Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Preface-- I knew!!

About a year ago, a college professor encouraged me to write a book about my life's journey, and the twists and turns and challenges and miracles I have experienced along the way.  I told him, that as a single mother, juggling 3 part-time jobs and full-time college, a book was out of the question.  He then mentioned starting a blog.  It felt good.  It felt right.  As I began to write, it felt cleansing.   I began with the day my husband left, after 20 years of marriage, in the pursuit of living an alternative lifestyle.  So, since the birth of this blog, 9 months ago, I have heard from people from many different walks of life.  I have also had opportunities to teach lessons in my church, and to travel and speak to both youth and adult groups about keeping a positive attitude in spite of opposition and challenge.  One thing I have been asked over and over again, was whether or not I knew of my husband's struggle with same-sex attraction, prior to his leaving our family in October 2010.  And so, after much prayerful thought and quiet pondering, I felt the need to answer that question via this blog.  I do hope to write a book, in the future.  And this post, will be part of the preface.  It is my hope and prayer that I can answer this question in the most sensitive way possible.  And, while you read, I hope that you will realize and feel how tender this experience really was.

It was a Sunday evening, in April of 2005, and I had just returned home from a meeting at the church.  My husband had been home with our children, who were, at that point, not quite 3 years old, 8 years old, 10 years old and almost 13.  The three older children were asleep and our little guy was toddling around downstairs.  I sat down on the couch, tired from the day.  My husband looked at me and said, "Have you noticed that I have not been very happy lately?"  I told him I had not noticed that.  He then said he was leaving.  I was so taken back and surprised with grief, that I thought it must be a joke.  He sat and looked at me blankly.  I went upstairs and looked in the garage.  Sure enough, there was his car, packed with clothes and belongings high enough to obstruct the driver's view.  I went back downstairs and asked him some questions.  I began to feel ill and ran upstairs towards the restroom.  I fainted on the stairs during that incredibly difficult climb.  He left as I lay there.  Moments later, I lifted my head, discovered our toddler still strolling around.  I held him in my arms, rocked him to sleep, and sat in the dark for what seemed like hours, just staring in the thick of the night.  I knew, from that moment on, my life would never be the same. 

The next few days were heavy with fear and question.  At first, he would not respond.  Then, email seemed to be our only means of communication.  I believe he remained away for 2-3 days.  I still did not know what was going on, but my mind was constantly racing with wonder.  I learned firsthand what it meant to always have  prayer in my heart.  I prayed for 3 days----- quietly and privately, in my heart, outloud as I drove, as I mowed the lawn, as I prepared and cleaned up meals, I prayed.  I prayed for peace.  I prayed for guidance.  And, I prayed for love, His love, to see my husband as He sees him, if and when he ever returned.  Finally, he returned.  We spent a few quiet nights, both in deep thought.  Then, one night, I asked the hard question, and he answered "Yes!"  His response sent a chill up my spine and I felt numb from head to toe.  As we talked, he told me he did not want to live that lifestyle and he loved me and our family.  He seemed sincere and like he really wanted to change.  I had a hard decision to make.  Probably the hardest decision I had ever made and ever will---- Do I stay in this marriage, knowing the risks, the shattered trust, the deep pain, hurt, betrayal and disappointment????  I finally told him that if he wanted to fight this, I would fight it with him.  We would walk this journey side-by-side, just like I had promised him I would, 20 years prior.  I knew deep down that I had made some sacred covenants, not only with my husband, but with the Lord.  And, I was going to be a Covenant Keeper, no matter what.  My children were not in danger.  Every day I could hold on, was one more day our children had a two-parent home.  Every hour I could hold on, was another hour my children had a full-time father.  Every moment I could hold on, was another moment of "normal" for them.  And, if I could make it a moment, I could make it an hour.  And, if I could make it an hour, I could make it a week.  And, with lots prayer and hard work, perhaps a week could become two and three and even more weeks of "family!!! 

And, so began, my 5 year walk to Zion!!!  I thought if it that way, as I knew, if we could make it, we truly would be of "one heart, and one mind, dwelling in righteousness."  I also knew that there would be many challenges along the way.  I stuck by him through the repentance process. And, I must say, I learned SO MUCH watching and feeling with him.  Don't ever be afraid to walk such a walk along side your spouse.  It truly is an opportunity to grow incredibly close to one another, if you go into it as a team, on the same team!!  So, to the many of you have wondered, yes I KNEW!!!  I did not have any clue prior to his departure that April night.  However, over the next 5 years, I tried to ask hard questions, to support, to help, to encourage, and to even help him up when he fell.  I also tried to never rub his nose in his mistakes.  I figured he probably did that often enough all on his own.  I decided that if all of our sins smelled like smoke, we would all smell about the same.  So, we walked, and walked and walked.  Often times, we even sang as we walked during the little triumphs.  However, as those of you who have followed this blog, I ended up burying my husband along the way.  He gave up.  My heart broke.  I never cried so hard.  However, I knew I had given it my best shot. Many of you have asked me if it was worth it?  To that, I would shout a resounding YES----- Our kids had a father in the home for 5 MORE YEARS!!!  5 more years to grow, to mature, to learn and to become more independent to make it through their father leaving.  5 MORE YEARS to be strengthened to be strong enough to withstand divorce and its aftermath.  5 MORE YEARS to be old enough to help a single mom, broken-hearted, sleep-deprived, financially strapped and emotionally broken, rise above it all, and realize life still has purpose and that God has a plan for us all. 

So, to those of you who have asked if I knew.  I will respond----  for 5 years I KNEW!  I KNEW that I would stand by him while he fought.  I KNEW I would support him through the ups and downs of that process.  I KNEW that our family was worth it.  I KNEW that I would be a covenant keeper, no matter what.  And, I KNEW I was not alone.  I KNEW that He would also walk with us on this journey.  And, that no matter what the outcome, I KNEW He knew.........and that was enough!!! 

Sometimes we see a rose and only notice the thorns, their incredibly sharp points and their potential danger.  Other times, we see a rose and are completely taken by its' beauty. My family was the rose!  And, I was taken by its' beauty and wonder.  Yes, I knew!!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Family Change is definitely a time that we can feel overwhelmed, hurt, alone, abandoned and even spiritually injured beyond repair.  Family Change can fill us with emptiness and loss over all that was familiar, comfortable and good.  Family Change can be an cloud of darkness without any hope of light ever again.  Family Change is a period in our lives when we tend to "reach out" or turn away from that higher power that used to give reason, purpose and hope.

There is an account in the New Testament, about a woman and her "issue of blood."  I have known the story, and the woman's faith is what has always stood out to me, in the past.  However, recently,  I was impressed with yet another aspect of this scriptural miracle.  The Bible indicates, that the woman has suffered 12 years.  And, during those 12 years, she has seen physician after physician and spent everything she has in her quest to be healed and made whole.  How often have we all sought after healing and ways of feeling whole--------- perhaps in that bigger house, the new furniture, the new clothes or the latest and greatest of home decor?  The newest in technological advances?  That prestigious job or position?  The new car?  Or even, the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend, spouse, kids and family?  The "if only's" can be all consuming, and thus, we too, end up spending everything we have, in time, our thoughts and resources, in our quest to feel whole and be healed.  This woman finally realizes, after years of searching,  that healing does not lie in anything other than her Savior.  So, she seeks Him.  She finds him in the crowd.
 And, she REACHES...... and touches only the garment of her Savior ------ and it is enough.  She is "healed" the scriptures say.  Did her blood issue completely go away, or was she blessed with insight and courage to deal with the challenges it brings?  Whichever the case, the Savior was the only way and means of her healing process.  Interestingly enough, this same Savior who fed the multitude with a couple of fish and a couple loaves of bread.  The very same Savior who raised Lazarus from the dead.  That same Savior who made the blind to see and gave sound to the deaf.  The Savior could of have just blessed the woman and made her whole, could he not?  However, so pertinent is the fact that she REACHES with her own hand and touches only His garment, and is healed.  So, often times in our lives, we must "reach", we must take action ourselves, in order to receive the full blessings of the Savior in our lives.  We must "reach" for the scriptures daily.  We must "reach" out to Him in daily prayer.  We "reach" as we attend our meetings and we "reach" with each Family Home Evening and Family Prayer.  We "reach" as we courageously share our testimonies with others.  And, we "reach" as we use Sunday to rest from our labors and draw closer to Him------- that we might know Him, feel of His love, recognize His strength and power in our lives.  All so that when we have "issues" that require healing, we know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that if we "reach" out to Him, we too shall be healed.

As an abandoned and broken-hearted single mother, as the mother who gives away her young daughter away in marriage, and even as a recently remarried mother who attempts to blend 12 lives into one-------I have learned that I cannot survive any Family Change or challenge alone.  After my husband left after 20 years of marriage, to pursue an alternative lifestyle, my mind and heart seemed to spiral between hate and anger and the unfairness of "How could this happen to me?"  There were even fleeting moments of thoughts of revenge.  I would go to bed angry.  I would lay awake for hours and ponder my plight.  There in my bed, in the darkness, I would add up bills owed and the lack of dollars coming in, and fall asleep with feelings of fear and hate.  Then, I would wake up in the morning, realize is was not a bad dream, but my reality, and the negative cycle would start all over again.  After a few weeks of this, I realized two things.  The first was that none of these feelings were productive.  All of them were paralyzing!  One day, I heard a song called He Is-------the words and music filled me with love ---------- Love for my kids.  Love for myself.  Love even for he who had placed such a heavy burden on my back to bear, purposefully.  And, love for He who had paid the price for my bitterness, so that I did not need to be consumed by it.  And finally, this song filled me with love for the future and the thought that I could come out of this trial better rather than bitter-------if and only if I could find the courage, through this crowd of negativity and hurt,  to REACH for Him.  So, I knew then and there that music would be key in this refining process of enduring and learning.  I sought for music that lifted my heavy heart.  That testified of truth.  Music that inspired me to be a person that my children could look up to.  And, music that would dissolve such negative feelings before they even had time to grow.  I sought for music that would create a holy place out of our tragedy.  I sought for music that would fill my home and my heart with so much goodness-----that this all-consuming negativity would no longer take root in our lives.
Such music has inspired me to REACH for He and only He who could heal my broken heart and comfort my fear.  He and only He who could fill the emptiness that often times, accompanies Family Change.  And, I have recently learned, that He and only He, as we REACH and make the Savior a part of our lives, can and will help us blend our family of 12 into a unified family of courageous and stripling warriors.   None of these roles can I accomplish alone.  I need Him!  I need His love and peace!  I need His comfort.  I crave his guidance.  I know His promised light in any darkness is sure!!  I know He Is--------- and I will REACH!!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Yes, I have recently remarried, and since I began this blog, almost a year ago, my quest has been to strengthen those experiencing Family Change, as they read.  But, also to remind us all, that Family Change will be part of all of our lives.  Some marry, children are born, they grow, and soon leave the home-----  all of which create Family Change along the journey.  Then, because of life, our own choices, and sometimes because of the choices of others, we experience profound Family Change-----some of us may experience the loss of a spouse, the dark rejection and pain of divorce, and others may be called upon to bury little ones along this journey we call life.  However big or small, Family Change has and will effect us all.  My hope and prayer is and has been, that something I say might lighten a load, create a friendship, inspire the weary, with the hopes that together, we can come through the refining fire of Family Change, better not bitter.  

As I have been remarried almost a week, I have found my heart and thoughts often turning to those dark times of profound loss.  My husband and I have spoken of those hard times that we endured alone.  We have been reminded of those lonely times, and how our relationships have been strengthened with our children and with our Savior, with such deep connections, that could not have been created in any other way.  I used to think about what type of man would make the "perfect" husband and father for me and my children.  Soon, I realized that a better quest would be, what imperfections would compliment me and mine and those of my children "perfectly.  Perfect might be the imperfection in one and that same skill mastered in the other.  Other times, it might be a willingness and desire to overcome challenge together.  As these two wildflowers, growing together, despite the intense hot desert climate, low moisture, yet these two, overcame the odds, working "perfectly" together.  
On a hike, I was touched by these two.  It was pointed out to me that these were not the prettiest of blossoms------ but I knew, for this blog, they were "perfect!"  One flower appears a little weaker than the other.   But, the stronger blossom, with more petals seems almost proud of it's teammate, its counterpart, its help-meet!!  Together, the make a healthy, whole, brilliant couple of beauty.

Then, along our hike, we ran across this tree.  It made me think, again, about the perfect couple, the perfect spouse.  You can tell that these trees began as two separate trees.  They grew together, almost as one strong tree, in the middle, and then side by side, and straight up.   So, the perfect spouse, is not one without imperfection, but one
with the same "perfect" goals, strengths and desires to succeed together, despite the odds.  Perhaps, one of these trees was weak for a period, maybe even received injury during a storm.  While the other tree, had a period of strength.  These imperfections work together to create two trees that stand straight and strong------even stronger than they would have been alone.  If we turned over the soil beneath, it would not surprise me if the ground revealed roots, intertwined together, creating a foundation to withstand anything that may come along and attempt to destroy their growth and longevity.

I am well aware, that the blending of families ranks right up there with ultimate Family Change.  However, I am also aware, that as the tree and flowers illustrate so beautifully, that together, we can accomplish hard things.   I look back at what we have been through alone.  And, the thought of what we can do together empowers me------ not because we are a "perfect" couple or family, but because we "perfectly" compliment each other with our imperfections.  "Perfect" is not the one who makes the most ---- but the one who helps you make the most out of each day!!!  I have learned that rather than praying for an easy life, I pray for the strength, wisdom and inspiration to endure a difficult one------ so that when Families Change, my family is armed with the necessary power and inspiration to come out on top----- perfectly!!!  Perfect is not without flaw or challenge.  Perfect is the most amazing combinations of imperfections----- to create the perfect team!!  Perfect!!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Blending and Stepping

 As Families Change, so do we!!!  Not only will our hearts never be the same, but the dynamics in our homes change, our routines change, traditions are altered and relationship and roles are enhanced and modified.  Family Change often times causes a ripple effect-------as one change produces another.  For me, my husband left after 20 years of marriage.  As I mentioned above, our home was forever changed.  My oldest daughter (18 years old at the time) took on a major support role to me, as far as parenting goes.  My 16 year old son took over the home repairs, the lawn and became the physical strength and protector.  My 14 year old daughter became the nanny and my 8 year old son became my shadow.  Now, 3 years later, I sit, one week from getting married.  I have pondered the enormous responsibility at hand, of blending two families into one------ and creating one strong family unit.  A family that will cultivate love, enhance relationships, create bonds, and most importantly raise strong and confident children who know who they are, where they came from and where they are going.  Rather than feeling overwhelmed by this new responsibility, I decided to study and seek out what skills I would need to "blend" and then, get to work.  I soon realized, that the Art of Blending began long ago, within each of us.  As children, we want to BLEND IN.  We are continually trying to make new friends, keep the old, and avoid the awkward.  By "blending in" we want to feel comfortable in each other's presence by feeling appreciated and like we have a place within our clusters of friends---- like we belong.  So, I will dig deep, and find my blending skills which I began to sharpen on my childhood playground of learning, and make sure 6 beautiful kids know they are loved and feel they belong!
CONTINUAL BLENDING is constantly occurring as new acquaintences enter our already-established groups of friends and family.  Sometimes, we are the ones who have invited a new friend.  In those circumstances, WE are the ones who are truly trying to blend and re-blend the group.  By doing so, we are seeking for common interests, likes and dislikes.  We are watching for personality clashes and the rare find ----- a perfect personality match.  When we are the ones who have invited the new friend, employee, student or classmate in, we become the key blenders.  Sort of managing the fun while being completely aware of any possible problems.  We feel responsible for this newcomer and we realize, for that moment, in that situation, their happiness is in our hands.  Then, there are those times when someone else invites the new friend into our group.  We are then, just trying to get to know and welcome this newcomer, while striving to break down any walls, barriers or conflicts which may arise---- and, they always do.  All the while, staying true to our childhood ability to BLEND IN.  I know that I will be Continually Blending during the next phase of my journey.  I look forward to the challenge as I know the rewards will be far greater than any apparent sacrifice I could ever make.

TEENAGE BLENDING is the ultimate blending.  Our teenagers are blending everyday in every way possible, in order to create peace amidst caos, acceptance at the risk of rejection,  consistency in a world where things are changing everyday.  As well as blending their actions with their beliefs........and feeling true to themselves while they blend.  Blending actions, values, friends and family------ TEENAGE ULTIMATE BLENDING!!  Blending skills are being learned and even cultivated within all of us.  I am grateful to have been chosen to harvest some of these skills and use them in my own family.

I believe whole-heartedly in the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child."  I also believe that each village is different for each child.  Villages may consist of mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, grandparents and aunts and uncles.  Villages may also consist of teachers, coaches, neighbors and yes, even step-parents.  I have studied this new role over and over in my mind, and here are my thoughts.  Not out of any book or from anyone else's post.  Not off of someone's Pinterest.  Just the feelings of my heart coupled with my life-time of BLENDING experiences.  A Step-Mother ought to be exactly that----- A mother with a step!!!!

Perhaps, being a Step-Mother means having an extra "Step" In My Stride?  Through exercise, prayer and pondering, I could make sure that I have a little extra energy, patience and love----- that I might use my BLENDING skills that I have been using my whole life, to blend my new family to the best of my ability-----as I know they are depending on me to do exactly that.  Perhaps, being a Step-Mother means striving to stay One-"Step"-Ahead of the game----- using my Continual Blending skills acquired as a youth to watch and anticipate challenges, that they might be easily resolved.  One-Step-Ahead  to better blend schedules and create new while blending our old goals and priorities.  One-Step-Ahead of holidays and birthdays and tender hearts and emotions that may accompany such Families Change! Maybe, being a Step-Mother means not being afraid to Take A "Step" Back at times, when just Mom and Dad need to be involved.
 As a Step-Mother, I may need to Step-It-Up when emotions, feelings and frustrations reach an all time low, which I'm pretty confident, they will, at times.  Even though I may also be on "Empty" myself, I will seek and pray for the emotional stamina to "Step"-It-Up when the need arises.  Finally, I decided that being a Step-Mother means being a mom with a "step"---- just like my step-stool allows me to reach what I can't reach on my own, as a Step-Mother, I want to help these 6 children reach a little higher.  And, perhaps, I have been placed in their lives for reason.  Perhaps I have something to offer them that no one else does, in my own unique, Step-Mother way.  I want to be the Step-Mother that helps them stand a little taller and reach a little higher.   Being a Step-Mother means that I am being given the honor of being part of the "village" that will continue to raise, influence and love, 6 lives, 6 of Heavenly Father's precious children.  And, I will do my best to blend, love and honor them, while creating consistency, love and support for my own children and my husband!!!!  (Now, there's a word I have not used for almost 3 years!!!)    I will Step-In, Step-it-Up and Step Ahead------ with Him as my ultimate guide, I will become a master Blender and be the Step-Mother I can possibly be.  Families Change.  Families blend.  Hearts and lives intertwine!  Miracles will manifest themselves as I place my family in His hands----- and get to work. Blending and Stepping!!!