A whole other blog for a whole other day.

So this is a subject that I’ve touched on in the past here and there, and made mention of from time to time. But I’d always include a quick reference or a few sentences, only to follow with: “but that’s a whole other blog for a whole other day.” I just haven’t really been able to bring myself to write about it, or to share in detail this part of my story. So I’ve put it off. Mainly I’ve just told myself, “you can’t write about this yet, because you haven’t figured it out yet. Not all of it anyway.” And I really, really like things to be neat and tidy. A nice little package that I can present. Something that even though it may start out ugly and messy and chaotic, I can eventually make some sense out of and give some order and hopefully help not just myself but others in the process.
Which is why sometimes I find it very ironic that this situation, these circumstances were the path life gave me. Because there is absolutely nothing neat or sensical or orderly about infidelity, betrayal, or the process you go through to heal from it. 

Yet somehow, we’ve found our way. And I wish I could tell you there was a trick. A specific way to survive it. While there is a long list of things I can and have shared with you that you could and should do that will help you tremendously in your recovery and rebuilding of your life, no matter the circumstance, there’s one basic thing that it comes down to. 

Keep moving. One foot in front of the other.    One NEW day at a time. 

It’s worked to get us through everything else, and so I have to believe that it will help me find my way to a better place with this too. 

So, for as long as I’ve put this off, I’ve decided putting it off just serves to keep me stuck. The only way to work through it is to work through it. I can choose to be complacent and say that I’ll never be able to figure this out and stay stuck, or I can keep moving, keep pushing forward and find a fullness in the redemption of our story that I know we haven’t begun to touch yet. As good as we are, I can’t shake this feeling that there’s so much more, something so much bigger that we haven’t even imagined. 

So that whole other day is today I guess. Might as well go ahead and dive on in. One foot in front of the other right? 

The subject I’m talking about is forgiveness. It’s something I never had to give much thought to before. No one had ever truly hurt me. Not in a big way anyway. But this. This was betrayal on another level. That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. Not the little stuff, but the life changing, selfish, cruel, and deceitful kind of transgressions.

And when you’re faced with that kind of pain, those kinds of scars, and especially when you’re faced with someone that is seemingly unapologetic for the damage they have done; you suddenly realize that forgiveness doesn’t make sense. You wonder what forgiveness truly means. What it actually looks like. And mostly you wonder what it’s supposed to feel like. And how to know when it’s real, and not just empty words said because you know it’s the right thing to do. Especially when you can’t even think the words without still feeling the contempt rise up within you. How do you find a way to truly mean it and not have those feelings of resentment and anger?                                                                     How do you move past wanting to be able to say you forgive someone, but also still having an overwhelming desire to punch them in the face? 

Forgiveness is something that in one case, such as someone like my husband that is so incredibly sorry, though it didn’t happen overnight is almost easy now, and allows me to have a relationship and a future that would have otherwise been impossible. 
Yet in another; the case of forgiveness of someone that offers no apology, someone that gives no indication that they regret causing you pain, like the woman he had the affair with, brings me anxiety, frustration, anger ,and resentment. 

People tend to oversimplify it. They say “The bible says you have to forgive, so you just have to do it.” Or they say, “just keep saying it until you mean it.” Which is not actually terrible advice, there’s some real truth and power in speaking things not as they are but as you want them to be. But also… man, that can take a really long time. I mean, I’ve tried this method off and on for nearly 2 years now, and I’m still not feeling it. But I do agree that it’s a good place to start. It’s the getting to the place where you actually mean it, the place where you can actually wish them well, the place where you are able to see them with some semblance of compassion instead of hatred, that I’ve struggled with. 
So what DO I know about forgiveness? 
Nothing about forgiveness is easy. 

Forgiveness is costly. While it is freely given, it is most certainly not free, not for the one doing the forgiving anyway. 

However, not forgiving is also costly.

Forgiveness always includes sacrifice. 

Forgiveness is precious. 

Forgiveness brings freedom. 

Forgiveness is a process.

Forgiveness is a continual choice.

Forgiveness is not just a gift to the offender, but a gift to yourself.  

Forgiveness is not always deserved, but always necessary. …. I think.                                               Ok, ok. I know it is. But this is one of the thought processes that I struggle with. I think to myself, “do I really HAVE to forgive her?” 

And the answer is honestly a resounding “NO”. I absolutely don’t have to. There is always a choice. I can choose not to. And a really big part of me doesn’t want to. She doesn’t care. She doesn’t want my forgiveness. And I mostly imagine that she certainly doesn’t deserve it. Mostly because she hasn’t asked for it. So why should I forgive her? 

It’s pretty easy to just choose not to forgive. Sooo much easier than doing the work to try to figure out a way to forgive and mean it. So yes, I could definitely choose not to forgive her. 
But does that choice bring anything good to my life? The answer to that is also a resounding “NO”. 

I want the good stuff in my life, and to get that, I have to choose the stuff that brings the goodness. 

So true forgiveness is a mystery that I will continue to intentionally pursue, an understanding that I do not have in full yet, but I choose to believe that through this process, I will find it. 
I say that, having no idea even what the process is really going to look like, but just stepping forward with God’s promise that says “seek and you shall find.” And one of my favorites, Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

How to truly forgive someone that doesn’t seem to be sorry definitely falls into the category of a great and mighty thing that I do not know. 
Also I believe there’s a great and mighty thing that he is working in our lives, the fullness of which we do not know yet, so that verse speaks to my soul in many different ways. 
And seeing as how I’ve taken you all with me through everything else, I’m going to bring you along for this too. The good the bad and the ugly, that’s what I have said I would share from the beginning, and I’m pretty sure this subject is going to cover all three of those adjectives. With everything else, writing about it has seemed to help me work through it and find what I’m looking for, or to see things in a different light, or at the very least help me come to terms with it, and I’m hopeful that will be the case with this too. 
To be continued…

❤️                                                                             Amy Thurston Gordy 

This is my cup

He’s been asking me for weeks if I’m ok. “Yes”, I’d say. “I’m fine.” And I’d think to myself, everything is great. I am fine. I. Am. Fine. 

And for the most part I was. 

As I’ve been telling y’all, things are good for us. Really, really good. We are in such a good place in our relationship and in our lives.

Yet it was there. That little knawing feeling. That undercurrent of sadness. That heaviness in my chest. Creeping back yet again. It had been gone for so long this time. But they were back. Those tiny little thought bubbles, trying so hard to make their way to the surface, releasing their rancid contents of painful memories when they make it to the top. They were stupid random things. 

Like making dinner. Just standing there making dinner, and my mind wandered back to the first time they were together. 

I had made a nice dinner that night. I don’t cook big meals a lot, so I thought “he’s going to be excited to come home to this.” 

I was excited to see him. I remember missing him that day. When you’ve been together as long as we have, you don’t necessarily miss them as often during the work day the way you do in the beginning. You take each other for granted a little I guess. But that day, I remember missing him, and wanting him to be home. 

I had timed dinner to be done at just the right time so it would still be fresh and hot, knowing how long it would take him to get home from Forsyth. That time came and went. And I waited. The girls were hungry, so I told them to go ahead and eat. I texted him. No response. I remember a feeling of anxiety coming over me. I fixed him a plate, thinking he was probably going to pull up any minute. 

He’s really late now. 

I’m sitting alone. The nice dinner on the plates in front of me is getting cold. I text again. 

This time I get a reply. He’s so sorry, but his replacement showed up late and he had to wait on her, so he could give report. But he should be leaving soon. 

His replacement wasn’t late. He wasn’t completely lying. He WAS still at the hospital. But not in the building. Not working. Not waiting on anyone. 

And I was sitting. Waiting on him. With a beautiful plate of food on the table. 

And it was cold. 
It’s amazing how a vision of something as simple as a cold plate of food can tear your heart apart. 
Then there was the car. Her car. 
A black SUV. 

It’s where it happened, so black SUV’s have always been a bit of a trigger for me. The only details I knew were that it had dark tinted windows, which provided privacy for them, oh and her initials on the back. When I would notice one, I couldn’t help but do a double take. Is that her? Is that one her? Wait, was it a Ford? A Chevrolet? A Toyota? 

I didn’t know. And so since I didn’t know, I saw them in EVERY one. 

And over the past few weeks, for whatever reason I don’t know, it was as if they were always in my line of vision. They. Were. EVERYWHERE. And every one I saw brought me visions of him getting into the car with her. Being in the car with her. Every. Single. One. 

Do y’all know how many black suv’s you see on a daily basis? 

A lot. 

I haven’t asked him for any details in a long time. But this weekend I asked him for just this one. The actual make and model of her black SUV. So I could maybe at least stop picturing them in every single one I see. It sounds nuts, I realize that. The pain of betrayal does crazy things to a person. This was one of my triggers and believe it or not, knowing the specific make of her car helped to weaken that trigger so I can move beyond it. One specific model of car is easier to avoid than a million black SUV’s. 

I don’t like to think about her. And most of the time , I really don’t anymore. But sometimes it feels as if she’s a ghost, popping in to haunt me. To torment me. And sometimes it’s harder than others to make her disappear. 
Honestly, I think my brain has just been on a bit of affair overload. It seemed like every other day for almost a month, someone else was having an affair, or finding out that their spouse was. Some people I knew as acquaintances, some I knew as friends, and some I didn’t even know on a personal basis. But regardless, each time, my heart just sank. Knowing the pain each one was feeling. And I wanted to help. To give support. To give advice. But mostly to try and give them a little comfort. A little hope. 

Maybe all of that played into this undercurrent of sadness I mentioned earlier. I just felt, for lack of a better word, heavy.  And heavier. And heavier, until Jeff finally looks at me and says, “you’re not fine. You’re pretending you’re fine. But I know when you’re struggling.” 

I’ve learned to hide it. To control it and push it back enough that if you were to see me on one of these days, you couldn’t see it. It’s just an undercurrent. Not enough of a nuisance to keep me from being able to function fully on the surface. I can mostly ignore it until the still and quiet of night sets in, and the busy-ness of the day wears off. But Jeff sees it. He always sees it. 

“What can I do? I don’t like it when you get sad. It means I’m missing something. I’m afraid it means I’m not giving you what you need to feel happy or secure. It means I’m not doing my job.”
That sweet man. 
I look at that sweet, sweet man of mine, and I say, “it’s not you. At least not really. Not this you. You are doing everything right. It’s what that other guy, the old you. It’s what he did. And it’s stupid. It’s stupid because he doesn’t even exist anymore. And I don’t know why I let someone that doesn’t exist anymore still hurt me so much.” 
 And I don’t know why the smallest details that bubble up from that undercurrent , like the thought of that cold plate of food, or a black SUV, hold the most stinging venoms. And to some degree, I had been fighting that slow spreading venom for weeks. 

But it was time to deal with it. 

So I told him. I told him about the cold food. About the black SUV’s. About how it felt sometimes like she was a ghost that wouldn’t leave. 

“Have you tried forgiving her?”, he asked. 
[Insert large, heavy sigh here.]
I’ve tried.  Oh goodness, I’ve tried. 

A million different times in a million different ways. I’ve tried thinking it. I’ve tried telling myself that I forgive her. I’ve tried praying. I’ve tried analyzing. I’ve tried to see her in a different light. I’ve tried to make myself say it out loud. I literally couldn’t get the words out. I’ve tried. I haven’t figured it out yet. And I know that I need to. I know that I won’t see God’s full potential in our story until I figure this out. 
People look to me. They look to me as a pillar of hope. And maybe I am that. I hope that I am that. But they also believe that I’m this pillar of strength and forgiveness. 

But in that moment when I’m baring my soul to Jeff that night, I tell him that I don’t feel like I am actually those things. That it’s just not true. 

I forgive Jeff. I really, really do. It’s not even hard. He’s amazing. As a matter of fact, he’s so amazing and wonderful that people actually forget that he ever did it. My own sister, when talking about someone else that had a history of cheating, made the comment about that person in a conversation last week. She said, “once a cheater, always a cheater.” 
It’s a phrase that for those of us that have chosen to stay in a relationship after infidelity , makes us cringe a little. Because honestly, for some people, that statement can prove to be true. And it’s probably our innermost fear. 

And I feel certain she saw the look in my eyes when she said it. 

“Oh! I mean, not everyone! Not Jeff. It’s not true of Jeff. He’s different. Oh gosh, I’m sorry. Honestly, he’s redeemed himself so much , I forget he ever actually did that.”

And it’s true. He’s gone above and beyond. 

But the other woman, I don’t know. I don’t know the effort she’s made to redeem herself. With God. With her family. Her husband. Or her friends. But I do know she never made the effort to redeem herself with me. 

Forgiving someone that isn’t sorry. It’s hard to figure out. 

And that, I think is a whole other blog for a whole other day. 
“It sounds to me like you are listening to a lot of negative things about yourself that just aren’t true”, Jeff said. “You ARE a pillar of forgiveness. You forgave me for the unforgivable. For things that most people could never forgive, much less choose to love again. And you ARE a pillar of strength.”

(He says as my face is streaming rivers of tears and I’m sniffling away.) 

I responded, “Am I? Does this look like the face of a person that is a pillar of strength?”

He says, “That face is the face of the strongest person I’ve ever known.” 
Pastor Buren said something recently in a sermon a few weeks ago, in the Easter service. He was speaking about Jesus when He prayed before his crucifixion. “Lord, if there be any way, please take this cup from me.”
And for these past few weeks… maybe this past year and a half, I think I’ve been praying the same thing. In that moment of despair, He wished there was another way. That human side of him wanted a different cup. 

But it was his cup. It was the cup he was given. 

I too wanted a different cup. 

I told Jeff, “I just want so desperately to change something that can’t be changed. I want it to never have happened. I want more than anything something that I can never have. I want to go back to that night and I want you to say no. I want you to have seen in that moment the pain and destruction it would cause and I want you to have seen in your minds eye the way that it would torture me and I want you to have walked away and gotten in your own car and drove home to me and sat with me and that the food that I put on your plate that night had never gotten cold. I’m not ungrateful for what we have now. But right now. In this moment, I’d rather have you there, eating that warm food. I don’t care if that means that I wouldn’t be this person now, I don’t care if I’d never started writing. I don’t care if I never wrote a single word. I don’t care if it means that we couldn’t have helped any of the people that have come to us. I don’t want to be the example. ”

Wow. 

Yep. I said all of that. 
But basically, what I was really saying , was 

“I. Don’t. Want. This. Cup. ”

And I’d say that wasn’t just me not wanting the cup. I’m pretty sure that was me not just refusing to accept it, but hurling it as hard as I could at the wall in an attempt to shatter it. 
[insert large heavy sigh, here…again]
Back to what Pastor Buren said. He said “sometimes, you just have to drink the cup you’re given.” 
It didn’t really click with me when he said it. Matter of fact, I thought, “well, that’s not real encouraging or positive.” I mean, aren’t we supposed to think positively and expect better for our lives, and doesn’t God want the very best for us?” And I wasn’t sure how this statement he had made fit in with that theology. 
And it took me a few weeks. 

But now I get it.

I had a weak moment. Ok, maybe I’ve had a LOT of moments. 

I didn’t want the cup I was given. That’s ok. 

Neither did Jesus.

And maybe I took that a step further when I figured out I couldn’t do anything to change the past. It’s unchangeable. Nothing and no one can ever make it cease to exist, or change the fact that it happened. 

My blog may be named “Not My Story”, but this IS my story. 

This IS my cup. 

And I’ve held it. Although for the most part reluctantly. I’ve looked for the good. I’ve been thankful for the blessings. I’ve allowed it to be used for the good of others. 

But such a big part of me, has really just been like Jesus in that garden. Knowing what was required of Him. Knowing what needed to be done. Wanting the goodness that He knew would come from it, but also so overwhelmed with the sorrow of it that he desperately wanted that cup to be taken from Him. 

He didn’t choose his cup any more than I did. His cup was the result of the sins of man. Not his own, but all of ours. It was our bad choices that filled his cup. My cup was also the result of sin. And also not my own. The bad choices of the man I loved and the woman I’ve despised filled my cup. 

But in the end there was no other way. 

He had to drink the cup that was given him. 
If he had chosen not to, there would be no redemption. 

There would be no goodness.

There would be no hope.
My cup has been poured. I can’t give the cup back. There’s a strict no returns policy. 

I can throw it against the wall as much as I want. But it will still be mine. 

I can’t just keep glaring at it, willing it to disappear. Not only does that not work, it’s exhausting.

Sure, I’ve taken a few sips here and there. I’ve allowed God to turn some of the sour wine into something sweeter. 

But it’s time I drink the cup. 

Jesus had a moment, but he worked through the pain and then he drank the cup. And because of that, the world was forever changed. Men’s hearts were changed. The course of eternity was changed. 
Not thy will but thine. 
It was only when Jesus accepted the cup he was given and gave up his own will that God was able to use Him to redeem everything that needed to be redeemed. And so it also is with us. It is only when we accept our cup that He can use it to redeem everything that He wants to redeem with it. 

It’s there, in the acceptance, that the power of change is found. 

It’s there, when we finally drink the cup that’s given us, that we can find true redemption. It’s there that He works all things for our good. It’s there that we find God’s best for us. The beauty for the ashes. The joy instead of mourning.

And it’s not just for us. The redemption that pours from that cup spreads to others. 

If you want to see how big God really is, if you want to see how good He really is, if you want to see the fullness of His plan for your life….

you have to drink the cup.

I didn’t mean what I said that night about giving it all back. Do I wish it didn’t happen? Of course I do. 

But it happened. And I love the life I have now. I love my husband and the amazing person he has become. I love the friendships that have been born out of the aftermath. I love the blessings that God has so abundantly poured out on us. I love that Jeff found deliverance from his addiction. I love that we are both becoming our true selves. I love writing. I love the freedom that our transparency and authenticity has brought us. I love sharing the goodness of God and I love that we can give people hope. 

I don’t love the steep price it all came at. I don’t love the scars it left behind. A part of me may always wish that I could have had all of this without the price we had to pay for it. But it is what it is. 

Life is not perfect. 
But God’s plan for us is. 

So we can choose to keep trying to give the cup back. Or maybe even keep smashing it against the wall. 
Or we can choose to just accept it, and watch how God uses it to redeem us. Watch how He turns it from sour to sweet. Maybe, just maybe, even watch how He uses it to change the world, to change the hearts of men, to change eternity.

 

Thank you Pastor Buren, for speaking to my heart, even if I didn’t know at first that it was for me. I have a feeling it was actually for a lot of people. Thank you Jeff, for not growing weary of waiting on my heart to heal and for being a man that wants nothing more than to piece it back together. 

And thanks to all of you, who keep coming back here and reading my words. Thank you for not judging us in our failures, for being our cheerleaders, for praying for us. For being faithful, faithful friends. 

And as I finally try to fully accept this cup that’s been given me, I pray that the goodness and the sweetness and the redemption that pours from it touches every single one of you. 

💗

Amy Thurston Gordy

Oh, sciatica. 

How is it April already? This year is flying by! I’ve been missing in action on the blog here for a little bit. It wasn’t really an intentional break from writing, but between house stuff and a health issue, March was a bit challenging for me. 

The next step in our home renovations was to tear out the carpet in the bedrooms and replace it with hardwood floors. So over the weekends in March, we did one room at a time, and painted the walls and trim in each room as we went. There was so much stuff piled into my living room , it looked like a hoarder lived there. SO stressful! It also involved A WHOLE LOT of moving furniture in and out of rooms, and at some point during room # 2, I woke up with intense pain and muscle cramps from my lower back all the way down my right leg to my foot. 

I think the issue really started when I helped move the old oven out and the new oven up the stairs and into the house a couple months ago. I had been having some lower back stiffness since then, but nothing I paid much attention to. I think moving all the furniture around and the painting may have pushed it over the edge. 

The pain was nearly incapacitating for the first few days. Sitting was uncomfortable. Laying down was pretty much excruciating, so sleep was not something I was getting much of, and driving would literally bring me to tears. 

Sciatica is the devil. The devil, I tell ya. 

I made a couple of trips to the chiropractor, even though the thought of all that scary sounding bone popping absolutely terrified me. Especially that neck thing they do…that gives me the heebie jeebies! But at that point I was willing to try anything that might make me feel comfortable enough to just be able to get a few minutes of sleep. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to be helping. So I made a visit to the doctor, and they gave me steroids and anti inflammatories. I had to get a shot, so Jeff insisted that I have this ice cream on the way home. 😊


The meds thankfully got me well enough that the pain was more tolerable. I had X-rays and an MRI, and the diagnosis was a bulging disc at L5-S1. 

I walked with a limp due to a mixture of the muscle soreness and the loss of sensation in a portion of my foot, and spent the majority of each day on my feet, unable to relax, because the pain sitting or laying was almost too much to bear. It was exhausting.

But despite the pain and a very serious lack of sleep, I have found so much to be thankful for over these last few weeks. 
-I didn’t have to stay out of work. 
-My sisters. They checked on me all the time, and one of them brought me her tens unit. That thing felt like a million little bees stinging me but in an oddly good way. Those things really do help with back pain. 

-I had sweet friends and family members that gave me meds and creams to help with with the muscle spasms.

-One precious friend that was a former teacher at my kids elementary school insisted on bringing us a dinner of chicken salad, fresh bread, broccoli cheese soup, and also the most delicious muffins you’ve ever had in your life.💗 This was just so, so thoughtful and sweet.

-I got so many messages from friends telling me about their own experiences with sciatica, giving me tips on stretches and exercises and also giving me hope that it does go away! 

-My Mom sent over a heating pad, a back brace, and food. Really good food like fried chicken and barbecue pork. Oh and M&M’s. Let us not forget the goodness of the M&M’s! 

– My Daddy delivered the food, and said the sweetest prayer for healing over me before he left. There’s not much sweeter in this world than the heartfelt prayers of a parent for one of their children. Especially my parents. If you’ve ever met them, then you know they are precious. Just the best of the best. 

-My MRI cost me a lot less than I was expecting. 

– I’m getting better. The limp is pretty much gone. The numbness in my foot is going away. The muscle spasms are few and far between. I can sit pain free most of the time. Driving doesn’t make me want to cry anymore, and most importantly, I am able to sleep. 

– I put myself on a no bread, no sugar, no fun anti-inflammatory diet last week (ok, so maybe I still have a little caramel creamer in my coffee in the morning. Don’t judge. Ha. I gave up bread and chips y’all. That’s huge for me. So I’m cutting myself a little slack for this tiny daily cheat!) and as an added bonus, I’ve lost 6 pounds this week. 

-My floors look amazing.

Seriously, just look at them. Jeff did good!


-And last, but certainly not least, I have an amazing husband that takes care of me so, so well. 
He single-handedly finished out the floors and took over my painting of the walls and trim. He moved all the furniture back in the rooms, and cleaned up all the mess. He also has done the majority of the house cleaning. He sat with me through my Doctor’s appointments. He rubbed my leg and foot every night to help with the muscle cramps. He brought me my meds and propped pillows under my legs and drove Anna Kate wherever she needed to go whenever he could so I could rest and so I wouldn’t have to drive. He made my coffee and fixed my lunches. All of this on top of working every day and being on call. And he did every bit of it with a happy heart and a sweet smile. 
I looked at him the other day and said, “you are a good, good husband.”
I don’t take saying that lightly, given where we were two years ago. 

And neither does he. 

It’s kind of a big deal. Huge, actually. That I can look at the man that shattered my heart and our lives into a million little jagged pieces, and say that to him, and mean it. Like really mean it. 

I took him back believing for something better. Hoping for something better. In our relationship, and in him as a person, and in every aspect of our lives. And I wasn’t sure about it. I wasn’t sure it was possible. Any of it. But I chose to believe that it could be. 
And every day, I’m continually amazed at how good our life is. 
He’s a good, good God.                 And Jeff is a good, good husband. 

Psalm 107:1
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.


Amy Thurston Gordy

 

Finding the magic

I’ve always had a soft spot for all things Disney. There’s just something about the fairy tales, the dreams come true, the good overcoming evil, the hope that all his stories inspire.

I love everything about Disney World. The sights, the smells, (there is nothing in the world quite like the glorious smell of walking down Main Street USA) the rides, the food. Even the lines.

Because it forces you to stand still in an ever moving world. To stop and talk to the people you love. To watch and see the people going by, and imagine what their stories are.

Disney World has always been a special place for our family. Jeff and I were supposed to honeymoon there. We had it all planned out. We were going to stay in the Contemporary resort, with a view of the castle from our room. The nasty flu I came down with on our wedding day ruined those plans, and that honeymoon never happened. But when Emily turned 5, we planned our first family adventure.

We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort. Emily learned to swim there in the resort pool.

I’ll never forget the magic in her eyes and the joy on her face as we walked down Main Street for the first time and she caught view of that castle. Pure magic.


Then Anna Kate came along. And when she turned 5, we planned a special first trip for her.

And again, the joy and wonder I saw in her eyes was something I’ll never forget.


After that year, we returned almost every year for our family vacation. We’d been bitten by the Disney bug. We would always say, “we should go somewhere else this year”, but always ended up feeling the pull to go back.

There was just something about the magic it brought to our family and we just couldn’t stay away.

In 2013, we took our last family trip to Disney. It was Emily’s 16th birthday.

The next year, 2014, we didn’t go because we had planned a California coast trip. We finally did something other than Disney that year because we wanted to do something grand and memorable, knowing that Emily would be graduating the next spring and we wanted to do something special.

And the year after that, well… 2015 happened. The affair happened.

And after the affair, it felt like everything about our world changed.

There was no family vacation.

That October, Anna Kate and I joined my parents and family at the beach. Emily couldn’t leave school and Jeff and I were separated, and I remember thinking that we should have been at Disney World.

I remember the grief I felt over the realization that we would never do that as a family again.

It was one of the first things that Anna Kate said when she realized that we were getting a divorce.

“But we will never go to Disney all together again.”

So this year, after all we had been through, it seemed right that we should plan a trip to Disney World. It’s such an inherent part of who we are, and who we are as a family. And it’s one of the very few parts of the old us that we actually wanted to keep.

So back in the spring I started planning. And this year, since all things are new, I decided to switch it up a bit. Instead of October, which is when we would normally go, we would go in December. I’ve always wanted to go at Christmas time. We were supposed to have gone at Christmas time for our Honeymoon, so this year, 25 years later, we would finally get to do that.

And as it turned out, this time we ended up staying at the same resort that we stayed in on that very first trip with Emily.

It didn’t really happen that way purposefully, it’s just where they had available rooms, but I like the symbolism of it. Full circle.

Jeff’s sister, his cousin, and their families joined us, and Emily’s boyfriend also came along. It was his first visit ever. Which was great because there’s just something magical about watching someone experience Disney for the first time.


We spent time together with the whole group and we had time alone for just our family.

And Anna Kate’s boyfriend’s family was vacationing there for a couple of days too, so we got to spend some time with him also, which made her super happy.


It was definitely a little different seeing them there, so grown up now with boyfriends, holding their hands instead of ours, but sweet to see how you never really outgrow the magic. It stays with you.

It was a little more crowded than what we are use to, but being the Disney expert that I am, we were able to plan out our days to avoid the crowds and long waits and make the best use of our time there. If y’all need tips, let me know. They don’t call me Mrs. Disney for nothing.

And the food. Oh the glorious food!

Steaks, lobster, gourmet sandwiches, pasta, sticky wings and dumplings, bananas foster bread pudding, creme brûlée. And the snacks! Ohhh the snacks!


Pretzels, churros, fresh caramel corn, ice cream, and the amazing Dole Whip pineapple float.


And there is nothing in this world as good as a Mickey waffle. You can’t go to Disney World and not have a Mickey waffle.


Have y’all figured out yet that the food is a good 75% of the reason I go? That percentage may or may not actually be higher, but we will go with 75% so as not to make me look like a complete glutton. Ha.

It was an amazing trip. I wish we could have had just a couple more days to fit in a few more things we didn’t get around to doing.


The decorations were beautiful.

The food was amazing.

The Christmas spirit was everywhere.

And standing there, in the midst of all that magic, I couldn’t help but feel it.



Being there, as a family again, in a place so full of memories. All of the really good ones. The ones where we were whole. The ones where we were hopeful. The ones where we were the best parts of our former selves. Realizing that we didn’t lose all of who we were. We kept a little bit, that little bit of magic within us.

And finding that little bit of magic, there in that magical place with the people I love the most, felt like everything was right in the world again.

It felt like joy.

It felt like a gift.

It felt like reclaiming something that had been stolen, and thought to be lost forever.

It felt like….

Redemption.

Amy Thurston Gordy

How do I say thank you?

It’s been a busy couple of weeks around here. Work, holiday get togethers, apartment hunting for my college kid. (How did that happen so fast?) I also had my first speaking engagement last week. Yep. If y’all know me at all you know that was kind of a big deal.

I’m not a public speaker. Correction… I WAS not a public speaker. I suppose I am now. Ha.

But seriously, that was wayyy out of my comfort zone.

I write. By myself. Behind my phone or tablet or computer screen. With no one watching me. And I have stage fright. Not the kind where I am just scared and frozen and speechless like a deer in headlights. Not that kind. The kind where your heart pounds so fast and so hard you feel almost certain you will have a heart attack right there on that stage. The kind where I think “I could totally do this if I could just stop shaking and my heart would stop freaking out.”

I wasn’t really afraid of telling the story. I wasn’t afraid of speaking. There’s just something about getting up in front of all those people, and all eyes being on you, that brings out that panic response in me.

But I did it.

I faced my fears. I pushed past the seemingly impending heart attack going on in my chest. I channeled my shaking hands into a tapping foot. Which was really funny for my family and friends to watch by the way. When one foot stopped tapping, the other foot took over. I’d catch myself doing it and try to make my self stop. But that nervous energy had to come out somewhere so that foot just tapped away!😂

I shared my story and my heart with over 350 people that night. And I think over all I did ok. I may have been a nervous wreck but the message was delivered and that’s what really matters. That people hear that God is a God of redemption, and of hope. That He always keeps His promises. That He has so much goodness for us.

And so, despite the stage fright and my overactive heart, I’ll do it again. And I’ll hopefully be a little more in control of my heartbeats next time. A little less intimidated by the spotlights. Or maybe I won’t. Either way I’ll still do it. Because it’s important. Because I want as many people as possible to know His goodness the way I know it. To know that no matter what their story is, no matter what caused their heartache, there is goodness waiting for them on the other side of it and to just keep pressing towards it.

I had someone ask how Jeff felt about me sharing our story. Because it’s not just mine, it’s His too. And that story reveals a darker side of his former self. It’s something he isn’t proud of. To be honest he still gets sweaty and clammy and anxious every time he hears it. Every time we have a conversation about it. Every time he reads a blog. It’s not easy for him.
But he is so incredibly supportive. He has never tried to hide from it or cover up the mistakes he made. He’s so thankful for God’s redemption in His life and in our marriage, and we both hope that sharing our story helps to bring hope and healing to other people.

The day that I was speaking at the Advent dinner, he showed up to my office with these beautiful flowers. He knew how nervous I was and so he brought me these, and told me that he knew I was going to be great and that he was so proud of me.

So yes, he is more than ok with me sharing our story. And I don’t take that lightly. I know it’s not easy for him and I am immensely thankful for his transparency. He is a good, good man. 😍

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I have much to be thankful for:

-An incredibly large, loving family of Thurston’s, that make my life so full and so fun.

-Jeff’s family who I love and who have always been there for me. And who taught me how to enjoy camping. (The secret is a really nice camper by the way😉)

-A few really special friends that make up my inner circle and mean the world to me.

-A group of girls at work that are like family and that I’ve been blessed to have for over 20 years.

-A special group of ladies from all over the world that I met as part of a book launch team and connect with online, most of whom I’ve never met in the real world, who share similar stories and support and encourage me and each other in the most beautiful way.

-My beautiful, healthy, smart, kind girls.

-My funny, sweet dogs that sometimes drive me nuts but are full of unconditional love.

-Baked goods. Seriously. I’m so thankful for baked goods.

-The opportunity to share God’s goodness, here on this blog and in my everyday life.

-My husband. Who loves me so well.

-Forgiveness.

-Redemption.

-Joy.

-All the goodness that I know lies ahead for us.
These song lyrics from Bethel Music pretty much sum up what’s in my heart this morning:
“How do I say thank You, Lord
For the way that You love

And the way that You come

For all that You’ve done

All that You’ll do

My hearts pours out

Thank You

You walk through all my walls

Conquered my shame

Stepped into my past

Fill my world with grace

You didn’t have to come

But You wanted to

I say Thank You”
Happy thanksgiving y’all.
My hope for you is that it be filled with everything good and that you soak in every single bit of that goodness.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

The Promise

Currently, I’m sitting in the passenger seat, on a road trip. Taking the exact same roads I was traveling, to the exact same destination I was headed to this time last year. 
Last year, we were supposed to be going to the beach as a family. 

But our family had been broken. 

I was exhausted, confused, lonely, sad, and terrified. I had no idea what my future held. Jeff was persistent in his pursuit of me, in his pursuit of forgiveness, and of a fresh start. But honestly, up to that point, I wanted no part of that. Yet I couldn’t pull the trigger and file for divorce. It was around this time that I started to believe he might be telling the truth. That this complete change in him might actually be real? Could it be? But still I had so many questions. So many doubts. 
The rest of my family were going to the beach for a week, and not wanting me home alone, knowing that I needed time away, they insisted that Kate and I come with them. 

So I did. And it was what I needed. I needed that space and that distance. It was fun to spend that time with them and yet it was hard. Hard because things were not what they were supposed to have been. 

Jeff was supposed to be there. But he wasn’t. Our family vacation was missing a very important ingredient… our family. 
It was during that week that I found a little clarity. I didn’t know if I could do it. I didn’t know if I could live with him. With what he had done. I had come to a place where I couldn’t envision my life with him, but I couldn’t envision it without him either. Neither felt right. 

But still, he was different. So decidedly and undeniably different. This new Jeff, I saw things in him. Things that you want in a husband. But I was still in so much pain. It was nearly impossible to reconcile, the new Jeff and the old Jeff. If I took him back , I might possibly be getting an amazing husband. The kind I had always wanted. But I was also risking my heart on someone who had obviously not valued it. On the other hand, if I decided to move on, I might find someone new. Someone that would treasure my heart. But there were no guarantees that I wouldn’t give my heart away to someone new and they wouldn’t break it too. 

And I could possibly be giving up a potentially great husband in this new Jeff. I had put 24 years into this marriage. Did I really want to walk away and let someone else reap the benefits of this new, improved version? That didn’t seem fair. 
So many questions. What was real? What could I believe in? 
And then the answer. 
“You can go. And I’ll honor that. I have goodness for you. Or you can stay. And I will honor that. I have goodness for you.”
So, all of that indecision, all of that inner turmoil, all of that fear, it was a burden I didn’t have to carry. 

The pressure was off. There were no wrong decisions. It didn’t matter what I chose. God had goodness for me.

All I had to do was seek Him, trust him, and follow my heart. 
So then, what to do? 
I knew deep down , I couldn’t live with not at least trying to give our marriage a chance. I knew the only way I would know if I could live with him, was to try and live with him. It was hard. It was scary. It was probably the most vulnerable I’ve ever been. 
But I knew that no matter what happened, God promised me goodness. 
So here I am, exactly one year later, in the passenger seat, riding down the same road, to the same beach. 

But this time is different. This year, Jeff sits beside me. He sits beside me a changed man. A better man. A new man. 

I’m looking forward to this week ahead. Thankful that this year, for this family vacation, we are a family. 

Not broken. 

Whole. 

(Only thing missing is my sweet Em, she had to stay home for school.🙁)
In the turmoil, in the darkness, in the confusion, and in the pain, you just have to get quiet. You just have to be still. That’s when you’ll hear Him. 

“You can stay. Or you can go. I’ll always have goodness for you.”

Thank you Lord, for your promise. Thank you that your promises are good. Thank you that when we don’t know what we can trust, or what we can believe in, we can always trust in you. Because you always, always have goodness for us. 

Amy Thurston Gordy

Of Grace and gas bills

It’s been one of those days. You know the ones. The ones where something goes wrong. Then something else goes wrong. Then you’re ready to cry, but you tell yourself you’re being silly and overly sensitive and to suck it up and pull it together and then lo and behold, you guessed it, something else goes awry.

It all started after our 6 AM alarm went off. I went to the kitchen to get Anna Kate’s cereal from the pantry and we were out, so I settled on microwaveable oatmeal. I popped it in the microwave and went to wake her up.

Come back for said oatmeal, and find that it has puffed up and overflowed all over the bottom of the microwave. Yay. That’s fun. No biggie. I’ll just wipe that up. Jeff comes into the kitchen, and then into the pantry, and is leaning way back over in the corner where the hot water heater is.

“What are you doing?”, I ask.

“There’s no hot water. I’m looking to see if it’s on. It isn’t. Try the stove burners and see if they will come on.”

So I try, and it’s a no go. No flame. No gas. Hmm.

He says they must be working on the line somewhere and shut it off.

I think to myself, “wouldn’t they have notified us of an outage..”

He says, “you paid the bill, right?”

“Yes, I paid it.”

A minute goes by. I’m thinking.. I did pay it right? So I look in my checkbook. The entry is there. I look through my “paid” stack of bills. There it is. In the “paid” stack. So I paid it…right?

Jeff takes a cold shower and goes to work.

I decide to check the gas account online, just to make sure they posted my payment. Certainly if I had not paid it I would have gotten a disconnect notice.

Account comes up… red letters..Past Due. Umm. Huh?

I look through payment history. It’s not there. I look at bank account. Never cleared. Oh boy.

I’m an idiot. I remember sitting down to pay it and some other bills, but apparently never actually entered the payment. I always write down the confirmation number when I pay online. My checkbook entry had no confirmation number under it. Oh no.

I must have gotten distracted and walked away, and forgotten that I never actually entered the online payment. Oh geez.

I call the gas company to make the payment and reconnect the service.

They can come Tuesday.

TUESDAY.

Y’all. That’s 5 days with no hot water. No gas for cooking. 5 days of cold showers and pizza delivery. Because I’m an idiot.

Ugh.

I was supposed to be off today. But now I’ve decided to go to work for a few hours to make up for some of the reconnect fees I just cost myself.

So I go get ready. Decide to run my round brush through my hair with the hair dryer to smooth it out. What I didn’t realize is that the heat setting had gotten bumped up to high. I never put it on high because it gets way too hot. I run the brush through with the hair dryer pointing at it, and as I pull it down I see hairs falling on the counter.

What??!!

What just happened? I look up to see a nice little area of singed hair, broken off about an inch from the scalp.

Dear God in heaven.

What. Have. I. Done.

I immediately put some conditioning treatment on it to smooth it out. But the damage is done. Thank goodness it was a fairly small amount, and mostly just noticeable to me. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

I only teared up a little. And maybe laughed at myself. Because seriously. Who does that? Me. That’s who.
So I pour my coffee, and head off to work.

I’m almost there and I realize I left my coffee at home.

That’s ok, I’ll just run through the drive thru and get some.

“I’d like a small coffee, no sugar, 4 French vanilla creamers, please.”

(Don’t judge, I like a little coffee with my creamer. Ha)

She hands me the coffee,but no creamer packets.

“They already put it in the coffee for you.”

Nice!

I get to work. Take a sip.

Mud. It tastes like mud. So I open the top. It’s straight up black coffee. No creamer.

Sigh.

Then I get a text from my daughter. It’s a pic of the cat, who has decided to catch a chipmunk, kill it and proceed to eat it right outside my back door on our deck. Ughhh.

What even is this day?
I text Jeff. Tell him why we have no gas service. That it’s 100% my fault. Then I tell him the terrible awful news that it’s out until Tuesday. I expect him to be upset with me. To tell me I need to be more careful and pay better attention to the bills.

But that’s not what I got.

Instead I got this.


Sweet right? Like, I’m kind of melting over here y’all. 😍

And my wonderful co-worker heard about my coffee catastrophe. She says, “hey, I think I actually have a brand new container of French vanilla creamer in my car.”

For real? Is that angels I hear singing?

She just happened to have some of the very kind of creamer I wanted just randomly in her car? Why? Why would you randomly have a single bottle of creamer in your car? And that specific flavor.

I’ll tell you why.

Because Jesus, y’all.

He knew I was gonna need it. He doesn’t miss the details. I kid you not.

That bottle of French vanilla creamer was providence.

That’s how much He loves us. Not just in the big things, but He loves us in the little things too.
I text my sisters about the events of my morning. They offer their showers and their ovens. Because that’s what sisters do.
This day started off badly.

But just as quickly as it had turned ugly, the goodness started to show up.

Grace upon grace upon grace.

Jeff could have chosen to be mad at me. Instead, he chose grace. Kindness and love and encouragement and grace.
And the creamer. Try to tell me that wasn’t a modern day miracle. Coffee is important, y’all.
And my hair? Barely noticeable and a funny story good to give y’all a laugh every time you picture my face when I saw that hair falling.
And the chipmunk and the cat, well… I’m not sure what I could say that would be redeeming about that. Circle of life? That’s what the Lion King would say anyway. RIP chipmunk.
I guess you could say I’ve handed out a good bit of grace over the past year. And I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that grace is what I got today. I’m a firm believer that what you give away is what you attract back to yourself. Positive energy begets positive energy. Kindness begets kindness.

Grace begets grace.
Who do you need to show grace today? Maybe it’s someone you love that disappointed you. Maybe it’s someone you don’t really even like. Maybe it’s a stranger.

Or maybe , just maybe, it’s yourself.
My immediate reaction to my screw up with the gas bill was to speak negatively of myself. “You’re an idiot. This is your fault. You are doing a bad job at managing this household. You are causing everyone else to deal with the consequences of your stupid mistake. You’ve disappointed everyone.”
But then Jeff’s words brought me back.
“It was just a mistake. Everybody makes them. You have a lot on your plate. You do so much. You do so much and you’re doing a great job.”
It’s just that I like to take care of my people. I hold myself to sometimes unattainable standards of perfection. I expect so much of myself. I like to make people happy.

The worst feeling in the world to me is to feel like I’ve disappointed someone. That I’ve let someone down.

But no matter how much I try to keep those standards and expectations I hold myself to, I’m not perfect. I can’t be everything to everyone and get it right 100% of the time.

I needed that reminder today.
Sometimes it is ourselves that we need to learn to extend grace to the most.
It started out a bad day. But I am constantly reminded that even when things don’t go right, whether it’s a big thing like your marriage or a small thing like your coffee, there are lessons to be learned there. There’s beauty in the brokenness. There’s beauty in our imperfection. Because that’s where the growth happens. That’s where your relationship with God goes deeper. And it’s also where miracles happen. Miracles in marriage, miracles in other life struggles, or maybe even miracles in a bottle of French vanilla creamer.

I’ve said it before , and I’ll keep saying it every day for the rest of my life. There’s goodness here. In the things that go right and in the things that go wrong. There’s goodness everywhere. So let’s all show ourselves a little grace today, and choose to see the goodness.
Amy Thurston Gordy