Bob Dylan and Birkenstocks- when you love someone else.

I remember sitting in the therapists’ office that early August afternoon biting my nails. I think it was the one with the dying plant on the basement office window that smelled like wet towels. The therapist looked like Napoleon Dynamite or someone who really needed a good haircut. I recall sitting there on the burnt orange couch thinking I cannot believe I am here telling my life story to someone who literally looks like he  just graduated high school. He was our fourth therapist if you were not counting priests. The fourth one in five years of marital bliss. It wasn’t the best track record and I was sure that this one was going to tell us what I wanted to hear.

God forbid I hear the truth.

My truth was the layers of bitterness that held my husband at arm’s length.

I was in love with someone else. I had been for years. I loved someone that was not in my life anymore. Yet he was in my every thought. There was not a day that went by that I did not think of him. I would replay the last time we had seen each other and beg God for us to meet again .He was a English major who played Bob Dylan on his guitar with curly dark hair and my hippie heart had fallen head over Birkenstocks in love with him.

And here I was married. Sitting on another therapists couch and carrying this secret inside.

Except it really wasn’t a secret.

Every silent moment. Every slammed door. Every night my body said no. Every tear stained pillow. Every blaming word. Every layer of resentment was always through this deceitful filter I carried around.

And I painfully made it clear that I would never be in love again.

The therapist that August afternoon told us to get a divorce. He told us it would be less painful for our children if we just walked away now.

If we drew the line in the sand.

 

Instead I did what any irrational stubborn Catholic school girl would do.

I decided that I would change who I had married into who I loved.

I would put the filter of who I needed him to be and judge every word and action through it. If he did not meet that expectation I would throw the D word back in his face.

This may have not been the healthiest thing to do for our marriage.

He in turn would shut down and refuse to speak to me or include me in any family decision.

While I was tearing our little family apart he was trying make sure I didn’t  do anymore collateral damage.

 

That was over twelve years ago.

This past weekend I had the privilege in the most tragic way, to witness again why I walked down the aisle to the one I share this marriage with.

I sat in the middle of the crowded somber church on Sunday afternoon and listened while my husband gave a eulogy for one of his beloved students. I listened as he tenderly told story after story of a life that ended too soon. I watched as he shuffled the papers in his hand and tried to hold back the tears of grief and confusion.

As tears filled my eyes I thought, how can this be the same man?

How can God still let me be married to him?

For so many years I had put an unattainable filtered expectation on him and yet he stayed.

God had seen fit from the beginning that he would refine us and continually mold us into one.

Even though we had both walked down the aisle with years of dysfunctional baggage he unpacked it all.

The truth is so much ugliness still comes out. My heart still finds itself putting filters on my marriage. On my kids. On my friends. I expect that they will meet my desires instead of letting God shape them into his.

As I watched my husband this past week deal with the grief of losing a child loved. I saw him rise to who I never knew I needed. To hear others say what they love about him as a teacher, as a leader, as a man I was humbled and embarrassed.

Embarrassed because this was the first time I was seeing clearly who these children and parents and community had seen all along.

They saw a man who was true to his word. A man who adored the work he does.  A man who knows his students and will do anything for them. A man whose heart is genuine and gentle. They saw a man who could make anyone feel like they were the most important person in the world. A man who believes his faith holds him together and isn’t afraid to talk about it. A man who got to see that the work he does matters.

I wonder sometimes what would happen if we treat each other that way. If we treat each other without filters of fear. Filters of manufactured regret. Filters of jealousy. Filters of expectation.

What would happen if when we talk to each other? When we pray for each other. When we fight with each other. What if we were just brave enough to set those down? Brave enough to say that who they are is enough.

Brave enough to believe that God will make them and transform us into exactly who we are meant to be.

I want to go back to that therapist’s office today. I want to go back and tell him he got it all wrong. The parts where he said to walk away. The parts where he said we could never make this work.

I want to show him the line in the sand.

The line in the sand where Jesus says watch how I will reconcile it all.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, owe are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2Corinthians 5:18-21

I choose you- what vows look like after 17 years

This week the husband and I renewed our vows. And by renew I mean wrote all new words. Because after seventeen years you need to say new words. The words you say when you are a young bride with no idea how to keep a promise to yourself, much less promises to another person for the rest of your life, well words need to be said again.

When you are walking down the aisle more concerned about the size of your waist and if your nursing bra is leaking more than the person at the end of the aisle it is perhaps not the picture of matrimonial bliss.

Writing vows again after seventeen years looks less like a Pinterest dream and more like a masterpiece of redemption.

It looks like late night arguing and late morning swollen eyes.

It looks like crayon drawings on the wall and Band-Aid covered knees.

It looks like pasta again for dinner with thirty dollars left in the checking account.

It looks like trips to the in-laws and silent anger the way home.

It looks like catching her passed out on the bathroom floor when she promised to stop.

It looks like spending the savings account again on a car they couldn’t afford in the first place.

It looks like soccer families meaning more than ones you left at home.

It looks like littles in pj’s crying behind closed doors as parents open the suitcases of resentment on each other.

It looks like buying your first house in a neighborhood friends never came to.

It looks like sleeping on the couch for nights turned into weeks.

It looks like a Bible opened for the first time.

It looks like you first before me.

It looks like midnight calls to ones you pour your secrets to.

It looks like college funds turned into therapy bills.

It looks like a home with a door revolving to those who need a place to stay.

It looks like forgiveness when she realizes she is the one she needs to forgive.

It looks like catching fireflies with smore’s still on their faces.

It looks like driving to the treatment center because this time has to be the last.

It looks like your knees bruised from pleading with God.

It looks like admitting the ugliness you’ve hid for years.

It looks like Saturday mornings on the porch before anyone else is awake.

It looks like telling the truth that no one wants to hear.

It looks like catching him praying over her before he goes to school.

It looks like finding friends who help you clean up the pieces.

It looks like falling on your face with the brokenness that you have become.

It looks like saying out loud that change needs to happen.

It looks like restoration.

And so we gathered our people.  Our marriage warriors. And we stood in our backyard, in the neighborhood we claimed as our home and put a stake in the ground for the legacy of our family.

View More: http://snohling.pass.us/massie-vow-renewal

One of the most precious moment in the ceremony was when our good friend and pastor gathered us around our children and prayed the blood of Jesus over our family. That the chains of relationships would be broken and for the future spouses and callings of our sweet babes. I may have ugly cried my way through this.

 

View More: http://snohling.pass.us/massie-vow-renewal

And instead of promises. We made choices.

 

I choose to fight for you. To fight for us. I choose to daily lay your life before Jesus and ask that he guard your heart and mind to only His will. I choose to be present. To focus on what makes us a family not what makes others happy. I choose to put you first before our children. Because I know that is what is best for them. I choose to break the cycle of relationships gone before us by choosing healthy over happy. I choose to let you be the spiritual leader in our home and believing that God will equip you to do so. I choose to love you even when I am so unlovable.

But most of all. I choose this. I choose to pursue Jesus with all of my heart and passion. Because if we have learned anything these past 17 years it is this….He is our healer and redeemer.

And only He can restore.

#TELLHISSTORY

View More: http://snohling.pass.us/massie-vow-renewal

( The gorgeous photo’s were taken by Sabrina Nohling and the yard was transformed by Mary Kay from the Homestead in Plano.)

Practice…..

There are things that start to happen to you when you are on the other side of healing. And by other side, I mean be brave enough to say you need healing. To acknowledge that you are a broken person who needs to slow down and that you have pieces to put back together. When things are clear in my head and I don’t feel like I need to be in therapy three times a week I find myself being able to complete thoughts and realize where they need to go and where they came from. For example why I repeat patterns when certain times of the year come around or something someone does triggers a reaction that is let’s just say is “not sane healthy “. Well to someone who has lived in trauma for so long I am met face to face with the crap I have kept in there. Like for instance. I can improve on relationships. ( I suck at it) Now before you go all “Pollyanna” on me, realize that I have learned coping strategies through the years and some are not all good. For instance.

You can find the rest of this post at the brilliant Bronwyn Lea’s site….see you over there.

Dear Kids, I love you too much….. A Valentines Day repost.

Dear kids,

I love you.

I love you with all my heart. I love to watch you sleep at night. (not like creepy crawl in your window to watch you) but more like I want to count the freckles on your sun kissed face. I love to hear the sound of your voices laughing with each other, whispering secrets while you are supposed to be sleeping. I love to watch you scream with all your might when your brother scores in soccer. I love to curl your hair when you want to be just like mommy. I love to take you out on dates all dressed up and sit across from you and wipe the whip cream off your lip. I love to find notes on my pillow from you. I love to watch you make new friends or even just try. I love to see you help each other up when one of you falls. I love to watch you smelling the neighbor’s flowers after you decided that all of ours needed to be picked. I love writing you notes to find in your lunchbox or on the mirror in the morning. I love to plan the perfect gift for your birthday that only I would know you loved. I love to hear about your day and who made you mad. I love to watch you explain just why being an apple farmer makes sense for your life. I love to listen to you sing 1D in the shower and then pretend that you don’t even like them. I love to watch you doodle while you are supposed to be doing Algebra again. I love to wake to the sound of the cartoons on Saturday morning and footy pj’s on the wood floors. I love to hear your secrets and who you wish you could be. I love to catch you writing songs on the piano when you think you are all alone. I love you this much and even more.
But you see sweet one I am sorry.

I am sorry I have loved you more than your dad. My husband. The one I promised to love forever. The one I made a covenant with. You see, I was reminded recently by ones that are pouring into us that I have really messed up. But you and I know that with messing up always comes second chances. And for me it’s more like a hundred chances. So here I am asking for you to forgive me.

I need to love your dad even more than I love you. I need to love him with all my heart. I need to watch him sleep at night. I need to love the sound of his voice laughing. I need to encourage him from the sidelines every day. All day. I need to go out on dates with your dad every week and remember that we need to work at love. I need to ask for notes from your dad. I need to write them too. I need to thank him for helping our neighbors all the time and not complain that things aren’t done around here. I need to pack his lunch in the morning and make sure he knows that I value him. I need to smile and kiss your dad when he brings me flowers. I need to ignore you when your dad walks in the door because it’s his turn to be heard. I need to respect and support your dad when he goes for another job and not worry about how far away we will be from family. I need to buy him gifts just because it’s not his birthday. I need hold your dads hand when we are together. I need to sleep in more with the door closed on Saturday mornings. I need to listen more talk less. I need to tell him my secrets that I’m afraid to live. I need to lean in and lead with grace. I need to love your dad this much and even more.

So sweet children, know this. I love you. I really do. This may send you all into therapy ( yet we all know you will probably already end up there anyways). I have done you such a disservice. I should have done a better job at being a wife. Because that is the commitment I made. I am the example that you will learn from. And I want nothing more for you than to learn from your dad and I that who we are as a couple is the best gift we can give you.

With love, mom
And if you can’t find me…..I will be kissing your dad.tim

Waking up separate- #FreedomFridays

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I believe that one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is to surround ourselves with those who speak truth and share their stories. Kaelyn Benham is joining us again this week to share a part of her redemptive story. I am so honored and blessed to call her friend. She not only lives in freedom but loves in it too.

It started like any other Monday. Waking groggy around 5:30 to my baby wanting to eat; it’s as if she knows when he leaves. To teach a spin class at a local gym, Scott leaves the house around 4:45 on those mornings. At about 7:15 he gets back home. At this point, the morning is in full swing with teeth brushing battles, breakfast table antics, or some sort of other ruckus that ensues when trying to get 3 children out of the house at a certain time. So, like every other week, it happened this way, only this day was not just any other Monday in my heart or in his.

This was the day that 8 years ago we said, “I do.”

We didn’t start this special day together. We woke up separate. So this morning when he walked in the door I was already guarded. I had distanced myself already. Without realizing it at the time, I had already started the story in my head. The story creates distance. I had expectations that weren’t being met. Scott walks in with Starbucks and flowers in hand and I have “cynicism” in my heart already. I had allowed the enemy entry and he convinced me the day could not be salvaged.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the enemy, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1Peter 5:8

Based on the morning antics with the kiddos, I wanted him to bring breakfast. I wished he hadn’t spent money on flowers. I was upset he spent extra time to get them and came home a bit later than usual. He brought me a drink from Starbucks, but it was wrong. All of this adding to the power of the story I was building up in my mind. The one the enemy was telling me as if it were true. Convincing me that all these things really mattered and were worth the distance I was creating. Darkness was saying, in my voice and with my thoughts, “you are not important” and “today is just going to be like any other day” and “there is nothing special about your anniversary.” In my mind it was equal to, there is nothing special about you.

The enemy, the one that comes to destroy and separate, was also reminding me of promises we had made years ago. We were going to be together on birthdays and anniversaries. That was Scott’s idea and now the enemy was reminding me of those words and pinning Scott as a liar. All of a sudden more came in my mind. We didn’t start the morning together and we won’t end the day together either. He was leaving that night for a work trip.

These things floated around in my mind and tangled themselves on each other creating a knot so twisted I feared they couldn’t be untangled. A knot can ravel itself so quickly, and so tightly before you even recognize it.

I could feel the anger swelling. I was aware of the cold shoulder I was offering. I had a choice. I could keep going this way towards heart separation. Or I could fight. Decide against the unfortunate comfort of anger. Or choose the uncomfortable untangling back to the truth. I realized what was happening.

I chose to fight.

I started to fight.

Thankfully, I trust the heart of my husband. I know he is not a liar. I started to tell myself TRUTH. Our intention was always to be together on birthdays and anniversaries. We had already had the hard conversation and agreed he needed to leave that evening. We BOTH decided that was best. Him being gone that morning was an oversight for both of us. An oversight our hearts BOTH felt. Not just my heart was craving the connection. The enemy wants to take this day and ruin it. He hates our marriage. He hates that we love each other so much. He hates that our marriage and our family is a priority. Of course he was after us. The more I thought about it; we had let him take over slowly the past couple of weeks.

One unplanned “yes” after another.

One last minute errand.

Yes to one more invitation.

Yes to afterhours meetings and emails.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

On our anniversary, God was showing us how we had left ourselves vulnerable. Unguarded to the thief.  Open for destruction. He was showing us clearly the distance each “yes” to others had created in our hearts. Each “one more email” and each “impulsive errand” was leaving our family, our marriage, and our hearts unprotected.

We start to do the uncomfortable untangling back to the truth. We took steps back towards each other with admissions of where we chose “other.” We came back to the “practice field” together. We are a team, preparing again for the battle.

In order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:11

We remember we must protect our time. No one else will do that for us. We continue the practice of “stewardship of self” as Dr. David Benner says, in order to keep our family, our marriage and each heart protected.

These are the hard things to practice in a world that believes different. Expects different. That protecting our time is a practice in protecting our hearts. But now, in Truth, having one more battle under our belt we rise together. We rise stronger. Ready for another year.

If you have a story of freedom to share I would love to have you here. Every Friday I will be posting a story about personal freedoms and the fight it took to get there! Just email me at shelim9@gmail.com and I will share your truth…..sheli

The loneliest marriage- when the sin of making your children happy has stolen the gift of your covenant. .

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Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

Psalm 25:16

It’s not anything to be proud of. If anything its embarrassing. To sit before your best friend with tears and say you have never been lonelier.

My life is full. Full of children. Full of friends. Full of schedules. Full of running. Full of activities. Full of noise. Full of appointments.

It’s full. But I am empty.

And if I’m being honest. It’s not me. It’s not him.

It’s us. We.

We are empty. We are lonely.

Relieve the troubles of my heart     and free me from my anguish.

Psalm 25:17

We stay busy. With school. With soccer. With swimming. With basketball. With volleyball. With doctors. With therapists. With coaching. With volunteering.

We become busy. We become lonely.

And my heart is empty in the fullest schedules.

Look on my affliction and my distress     and take away all my sins.

Psalm 25:18

So we become who we were.

Two parents living parallel lives. Working for the five little ones we love instead of loving for the five little ones to thrive.

Until the silence is too thick to hear the faint crying against my pillow.

When I believe that the only way to feel heard is to let myself become sick again.

When one or both decide that we need help.

We need to crawl back again to those that speak truth over us.

When late night phone calls are made to say ….”please”

Guard my life and rescue me;do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. Psalm 25:20

The moment we realize again we are doing what we know instead of what we’d hoped.

We know the patterns that we grew up with. We know how devastating that story ends. We know the schedules of the families around us. We know that we justify by saying they are just like us. We know that it comes every fall and spring. We know that we don’t know any better.

Until knowing better has to be better than this.

So we make the late night phone calls and bear our soul. We admit again that we’ve stumbled. That the sin of making our children happy has stolen the gift of our covenant. That we would rather watch our children succeed than face the silence that has become our pain.

We reach out knowing that we will hear things we don’t want to hear. We reach out knowing that things will need to change. That yes’s will have to become no’s. That our children will learn to sacrifice in order for us to thrive.

May integrity and uprightness protect me,  because my hope, Lord, is in you Psalm 25:21

We admit that the world that we portray is the world of our activities, not of our life. Our pictures and accomplishments do not show the loneliness and pain that are stealing our marriage.

We admit that we cannot. Should not. Will not do this alone.

That we will fight. We will be still. We will pray. We will cry. We will dig. We will admit. We will be honest. We will ask for help. We will try.

For the sake of the covenant we made.

 

 

Do you have a story of fighting for freedom that you’d like to share? I’d love to have you on the blog sharing your fight, your beginning, your road to freedom. Whatever your struggle is you are not alone. -sheli

Yes, I will marry you….but first I need therapy. #FreedomFriday

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For a while now I have thought about giving guest bloggers and authors a chance to share their voice here. There is nothing more empowering than to know that you are not alone in this journey. That you are not the only one in the struggle and fighting for freedom. As many of you that have followed my journey know that I have wrestled with my fair share of demons. You also know though that I have done hard work and found freedom in entering into the pain, I still have so much work to do. But I know that I continue to fight every day. When you are in the trenches or walking around them (as I did for years) you are drawn to others who are actually authentic and truthful in their struggles. Who call you out and want nothing more than to help you break the chains you continue to carry around.

Kaelyn Benham is just that. She is what many would call a warrior. She continually enters into the pain of her past and present and is learning to not run. This beautiful woman has embraced her struggles with motherhood, love, marriage, pregnancy, truth and transformed it into power. She has left her pain at the feet of Jesus and trusted that He would use it for good. Through years of uncovering lies and experiencing freedom she helps others discover their true self through Life Coaching. She is a person that sees into your soul and calls out the love that so many of us bury under years of pain we become comfortable with. Her stories of freedom are inspiring and filled with hope.

So for our first ever #FreedomFriday I am grateful to share with you part of her courageous story……

Scott and I had been intentionally dating for about 3 months when we started to talk about getting married. Though neither of us had been in this kind of relationship before, we both sensed in our own ways that this relationship would be the one we would commit to forever. And though that sense was a part of me, every day it was a choice for me to act accordingly. My fear drove me to act in ways that were completely contradictory of this “sense” I had. I would avoid him. I would get easily irritated by him and things he would do. All in an effort to remain in control and keep my heart positioned safely.

 

At one point, Scott said something to me more seriously about getting married. Through our discussion we even loosely talked through timing of when this forever union would begin. Up to that point, unlike most girls, I had done zero planning in my mind about my wedding. All I knew was I had a love for October and so I imagined it would be a good time to walk down a leafy isle. I felt this race of excitement in my heart about the plans starting to be made, but also this impending heaviness about what those plans implied.

 

Although I had not put much time contemplating colors, flowers, dresses or cakes for my wedding, I had spent a HUGE amount of time thinking about my marriage. The problem was I had spent so much time thinking about what I did NOT want my marriage to look like, but not much time learning how to make it look like what I wanted. And so when Scott suggested that we get married that October, just 5 months later, my response was very romantically, “okay, but I have to go to therapy.” To this day I wonder what about that response did not make him run for the hills, but am thankful every day that he didn’t. Without even knowing it at the time he was showing me that whatever I brought to the table he was ready to accept.

 

That was the start of a new way of brave living for both of us. This blank slate that said, I am going to “show up” for you and I am going to trust that you are going to “show up” for me. Neither of us had been in any relationship that had that sort of bravery and commitment attached to it. Both of us knew that it was going to be hard to bridge all the gaps that past pains had caused, but we were willing to be all in with each other.

 

That day when I laid all my pain out on the table in front of me, I fully expected Scott to run. He didn’t. In fact he was patient and let me do my work from the inside out. He allowed me to bring him parts of my healing as they happened. As I would do that he would reveal his own wounds and how they were impacting the way he was thinking about things.

Unknowingly at this time we formed a silent pact that said, “We are FOR each other”. This is what we wanted our marriage to be about. Bravely living FOR each other through Christ. This was what we started planning and practicing.

 

How do I trust you that you are always “for” me no matter what?

 

How do I lay down my defenses to protect myself trusting you are going to have my best interest in mind?

 

How am I patient while you learn what my best interest even is?

 

How do I know what yours is?

 

How do we handle each other’s hearts when we have done something that might have broken it a bit?

 

What does it feel like to have God between us always pulling us towards Him and so towards each other?

 

What do I do when I want to run?

 

What do I do when I realize I want to stay?

 

What do I do when I don’t know how I feel? Or when I fear how you feel?

 

This process is hard and painful, but so worth it. It allows you access to a part of you and your spouse that people rarely experience. All under the umbrella of God’s love which you are able to experience in a new way as more of Him is revealed in each of you and in this sacred space of your marriage.

 

Brave living is choosing to move forward THROUGH the pain, the discomfort, or the uncertainty. It is saying I know that I can’t stay here, wherever “here” is, and taking steps to grow

Always, remembering, as a follower of Christ, the end has already been determined.

 

You are safe.

 

Christ wins!

 

When I live with this perspective then I know that my current circumstance will ultimately give way to a win if I choose brave living.

If you have a story about finding freedom and would like to share your story I would love to have you tell it here. Just submit your story to shelim9@gmail.com and with #FreedomFriday in the subject line. I will link it to your author page or your blog. Remember there is such freedom in telling your story and knowing you are not alone.

Are you a marriage warrior? A story of a marriage that shouldn’t have lasted.

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I feel like every day I hear of another marriage ending. When I was in Uganda two years ago my best friend called to tell me that someone that I had put on a pedestal for so long had left her kids and marriage. I was overwhelmed. I remember falling to my knees in heaping mess. I needed her to stay on the pedestal I had her on. I needed her to be a constant. I needed her example of gentle selfless love to be true. But it wasn’t. It was ugly. It was going to get even uglier and I was stuck on the other side of the world. Feeling helpless and sad. And if I told the truth, I saw the end coming for a long time. But did nothing. I stood by and said “it’s none of my business”.

Those of us that have been married for a while we all know that divorce doesn’t just happen. We don’t just wake up one day and decide to “uncouple” or walk away on a Tuesday. Well maybe some do, but I know this is not true of myself or those around me.

Sixteen years ago I walked down the aisle as a scared little girl. We were young, stupid, selfish, scared and had no idea what we were headed into. We started off with a three month old as cute as a button but that sure was not enough to keep the regret from smothering us. I was naïve enough to think that marriage would be a lot like registering for your wedding gifts. Sure there would be a few disagreements as to how many servings of silverware you needed, but eventually all was ended with a kiss and a great list from Crate and Barrel.

Our marriage from the beginning was lacking. In support. In truth. We had lost all of our friends at the time. They were in med school or grad school hundreds of miles away and here we were trying to just make it through the day. And the only truth I was seeing was the daytime shows that filled my day. Those around me were trying their best to “give us space”. We didn’t need space. We needed help. So everything we were just manifested in socially acceptable behaviors.

I was jealous that he got to go to work. He was resentful that he was no longer the soccer star. I was angry that we had to move so far away from my family. He was confused as to why family was even important to me. I was frustrated that I had lost who I was. He was pushing to reclaim what he had lost. I was bitter that he got to go back to grad school. He was exhausted working and going to school. I was lonely and filled my world with friends and causes that gave me value. He was lonely and the silence had become deafening. We were both trying to make ourselves feel better, look better, be better but in the process were lost as to who we were really supposed to be.

Eleven years ago and we found our way into a church that would turn our “it’s all about my happiness” world upside. There we met people who called out truth in us. Who got in our face, sometimes with grace and sometimes with reality to call out the ugliness. We had people who prayed fervently for our marriage. That our pride, anger, resentment, and fear would be washed away. We had people that showed up on our doorstep without being asked. We had people who were not watching from the outside but entering in and pealing back the layers. We had people who when we fell, just picked us up. We had people that told us that divorce was not an option. We had people that we were not called to be happy, we were called to be holy. We had people that were not afraid to get messy with our filth but just looked for the next mess to dig through.

To those of you that are “our people” you know who you are. We are. I am. He is. Eternally grateful. I am crying as I am writing this. I see your faces and can’t imagine our lives without you. Some have been with us for years and a few just in this past year.
Thank you. Thank you for not just talking about us behind our backs or putting us on a prayer chain but for entering in and telling the truth. Thank you to those that didn’t just stand by and watch it happen. Thank you for never claiming “well it’s none of my business” as your excuse. Thank you to those that knew it was your business. That when someone around you is hurting you don’t politely stay quiet. You got loud. You showed up. You listened. You cried with us. You encouraged us. You laughed with us. You called out the good in us. You let us see that it wasn’t about us, it was all about God. You were gentle with us. You were grace filled. You told us your stories of pain and defeat. You showed us that authenticity is healing. And healing will make us whole.

Thank you. Thank you for not giving up on us. Thank you for believing that God could wreck us only to piece us back together.

Thank you for not being done with us. For knowing that we still need help. For calling us out when you see old patterns emerge. For wanting us to be better. For knowing that we can be. Thank you.

So on this anniversary of 16 years I wish I could hug each of you. Each of you for being marriage warriors. Truth tellers. Grace givers. God seekers.

Thank you….all my love…..Sheli

He did the best he could.- SheReadsTruth

He did the best he could.

That is what she said, in her brown cushioned chair, noise machine by the door.

He sat. Sat next to me in her office.

Months of pain unspoken hung between us.

I am not opposed to counseling. Not at all.
Not this one. This one was finally good.
She wasn’t telling us all the bull crap that many had told us before.

“Everyone makes mistakes, you obviously did”
“Walk away while you only have two kids, the damage will be minimal”
“Please think about having any more children”

I had stopped wearing my wedding ring by the time we walked into the first counselor and decided that I wouldn’t wear one again.
I believed I didn’t deserve to wear one.

We sat there sedentary. Watching the clock crawl, both fidgeting. He bites the inside of his hand when he is nervous. In between his thumb and first finger. I pick. My nails, hair, skin.

She asked,
how we were doing,
I started crying. Knowing that I was the reason we were here. I was the reason things were falling apart.

She sat there and said. He did the best he could.

He did the best he could, with what he had. With what I had never given him. Though I had given him every reason to leave. Biblically he had every reason. And no reason to stay.

You see the troubles we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Nehemiah 2:17

That was seven years ago.

But here is the thing. With me and him.

Although more him, if we are telling the truth.

He believes.

Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace. Nehemiah 2:17b

He believes in covenants.

He believes in keeping his word.

He believes in God, more than he believes in me. More than my addictions. More than my past. More than my mistakes. More than my mess.

I also told them about the gracious hand of God upon me and what the King had said to me. Nehemiah 2:18

More than he believes in our marriage.

He believes that God will bring redemption.

That God has a different plan for my life, for his life and he just needs to trust. He believes that the power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power that is fighting for our marriage.

The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding….Nehemiah 2:20

He believes that even if he never sees deliverance come in our marriage that he isn’t leaving. Because God will make something out of this mess. It isn’t his right to say that it needs to happen in his lifetime. He believes that he can teach me to trust more in the restoration than the struggle.

He does the best he can.

And his best is exactly what I need.
#SheReadsTruth

Dear kids, I loved you too much.

massiefamily1

Dear kids,

I love you.

I love you with all my heart. I love to watch you sleep at night. (not like creepy crawl in your window to watch you) but more like I want to count the freckles on your sun kissed face. I love to hear the sound of your voices laughing with each other, whispering secrets while you are supposed to be sleeping. I love to watch you scream with all your might when your brother scores in soccer. I love to curl your hair when you want to be just like mommy. I love to take you out on dates all dressed up and sit across from you and wipe the whip cream off your lip. I love to find notes on my pillow from you. I love to watch you make new friends or even just try. I love to see you help each other up when one of you falls. I love to watch you smelling the neighbor’s flowers after you decided that all of ours needed to be picked. I love writing you notes to find in your lunchbox or on the mirror in the morning. I love to plan the perfect gift for your birthday that only I would know you loved. I love to hear about your day and who made you mad. I love to watch you explain just why being an apple farmer makes sense for your life. I love to listen to you sing 1D in the shower and then pretend that you don’t even like them. I love to watch you doodle while you are supposed to be doing Algebra again. I love to wake to the sound of the cartoons on Saturday morning and footy pj’s on the wood floors. I love to hear your secrets and who you wish you could be. I love to catch you writing songs on the piano when you think you are all alone. I love you this much and even more.
But you see sweet one I am sorry.

I am sorry I have loved you more than your dad. My husband. The one I promised to love forever. The one I made a covenant with. You see, I was reminded recently by ones that are pouring into us that I have really messed up. But you and I know that with messing up always comes second chances. And for me it’s more like a hundred chances. So here I am asking for you to forgive me.

I need to love your dad even more than I love you. I need to love him with all my heart. I need to watch him sleep at night. I need to love the sound of his voice laughing. I need to encourage him from the sidelines every day. All day. I need to go out on dates with your dad every week and remember that we need to work at love. I need to ask for notes from your dad. I need to write them too. I need to thank him for helping our neighbors all the time and not complain that things aren’t done around here. I need to pack his lunch in the morning and make sure he knows that I value him. I need to smile and kiss your dad when he brings me flowers. I need to ignore you when your dad walks in the door because it’s his turn to be heard. I need to respect and support your dad when he goes for another job and not worry about how far away we will be from family. I need to buy him gifts just because it’s not his birthday. I need hold your dads hand when we are together. I need to sleep in more with the door closed on Saturday mornings. I need to listen more talk less. I need to tell him my secrets that I’m afraid to live. I need to lean in and lead with grace. I need to love your dad this much and even more.

So sweet children, know this. I love you. I really do. This may send you all into therapy ( yet we all know you will probably already end up there anyways). I have done you such a disservice. I should have done a better job at being a wife. Because that is the commitment I made. I am the example that you will learn from. And I want nothing more for you than to learn from your dad and I that who we are as a couple is the best gift we can give you.

With love, mom
And if you can’t find me…..I will be kissing your dad.