I suck at being single.

Always have.  I hate it, actually.  Know what else I hate?  Dating.  Like, I can think of a million things I’d rather do than go on a first date with someone who may or may not have all of his teeth (maybe that’s a regional thing?).  Don’t get me wrong, I love getting to know people, but there are too many [stupid] rules when it comes to dating.

Now, I know you’re probably sitting there thinking, “Why on Earth is she talking about dating?!  Her husband just died!  The nerve!”  And that would be exactly why I’m talking about dating.  There are certain [stupid] rules that widow(er)s “have” to follow.  But you know what?  It’s nobody else’s business.  Dating as a widow is completely frowned upon by lots of people.  It’s one of those things that we don’t like to bring up, because we know we’re GOING TO BE JUDGED for it.  It’s something we only talk about with others who are in the same boat.

You wanna know something about widows and widowers?  We are people – some of us are even human!  We have feelings, emotions, and desires just like every single other person on the planet.  And, before your mind goes there, I’m not necessarily talking about the physical aspect, although…

When you’re excited about something, who is the first person you share it with?  Who do you run to when you’re having a bad day?  Who knows you better than anyone else?  Who can make you smile when nobody else can?  I’m guessing it’s not your cat.  Or maybe it is.  I’m talking about your spouse, though.

You’re probably sitting over there now saying, “If I ever lost my spouse, I’d never be able to love again.”  And you may be right, but you may be wrong, too!  You. Do. Not. Know. Until you’re in the situation.  Life’s funny like that.

Before Ray died, we talked about me remarrying.  As a matter of fact, he wanted me to.  I mean, I am still young and hot, right?  Well, you get the idea.  But the point is, it is totally acceptable to date after losing a spouse.  It’s also totally acceptable not to date after losing a spouse.  Whatever works for you is what you should do.  Just let God guide you in the right direction.

I’m not typing this for anyone’s approval.  I’m not even dating, so it really doesn’t matter to me either way.  I just feel like we shouldn’t have to hide our feelings so people who don’t know squat about what it’s like won’t feel the need to give their input.  Death does not end love.  The love will always be there.  That doesn’t mean there can’t be more love – new love, different love.

Can there even be too much love?

 

“A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 7:39

Things I’ve Learned About Relationships From Death and Divorce

When you go through something difficult, you can either feel sorry for yourself and spend your life wallowing in self-pity, or you can learn from it and become stronger than ever before. I prefer the latter.

I’ve learned a whole lot about myself over the last few months, and I’ve decided to take all the lessons I’ve learned from watching my husband die and combine them with the lessons I learned from my divorce nearly 12 years ago. Here ya go:

  1. Don’t settle for less than you deserve.
  2. Have a good relationship with your family, but don’t let your family interfere in your marriage.
  3. Trust is super important.
  4. Listen to your gut. If it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Don’t force it, and don’t stick with it just because of the time and effort you’ve put into it.
  5. Don’t compromise your values.
  6. Be honest, but be kind.
  7. Compromise.
  8. Let the small things go, so you can enjoy the big things.
  9. Love with your whole heart.
  10. Stop being petty. As annoying as those socks beside the hamper are, they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I promise.
  11. Have fun. Life is mundane, and it can really take its toll. Do everything you can to fight it.
  12. Don’t work too much. Family is more important than your job.
  13. Make time for each other. If you don’t, you will regret it one day.
  14. Don’t let the hurt keep you from loving again. Love is always worth it.
  15. Always put God first, and everything else will fall into place.

Sin is Sin is Sin

Facebook is crazy today, y’all!  Of course, it always goes crazy when it comes to politics.  Abortion, though, is a little bit more than just politics.  The idea of aborting a baby at 40 weeks is heartbreaking.  I can’t imagine even considering it.  There are women who do, though, obviously.  Buuuuttt…  This post isn’t about abortion.  It’s about sin.  It’s about how we as Christians (or, as I prefer to be called, Christ-followers) should respond, and I’m definitely prepared to lose some friends over this one.

I’ve seen lots of outrage, anger, and hate today.  I can understand that, I really can.  But sit back and try to imagine something for a second.  You are pregnant.  You’re unmarried, your boyfriend is a total loser, and your parents are going to kick you out on the street.  You have nowhere to turn.  You look for help, but all you find is, “Abortion is murder!  You’re a murderer!”  You decide to have an abortion anyway, because NOBODY is willing to help you.  OR you decide to have the baby and try to take care of it yourself.  Since childcare is so expensive, and you have no help, you get government aid.  Now you’re a lazy, good-for-nothing bum who needs to stop having kids you can’t afford.  See the dilemma?  You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I’m fixin’ to get real personal here for a minute (and you better believe it, because my Southern don’t come out unless it’s serious).  My kids and I qualify for government assistance since my husband died.  We have Medicaid, because insurance is crazy expensive.  Some of the same people I see sharing things about taking away benefits are the same ones telling me to “stay home with your kids and live off your Social Security for as long as you can.” Why is it OK for me to do that and not OK for somebody you assume is just lazy?  Is it because you know my story?  You can’t have it both ways.  Either it’s alright, or it’s not.  Stop talking out of both sides of your mouth. (Disclaimer:  I know some of you truly love others and would do anything at all to help anyone who needed it.  This post isn’t for you.)

Sorry (not sorry) about that little side rant.  Back to sin.  I do believe that abortion is murder, and murder is a sin.  Know what else is a sin?  Divorce.  Lying.  Having an affair.  Being rude to your server when your food is wrong.  Talking about someone behind his back.  You guilty of any of those?  I know I am.  Guess what.  THEY’RE ALL SIN!!!!

I happen to know some women who have had abortions.  I have seen the amount of guilt they carry with them on a daily basis.  Do you know how to help them?  Love them.  Be there for them.  Offer them help when they need it (and they will need it – emotionally, physically, and financially).  The same goes for somebody dealing with an unplanned pregnancy (side note:  It is possible to get pregnant while using birth control!).  If you truly think a baby is a blessing from God, that goes for all of them – even the ones that the parents can’t afford or the ones whose parents are “lazy”.  You don’t get to pick and choose.  Because if you hate them for having an abortion, that’s a sin, too.

Next time you’re about to get all worked up over abortion (or anything else for that matter), take a breath, and think, “Am I doing this out of love or anger, and is it going to accomplish the task or drive them away?”

 

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” -Romans 3:23

“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one;'” – Romans 3:10

“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” – 1 John 3:15

“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” – Mark 7:21-23

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

Resolutions 2019

I’m a few days late on this, I know.  I normally wouldn’t even share – or make, for that matter – New Year’s resolutions, but this year feels different.  Everything about it is screaming, “It’s time to start over!!!”

This list isn’t going to be the typical “lose 20 pounds” stuff.  I set my weight loss goals a few months ago, so no need to include them here.  Most of these are going to be emotional or spiritual changes.

  1.  Look at others through loving eyes, not judging eyes.
  2. Focus more on taking care of myself.
  3. Learn to listen to God and let Him guide my path.
  4. Get plenty of rest.
  5. Make church a priority.
  6. Declutter EVERYTHING.
  7. Enjoy life.
  8. Start putting away the laundry as soon as it’s dry.

Feel free to share yours in the comments!

2018: Losses & Gains

I’ve spent the last week or so thinking about what I was going to blog about, and I keep coming back to 2 Corinthians 5:17.  The English Standard Version says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  The old is gone.  Forever.  The past isn’t coming back.  That sounds so depressing, doesn’t it?  Oh, but it’s not, because the new has come!

This past year was a year of loss.  I lost my sanity, I lost my temper, I lost my patience, I lost my Daddy, and I lost my husband.  But even with all of that loss, I can’t help but think of the things I’ve gained.  I gained a precious baby boy, I gained lots of new relationships, and I gained a faith and trust in God like I never thought possible.  Through all the loss, I became stronger, more confident, more compassionate, more loving.  I’ve learned so much about myself, and I’ve finally started being the person God created me to be instead of the person other people said I should be.

I can’t wait to see what is going to happen this year, because I know it’s going to be great.  I’m going to be intentional, I’m going to take care of myself, I’m going to get plenty of rest, and I’m going to enjoy this amazing life that God has given me. So, 2019, come at me, bro!  Give it everything you’ve got!

Really.

I shared a post on Facebook a few days ago.  Then I made the mistake of reading the comments on the original post.  The post was by the Christian author of a popular book, and it basically said, “I do lots of things I shouldn’t do, but Jesus loves me anyway, and I love you, even though you do bad things, too.”  It was a lot longer and much more eloquent than that, but you get the gist of it.  Y’all.  Based on the comments, you would’ve thought she had called Jesus some really bad name before kicking a puppy and tying firecrackers to a kitten’s tail before she stole some poor kid’s lollipop.  Not once in her post did she say that Jesus approves of her sin.  She simply stated a fact.  “Jesus loves me unconditionally.”

One of the comments that stuck out the most was one by a woman who had admittedly never read her books.  She berated her for “flaunting” her sins as thought she is proud of them, because a good Christian would never divulge such information. (I’m seriously paraphrasing here, because it’s getting late, and I’m tired, and I don’t remember word-for-word what she said.)  I didn’t reply to her comment, because I really don’t like conflict, but it really bothered me.  I mean, maybe the reason so many people are turning away from the church is because so many church-goers aren’t fully divulging their shortcomings.

I was raised in a Christian family.  I’ve never doubted that God exists.  But you know what?  I love the taste of tequila and the smell of weed.  I can cuss like a sailor.  Sometimes I listen to rap music.  I can quote every single line of every single episode of The Golden Girls.  Does that mean that God loves me less?  Nope.  Does that mean that He approves of those things?  Not at all.  What it means is, “I’m human, and God understands that.”

With that being said, I want to say this.  If it weren’t for my love for God and His love for me, I would have a really big problem saying no to the tequila and the weed.  I’d have a hard time controlling my tongue when I get mad.  I wouldn’t think twice about blasting the Nelly with my kids in the car. When I made the decision to start living the life God wants me to live, I decided to change the way I live.  I’m not perfect, and I do still slip up occasionally – because I’m human – but I try, and God forgives me when I fail.

If you’re a person who was raised in a perfect home and never faced any trials or temptations, good for you.  That’s not everyone’s reality, though.  Sometimes people can relate better to someone who’s been there.  Chances are, I’m not going to ask advice on anything from somebody who has never experienced it.  “So, um, how do I get out of my life of sin?”  “I don’t know, dude.  I’ve never sinned before.  Maybe you could try just not doing it?”  OR  “Hey, can you help me figure out how to stop sinning?”  “Well, I can tell you what worked for me.  First, I prayed for forgiveness, strength, wisdom, and deliverance.  Then I prayed every time I felt tempted.  I read my Bible a lot.  And I failed a lot, but God never stopped loving me and never left my side.  It got easier with God’s help, but without Him, I couldn’t have done it.”  Sometimes all it takes to make that connection is a simple, “I’ve been there.”

Honesty.  It goes a long way.  We’re called to love, and you can’t love without being honest, which is not the same as “flaunting our sins”.

Memorial Fundraiser

I was recently introduced to the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation by a friend after searching for organizations that offer a chance for children with terminally ill parents to make wonderful memories with their parents before it’s too late. I have set up this fundraiser in memory of my husband, Ray, as a way to pass on the generosity that was shown to our family.

If you’d like more information about the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation, you can go here: https://jajf.org

To donate, please follow this link:
https://jajf-inmemoriam.everydayhero.com/us/birthday-fundraiser-in-memory-of-ray-joyner

Let’s help these families make some memories before it’s too late!

Thank you!