The "D" Word...and 5 Reasons I Didn't

Did you know that marriages with a spouse that has bipolar disorder have a 90% failure rate?  NINETY PERCENT!!! I did not know this when I married my husband, and it’s probably a good thing. Our vows have certainly been tested since that fateful day in September 1999 when we got married. And yet, even with all we’ve been through, I never could bring myself to seriously pursue the idea of ending our marriage.

 Now, I won’t lie and say the thought didn’t cross my mind a time or two…or ten. Who wouldn’t in my situation? My husband was absent from us twice over the years. The first time was for a year, the second time was for almost five. Both times were because of his illness. The odds were not in our favor. Being in an interracial marriage probably pushes that statistic even higher, but that has been the least of our issues! After experiencing a few episodes, his leaving, and the endless road of recovery, I can see why relationships can be maxed out. Sure, he was legitimately sick, and not just irresponsible or a jerk. But gone is gone, and it still hurt.

Yet, I just could never bring myself to follow through with filing anything legal to end our marriage, and there are five reasons why.

1.     First and foremost, my faith in God.

As I prayed about it, (and I had many discussions with Jesus about it, trust me!) I did not feel the Lord’s peace. In my heart of hearts, I knew that, for me, divorcing my husband would do more damage to my relationship with God than it would my relationship with my husband, and that was not something I was willing to sacrifice.  Even though our marriage was broken, and there were some dark moments when I considered it, deep down I believed that divorce would make it worse, and I did not see it as an option.

That is not to say that I don’t believe divorce is an option, EVER. I know that especially in Christian circles, to be divorced or get divorced is like having the plague. (That’s another post for another day!) What I AM saying is that, as I pursued God’s will for MY life, and the life of MY child and MY family, I felt a clear leading from Him that divorcing my husband was not His will FOR ME. So it has nothing to do with my personal feelings about divorce in general. It just means that God had something else in mind for us. For me, it was a matter of obedience.

2.     I’m super loyal by nature, maybe to a fault.

My personality type is hardcore INFP. Otherwise known as the “idealist”, the “healer”, or the “peacemaker/mediator”, it is a personality that hates conflict and always looks for the good in others. Coming to an understanding about my personality has helped to explain so much about myself. I highly recommend taking an online personality test.   I don’t know who came up with them, or who decides the criteria, but it’s definitely a fascinating tool. Mine comes out INFP each and every time, so I’m pretty sure it’s on point.

One of the main characteristics that always jumps out at me is that my personality type is “fiercely loyal” when it comes to relationships:

Slow to trust others and cautious in the beginning of a relationship, an INFP will be fiercely loyal once they are committed.

Perhaps this characteristic of my personality is also a factor in my not ever seriously pursuing divorce. Not just in my loyalty to my husband, but also my commitment to follow the Lord’s will for my life.

3.     It was not just about who I am, but also about who my husband is.

People have said to me things like, what a good wife I am, what a selfless, amazing woman I am, etc. I don’t know about all that, but I can say this: The factors in me choosing NOT to divorce my husband, and to remain open to accepting him back, have as much to do with the kind of person HE is, as it does the kind of person I am.

The details of his absence is his story to tell. While he did fall prey to many of the pitfalls of serious mental illness, (including falling through the cracks of a flawed mental health system), I can tell you that at no time in our marriage, or during his time away from us, has adultery, addiction, abuse, violence, self-harm, harm to others, financial mismanagement or any kind of betrayal been an issue. What he was was very, very sick, and I knew that, even in the hurt. I also knew that underneath all that sickness and confusion, my husband's true spirit was committed to our family. Had he been in his right mind, he never would have left.

There were many times on his journey when people could see that he needed help, and bent over backwards to help him.  Even at his worst, he found favor. In fact, it was the impression he made on some folks in a position to help him, that ultimately led him back home. Somehow, even in the muck and mire of the ugliest parts of his illness, a certain character and integrity remained in him, that has miraculously kept him from serious harm. Not to mention, nothing short of the hand of God Himself. As difficult as things got for my husband, things could easily have been far, far worse for him.

Plus, one thing to remember is that my husband and I actually have a good relationship. We’ve always gotten along well, and we’ve always had a great friendship. I know who he “really” is, and he is NOT his illness.

So in all fairness, I really can’t say whether or not my decision to pursue divorce would have changed, if he was simply an abusive, narcissistic, adulterous, addicted jerk.  I have my limits, and if he was any other kind of person, I am certain that even my INFP loyalty would have been put to the test.

4.     What kind of message would divorcing my husband send to my daughter?

I did not want my daughter to see me giving up on her dad. She needed to see that he was worth fighting for because of who he is. So I always kept him as “part of the family.” We talked about him and why he was gone, and I assured her it had nothing to do with her. We talked about mental illness and how it can change a person. We kept his pictures up and kept him “alive”, so to speak, in conversation and memories. We prayed together, and believed God's Word. I made sure her father was still an active part of our lives, so that when he came home (which I firmly believed he would), it would be a fairly smooth transition. It got through to her, too, because while my faith wavered at times, hers never did. She ALWAYS knew her Daddy was coming home. That stand paid off, because when Jasmyne’s dad returned last year, in her mind it was if he was never gone.

5.     I wasn’t sure of the legal ramifications, so I just didn’t bother.

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if I could legally divorce my husband without his consent, or in absentia. I never got that far into the process of investigating it. It just didn’t seem right to file for divorce without his knowledge. Plus, since he was only God knows where, and I had NO idea if he was dead, alive, hurt, or worse, remaining legally married to him made me automatically next of kin. If anything DID happen to him, if he was in a position where he was incapacitated in any way, I would be the one to make any decisions. So staying married to him, in a sense, protected him.

Here is the bottom line. If I had chosen to divorce my husband, I simply would not have been able to live with myself, and I definitely would not have had peace with God. I heard His voice clearly, and the Word was “restoration.” I held on to that, against all the odds. It’s called faith!! I was also blessed to be surrounded by amazing supportive people in my life who encouraged me not to give up on him. That can make a huge difference, and again, I believe it is a testimony of who my husband is, for people to see the good in him and hold on to that, and encourage ME to hold on to the same.

For people who find themselves in a tough situation where there’s no clear cut answer, or you feel like you’re in a strange, awkward limbo, the best thing to do is simply WAIT, and listen. I could not act in haste or in anxiety. I had to really quiet my spirit (again and again and again) and listen to the Father’s heart. I firmly believe that He could just as easily have released me from my marriage, and I would still be in His will. But how would I know that, without intimate relationship with Him? That was the key, and that is THE main reason why I did not divorce my husband.

And I’m so glad I didn’t!!!

Galatians 6:9

  "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

 

Tribute to Loving

Mildred and Richard Loving (Photo: Getty Images)

Mildred and Richard Loving (Photo: Getty Images)

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court Decision that banned laws restricting interracial marriage. I am ashamed to say that this day probably would have passed by me if not for social media reminding me in my newsfeed. It just goes to show how much we take for granted the freedoms we enjoy in this country, and what others have had to go through in order to enjoy those freedoms.

I found this article which shared some of the experiences of other interracial couples in light of the Loving decision. Then I thought, “Oh, yeah…I’m a black woman married to a white man, perhaps I ought to throw in my two cents!”

After all, it seems everyone has something to say about race these days, and I am more than qualified to speak to these issues. I was born in Virginia, raised in North Carolina, and live in East Tennessee. My husband was born and raised in the part of Tennessee where we live. I work in a field that is predominantly white, traveled around the world with an organization that is predominantly white, and live in an area that is not known for its racial diversity. (In contrast to the military town I grew up in which is the exact opposite!) I’m raising a biracial child...which is actually more challenging in some ways than being a black woman married to a white man. But that’s another post for another day. The bottom line is this: I can testify to the fact that racism is real, white privilege is a thing, and yes, our country needs to be reminded that Black Lives do indeed matter. It shouldn’t have to be said, but yet, it does.

What could I say that hasn’t already been said?

Not much.

And why should I have to? If you take one look at us and our family, it pretty much says all you need to know.

Richard and Mildred Loving were not the ones that made race an issue. It was the state of Virginia, and the sordid history of our country. They were just a couple who loved each other and wanted to live and raise their family in peace, and not as criminals. They were willing to do what they had to do in order to have that right, even if it meant taking on the law of the land.

For my family, the bigger issue is not only to live and love in peace, but also with soundness of mind, wholeness of spirit, and above all, dignity.  So God has led me to share our story of navigating serious mental health issues in a time when mental illness is still misunderstood, feared, and sometimes even criminalized. There are few voices crying out for more understanding of mental illness, and advocating for compassion towards those who struggle with these issues. I’m grateful for Richard and Mildred Loving, who paved the way for my husband I to be able to meet, fall in love, and marry in peace. Perhaps in loving each other, we can be a beacon of hope for those who are dealing with serious mental health issues, and point people to the ultimate source of Love, God Himself, along the way.

  1 John 4:7
 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

Happy Loving Day!

The Long and Winding Road to Recovery

In the interest of doing my part to promote Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought I’d take some time to give a candid snapshot into what “recovery” looks like in my household. My last post touched on it a little bit, but here is a little more detail.

First of all, let’s look at the word “recovery”. It means “a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.” It also means “the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.”

When it comes to “mental illness” and “recovery”, I think both of those definitions are spot on. But the one word that really jumps out at me is the word “process”. In looking at that word, it means “a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.”

So in essence, when it comes to recovery from mental illness, it can be defined as a series of (many) actions and/or steps in order to return to a normal state of mind.

The road is long, and can be full of all kinds of obstacles and hills and valleys and bumps and roadblocks and ups and downs.  And it seems that the longer we’ve been on this road, it doesn’t get any easier necessarily, although I think that as time passes and we gain more experience, we’re better equipped to handle it. At times the journey isn’t too bad, and there are times of idyll and pleasantness. But other times, it can be pretty darn treacherous and the road can feel like an endless trek through a barren wilderness.

For my husband, this year will mark 30 years since he was first hospitalized with bipolar symptoms at the age of 16. We will also reach our 18th wedding anniversary. We’ve both been on this road for a while, so we’ve definitely gained experience for the journey.

I think the hardest years for both of us reached a crescendo in 2011. That is when Scott left. There were a number of things over the course of several years that led up to his leaving, but the bottom line is that it came down to a combination of not being properly medicated (as opposed to being UNmedicated, there is a difference), and the cumulative effects of some unresolved past traumas. So from August 2011 until November 2015, Scott was essentially gone from our lives. During those years, there were times when I did not know where he was. I was able to occasionally follow his trail from a distance, but most of the time his trail was cold. We had very little to no contact, and he spent a large amount of that time off his medication and in a prolonged state of ill mental health.

During that time, I was essentially a single parent, raising a young child. But, I was not “single”. My marriage was in a weird limbo. I was not single, I was not divorced, not really legally separated either. My husband was not dead, he wasn’t deployed, he wasn’t away on some job, he didn’t leave me for some other woman, and honestly there was not any animosity or ill will between us, although there was some distortion of perceptions due to his condition...he simply was not in his right mind. Since he left of his own free will, legally he wasn’t missing. So it was a really strange situation to be in. He just wasn’t there, and I didn’t know how to explain why. One day, he was just gone.

During that time, I ended up relocating from one state to another. I went back to school and managed to get a Master’s Degree. I raised my daughter and lived my life. I had support, so I wasn’t completely in a vacuum, nor was I completely alone. But there were times when I felt very isolated and in a state of incompleteness. There were times when life felt very dark and confusing, and my future uncertain. I remained hopeful and prayerful for restoration, but I had no idea what that would look like, or what it would entail, or when it would happen. My faith led me to believe that we would indeed be reunited as a family one day, but my reality suggested otherwise. So in essence, I lived in a constant tension of sorts, and yet I still had to function in this. Needless to say, living in that state was stressful in many ways.

For Scott, his journey was much more treacherous. He ended up in another state…and as if he didn’t already have enough trauma to deal with from the past, during his absence he went through even more trauma. His journey is his story to tell, (and it's quite a story!) but it involved living in a constant state of uncertainty, mental instability, and pretty much an inability to function.

After all that, one day in November 2015, we finally reconnected. When we reconnected, he had already spent more than 2 months in a hospital where he finally got stable, so by the time we made contact again, he was in a rehab facility getting continued care. At first, our reunion was long distance since he was out of state. But through a series of events, in March 2016, he finally returned home.

Home at last!!!

His journey led him, at long last, to the RIGHT medication, one that was working really well for him.

But also, while his return marked the end of one journey, it was the beginning of another.

Since the day he came home on March 20, 2016, it has been a whole new season for us and for our family. Not a bad one, mind you. In fact, it has been very, very good. Beautiful in fact. But a lot of hard work, and a trade-off from one kind of stress to another.

Once we got him plugged in to health care here, between March and October 2016, the medication that Scott was placed on in the other state in order to get him stable, ended up being adjusted no less than five times. As it turns out, gaining stability is not the same thing as long term management, so once the crisis is past and the symptoms are under control, there is still a lot of work to do. In the midst of that, he started to go to therapy sessions in order to process some of the traumas he endured in his absence, and to get acclimated with being healthy again, and being back among the land of the living, so to speak. We also still had residual symptoms to deal with. In the midst of all THAT, we had to learn to be a family again. Jasmyne and I had gotten used to being on our own, and even as wonderful as it was to have Daddy and husband home again, it was a new dynamic that we had to get used to.

Finally, in October 2016, we got the dosage just right! In fact, I think it took from March to October to finally find a groove all the way around, just being settled into the whole family thing again, and finding a new normal. Scott had a lot to process, but it wasn’t just HIM. I had a lot of issues to deal with too. Individually, as a couple, and as a family in our various configurations, there were a lot of adjustments. But we finally found a groove and began to thrive.

Fast forward to this year. Scott started to complain about certain side effects from the medication…a restlessness in the form of involuntary movements that would not go away. Finally, his psychiatric nurse practitioner made the decision that this medication…that had been working SO well to alleviate bipolar symptoms…needed to be changed, because the physical side effects were reaching a point of potentially being harmful long term.

So here we were, finally on a SMOOTH stretch of the recovery highway, and then BAM. The road has suddenly turned bumpy again.

It’s one thing to have to switch medications that aren’t working. That’s a welcome change. But to have to change medications that are actually working well? That can be painful and downright discouraging.

So in March 2017, Scott switched medications. And now, in some ways, we have had to start all over again. We have had to start a whole new journey of monitoring medication and making adjustments, watching for changes and navigating symptoms. While in some ways it feels like a setback, it could potentially be even better for Scott in the long term as this new drug may ultimately end up being a better fit. If not, then there are many more options to try.

BUT…the thing is, we won’t know for a while, as it can take a LONG time to sort out medications to find the right dosage and combination, and for it to work…which we had JUST done for the past year.

Ugh. I’m actually worn out just writing all that! And that’s not even scratching the surface of all we’ve endured. Whew!

But such is the long and winding road of recovery. All of this, just so my husband can be able to “return to a normal state of mind, health, or strength.”

It is definitely not for the faint of heart!!!

But this is what fighting for mental health looks like. This is what mental health treatment looks like. There is no quick fix, no magic pill, no prayer with just the right amount of Scripture and theology…it is just walking one day at a time, one foot in front of the other, trusting the Lord to lead the way, moment by moment. It takes a massive amount of time, energy, determination, perseverance and patience. This is one of the main reasons there is no way my husband can work right now or have any other major responsibilities except to focus on getting well.

For me as a caregiver, it requires every bit as much of me as it does of Scott, the person with the illness. In the midst of all this, I have my own mental health to consider, as I have my own set of issues to deal with, and my own recovery from my own kind of trauma from all of this. We also have a daughter who is at a critical age (13) with whom I make it a huge effort to keep the lines of communication open. She asks questions, we answer. We inform, we try to be as honest as is age appropriate. In the midst of all this, it is important for her world to be as secure as possible. I work only part time hours and freelance, because I need the lighter, flexible schedule in order to juggle his needs (he doesn't drive) as well as my daughter's. Financially, it can be challenging, but thankfully the Lord provides and this past year, we have been able to meet all our needs with very little.

Mental illness is a real issue, and I think it has reached almost epidemic status in this country, if it’s not there already. It comes in many different forms, it affects all ages, all races, all economic levels, all cultures. People deal with it in many different ways…most of which are not healthy, unfortunately. But even amongst those who are doing all the “right” things, there are still no guarantees to an easy journey.

As I said earlier, I’ve been on this road with my husband for a long time. And I am always learning new things, and gaining new knowledge and information. We’re extremely blessed in that, as tough as things have been for us, it could have always been worse. We’ve had tons of Divine Intervention, where the hand of the Lord has been so clearly upon us, leading and guiding our steps. We’re blessed in that, in the midst of all of this, we actually have a good marriage, (believe it or not!) and we laid a good foundation in the Lord early on. We love each other, and love is a powerful motivator. Even in the worst of it all, at Scott’s lowest points, he has been protected from so much. There is absolutely NO way we could walk this path without Jesus Himself at our side. No way at all. As hard as it has been WITH the Lord, I can’t imagine how hard it would be without Him.

There’s more, so much more…and I can’t share it all in one blog post, so I guess I’ll have to come back for more. The main takeaway from all of this is that there IS hope. There is an anchor in the midst of the storms of this illness. And as I look ahead, and see that we still have a good stretch of road ahead of us, my determination propels me forward. I’m determined…and REALLY curious…to find out where this road will lead! I feel like, if we just keep moving forward, plugging away, we won’t be disappointed in our ultimate destination. That hope keeps me going!!! I truly believe our best days are ahead of us!!

 

Best Days Ahead...

"Your best days are always ahead of you." Perspective on 2016 and the brightness of 2017. Water color and stencils by Bo Downes (10 yrs old).

"Your best days are always ahead of you." Perspective on 2016 and the brightness of 2017. Water color and stencils by Bo Downes (10 yrs old).

{I know, I know…I am LONG overdue for a much needed update to my blog. I would like to think that I have been too busy living life to write about it, which is a good thing. But from now on, I really will try to do better about chronicling our lives and sharing what God is doing!}

Recently, we passed the one year mark of my husband’s return home after being away for several years, due to complications from Bipolar Disorder.  His return last year coincided with Holy Week, which is this week! What a year it has been! This beautiful artwork to the left, drawn bythe 10 year old daughter of a former ministry colleague, pretty much sums up what life has been like for us. "Your best days are always ahead of you"...that perfectly captures what this past year has been like, and what I hope for as we look ahead to the future. I know 2016 was a tough year for many, but for us it was an amazing time of reconnection, restoration, and recovery. My family, which had been broken for so long, was miraculously put back together again. It has been a year full of adjustments on several fronts: medication, family and household dynamics, relationships. There were some ups and downs all across the board, but in the midst of it all, PEACE.

So here we are, a little over one year later…and I firmly believe with all of my heart that our best days are indeed ahead of us. In the meantime, here is some insight into what’s been going on with us, and what the Lord has been teaching me…

Recovery from bipolar episodes can take quite a bit of time, effort, and concentration. My husband spent several years in prolonged state of illness, and along with that came trauma. So I knew that it would take, at the minimum, at least a couple of years for him to heal. There is no “bouncing back” from this, you just have to walk it out day by day and let time and medication and care do its work. In this past year, his meds were adjusted at least 5 times. Recently, due to some alarming side effects, his care provider made the decision to switch one of his medications, which if you know anything about the Russian Roulette that is psychiatric medications, can produce a lot of anxiety. It’s one thing to change medications that simply don’t work. But this one was working well, so it was nerve-wracking to have to switch. Yet it was potentially causing some long term physical damage, and he had no choice. Fortunately, so far the change seems to be working out, and may even be a better fit for him. But, it takes time to fully adjust to having a new drug entered into your system, and in some ways, it’s almost like starting over. The good news is that he was already stable when the new meds were introduced, so that has been to his advantage.

In the midst of all that, we have managed to create…or re-create…a life for ourselves as a family and as a couple, that consists of what I call the “extraordinarily mundane”. Life is quiet, simple, peaceful, calm, and yet miraculous, simply because of the fact that we are together. It may seem perfectly normal, and perhaps it is for most people, but for us, in light of all we’ve been through, it is quite an accomplishment!

I am a professional musician and music teacher, the main breadwinner and the only driver. My schedule is sporadic, but it allows me free time to take Scott to his many appointments, spend time with him, take my daughter where she needs to go, and yes, take care of myself. My husband comes to my concerts, which is something he enjoys immensely. Music is a type of therapy for him, (and for me!) so it works out great. My students are all thriving, and I derive great pleasure seeing them grow. We live simply and frugally…our needs are met, and God makes provision for any extras that come along.

Date Night

Date Night

We go to the grocery store, run errands, and basically just hang out as a family. We watch TV or movies, go for drives, walk the mall, and occasionally splurge with a meal out. We go out as a couple to Starbucks or the local piano bar, or for a cheap dinner for two while our daughter does her thing. She was doing color guard for her middle school, so for awhile we would schlepp her to events, which was nice to do as a family. He rests, oversees our daughter when I’m not home, and may read or watch old movies. They are rebuilding their relationship, and finding their way with one another. He has a DVD that plays the Bible while the words flash on the screen, and recently he has managed to go through the entire Bible! We meet with a local pastor once or twice a month just to chat. He is taking care of his body, his mind, and his spirit, all of which need massive amounts of healing and rest.

As for me, it has been an interesting time of just learning to live in the moment. I’m the kind of person who likes to do a lot of dreaming of the future and reflecting on the past…but God has been teaching me about something called “liminality”. A liminal space is that awkward time between “what was” and “what will be.” We are not where we were, and it yet remains to be seen where we’re going. No longer caterpilar, not yet butterfly...in transition. For much of the past year, I’ve been trying to make sense of the past and figure out where we’re headed…but God has had me slow down, and learn to just BE. I used to travel a lot, all over the world. As much as I love to go to new places and see new things, being trapped in a tin can 30,000 feet in the air is NOT my idea of fun. When you’re in the air, you are essential nowhere. You’re not where you were, and you’re not where you’re going. You’re stuck, and only the grace of God and skilled pilots and well maintained planes will get you to where you’re going. It can be scary and yet exciting at the same time, because as much as you look forward to your destination and will most likely arrive in one piece ( planes are, after all, the safest way to travel!), it seems like you’re within seconds away from potential disaster. The best you can do is sit back, relax, and wait, and try to pass the time, and TRUST that you will land safely.

That’s where I’m at these days. Life seems to have finally taken off for us, but we still have a ways to go before we arrive at our destination. This is not the time to make any major decisions, or try to find answers to lingering questions. Even my writing, which it seems I have been waiting SO long to finally devote the time and energy that my heart desires to give it, has taken a back seat. Alas, now is not the time to attempt to launch a new career in writing…instead, it is a time to simply sit back and relish the miracle of being together. A couple of short years ago, even this was nothing but a dream. Now is the time to TRUST the Lord more than ever, and continue to rest in Him.

Psalm 37:7King James Version (KJV)

7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.

Amen!!

Thanksgiving Indeed!!!

This year will mark a Thanksgiving worth remembering!!

On a recent Starbucks outing...what a handsome fellow!

On a recent Starbucks outing...what a handsome fellow!

It will be the first Thanksgiving that my husband, my daughter, and I will have celebrated TOGETHER since 2010.

That’s 6 years!

Wow!

It was in August 2011 that my husband, who at the time was struggling with complications from his Bipolar I Disorder, left our family.

He did not return to our family until March 2016.

The years in between that time and now were some of the darkest moments of both our lives. Only by God’s Amazing, INCREDIBLE Grace are we back together again, able to rejoice in all that God has done, even in the dark.

He has given us treasures…so many treasures.

Even though we were ripped apart as a family, God kept us all. What Jasmyne and I lacked in terms of having our husband and father with us, God more than made up for through miraculous provision. When Scott’s “wanderings” could have turned into a tragedy, God worked it all together for his good, to where his worst moments have led to his greatest breakthrough.

So for me, this year being “thankful” runs especially deep. Deeper than I can put into words.

I hope one day that God grant me the ability to find the words to adequately express the immense gratitude, awe, and amazement at the work He has done in my family’s life.

It’s not just the fact that Scott is back in our lives. It’s HOW he is back in our lives, and what he had to go through to get here. The transition has been smoother than I ever could have anticipated, and yet at the same time, it has not been without its challenges as we have all had to deal with the consequences of his time away.

Even so…there has been peace, joy, and refreshing. There is such a pleasant spirit that rests upon my household as God knits our hearts back together again, and restores all those broken places.

There are many broken places that have yet to be mended. Still…God’s Spirit is filling in those gaps, and making something beautiful.

There is deep healing that is taking place…not only of my husband’s mind, body, and soul…but of our marriage and family dynamics. Recovery, as wonderful as it is, comes with a price: it requires great responsibility and much grace, in a different way than when we were apart, or had we made different choices.  Healing can be just as painful as the wound itself. But…pain is often a sign of health, and I’m grateful for the pain of healing.

We still only see many things “through a glass darkly”. And while it will yet take time to sort out and unpack and sift through some of the ruins and rebuild, somehow, God has made it to where it’s not a chore so much, as it is a privilege, and an honor, and an extremely rare gift.

So this year I am grateful...deeply, profoundly grateful.

What are YOU thankful for this year??