about your life you should be real. So that is how I finally made my decision to write this post. I want to be real. Please remember that I come from a Catholic background. Everything I have done has involved prayer and consultation with Godly people, as well as my priest.

So, here goes… last summer I discovered that my husband was having an affair. I certainly did not condone this behavior; and have not, as of yet, forgiven him for it (I’m working on it). I did feel that it was only right to try to fix what was wrong. I prayed, bought books, and sought out couple’s counseling. We even attended a Love and Respect video conference (I highly recommend this conference!). I tried changing to be the wife he said he wanted.

Out of respect for my children & a little privacy, I won’t go into all the details; but let’s just say that nothing made a difference. In fact, a tragedy revealed that he had never really ended the affair. The husband of the woman in question chose to commit suicide. It was this action, in combination with his deception, that began a severe downward spiral. We each spoke separately to a priest at our church, and I had hoped we could somehow reconcile this and move forward. It wasn’t to be. In fact, things began to get worse.

Something seemed to snap in my husband. He began to verbally and emotionally abuse me; in private and in front of my children. He began to get more secretive – removing my name from accounts, changing passwords, and refused any attempts to reconcile. He still went through the motions – we tried to appear ‘normal’ during the holidays and for my birthday in January, but it didn’t work. I would find out later that he was still involved with her, even after her husband’s suicide. The abuse continued to escalate and he claimed his health was beginning to suffer as a result. He blamed me.

At the end of February, I had foot surgery. I was told that I couldn’t walk or drive for three weeks. One week after surgery, he moved out; leaving me with two children unable to take care of themselves. He has been gone ever since. I don’t really know where he lives. To his credit, he continues to pay the bills; though he has mentioned that he does this so the courts won’t consider it abandonment. However, he threatens to shut something off on a regular basis; he’s even threatened to withhold our food money unless I did something he wanted. He does come and visit the kids about once a week for a couple of hours. Ironically, he spends more time with them now; and pays more attention to them, then he ever did before.

But my children are suffering. They don’t understand. I am doing all that I can for them, but it never seems to be enough. I pray for them and with them. I spend ‘alone’ time with each of them separately. I have counseling available to both of them. I’ve kept things as routine as possible. It’s all so difficult – I can’t explain to them why this happened; I can’t change it; I can’t bring their father back; I can’t give them the daddy they so desperately desire. They deserve better. So I pray for them. I remind them that God wants to be their Father. At their ages, it’s just not enough for them.

I have met with my priest and discussed all the details with him; including many not mentioned here (hard to believe, huh?). He said that the separation was probably a very good thing. It would hopefully prevent things from escalating further. He also told me that since we were married in a civil ceremony (at my husband’s insistence), the Church didn’t consider us married. I know that some of you will disagree with that; but it does help in the event I am blessed with another opportunity for marriage. Which means this one will have to be dissolved legally…

I know God hates divorce; but I also know He loves me and my children. He doesn’t want us to remain in a situation where there’s potential danger. I know some people would say to remain married and just live apart. However, that, in my opinion, just condones his adulterous behavior. It’s just not something with which he is concerned. He has already moved on. Also, remaining legally married prevents the children and me from having the opportunity to find a Godly relationship. I believe that God will provide a Godly man for us who will teach my children what a Godly marriage looks like; what God intended husbands and fathers to be.

While I know not everyone will agree with my decision to divorce my husband, I have prayed about this and talked about it with Godly people. It’s not a decision I made lightly. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother with no income. With God’s help, I intend to maintain that. As you may know from other posts, my son is on the Autism Spectrum and he needs to have his mother home with him, as it has been for the entirety of his life. Neither of them need any more changes right now. I have decided that I am no longer going to subject them to the abuse. It certainly doesn’t teach my son how to be a Godly man; nor does it teach my daughter how a man is supposed to treat a woman. What I am trying to teach them is strength, integrity, and reliance on God. I am at peace with this decision, even if it’s not what I wanted. I am at peace with it, even if it’s difficult. I ask that instead of judgement you say a prayer for my children and me.

Thank you for reading, and not judging. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for allowing me to be a bit transparent and real. My life is far from perfect, but it contains the most perfect thing there is: the Love of the Blessed Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13

Just Say No

Tell the truth: Did you think this post was about drugs when you saw the title? Ironically when I first saw the title of the audio I just listened to, that’s exactly what I thought too. “Just Say No” was a popular phrase in the ‘war on drugs’ many years ago led by First Lady Nancy Reagan. What a class act she is!

But this talk by Lorri Flem of Eternal Encouragement was about something a little different. No matter what season of life you’re experiencing, or what your vocation is, this talk is for all women. You know ladies, we like to do everything! I don’t know about you, but I was raised that you help others wherever you can. I think I must have stopped listening at the words ‘help others’ and completely ignored the rest. Helping others is important. Helping others is one of the things God wants from us. BUT, the other important part is ‘wherever you can.’

There are legitimate times to ‘just say no.’ What I like about Lorri’s talk is that she uses real life examples; she lets us know that she has difficulties in this area just like the rest of us do. I know that I just can’t get on board with someone’s ideas if they don’t live them out or struggle just like I do. Lorri’s talks are real enough that I feel like she’s sitting across the table from me and we’re sipping lemonade.

While I don’t want to give everything away, I did want to talk about one part of “Just Say No” that really hit home. You see, I’m in a situation where I said ‘yes’ to a commitment and now I have to turn around and tell the person ‘no.’ Now the reasons behind my new answer are not entirely under my control. but Lorri reminded me that God and family come first. I can’t give what I don’t have. Then, not only does my family suffer, but the person I said ‘yes’ to suffers as well because I can’t keep my end of the bargain. In the end, everyone loses.

So… If you are over-burdened, if your schedule is constantly full, if you’re too tired to be fully present to your spouse and children; then you just may need to hear Lorri Flem’s “Just Say No” audio talk. It’s easily downloadable right to your computer or mp3 player (you can also get it as an actual CD, too). If you give it a listen, please come back and let me know how it helped you say ‘no’ to over-commitment and ‘yes’ to God and family.

* Note to Lorri: You and your children would be welcome in our home any time! Any time you’re willing to travel completely across the country, that is!

As a Gabby Mom, I was provided with an audio copy of “Just Say No” by Lorri Flem in exchange for my honest review.

Handmade Holidays

Well, now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays is complete, we can sit back and just relax while we enjoy the remainder of the Christmas season! I am so glad that this season does not just end at 11:59 pm on December 25th.

So while I’m relaxing I thought I’d share some of the handmade gifts my children and I made for our recipients. I joined pinterest earlier this year and began saving ideas of gifts to make and recipes to try for Christmas. Feel free to check out my boards.

The first project Diva and I made included a few varieties of Sugar Scrubs. These are really expensive in the stores, but are oh so easy (and much less expensive) to make at home. Here’s the links to what we tried: Sugar Scrubs, Coffee Scrub, and Foot Soak.

And here’s what we made…

The kitchen smelled so wonderfully when we were done, even though we used a variety of scents. I won’t go into details on the recipes for each of these as you can go directly to each tutorial from its link on pinterest. But I will tell you how we personalized them. After mixing each batch, we put each scrub or soak into a clean canning jar and tied a pretty ribbon around the lid. I cut tags using Papertrey Ink’s Tag Sale #1 Die and wrote some basic instructions on each one. For the labels, I used Papertrey Ink’s Limitless Layers 1 3/4″ Circle Collection (Letter E), wrote the scent on it and ran it through the Xyron Sticker Maker and attached it to the lid. We then added the completed jars to a basket for an at-home spa gift.

We gave this to my cousin who is pregnant with her second child. Her daughter, who was about to turn two a couple of days later, absolutely loved the coffee scrub! She loved its aroma so much that she refused to put it down and open any other presents!

Next Diva wanted to make some gifts of her own for her Godparents. She collaborated with LegoFan to make a set for their Grandmother as well. What did they make? Well, they made their own versions of these Post-it Note Holders and Decorated Clipboards. We forgot to take pictures of the ones for Diva’s Godmother, but here are the ones for her Godfather and their Grandmother…

I think it’s obvious which set is for the Grandmother and which is for the Godmother! It doesn’t show up really well, but we used glitter mod podge on the blue clipboard. On each piece we die cut a label using Papertrey Ink’s Angled Labels Die Collection (scroll about half-way down the page) and attached it with more mod podge.

This last gift I’m going to mention here is my absolute favorite. I made this for my brother and my sister-in-love who have been married for a little over a year. Anyone who has been reading my blog for the past year knows that my marriage has been a rocky one at best. We have had some major issues over the last 11 years because we didn’t make our marriage a priority. We are actively working on changing that – a New Year’s Resolution of sorts.

I recently came across a blog called Dating Divas, which has a wealth of ideas on how to keep the romance alive in your marriage. One post was how one of their readers took their date ideas and turned them into a gift. They provided some printables that made putting this together really easy. The only real work I had to do was decide on the dates and format the instructions. Once that was done, I printed them out and placed everything into a couple of pocket folders. The idea is that each spouse plans a date on the alternating months, so that they get 12 dates during the year. They are not supposed to share the date ideas with each other so that each month is a surprise. They are also not designed to break the bank. They are simple, fun, creative ways to continue to grow in love as a couple. I really hope that they have fun with this gift – it was my favorite gift to make! There are a few other couples in my circle that may see one of these gifts in the future – it’s a simple, homemade gift that has the capacity to last a lifetime!

Well, that covers most of our handmade gifts this year. If you give any of them a try, please let me know how they turn out.

On this New Year’s Eve 2011, I pray that you and your family will celebrate safely and that we will all welcome in a wonderful New Year. May God continue to Bless you all this coming year.

This post is linked up to Pinning it Down at Amongst Lovely Things.

* None of these links are affiliate links.

Thrive90 – Final Results

I finished up the Thrive90 program a little over a week ago; and would have had my results posted earlier but Hurricane Irene blew through and we had no power. So, it took a few extra days to get the stats and photos ready. Not only that, our homeschool started up again and we’ve been a little busy.

Without further adieu…

Here are the results from the end of Phase II to the end of Phase III.

  • I lost another 3 pounds,
  • My waist was smaller by 1.25″,
  • My hips declined by 0.5″,
  • I saw 0.5″ less of my thigh,
  • My arm shrunk by 0.25″,
  • I doubled my pushups from 1 to 2 (laughable, I know),
  • My situps increased from 7 to 12,
  • Sit & Reach test for flexibility showed an increase of another 0.5″,
  • Wall Squat went from 15 seconds to 25,
  • I actually held the Static Plank for a full 60 seconds!

Ok, now for the overall results – from start to finish:

  • Total pounds lost: 8.6
  • Total inches gone from my waist: 3.0
  • Total inches gone from my hips: 2.5
  • Total inches gone from my thigh: 2.0
  • Total inches gone from my arm: 1.25
  • Total inches gone from my body: 8.75!!!
  • My pushups went from a pathetic ZERO to 2
  • My situps went from a pathetic ZERO to 12
  • My flexibility increased from 3″ to 7″
  • My Wall Squat started out at 4 seconds and increased to 25 seconds!
  • My Static Plank started out at 35 seconds and increased to 60 seconds!

One other stat that’s not on my fit test, but that I found significant was that I am now wearing one size smaller than when I began the Thrive90 program. Not only that, but it’s getting a little loose now – it won’t be long…

My final thoughts:

While I did not suddenly start enjoying working out, I did find that once I started each workout, I was fully engaged. I worked hard, no matter what the day’s video was.

The program is flexible. I was able to find a way to work out even with a sprained ankle that negatively effected me for three weeks (which explains my lower numbers for the end of Phase II).

There was a lot of variety within the workouts. Even though I was scheduled to do the same type of activity each week (ie. Tuesday was always Core work), the work out changed with each phase. In addition, there were a variety of workouts for each week: Core, HIIT, Strength, Cardio, Power Yoga. My entire body got a workout each and every day.

Tony and Dustin provided much support and cheerleading. I received encouraging emails each week – in fact, I miss those now that I’m done. They answered any question that I had within 24-48 hours. I also found support on the Fit Marriage Facebook page. These guys truly want to help people reach their goals!

Doing Thrive90 at home really helped me. I didn’t have to get in my car to go to the gym. I didn’t waste gasoline or time. I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I could do the exercises as well as other people – I could stop and start, if necessary. My kids were right there with me (cheering me on as well!); they did not have to go to daycare. The price was right – for what I paid (around the price of a one month membership to the gym), I got three months of workouts that I will always own and can do anytime I wish. But I got more than videos; I got support, a fit test, exercise forms, articles, and more. It was well worth it!

Finally, I want to give a shout out to both Tony and Dustin, co-creators of Thrive90:  You guys are amazing and you put together a great program! I thank you for helping me get started on my weight loss journey. I thank you for the support you have given me. I started this program “from the couch” and was able to complete it. You taught me some things I didn’t know and helped me to look and feel better. I will not forget this time, nor will I stop exercising. I will eventually move on to P90X!

Now to prove that I have not been making these numbers up, I am going to be brave and post photos. Please keep in mind that I was considered obese when I started, and Thrive90 is a three month program; so I am not going to look like I went from fat to thin. But what you will see is a definite difference – a definite improvement. It worked for me; it can work for you. If you have thought about a weight loss program, this may be the one for you. (Note: I am not a doctor and am not advising anyone to start a fitness program without consulting their physician first). Remember, I started “from the couch,” meaning that I had not exercised in ages. I spent my nights on the couch looking at the computer – it was not a pretty sight.

Am I stalling, you ask? Ok, so I’m babbling a bit too much. Please ignore the hair, it’s usually brushed and styled a little nicer. Here are those photos now…

I see a vast difference in my face; but I also see space between my arms and my hips that wasn’t there when I started. Thank you, Dustin and Tony!

* This is not a paid endorsement. I purchased the Thrive90 program from Fit Marriage. I did all the workouts provided and followed their schedule – these are my actual results and my own opinions. Some of the links are affiliate links as I truly believe in this product.

Thrive90 – Last Day

Today’s the day – the last day of my Thrive90 program! I finished up today with a round of HIIT Jumping Jacks. Who would have thought such a simple exercise could be so powerful? I certainly didn’t!

I know I have a long way to go – I wasn’t anywhere near fit or skinny when I started this program! So I know my results are not going to be those super dramatic ones you see where people seem to go from obese to skinny in just a few months. This is real life: no weight-loss drugs, no photoshopping the before and after photos; just me, a better diet, and Fit Marriage’s Thrive90. The great thing is that with just those things, I got results – real results.

I’ll be back with those results in a few days!

Thrive90 and Frasier

I just finished Thrive90’s Phase III Strength Circuit workout; and I’ve been wanting to post about this for two weeks now, but for some reason it always slipped my mind. So now I’m going to do it immediately after the workout – sweat and all!

I am just finishing up week 11 of 12, but on week 9 I started Phase III. The routines for each type of workout change with each phase. Also with each routine change comes a music change. I have pretty much enjoyed the music with each video as it’s subtle and not over-powering. However, the music for this workout caught my attention…

(I apologize, in advance, to those who don’t watch these types of shows, as I know they don’t portray morality very well, if at all. I am not promoting the show, just making an observation) Have you ever watched the sitcom Frasier? There was one episode where Daphne talks about the Brits being on the cutting edge of things. To illustrate, she starts singing a popular song. The only lyrics we hear are, “… flesh is burning, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh…” These then get repeated. Then, throughout the episode, we hear various characters humming the song. You know, like when you get something stuck in your head?

Anyway, to draw these two unseemingly similar things together: that’s what the background music of the Strength Circuit video sounded like! I have laughed through parts of this workout each of the three times I’ve done it!

For anyone who’s curious, here’s a link to a (very bad quality) clip from this episode:

So, I have one more video tomorrow (HIIT Burpees) and then one more week until I have completed Fit Marriage’s Thrive90 program. I am looking forward to that final fit test, weigh-in, and photos. You know I’ll be back to share those results!

By the way Tony D, we have the same curtains!

Thanks for all your continued support!

Thrive90 – Proof

It’s been a few days since I posted – very busy week! But I wanted to pop in and say that I have had a major success (to me) in my Thrive90 journey. I was able to go out and get a new pair of jeans – One. Size. Smaller. Yay! I know that one of my goals was to be able to dress in more skirts and dresses, but since I’m still losing I don’t want to replace my wardrobe just yet.

I still don’t like to exercise; and I’m not sure that will ever change. But I do like that I am getting results from Fit Marriage’s program. I like Thrive90’s variety in both its routines and its phases. I like that it’s a full body workout almost every time. I like that each workout is 30 minutes or less. That being said, it’s time to go workout for the day – today it’s Strength Circuit!

Have a great day!