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

 

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The truth. Live in that.

Arguments. When two people live together, they are bound to happen from time to time. We had an argument a few weeks ago that lasted nearly 3 days. Yep. That bad.

The somewhat little issues that the argument started out about became simple background noise to what the argument grew into. That’s the way arguments can spiral into something so much bigger than the real issues at hand. It becomes more about the reactions, and the things we say to each other than about whatever incident the argument started out about. The negative thoughts start and they set off a chain reaction and the next thing you know things are being said like, ” I don’t know if we can ever really be happy.” 

“All we do is argue.”, 

“you never do (fill in the blank) or you always (fill in the blank).”,

“maybe we can’t make this work.” 

Can’t. Won’t. Shouldn’t. Frustrated. Mad. Sad. Angry. Scared. Broken.Backwards. Not making progress. 

Even the word, Divorce. 

All these negative words. 

And suddenly I hear it. I really hear it.

And I say, “wait, do you hear what we are saying to each other? What are we saying to each other? Why are we saying these things? None of them are true. 

NONE OF THEM ARE TRUE!

We are good. What we have is good. This incident or that incident doesn’t define who we are or where our relationship stands. 

Look at how far we’ve come. We are a vast distance from where we started. There is progress. 

We do love each other. We do value each other. We do appreciate the effort the other makes. We can do this. We HAVE done this. We are in a better place in our lives in every way. Relationally . Spiritually. Financially. Our lives are blessed and full. 

That’s the truth.  

We had a bad day. That’s all. But we let the negative thoughts find a place in our minds to stick and then they spread like a wildfire. Planting lies as they spread. Planting seeds of insecurity and doubt and filling our heads with so much smoke that the darkness started blocking out the light. 

It can happen that easily, and it can happen that fast. Just a couple of negative thoughts can quickly trick your mind into believing that all the goodness is gone. 

So you can’t let it. 

Because it’s lies. 

It’s ALL lies. 

The goodness didn’t go anywhere. You just chose to look at something else. And by looking at that one little bad thing, it changed the way you were able to see everything else. It’s like putting a filter on a photograph. It can change the way you perceive things. It can take a bright, vibrant photo, and make it appear dark and dreary. Even though the colorful, happy image is still there, suddenly the only things you can see is the darkness and all the vast goodness that filled the image blurs into the background and becomes small in the shadow of this filter of negativity.

So be careful. 

Arguments are going to happen. 

But listen carefully to the thoughts. Listen carefully to the words you are speaking from those thoughts. Then hold them up to the light of truth. 

Are they true? Or have you allowed the negative thoughts to spiral and distort the truth? 

The lie that Jeff’s negative thoughts turned into:

“We are right back where we started, and no matter what we do or how hard I try we will always end up back there.”

The truth:

We are nowhere near where we started. Not even close. And we grow and move even further forward with every single setback. 

The lie my negative thoughts turned into:

“He’s not really sorry. He doesn’t really value me. He can’t handle the time and the patience it takes to get through this process, and I’m just not worth it to him.”

The truth: 

He is sorry. Beyond sorry. He shows me he values me every single day. He’s human and this process is frustrating. For him and for me. But he’s still here. Because I am worth it to him. 
We had a bad day. When it comes down to it. That’s all it is. Just a bad day. They happen. 

The important thing we all have to learn is to not let that bad day become our undoing. 

Deal with whatever issue is at hand without letting the negative thoughts make it something much bigger. 

And once the issue has been acknowledged, remind yourself of the good stuff. Remind yourself of the truth. 

You have to pay attention, and you have to learn to recognize those negative thoughts for what they truly are. Lies. 

The truth is the goodness all around you. Live in that. 

Amy Thurston Gordy

Triggers

Let’s talk about triggers. They are nasty, mean, persistent little buggers. 

For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, a trigger is something that reminds you of a trauma you’ve experienced, and brings back the emotional and physical reactions to that trauma as if it’s just happened. And they come in all shapes and sizes. There can be big triggers, such as an actual location, or a person, or thing closely associated with the trauma. Or they can be the most tiny minute thing, such as a smell, a taste, a phrase, or a sound. Sometimes you see them coming, so you can be somewhat prepared. 
One example of that is when I hear of another person going through the aftermath of infidelity. Hearing their story, and seeing those emotions could sometimes be a trigger for me. But over time I have learned how to prepare myself for those interactions so that they don’t affect me in a negative way and I am able to engage with and empathize with the person and offer help and support without it taking me back too deeply into my own place of grief. It’s a trigger that I believe I’ve conquered in large part because of my desire to be that lifeline and that ray of hope to others that are going through what I went through, and my desire to see them find healing and happiness too. It’s actually therapeutic for me to know that what I’ve been through can be used to help someone else. So that’s not really a trigger at all for me anymore.  

With some of the bigger triggers, such as places or people, you just know to avoid them if at all possible. For me, there’s the hospital parking spot where he would meet her at night after work to tell her goodbye. That one I had to drive by daily, so I’ve trained myself not to let my eyes look that direction when passing by, because if I did, I would see them there in my minds eye, and imagine their kisses goodnight. Not a good visual for me.
The city park is also a big trigger for me. I still have yet to go there. Unfortunately for me, due to the location of my work, I had to pass the entrance to it on a daily basis too up until a few weeks ago, and it always bothered me on some level. But over time I’ve learned to ignore it and just not look that direction if at all possible. Will I ever be able to take the next step and actually go into the park? I don’t know. As of now, I can’t think of a reason that would really require me to have to. There are other locations that I can’t bring myself to go to either. I don’t know if I’ll be required to actually go any of these places and have to overcome these triggers at some point in the future. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, but for now avoidance is the way I handle those types of triggers. 

Then there’s the small ones. Those are the ones that are really unavoidable, and also the ones that take you by surprise. Sometimes it’s a smell. Such as the way Jeff’s breath smells after he has a certain drink. It triggers memories of times I would smell a hint of it and taste it on his breath and ask if he had been drinking, and he would say no, it was this chapstick he’d used or something of the sort. But in reality it was the smell of their favorite drink, and it was on his breath because he’d been drinking it with her. So now when I smell that it takes my mind back to those moments. To thoughts of him spending hours with her, drinking and… and this is the point where I have to stop the thought right there or my heart will start racing, the feeling of being punched in the gut overtakes my stomach, my entire body tenses up and my breath gets shallow and the feeling of panic and then grief and sadness washes over me from head to toe. 
Sometimes it’s a situation, such as him working late. Those aren’t too bad anymore because he is so, so good about letting me know where he is at all times and checking in regularly to ease my anxiety in those situations.
A trigger can also be a certain date, or time of year. Even when a good bit of time has passed and even if you’ve had a lot of healing, our bodies and minds can sometimes retain what’s called cellular memory. It literally means that our bodies recall the trauma on a cellular level and will react to those stimulators whether we like it or not. And we may not recognize on an intellectual level right away that those cellular memories are the cause. Like now for instance. My triggers and bad thoughts and the effect they have on me were a little worse this past week. This is around the time of year that his affair started. So the simple act of looking at a calendar or the similarity in weather patterns can be a reminder. 
Sometimes it’s a song. Maybe it’s just that it was overplayed during that time period so it takes me back to those emotions. Or it’s the actual lyrics. Like the one that gets played constantly that says “baby pull me closer in the back seat of your rover” that instantly brings images of him with her in the backseat of her SUV to my mind, since that was where their encounters took place.
It can even be an analogy that the pastor uses in his sermon during Sunday service. Like the time a few weeks ago he was asking the congregation if they remembered their last first kiss, the excitement and the passion and the feeling you got in your stomach. And all I could hear in my head was “Jeff’s last kiss was only a little over a year ago. And when he thinks of his last first kiss, it won’t be me. I will never be his last first kiss again.” And it took everything I had not to burst into tears in the middle of the service. 
My point in telling you all this is, that the triggers are literally everywhere. You can’t escape them. 

The big question is, how do we deal with them? 
I know that I’ve come a long way in dealing with the triggers and the flood of emotions they bring. 
In the beginning, they weren’t just a daily occurrence, but a constant torment. Literally constant. Every minute of every single day was a constant struggle with the chaos and pain that had become my mind. 

Everyone that’s gone through the trauma of infidelity experiences this on some level. For some reason, it’s worse for some than others, and in scientific circles, it’s thought to be worse for some because of how your brain reacted to the trauma and rewired itself in response. The pathways that process your thoughts affiliated with the trauma actually become altered. They call it Post traumatic infidelity disorder, and the effects are much the same as post traumatic stress disorder that soldiers or victims of other types of trauma experience. There is more and more research being done and for the people that this affects for an extended time past their trauma there are treatments that can help you retrain your brain to process these memories in a way that helps you to be able to recall them without that uncontrollable flood of emotions and pain. It’s called EMDR, and although it’s slightly strange, it appears to be a very promising treatment. So for those of you that are really having a hard time keeping the triggers at bay, it is something you may want to do more research on too. I’d love to hear from someone that has tried it and if it has been helpful or not for you. 

Outside of that, the best way to handle the triggers is to get better at refocusing on something good in the current moment and then finding a way to keep your mind there. 
As time has gone by, my triggers have gotten progressively less frequent, and less powerful. 
And like I said, I know the key to overcoming them is my thought process, and gaining control when the triggers hit me. I’m so thankful for Jeff’s life coach and for our church who have taught us both the power of positive thinking and how life changing it can be, and I attribute so much of our success and ability to get as far as we have in this healing process and in the rebuilding of our marriage to that very thing. 

In some ways, I’ve gotten really good at it, the replacement thinking, and that is evident because of the decrease in the occurrence of the triggers.  

But occasionally one will still hit me really hard. Especially if several triggers happen back to back. I might bat off the first one pretty easily, but then a second one pops up and maybe a third, and that tension and anxiety builds and it’s harder to fight off the flooding of emotion and thoughts that start firing off and carrying you down rabbit holes of grief and questions and doubt and mostly, just pain. And once it’s gotten that far it takes a good bit of effort to pull yourself back out of that spiral. 

The secret is to be able to recognize the triggers right when they happen so you can grab control and redirect those thoughts immediately. It sounds simple, yes. And it is when it really comes down to it. But just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it’s always easy. The problem is that sometimes, when the trigger is subtle, you think you’re ok, so you just kind of let that first one ride. But then sometimes another one comes right behind it and before you know it you’re sucked in and your thoughts are suddenly dragging you forcefully through the mud. 

The replacement thinking works, and I’m able to do it a good bit of the time, but I obviously have not completely mastered it yet. So this is something that I’m going to continue to work on. 

This healing process is not something that happens overnight. And sometimes you may feel like so much time has gone by and you’re doing so good and something, even something small can seem to pull you backwards. And it can be so discouraging to feel like you maybe haven’t made quite as much progress as you thought. So you have to be intentional. You have to be aware and vigilant and learn how to see the triggers coming, and how to deal with the ones you don’t see coming, and continue to take care of yourself and put in the work and read the books and do the research and talk to whoever you need to talk to. 
As much as we might wish it could be, the healing is not instantaneous. You don’t just say “ok I forgive you and we are all good”, and magically have no recollection or lingering effects of what you’ve been through. I wish it were that easy. It’s a process and it also has to be maintained in order to stay healthy. So I’m going to do my best to make sure I stay focused and continue to learn and find ways to improve my ability to control my thoughts and heal my heart and mind. 

As for the spouses out there, the ones who were unfaithful. I have some really, really important advice for you. And it may be a little harsh,so brace yourself. If you truly want to accommodate your spouse’s healing and the rebuilding of your marriage, this advice is imperative. And at its core, it’s only two words. 
Be patient. 

BE PATIENT. 
We get it. It’s not easy for you either. You’re tired. You’re frustrated. You’re not proud of what you did, and you’ve done your best to try and make amends. You really desperately just want to forget it and put it all behind you. You wonder if we will ever really just get over it. 
I hate to be the one to break it to you, I really do. 
But, the answer to that question, is no. 

No. 

We will never just get over it. Not in the way you are imagining it in your head anyway. And you would do very well to never, ever, ever say those words to us. 

We will never just get over it, but if you will be patient, and kind, and empathetic, and truly remorseful, and supportive, and open, and honest, and willing to do whatever it takes to make us feel secure, and if you will be attentive and comforting and most of all just love us with everything that you are, we CAN move beyond it. We CAN learn how to control the triggers, we CAN find a way to forgive you, and we CAN be filled with gratitude for the person you have become and the amazing marriage that we have now. 
So my best advice for you when you are feeling frustrated and maybe even a little angry that even though you’ve changed and you do your best to be the best husband and person you can be that you still have to deal with the aftermath of what you’ve done, is to take a deep breath. Do a little replacement of your own thoughts. Reroute those thoughts of frustration and anger you are having, such as: “This is hard. Seeing her still in pain after all this time is not fun and makes me feel as though I can’t win, that no matter what I do she will never be able to let it go. She just needs to forget about it and move on.” and turn them to thoughts of gratitude and love: “I put her through so much. It must be so hard to be bombarded with the tormenting thoughts and memories she has to deal with. She’s the love of my life and I’m so thankful that she didn’t give up on me. That despite the pain and heartache, she still loves me and fights through the pain, and being a part of her life is a gift.”
If you respond to one of her (or his) emotional responses to a trigger with anger and frustration, it’s just going to give those bad thoughts of doubt and insecurity and pain she’s having more power and make it harder for her to fight her way out. Try to remember that she didn’t ask for this. She didn’t want this pain. She doesn’t want to remember it any more than you do. As a matter of fact, selective amnesia would be a welcomed malady. When you feel yourself wanting to get upset or frustrated that she isn’t moving on as fast as you think she should or as quickly as you’d like, take a minute to remember that it was your actions that caused her to have to fight this battle in her mind. It was your actions that broke her mind, her spirit, and her heart. And for you, who has never been on this side of it, to decide that you think you can judge how long it should take to heal, is absurd, and quite frankly unfair and maybe even a little selfish and mean. 
So don’t do it.

Be patient, and be grateful that she is making the effort at all. 
During the triggers and the flooding of thoughts and emotions the betrayed spouse is experiencing, what they need from you the most is comfort and security. They need reassurance that your love is real. That your remorse is real. And that your commitment to your relationship is real and that you are willing to be humble and kind and understanding even when it’s not easy. And they need your help in being reminded of how good a place your marriage is in now. Of all the goodness in this present moment. And all the goodness that’s still ahead. 

Whew. 
This week’s post has been heavy. But I hope it has also been helpful to some of you that are making your way through the healing process too. 

In keeping with my belief system that all negatives need to be replaced with a positive… let’s end this on a positive note. I successfully pulled myself out of my emotional spiral this past week. It took longer than I (and Jeff 😉) would have liked, but that just helped me to see that I need to do a little more work, and that’s ok. I want to get stronger in my ability to control the triggers and the way my brain and body reacts to them, and I’m “positive” that I’m going to find a way to do it. 😊 And as far as my regular, everyday life goes, it couldn’t be better. I have beautiful healthy children, an amazing husband that makes me laugh and is a better husband than I ever could have imagined him to be, and I have a new job that I absolutely love. I also finally have a beautiful, working double oven , which nearly completes our kitchen renovation! 
Life is good. It’s really, really good. 

💗

Amy Thurston Gordy

What do you see?

I love going to the movies. And most of y’all have gotten to know me enough now to know that the popcorn and a big cold Coca Cola are a big part of my love for the movie theatre. Everything I do somehow manages to involve food or snacks. Is it just me or does the movie theatre Coke actually taste better than when you get them other places? We went to the movies several times these last few weeks.            

I like all different kinds of movies. Romance, comedy, suspense, sci-fi, I like them all. But occasionally, a movie comes along that really speaks to you. The movie we saw this week was one of those movies for me. Collateral Beauty starring Will Smith. It’s a very heavy movie about a man that loses his child to cancer, and in the aftermath of that tragedy, he loses his will to engage in life. 

I loved this movie. It received terrible reviews from the movie critics, which makes no sense to me. I rarely agree with movie critics anyway I guess. In my opinion, Will Smith’s portrayal of grief was nothing short of Oscar worthy. If they would let me vote, he’d get mine. 

I felt a connection to the message of this movie. Not on the level of what it’s like to lose a child, because I’ve never experienced that and can only imagine the pain that brings. 
But I do understand grief. I understand wanting something back that you can never get back. I understand struggling to accept your new existence. I understand what it’s like to lose a piece of yourself, and know that you will never be the same again. I understand the feeling of wanting to disengage, to disconnect from reality because this new reality feels like a prison sentence that you can’t escape. And I know what it’s like to finally see the hope. To finally see the goodness. 

In the beginning of the movie before the loss of his daughter, he makes a speech to his employees. 

“What is your why? Why do you get up? Why do you do what you do? We are here to connect.            Life is about people.                     Love, time and death. These three abstractions connect every human being. We all long for love, we wish we had more time, and we fear death.”

After the death of his daughter, he is filled with grief and anger, and he writes letters. One to Love, one to Time, and one to Death. 
And one by one they appear and address his perceptions of them and how they have each ruined his life. 

Death comes first and she says to him:  “Nothing is ever really gone, if you look at it right.”
What did she mean by that? I think several things. Maybe that the spirit lives on. That existence is eternal. And maybe that whatever or whoever you’ve lost, helped shape who you are, who you’re becoming, and so in that way, those people and/or things that you lost are always a part of you. 
Then Time says to him: “You are so angry with me, but I’m the one that should be angry with you. I am a gift and you are wasting it! If love is creation and death is destruction, I’m just the terrain in between.”
My take on that is that life is not a series of things that happen to you. Life simply is. Time doesn’t bring destruction nor does it bring healing or joy. It is simply terrain that we must travel through and it’s the way we choose to travel through that terrain and engage in life that decides how much healing and how much joy we have. Time is a gift, and it’s up to us to decide what we will do with it.
And then there was Love. 
Love said to him: “I am the fabric of life. I’m the reason for everything. You ask people what is their why. I am the ONLY why. Don’t try and live without me.”

He replied: “I felt you everyday when she laughed and you broke my heart!”

And Love replied: “Yes, I was there in her laugh, but I’m also here now in your pain.”

And this, this line is maybe one of the greatest truths in the message of the movie. 
Love didn’t fail him. Love didn’t disappoint him. People and circumstances, they can break your heart, but not love. Love didn’t break his heart. Love never fails. Real love is constant and unfailing. Real Love is God and He is always there. In all the good stuff, and also in our very worst pain.
 The tag line of the movie is “Be sure to notice the collateral beauty.”

The message I took from the movie is this: that no matter what life throws at us, no matter how bad the circumstances or how agonizing the pain, there is beauty in it. You just have to choose to look for it. To look for the goodness. That thing that happened wasn’t good. It was awful. But there is goodness all around you. And when you finally choose to see it, when you finally accept that love really is the only why that matters, and that God is there with you through it all, it is then that you can begin to live again. 

My story is ugly and awful and filed with heartache. But it’s also filled with goodness. 
With collateral beauty. 

Everyone eventually has their own unique story of loss, of destruction, of heartache. And eventually you all have to make a choice. Will you focus on the pain, or will you choose to see the collateral beauty?

Amy Thurston Gordy

Dear 2016

One year. One year ago today, just before midnight on New Years Eve I wrote my first blog, “Dear 2015”. 

For those of you that didn’t follow me in the beginning or haven’t read back through, it was about a small tree at High Falls State Park that had been battered by a recent torrential storm. 


High Falls was not a place I wanted to hear about or be reminded of. It was a place I spent a good bit of time in as a child, and had fond memories of. Memories of family picnics, playing on the rocks, walking the trails. Watching the majestic power of the waterfall that looked so much larger and higher from my childhood eyes. But those memories were not what came to mind when I heard or saw the words High Falls anymore, because now the only thing I thought of is that it was one of the meeting spots during Jeff’s affair. An out of the way, unlikely to be discovered, almost perfectly halfway point between our home and hers where they met to betray the people that loved them. 

But there was something about the photo of the tree that drew me in and spoke to me. Here is an excerpt from that very first post:
-My brother posted a video this week. It was of a single small tree, in the rushing flood waters of High Falls. Storm waters raging all around it, the tree is whipping around in every direction. Yet, it hangs on. Still standing though the world is in chaos around it, and its branches are bending and heavy with the force of the storm swirling around it.

In my mind I picture there are stones in the ground surrounding that little tree. I imagine its roots, weaved around those rocks, anchoring the tree in the ground so that no matter what comes, it is able to weather the storm. And when those flood waters clear, it stands firm. Resilient and strong.
Adam’s quote on that video was simply, “Be the tree.” The fact that the video was taken at High Falls is no small detail, and is not lost on me. Those of you that know the details of my story know that it’s on the list of places that trigger painful thoughts and anxiety for me. But I saw that video and I knew it was for me. 
I AM the tree.

2015 brought a storm of destruction that threatened everything I knew to be true about my life. But like that tree, my roots are wrapped around the Rock. And all of those stones that hold me in place, those stones are all of you. My unwavering, amazing and beautiful support system. Rooted in Christ, and surrounded by all the people He has placed in my life. And now that the storm has passed and the world becomes a little more peaceful and the flood waters recede, I will stand just as that tree does. My branches stronger from facing the resistance of adversity. All that water meant for my destruction, instead being used to create new growth, and causing my branches to bloom into something beautiful.
So goodbye 2015. You meant to destroy me, to steal my joy. You gave it your best shot. But you. do. not. win.
I’m looking forward to sunshine and happiness in 2016. May it bring us all a year filled with countless blessings and most of all, an abundance of joy.-

When I wrote that, I didn’t know I was writing it for a blog. I really didn’t know why I was writing it at all. I just felt compelled to put the pen to paper and write. And I quickly found that it was like therapy for me. And I remembered how much I loved it, writing. And then I felt compelled to post it. Which was so out of character for my very introverted, private self. But I felt like God was telling me to post it, and so, just seconds before the clock struck midnight, I pressed that publish button and bid a formal goodbye to 2015. 
Little did I know what that one small act of pressing that button would put into motion for me. That it would usher in a whole new existence, a whole new outlook, a whole new beginning for me. And I certainly never expected that I would be bringing thousands of people all over the world along for the ride. In my mind, I thought that probably my family would read it. A few facebook friends. I never imagined how far it would go. I mean, seriously, this still blows my mind every time I see it. 

And here we are, one year later. It’s been an emotional year full of goodness, hard work, trial and error, setbacks and triumphs. And you all have been there with me through every last bit of it.
So tonight, I share with you my letter to 2016:

Dear 2016,
To say we’ve been through a lot together would be an understatement. While 2015 came swinging for me, bringing its wrecking ball crashing through my life….you, you were different. 
You were more like a steady hand. 
Guiding me as gently as possible as I recovered from the battering injuries I’d sustained in my storm. 
In many ways, it was a tough year, but not in the same ways as 2015. We had a lot of pain to face. A lot of fears to face. A lot of grief to work through. And it was no easy task. It was hard, gut wrenching, soul cleansing work. Sometimes I wasn’t sure we could do it. Sometimes it felt impossible. Sometimes we would take several steps upward only to stumble and go tumbling halfway to the bottom again. It was work. It was at times excruciating. It was hard. It was exhausting. And it was incredibly painful. 
But every time I would fall, I’d lift my eyes upward. I’d see the good stuff ahead. I’d look to the promises, “Behold, I make all things new”, and “you intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” And I picked myself back up, and kept pushing on. And so along with all the hard stuff, it was also rewarding, joyful, encouraging, expectant, propelling, and life giving.  
You brought me healing. You brought me strength. You brought me courage. You brought me hope. 

You brought me love.                    The real kind.                                                    

You brought me joy, and you brought me redemption.

You reminded me of who I am.  Not who people thought I was.  Not who others had come to expect me to be. 

Not even the person I’d confined myself to be. 

But Who I really am.        

You brought out the gifts within me. And the courage to use them.

You taught me that fear is an illusion. An illusion meant to keep us stuck where we are. Never growing, never reaching beyond our walls. 

You taught me that God goes ahead of us no matter where life takes us. 

You taught me how to not be afraid anymore. 

I look back on this year and see how much has happened, and how my life has changed. My relationship with my husband is so much better than it’s ever been. My friendships are stronger, and my social circle has grown to include some very special people all over the world that I never would have known had I not gone through my storm. We’ve seen blessings professionally and financially. Our children are healthy and happy and thriving and it is such a blessing to watch them unfold into the beautiful, strong, bright young women that God made them to be. 

And I have this blog. A place to purge my pain, to shed my heartache, to proclaim His goodness and to declare our victories. A place to use my gifts, and to do what I’m passionate about. A place to share hope. A place to connect with all of you. 

So 2016, to you, I say thank you. 
Thank you for ushering in the afternoon of my life. Thank you for being the place where I learned to focus on the good. Thank you for making me do the hard work and for making me face my fears and for launching me on the path to becoming the woman God intended me to be. 
I said it a year ago and it still rings true today. 

I AM the tree. 



The storm came and it beat me down, it battered me until parts of me were so very broken. It’s wind and rain took my breath away until I felt like I would suffocate. It left me drowning in my heartache. It came to bring death and destruction. But my roots held firm. The storm came to steal everything good from me. But instead of washing all the goodness away, it took the dead leaves on my branches, and the stagnant earth around my trunk, and washed away everything unusable. It washed away everything that had no place in the life God intended for me. And it made way for fresh soil. And the winds calmed and the torrential downpour subsided and the sun broke through, and then the showers of blessings poured out to bring new growth. To bring me a new life. 

The storm came to shake me to my core. And now, my roots are even deeper and stronger. My trunk more solid and steady. My branches, expanding, growing, reaching towards the sun. And I think I’m even starting to see some blooms. Maybe, even putting out a little fruit. 

Isaiah 61:3
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.

God took what was meant for my destruction, for the destruction of my family, and He brought goodness out of it. 

Psalm 91:14-16.                               The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble.I will rescue and honor them.I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

It’s not quite here yet, but I think I’ll go ahead and get a head start on my letter to 2017. 

So Dear 2017, 

This year, you aren’t coming for me. The tables are turning and        I am coming for you. And I believe that you are filled with opportunity. I believe that you have so much goodness for me, for my family, and for everyone we come into contact with. And I plan to find every single ounce of it.

As we move forward, this is our focus:
The goodness. 
The grace.
And the gifts. 
I am so grateful for the way God has paved our path with these three things. We still have more work to do. More healing to do. And more growing to do. 
But I look forward to walking through it and finding more of God’s goodness, more of His grace, and more of His gifts. 

Psalm 1:3
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

I am thankful for each and every one of you. For the way you have followed my blog and our journey. For the love and the support you’ve given us. For giving me this outlet to share my story. You are a gift.

 I think I still have so many more stories to tell, so I hope you’ll continue to stick around, and follow as they unfold.

I wish you all good things in 2017. May it bring you goodness. May it bring you joy. May it bring you more blessings than you can contain. May it propel you to become everything God intended YOU to be. 

And may you also Be the tree. 
Happy New Year.


Amy Thurston Gordy

RSVP: Which box will you check? 

Christmas felt like it kind of snuck up on me this year. Is it just me or does it feel like time goes faster these days? We have had a great Christmas spent with family, and filled with great food and lots of fun.

Oh, and one magical trip to Disney World, which I will share about in another blog in the next few days, so stay tuned for that. I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season filled with all things good.

The past few weeks have been eventful for me. Life changing even.
I made mention in my last few posts that God was repeatedly calling me out of my comfort zone this year.

First, with deciding to give my broken marriage another chance. Then, with sharing my life with the world in this blog.

Then with public speaking.

And then…

I quit my job.
It still feels weird to say it.
But I’d been feeling the pull for a while now. I knew the time was coming. And although I knew in my heart it was what God was leading me to do, it was still a little scary. And bittersweet.

I’d been there for over 20 years. I started there at the age of 17. Moved away when Jeff joined the military and then went back to work there when we came home several years later.

I’ve spent basically my entire adult life with these people. They’re my people. They’re my family, and it was with a combination of a heavy heart and a hopeful and expectant spirit that I left them.

So with complete trust that what He had planned for me was good, I have taken several big steps out of my comfort zones this year.
Outside of the walls I’d built around myself, around my life.

And each time , I’ve found goodness waiting for me there.

There is goodness in my marriage and in the person Jeff has become.
There is goodness in this blog and in the people all over the world that read it and find hope in it.
There is goodness in overcoming my fear of public speaking and in the opportunity to share what God has done in our lives.
And there is goodness in the new job I will start in the new year, where I will not only get to work with my sisters, but with a whole group of people that I already know and love.
Sometimes, the comfort zone is exactly where we are supposed to be. But the time may come where you’ll hear Him telling you that it’s time for a change.
We all fear change. And we all get into routines, and fall into this illusion that things will always be this way. And we get comfortable. And if we aren’t really careful, and really paying attention, we can become so accustomed and contented with where we are and how things are that we become complacent.
And so when opportunities arise, we ignore them. Because we are pretty comfy where we are. Because we feel safe where we are.

Happy? Sure.

Sure we are happy. Because we are comfortable, right? Because it’s scary to do things differently than what you’re used to. So we stay in our comfy little comfort zones, but we hear that still small voice whispering , “There’s more. There’s so much more. Step out here into the water and see the wonders beyond your walls.”

But we ignore it.

Because we are scared.

Because although we may not be completely fulfilled where we are, at least we know what to expect if we stay here.

But out there… what if we make the wrong decision? What if we take the wrong path?
I get it. I really, really get it.
But I’ve learned a few things this year.
First, one day, life WILL kick you swiftly and surely out of that comfort zone in one way or another. Because stuff happens.
Like it or not, change is inevitable.

And the truth is, even when the change that comes is bad, it’s important. And it’s even beneficial. Because change brings growth. And growth brings fruit. And the fruit it produces is where the good stuff is found.

Second, wherever life kicks you, God is already there to catch you.

He’s. Already. There.

And He isn’t scrambling to figure out how to fix your big mess. He’s already gone before you and made a way. All you have to do is keep your eyes on Him and follow.

And third, sometimes life doesn’t kick you out of your comfort zone, but instead, God INVITES you out of your comfort zone.
And as with any invitation , you have a choice to make.

You can RSVP yes, or you can RSVP no.
Yep, you can say no to God. You sure can. And you can stay right there. Right where you are. And things may stay the same. You’ll continue to wake up, go about your life, do all the same things you have always done. And life will be good. It will be just fine.
It will be exactly what it always was. Maybe not extraordinary. But good. And you’ll be comfy. You’ll never know what’s outside those walls. You’ll never know what you might be missing. But that’s ok. If that’s what you decide to choose.

Or you can say yes.
And let’s just be honest. Even though you’ve chosen to accept the invitation, you will wake up, freak the freak out for a bit and question if you are making the right choices or if you’ve absolutely LOST YOUR EVER LOVING MIND.

But then, you’ll remember that tug on your heart. That whisper in your spirit.
“Follow me. I’ll show you the way.”

And then watch the goodness unfold. Watch Him bring things into your life that you never imagined. Watch Him turn your mess into a miracle. Watch Him pour out blessings over you.
Watch your life become something extraordinary.

I’ve returned my RSVP.

I want to see the wonders that exist beyond my walls.

Which box will you check?
Amy Thurston Gordy

Happy Anniversary

December 7th 1991. I was 17 and a half years old. So young. Too young. And no, we didn’t have to get married. But he had joined the military, and was going to be 3000 miles away, and I couldn’t imagine not going with him. I loved him.

I couldn’t get out of bed. My body ached. When I would try to get up I’d lay right back down, because I just felt so heavy. Get up Amy. You have to get up. It’s your wedding day.
Something was wrong.

My face is so hot. I’m dizzy. I can’t make it across the room without having to sit down.

My parents called their sweet friend and probably one of the most interesting people in the world, Dr. Slade, and he said to bring me right over.

A few minutes later, I’m sitting on his exam table and he is telling me, “You have the flu. I’m sorry but I don’t think there’s going to be a wedding today. You’re very sick.”

The flu. On my wedding day? Of all the days?

No. Flu or no flu, it’s too late to cancel this wedding. I’m getting married today.

And so I pulled myself together, put on my huge white dress,(it was 1991 after all.. the dress AND the hair HAD to be huge!) and I got married. With a fever of 102.

To look at me you would never had known it. I made it through the ceremony, and the reception. Right up until it was time to feed each other the cake and drink the punch. Suddenly, it hits me like a ton of bricks. I’m pale as a ghost. I look at Jeff and say I think it’s time for us to go.

So we get in the limo, and make it about a mile when I look at the driver and say..”Home! I need you to get me home now!”

The nausea had set in.

We pull up, and I jump from the car trying to unbutton the dress, screaming “get it off of me, I don’t want to ruin the dress!”

And so instead of heading off to our planned Honeymoon at Disney World, I spent the night in misery, while poor Jeff spent our first night as husband and wife holding my hair back when I’d get sick and wiping my face down with cold cloths to try and bring my fever down.

It was not the wedding day and night we had dreamed of. But seeing him take care of me so selflessly, never complaining, just being so tender and sweet, I knew why I married him.

That was 25 years ago.

Over those 25 years, things weren’t always that tender and sweet. We had some rough patches, for sure. But divorce was never an option. Except for that one time last year when it was.

But I decided not to take that option.

And so we’ve spent the last year not restoring our marriage, but rebuilding it. From the ground up.

We pressed through the hardest year of our lives. We pressed in with God. We let the people surrounding us build us up and we leaned on them when we couldn’t carry this load ourselves.

And today, we have a marriage that’s so much better than we had before. We had to walk through what sometimes felt like literal hell on earth to get to where we are. But I can look back now and say that I am truly so thankful. Not that he had an affair. But for all the goodness God has brought us from the most awful situation. For the sweetness of His presence. For the way He went before us and set in place every person and every thing we would need to get us through it. For the way He has made every ounce of pain and every single tear count for His kingdom. For the opportunity to share His infinite goodness with the world. For the amazing husband and man that Jeff has become. For the opportunities and blessings that He has poured out and continues to pour out on us.

For the family and friends that stuck by us through it all, and the new friends that we never would have known if none of this had happened.

Last year, I had just decided to let him move home and see if we could make this work not long before our anniversary and I was still in so much pain. I really didn’t want to celebrate our anniversary. How could I celebrate a day that represented the day we took our vows, the ones he broke? Did all those years really even count anymore?

But this year, this year was different. This year I was excited. And we had a great anniversary date last weekend.


And today I came home and found my house clean and this beautiful gift waiting for me on the table.


Then tonight I got to share my heart and our story at our Wednesday night church service. I’m so grateful that he is ok with being so transparent and supportive in sharing our story. It’s not a story he’s particularly proud of his part in and hearing me tell it is not easy for him. I do not take his willingness to be so open with it for granted.
For all intensive purposes, we shouldn’t have an anniversary to celebrate anymore. But here we are. A year later. And we survived. We not only survived but we have so much more. More of everything. More of all the good stuff. More goodness than I ever could have imagined. I was certain a year ago that I’d never be able to look at Jeff and not see what he had done to me. What he had done to us.

But today, I look at him and I don’t see what he did anymore. I look at him and I don’t see her anymore. I look at him and I don’t see the pain anymore.

When I look at him now, I see goodness. I see the goodness inside of him. I see the way he looks at me now. I see the way he loves me with his whole heart. I see the beautiful transparency of his heart. I see the way he looks for the good in everyone. I see his desire to be the man God says he is.

This year, my heart is full. Full of love. Full of joy. Full of gratitude.

Happy Anniversary, Jeff. I’m thankful for you, for the man you are becoming, for the way you love me so well, for second chances and new beginnings. And I can’t wait to see all the goodness in store for us in the years to come. ❤️
Amy Thurston Gordy