Dear 2017

It’s been two years since the Facebook post of a video of a little tree inspired my very first blog post. That little tree did so much more than just survive a storm. It became an inspiration. It became a launching pad for a new life. It was the catalyst that uncovered a gift that had long been hidden, and it helped me and so many others to discover that you can give your pain a purpose, and that there is goodness and beauty to be found in everything, even in the midst of your biggest storms. I keep a photo of this little tree at the top of my blog. It represents strength in adversity, hope within heartache, and the importance of what anchors you. It’s become a representation of who I am, and of what I want the purpose of this blog, and of my story, to be. The message is, and always will be, “Be the tree.”

That first blog was a letter to 2015 posted on New Years Eve. Last year, I posted a letter to 2016. So, in keeping with tradition, I give you my letter to this year. 

Dear 2017, 
In a lot of ways, it seems as though you rushed right in and are rushing right out. For some reason, it feels as though it has just flown by. I think maybe it’s because this year has been a little easier for us, a little less heart heavy. With the hardest days of healing and rebuilding behind us, we were able to breathe a little, and enjoy the goodness of where we are now. 

Although you did seem to fly by, we did actually have several big milestones this year, and I had a few smaller, yet significant moments, that revealed to me where my heart is at in this healing process and what still needs to be dealt with to get to where I want to be. 

Milestone #1:
I started a new job. That can be a stressful thing to do. But the transition was so easy, and although I may have had the occasional doubt, I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’ve gained a new work family, kept up relationships with my old work family, and enjoyed every minute of getting to work with my actual family, my two sisters. It’s been SO much fun.  

Milestone #2:
My oldest daughter moved out of the house and into an apartment with her cousins a couple of hours drive away from home. That was a HUGE adjustment. I miss her like crazy when she’s not at home but I am also so proud of her and the life she is building for herself. 

 Milestone #3:

We reached the 2 year mark of surviving the devastation of our marriage. Most of the books I’ve read say that’s the magic number. The turning point, if you will. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say it’s somehow magic. It’s definitely not as if it never happened, and I think to say it could ever come to that point is just unrealistic. But it definitely is easier. I still think about aspects of it probably at some point of every day. But I don’t live in the pain of it. There are still twinges every now and then. But the triggers are so much less present in our everyday life. I would say that we are in a place now where things are really good, we’ve dealt with most of the outer layers of damage and pain, and a lot of the innermost injuries, and what is left is mostly just goodness and gratitude. 

There are still a few things that I have to work on. I’m still working on that whole forgiveness thing. Letting go of the negative thoughts I have towards his affair partner. So there’s that. I suppose I’ve made some progress. She creeps into my thoughts less these days, so I guess in actuality, I just have less opportunity to have the feelings of anger and loathing that the thought of her incites. I don’t know if that’s really progress in true forgiveness, but I’ll take it. 
I would also say that I still have some pretty big issues with trust. I’m much better than I once was. With Jeff anyway. But it is still something that doesn’t come easily for me. Not just with Jeff, but also I tend to be wary of people’s intentions in general. I suppose that’s a normal side effect of having been deceived. I’m trying to be better about it, but still have such a reflex of needing to protect myself, so I question everything. I guess it really all just comes down to the fact that I have some pretty deeply rooted residual fears. 

And speaking of fear, that leads me to the next milestone of this year. 
Milestone #4:
My youngest daughter got her learners permit. Now this, this has been a real challenge for me. All you mom’s out there that have sat in the passenger seat while your baby gets behind the wheel of a thousand pounds of moving metal, and all of you who have watched your children drive off for the first time, you feel me. You totally get it. 

I’ve done this once before, so it shouldn’t give me quite this much anxiety. And y’all, she’s really not a bad driver. She’s not great with the parking, but she does pretty good with the driving. We had a few near misses where she pulled out in front of another car because she was confused about when it was ok for her to go, and there were a few times when she took a turn a little too fast. She also may have pulled into the driveway a little too quickly and nearly hit a parked car. But hey, we’ve all done those things. And she didn’t hit anything and they were learning moments and all is well. 

But my goodness, it is SO scary. 

Truthfully though, the problem is not her or her driving skills. Yes, she still has some things to learn before we let her drive off on her own, but the real issue is ME and my anxiety level. 
And it’s not just with her. Some of the biggest fights between Jeff and I this year stemmed from arguments over how Jeff was driving. Maybe I felt he was following too close, waiting til the last minute to brake, turning when I thought he should have waited for the car to pass, or maybe I worried that he wasn’t paying close enough attention and maybe I pointed out EVERY single possible danger to him. Because if I didn’t, we could possibly be in a horrific crash. Or maybe just an inconvenient fender bender. I’m just being helpful. Ok, ok. And possibly my constant “helpfulness” might be a little annoying. 
There.

I owned it. 

And his reaction to my “helpfulness” could sometimes be a little hurtful. 
We recently had a talk about it and he suggested that maybe I might benefit from taking some sort of anxiety medication before getting in the car. Ha. I’m pretty sure we all might benefit from that. 

But what I asked myself later is “why?”

Why am I having these near panic attacks every time I’m riding in the car with one of them? It doesn’t happen when I’m the one driving. And that’s when it hit me. It’s not about their driving skills. I mean, it wouldn’t hurt for them to maybe be a little more careful. 

But the real issue underneath my anxiety and panic is control. When they are driving, I’m not in control. I can’t control their decisions. I can’t control what may or may not happen. 
This is not a driving issue. This is not an anxiety issue. 

It’s a heart issue. 

It’s a mind condition issue. 

And it’s not really about riding in a car. That is just where it happened to become more tangibly seen. What it’s really about is me trying to control every situation, every possibility, every outcome, in an attempt to protect myself. To protect the people I love. It’s about being hyper vigilant, because I’m terrified I might miss some danger that is lurking, waiting to jump out and destroy us. Because I still maybe haven’t forgiven myself for missing so many of the danger signs before and during Jeff’s affair. And because deep down there’s a part of me that thinks if I can somehow control everything that happens around me, I can ensure that nothing bad happens to me or the people I care about.

This is what Oprah likes to call an “aha moment”. 
And so, I know that I still have big things to work through. I trust that God will take care of me. I’ve seen it firsthand. I have no reason to doubt it. But still, the thought of going through anything hard again, anything painful, it terrifies me. It’s a deep seated fear that at any given moment my world could fall apart again. And so there’s this part of me that thinks that if I just pay really close attention and do my best to control every single aspect of my life, I can ensure that nothing bad happens to me or the people I love.
And to some degree it’s true. It is true that we should all pay closer attention. There were so many signs that I missed when my world fell apart. Some of them glaring, flashing signs that I most certainly should not have missed. And I guess I still tend to beat myself up for that. So yes, we should pay attention. But when it comes down to it, signs or no signs, we can’t control the decisions of others. And unfortunately, when the people we love make bad ones, and they eventually crash and burn, we are there, sitting in the passenger seat, with no say, with no control. And many times we are the ones that take the brunt of the impact and suffer the most serious injuries. 

So, this is my struggle. To find the balance. To be alert and aware, but not to the point of paranoia. To be helpful, and hold people accountable when it’s actually warranted without pointing out every single possible danger and becoming annoying. 
But mostly, to learn to let go of the insatiable need to be in control. To trust that everything is going to be ok. To remind myself daily of the ways God carried me through every bad day after life as I knew it went up in flames. How He has used what was meant for my harm to bring the goodness of the life I have now. 

Because to control every aspect of my life is exhausting. And in all reality, a waste of energy. And quite frankly, I’m tired. 
So I’m working on it. I’m trying to remind myself to just relax. To let go. To trust that the God of the universe, the God that walked with me through my best days, and carried me through my worst, has my best interests at heart. And that no matter what comes my way, no matter if I make a bad decision, or someone else makes a bad decision, He will carry me through that too and work all things for my good. 

I have to remind myself that I’m still that tree that I wrote about in my very first post, the one that stands strong no matter what comes my way, because of what anchors me.  

I can’t allow my anchor to be the fear of heartache. And I have to remind myself that I am not my own anchor. I can’t serve as my own anchor deep below the swirling waters of life and still keep my head above the waves. I have to learn to really trust the true anchor. 
The true anchor is the joy of God’s goodness, it is the hope and the certainty that no matter what, the best is yet to come. 

So, 2017, thanks for going fairly easy on me. Thanks for making me face some hard truths about myself and the work I still have to do to move forward, to find some peace, and to become the best version of me. 
 As for you 2018, I don’t know what you have planned for me. And I’m working on learning to be ok with that. Because I know whatever it is, it will always turn to goodness. I’m expecting it to be a year of breakthroughs and blessings. 

And I pray the same for all of you. 
Happy New Year, and thank you all again for another year of walking along side us and cheering us on as we build this new life. Your support is felt, your prayers are felt, and I am forever grateful for every one of you. 

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

* tree video credit goes to Back Road Travels on Facebook

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The Falling away

It’s the first official day of Fall. It’s still pretty hot here in Georgia, but you can feel it coming. You can feel it in the crispness of the cooler air early in the morning, and in the dusk that sets in just a little earlier at the end of every day. It used to be my favorite time of the year. It brought a cool breeze. It brought beautiful warm colors. It brought the ability to throw on cozy sweaters and jeans. It brought warm comfort foods and everything pumpkin. It brought bonfires and roasted marshmallows and Saturday night football viewing parties. Don’t get confused, I know y’all know I really don’t care about the football games. I’m just there for the snacks and the company, yeah, mostly the snacks. Ha. 

But I CAN tell you which team will win the game with at least 95% accuracy, based on my personally developed “super scientific uniform theory”. I kid you not. This is a real thing. Basically, I pick the winning team based on the uniform they are wearing. The colors, the fit, the presentation, I take it all into account, all the way from the helmet down to the shoes. Laugh if you want, Jeff certainly doubted my “super scientific theory” too. Until he saw how many times I was right! I guess that’s a little off subject. So I’ll get back to what I was saying. Y’all just let me know if you want me to choose a winner for ya. 😂

Fall still brings all of those things. But two years ago, Fall brought me something else. Something that would change life as I knew it forever. Well, in reality, that one Fall day didn’t alter the course of my life. The day Jeff first entertained the thought of becoming involved with her is the day that my life changed forever. My world was dismantled bit by bit with every thought, every text, every conversation, every meeting between the two of them over the course of that year. So that particular September day was not the one day my world was destroyed, it was just the day that I came to the full realization of it. 

Last year, I struggled a lot with it. The triggers were everywhere. The thoughts and memories sometimes overwhelming. Because that same crispness in the air that I used to love so much was the same crisp air that I ran out into to try and catch my breath on that awful day. Because those football games reminded me of the one he was getting ready to go watch when I saw those messages on his phone that were proof of his betrayal. 

This year, it doesn’t have as strong of an effect. I can’t say the anniversary of that day hasn’t affected me at all. I still had some level of anxiety about it. But it was more of an annoying quiet hum than the load roar that it used to be. 

Last year, I had wanted to plan something to mark the day. Something to try and give it new meaning, and new memories. This year, I didn’t feel as strongly about it. Earlier in the year I bought tickets to go to a Kari Jobe concert. When I saw the announcement for the concert, and saw that it was local and just happened to be on September 10th, I figured what better way to spend that evening than filling it with worship music? I figured that would be a good way to drown out any negative feelings that crept in that day. 

As it turned out, D-day came and went without leaving much of a footprint this year. September 10th fell on a Sunday. We got up and went to church as usual. We went to lunch together , just the two of us. Jeff was actually the one to bring it up. “So, today’s our happy anniversary I guess? Well, more of an unhappy anniversary? But happy because we survived. And because our lives are so much better now than they were.”

And that was the extent of our acknowledgment of the day. As it turned out, the concert, which I had actually forgotten about until that afternoon, was cancelled last minute because of Hurricane Irma’s impending arrival. So we stayed home, cozy on our sofa with bowls of chili and watched some tv. 

I guess my feelings kind of go back and forth on what this day should be. A part of me wants to fill it up with new things and new memories to give it new meaning. But another part wants to let it pass with no acknowledgment at all. To take its power away by making it just another day on the calendar. 

I think the reality will fall somewhere between the two. Because in reality, I’ll most likely never forget the date, so it will always be acknowledged in some way. But I never want it to be in a way that glorifies the ugliness of that day, or gives those memories the power to ruin my present day. Because September 10th, 2017, is not September 10th, 2015. And September 10th, 2018 and every September 10th after that won’t be either. That day is gone. It happened, and we can’t change it. And every year, though the date may be the same, our lives are not the same. So we will acknowledge it, but only with a sense of gratitude of the goodness that we live in now, and that we have put one more year in between us and that terrible time in our lives. 

When I think about it, it’s kind of fitting that this day happened in the Fall. 

We don’t necessarily think about it, because it can be so deceivingly beautiful, but in essence, Fall is a process of death. The vibrant green trees slowly fade to warm shades of yellow, orange, and red. They look so lovely on the outside, that we don’t often think about what might be happening on the inside. 

Slowly, the colorful leaves begin to loosen, and one by one, fall to the ground. There’s only a few at first, so we just walk through them, hearing them crunch under our feet but not really giving them much thought. But as the wind gets stronger, the dying leaves become weaker, and suddenly they are everywhere, covering the ground. Smothering the grass beneath them. 

Hiding the walkways and covering the paths that we could once see clearly. 

It is messy, this falling away. And once the leaves have all fallen, the trees look painfully bare. The falling away is followed by a season of emptiness. Or at least that’s the way it seems. But it is the Fall, the shedding of the old, that makes way for the new. It’s a painful process. There’s no getting around that. But it’s the only way to shed what no longer belongs. To get rid of the diseased leaves. To reset. So that when the Spring comes, and it always comes, there’s nothing hindering its growth. And what grows from those empty branches is fuller, and more beautiful than what it was before. So much stronger than it was before the falling away. 

The seasons of life can be painful. But there is beauty in all of it. Even in the falling away. Even in the dead of the barren winter. Because it’s making way for the beauty of Spring, and the fullness of Summer. Some years it brings varying levels of death and life. Sometimes the changes are small, and we come through it mostly unscathed, barely even noticing that the seasons changed, and other times, the changing of the seasons of our lives is so sudden and so devastating that we wonder if the winter will ever end. 

Don’t lose hope. Spring is coming. It always comes. And in the meantime, look for the beauty in the season you’re in. It’s there. It’s always there. 

When the spring comes, you’ll be stronger. You’ll be fuller. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Yes, there may be losses to mourn. You’ll certainly never be the same. You may bear the scars of the storms you weathered through the winter. But that will be what sets you apart. It will be your mark of the goodness of God. A symbol of how we can survive bad things. How the storms can wound us, but that those wounds can heal. A symbol of how all that we know can fall away, lost forever, but that something beautiful can grow in its place. 

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

The fullness of now

Summer in Georgia is hot. Like sweltering, sticky, oppressively hot. The kind of hot that makes you imagine you’re a stick of butter melting into a puddle on the pavement. Which is why I find myself sitting in my room, lights off, curtains drawn, air conditioner blaring and fan blowing. 

There’s nothing quite like a Sunday afternoon nap in Georgia. A super cold dark room and some fluffy covers is like heaven when it’s 100 degrees outside. It’s much too hot to go out and do anything, so might as well enjoy just being still for a bit. 

It also gives me an excuse to sit and write, which is not something I’ve done much of this month, and I’ve missed it.
It’s been about a month since I last posted, and things have been going really well. We’ve spent some time at the lake, laid out by the pool, seen a few movies, and done some shopping for my oldest daughter’s apartment. I’m still pretending that she’s not moving out on her own in a couple of weeks. Mama’s. Not. Ready. Oh my heart. 

Overall we’ve had a great month. I did, however, have a couple of days where I struggled a little. Nothing really noticeable to anyone, (except Jeff, as usual). No particular reason, just had a hard time keeping my thoughts focused on the good ones and pushing out the bad ones. It happens occasionally. No major incident, just thoughts of insecurity, doubt, fear… you know, the usual suspects. 

They’re liars and thieves , those three. Really convincing ones. They are especially efficient in their attack. They bombard you with reminders of the past, and then they use that to fill you with fear of what could happen in the future. Because if they can keep you busy flip flopping back and forth from the pain of your yesterdays to the fear of what could happen in your tomorrows, they can very effectively steal today. And that’s all they want. Because your today, your now, is everything. Now is all we ever really have. 

So when you find yourself falling prey to doubt, insecurity, and fear, it’s important to get control of that as quickly as possible. 

To reclaim your now.

I clawed my way out of that fog and was feeling much better. But it seems those thieves wanted one more go at me that night.

We sat on the sofa that evening and decided we would find a new tv series to watch on Netflix. We weren’t sure what to choose. It can be difficult sometimes to find things that we can watch. A lot of the popular series are extremely explicit, and we try to avoid that due to the former porn issue. Some may think that’s silly, but it’s no different than the fact that you wouldn’t set up a fully stocked bar in front of an alcoholic or offer a recovering drug addict a sample of cocaine. They may be able to control it, but why take the risk?

Then there’s all the shows that have affairs as part of the main story line. Sometimes it bothers me and sometimes it doesn’t. It mostly just depends on how similar the details are to mine. 

Anyway, I had heard my sister and some coworkers talking about this series that they loved. They talked about it all the time, and so I suggested maybe we should try that one. 

I really had no idea what it was about, just that it was about this influential family that had all these secrets and that there were all these twists and turns to keep things interesting.

So we get cozy on the couch, start the show, and the scene, the very first scene, was a couple having sex in the back seat of a car. 

Of all the things. 

OF ALL THE THINGS. 

It had to be that. 

It could have started with any other sex scene and I wouldn’t have thought anything about it. I don’t think it was super explicit or even involved much nudity, if any. Actually I’m really not sure if it did or not because I completely checked out. 

I saw 3, maybe 5 seconds of it. 

That’s when my brain did that thing it does and takes me somewhere else. Somewhere that I never actually saw with my own eyes but have seen in my minds eye a million different torturous times. 

I didn’t see the actors on the screen anymore. 

I saw Jeff. With her. 

That’s all I can see. His face, her hair, his hands. And I look away. I can’t look. Make it go away. Make it go away. Please make it go away.

But it doesn’t help because the image isn’t only on the screen. It’s in my head. And I just want it to stop. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to hear it. It was only a few seconds. But it was long enough. Long enough for the panic to set in. For the painful tightening in my chest. For the knot to form in my stomach. For my lungs to forget how to breathe again.  

“Is that what it was like?” I hear myself ask him, realizing that I actually said it out loud and not just in my head.

Another one of those questions that I need to know and yet also do not need to know. 

His face is pained, his hands searching feverishly for the remote. 

I leave the room, busy myself with loading some laundry to try and clear my head and learn to breathe correctly again. 

It happens. 

It kind of stinks that something as simple as watching tv can be so complicated. It kind of stinks that there are a lot of simple things that bring the past to the surface. 

But it is what it is. We deal with it, and we move on. 

A few days ago, I made the executive decision to watch the show anyway. 

It was just an unfortunate coincidence that it started with that particular scene. 

We just skipped to the next scene and started there. 

We have to live our lives, regardless of the triggers. I do my best to avoid them. The ones that I can’t avoid, I deal with the best that I can. Thankfully, there have been very few this year that affected me that way. 

I’ve gotten pretty good at controlling the thoughts. 

I can’t say that I’ve gone a whole day yet that I haven’t had some kind of thoughts about the affair. I guess I’m not sure that will ever happen. 

But it rarely affects my now. There’s more of a separation. The thoughts are there. But the pain attached to them is not as overpowering as it once was on a daily basis anyway. 

The goodness of my now has gotten bigger than the pain of my past. 

And I like to imagine that it will continue to get bigger, so much so that the panic stops even with the bigger triggers at some point.

Those few minutes were tough. They took me back to a very painful time. And it can be overwhelming. 

But it was only a few minutes. I’ve had a million other great minutes.  

And all I have to do is remember that the panic, the pain, those things are not my now. 

My now is full of goodness.                                    My now is full of joy.                                               My now is simply….full. 
❤️                                                                             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

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

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