Dear 2019

Wait, what? Time for my yearly letter already? When I realized that I needed to get this post written yesterday, I fleetingly thought to myself, “I think I’m just gonna skip it this year.” I’m not sure why, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I suddenly couldn’t imagine what it was that I had to say to this year. Not because it was incredibly bad, and not because it was especially good, but honestly I think it’s because it was a bit of a blur. But, I’ve written this letter every year since my very first post on New Years Eve 2015. So I can’t go breaking tradition now. And once I start writing, I always find that I actually do have something to say. It’s the getting started that is usually the struggle.

365 days. Really, really full days. Seemed we were constantly on the go, with very little down time. Well, we had down time, just not the specific kind that I consider necessary for my overall well being. I love going places and doing things, but I’m one of those people that needs quiet time to myself at least once a week to keep from feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated. And if I go too long without it, it shows. My anxiety level goes up and I start to shut down. So I’ve really got to make more of an effort to create that space for myself.

Overall though, I’d say it was a really good year for us.

We definitely had a handful of bad days. Actually, we probably had some of our worst arguments to date this year. The kind where you look at each other and think, “Who even are you?”

One of them started with a disagreement about shoes of all the silly things, and ended with Jeff walking a couple of miles home in the dark cold night. 😂 It didn’t feel funny at all at the time, but it’s pretty funny now.

Like everyone else, there are times that we disagree. There are some things that we will never see eye to eye on. There are times where arguments about the most ridiculous and unimportant things will suddenly and unexpectedly become about something much bigger. And there are times that we let those arguments get the best of us and we forget what really matters. But we always know that is not who we want to be, personally and as a couple. So we find our way back to the stuff that matters, and try to remember how to love each other well.

We took more short trips this year than we ever have. It’s always fun to get away, and this year brought us several getaways with friends, with family, and for just the two of us.

It ushered in our youngest daughter’s senior year, which has already been packed full of events and college planning and forms and fees. Good Lord have mercy at ALL the fees. If y’all have children, start saving now. Ha. Senior fees, photo sessions, cap and gown fees, Guild fees, formals, college application fees, housing application fees, oh and let’s not forget college orientation fees. That one really stumps me. They want to charge $125 for her to attend a mandatory freshman 2 day orientation. And an extra $50 per person for Jeff and I as her guests. Is this some sort of a trick? Not sure what that $50 pays for exactly, but from what I gather we get to sit through seemingly endless hours of information overload and get a parent reception with some cookies and drinks maybe? That better be a darn good $50 cookie. Lol. I know we already have one kid in college, but she took a different route, doing her freshman year at a community college then transferring to the university as a sophomore so we bypassed all this “extra” stuff. So this is all new to us.

Still, it’s an exciting time for her and I’m praying she gets there and loves it and thrives and follows her heart and makes lifelong friends and finds a career path that brings her joy and financial security. Because this Mama will find a way to pay whatever fees necessary, and spend 2 long boring days of my life that I’ll never get back in parent orientation if it means helping my girl find her best life. 😂

This year also brought the opportunity to do some long overdue improvements on the exterior of our home. I know all too well how stressful renovations can be, so it was both something I was super excited about, and also super stressed out about. Especially when choosing materials and colors, and trying to stay within our budget. But luckily for me, I have a cousin that runs his own renovation company, and he did such a good job and made it as stress free as possible, keeping things cleaned up as much as possible as he went and getting us the look we wanted within the parameters of the budget we had to work with. We got new siding and trim, new windows, replaced the two large sections of our deck that we had not gotten to when Jeff replaced the deck around the pool, and he also built us a lean-to with a tin roof to provide a covered area on the deck. I love it so much and can not wait to get the rock pressure washed, the yard cleaned up and new flowers and plants planted in the spring so we can truly enjoy the space.

Our oldest daughter finished out fall semester in college with a nearly 4.0 grade point average. That was with a schedule full of really tough stem classes and labs, so that’s a real accomplishment. And she’s getting ready to move out of her apartment and into the most adorable old house with the most precious pink claw foot tub you’ve ever seen. She will start her senior year in the fall. When I asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she sent a list back and at the top was “otoscope”. So I texted her back and said,”You mean the thing doctors use to look in people’s ears?” “Yes”, she said.

“So, you’re telling me that for Christmas, you want an otoscope, so you can look at people’s ear drums… for fun?”

“Well, yeah. I really do.”

Ok then. I think it’s safe to say she was meant to be a Doctor. 😂

And so this Mama bought her an otoscope. Did y’all know you can actually order those on Amazon? You totally can. And I totally did.

I started off this year with the intention of writing more, but somehow ended up writing less. Mostly this year felt like I was just passing through it. Jumping from one event to the next one on the calendar. Crossing off items on to do lists and going to the next thing. I did get some more of that book I keep saying I’m writing written, although I put it right back on the shelf again shortly after I picked it up. And that’s ok. It’s a work in progress and so am I.

2019 also brought me a lot further in my quest to find a way to forgive the other woman. I’d have to say that was definitely my biggest accomplishment this year. It brought me a new understanding of what forgiveness truly means and how to truly be able to let the hatred go. I’m pretty proud of the level of forgiveness I’ve been able to reach. That doesn’t mean that we would ever be friends. It doesn’t mean that I’ll ever have feelings of endearment for her. It doesn’t mean that I won’t ever think about the pain she caused and it doesn’t mean that the human side of me just plain doesn’t really like her because of what she did. But it does mean that I can see her through God’s filter. It does mean that I can wish for her and her family to have the same redemption that my family has found and the same happiness that I want for my own family. And it means that we can unexpectedly find ourselves sitting about 6 seats away from each other on the same aisle in church and it doesn’t phase me one bit. Yep. That happened. And it was fine.

Jesus loves both of us. We both have a seat at His table. And if those seats are in close proximity to each other, that’s ok. Call me crazy if you want, but we aren’t gonna be able to avoid seeing each other in Heaven. So might as well accept it and get used to it now right? Ha. Earlier this year I reached out to her husband by text to discuss the church situation, and see how he felt about it and to see how he was doing, and I found a lot of peace in hearing from him that they were in a good place and that he was happy. So, yes. Sometimes I see her at church. And sometimes we end up in close proximity to each other. And that’s not something I would have thought at one time that I’d be capable of handling. But God wants the same good things for both of us, and I guess that is what gives me the peace that passes all understanding, and allows me to share that space. Because my focus is on Him.

She did something awful that she never formally apologized for…to me anyway, and I have no idea where her head and heart are at concerning any of it. But when it comes down to it, that’s between her and her family, and mostly it’s between her and God, so it’s not my place to judge her heart. So, instead of choosing to hate her for it, I pray that she has made things right with God, and I pray regularly for her family, that they would have the same happiness and blessings that I want for my own. It wasn’t easy to get to a place where I could do that, and it took a really long time, but finally getting to a place where I can wish her the best has definitely brought my own heart a lot more peace.

So overall, 2019, I’d say you treated us well. Even if you felt a bit rushed. A bit overloaded. Maybe a bit stressful. But I’m pretty sure that was all on me, and not really your doing at all. We filled our days up, and this year was chock full of really good things. So if I had to pick a resolution for 2020, it would be to try to slow down, take each moment as it comes, and try to soak it all in a bit more and not get so stressed about getting things done and looking so far to the next thing that I miss so much of the now. Because by this time next year, we will be empty nesters. 😱 How did that happen so fast? Advice to you younger parents out there, the same advice that I heard a million times and yet it didn’t really sink in til I actually found myself here… don’t get ahead of yourselves. Don’t get so caught up in the stress of parenthood and your daily to do lists that you miss all the little moments. Because it really is true that one day you suddenly wake up and they are GROWN. And you wish you would have listened to all the older Mama’s to savor it all. Because while it feels like forever to you now, and all you really want is a long uninterrupted nap, it truly is over in a flash. So take my advice, even though I still obviously struggle to take it myself, cut yourself a break and stop over scheduling yourself and stressing over the unimportant stuff like the dishes, and snuggle those babies while you still can.

It’s hard to believe we are about to begin a new decade. The last 10 years brought me some of the greatest joys, and also the most devastating heartache. Halfway through it, my world got shaken and turned upside down and inside out. I found myself broken, and my world unrecognizable.

It was dark, terrifying, and incredibly disorienting.

But the second half brought me redemption. Healing. Wisdom. Deeper relationships with friends, with family, and with my husband. It brought me a deeper sense of self, and brought me purpose. It brought out gifts that had been hidden away, under the walls I had built, and revealed an inner strength I had no idea that I possessed. But mostly, I found a closeness with God that I didn’t even know I’d been missing. A dependence on a Heavenly Father to make all things new. A new understanding of His promise to work ALL things for our good.

So thank you, 2019, and the whole past ten years. You broke me in ways I never could have imagined, but you also gave me a new life I never could have imagined. And I came out of it, battle weary and with more than a few scars for sure, but stronger, wiser, more empathetic, bolder, and a better version of myself than I would have been without having been refined by walking through your firestorm. And knowing, more than ever before, that no matter what life throws at us, and no matter what surprises lie ahead of us, God goes before us, walks beside us, and cleans up the messes we leave behind us. He’s there in the dark, and He’s there in the light. And He always, always keeps His promise to work all things for our good.

While I know I can never forget the pain of the past decade, I’ll mostly try to remember the goodness. Because there was SO much goodness. So, I walk into this new decade thankful, hopeful, and expectantly watching for all the goodness the next ten years will bring. I pray it brings so much goodness for all of you, and for your children. I pray that all of our children, as they make their own way in life, find a deeper relationship with God that will carry them through all that they have ahead of them. I pray for blessings on all of our families, and that the next ten years brings an overflow of goodness to us all.

Happy new year. Happy new decade. May it be the best one yet.

Psalm 20:4-

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

The pained whisper

About a month ago I had a dream. I was in a house, and there was a demon there. I knew it was there, I could feel the presence of it, and I knew it had an awareness of me also. I dreamed of being in the rooms of that house, and I would try to walk out of a room, and as I went to push a door open, I would feel it pushing back. Trying to keep me from getting the door all the way open and leaving the room. I would push harder and the resistance on the other side would grow stronger. Then I would suddenly skip ahead and find myself in a hallway, and would come across a door, and when I would try to open a door to enter a room, the demon again would pull from the other side, trying to keep me from entering. Again and again I would find myself in this tug of war at every door. Trying to enter a room that I couldn’t get in, or trying to exit a room that I couldn’t get out of. Until I finally found myself walking into a kitchen/ living area. And I saw Jeff standing there. And then suddenly, the demon was in him. He is coming at me. Swinging for me. Trying to get to me so he can put his hands around my throat. He wants to hurt me and he wants to use Jeff to do it. I know what I need to do. I just have to tell the demon that he doesn’t belong here. That he’s not welcome here. I have to tell him that he can’t have Jeff. I know exactly what to do. I know I have the authority. And so I try to speak. I have the words. But my throat feels like it’s closing up. The strength I’m using to push the words out should be creating a loud shout, but I can barely push them out. I am straining so hard to make the noise come out that it literally causes me physical pain. There is definitely a little trepidation in me, for I know the seriousness of facing this demon. But there’s a boldness within me that pushes back that fear, and pushes me to fight. I dig deep and try to pull as much strength and authority as I can muster into my voice as I try to speak. But all that I hear coming from my mouth is barely more than a hoarse whisper.

“You can’t be here. You can’t have him. Get out. You’re not allowed to harm me. You leave in the name of Jesus! Go and don’t come back. You’re not welcome here. Get out. Get out. In the name of Jesus, GET OUT!!!”

Over and over I try to speak the words. Sometimes managing to barely make the sounds, and sometimes only able to push out the air as I mouth the words.

But I keep trying. I keep fighting that demon. Wishing I could get the strong shout of rebuke that I have within me to come out as more than a whisper. Fighting off the fear that maybe I don’t have as much authority over him as I had believed. Beginning to wonder why my shout keeps coming out as a strained, painful whisper. But even still, refusing to back down. Grasping hold of the promise that no weapon formed against me shall prosper. Holding tight to the hope that my voice may be nothing more than a whisper, but that the power of God in that pained whisper is enough to defeat that demon.

It’s not the first time I’ve had that dream, or some version of it. There are variations of it, each one slightly different, in a different location, or with the demon taunting me in different ways, but always ending the same, with me staring him down, and struggling to make my voice reflect the power behind the words I’m trying to get out.

I have spiritual dreams every once in a while. It’s not completely out of the norm for me. So I didn’t think too much about this one when I woke up.

But looking back, I can see now that this dream, along with every other one I’ve had like it over the years, is usually a reflection of something going on in our lives. They come as a warning sometimes. A warning that something is not right. A warning that we are under attack, and to be vigilant. Other times they come just as a reminder. A reminder that the fight can be hard, and that the fight may take more out of us than we think we can handle.

A reminder that sometimes even when it feels impossible, even when it seems we are drawing on what feels like our last breaths just to force out a battle cry, no matter how small our voices, no matter how weak our shouts, we only need the slightest whisper of His name.

I always wake up in the midst of the fight. Usually just as the demon in whatever form he has taken has me just within his reach. But I never wake up afraid. Or feeling defeated.

And so I’ve often wondered if it was enough, those pained whispers. Enough to drive the demon out.

And as I thought about it today, I realized that is why I wake up. Right in the middle of the fight, just as the tip of his fingers nearly reach me, at a point where I should be terrified, I always wake up, completely unafraid. Able to go right back to sleep.

And so it occurred to me finally, that maybe it was enough. Maybe, the pained whisper was all I needed to defeat him. The pained whisper of the name of Jesus was enough to drive him away and wake me from the nightmare and bring me peace.

I didn’t realize it when I had that dream, but we were in fact, facing a spiritual battle. The past couple of months had been stressful. The usual things that affect most families. There had been some financial stress. I had also been under a good deal of stress because of an abnormal mammogram result, which was followed by a couple of follow up appointments spread over a few of what seemed like very LONG weeks. It turned out to be nothing to worry about, thankfully. There was also some college stuff for both girls that needed to be worked out. I’d not been sleeping well due to some leg pain from my old back injury. In the middle of all that, we also had some serious trust issues resurface. And somewhere in the midst of all that busy-ness and stress, there had grown a distance between us. I felt it, he felt it. Neither one of us quite sure what initially caused it or when it started growing, but both painfully aware that something just wasn’t right.

And to say that my PTSD-like reactions were triggered by all of that would be an understatement.

He felt defeated. I felt panicked. And sad. And slightly terrified.

Two months ago we were fine. Better than ever. We felt like we were in a really good place. And I can’t really tell you where or when things went wrong specifically. All I know is that we got complacent. Maybe a little lazy. We let one too many things slide. And it didn’t seem like we were that far off track. Except for that dream I had. Except for this gnawing feeling that things just weren’t right. This overwhelming prompting to perk up and pay attention. A feeling that we somehow ended up unintentionally perched on the edge of a cliff, because of our lack of intention.

And I’m not gonna lie to y’all. It got kind of bad. Actually it got really bad. It was the second big fight in the past few months that had us both feeling like we were reaching our breaking point. It culminated in an emotionally charged discussion in which Jeff hinted at the possibility that he might be ready to give up, and me suggesting that if that was truly the case that he should maybe go pack his bags.

Yep. That bad.

And just like that, we had fallen off the edge of that cliff.

All it took was for us to stop paying attention to where we were standing, just for a little bit, to stop paying attention to where we were headed. We stopped talking to each other as we walked down that road and yet somehow were still surprised when we found ourselves on the edge of that cliff. And by the time we got there, we were so disconnected and so frustrated and feeling a little lost as to how to find our way back to the path we were on before we went so far off course.

And looking over that edge was so dizzying. So disorienting. And so we tumbled right on over.

But we didn’t die there.

We found a ledge on our tumble down, and we grabbed it.

Suddenly, painfully aware of this precarious position we’d gotten ourselves into, we began to face the hard truths of what got us there. What are we doing out here, hanging on by our fingertips? We don’t belong here. And so, we climbed.

With admitting that we had both taken our eyes off the ball.

With him apologizing for some not so great choices.

With me admitting that my reactions to situations can sometimes be bigger than the situation warrants because I’m not really reacting to whatever is going on at the moment necessarily, but am actually reacting to the fear that whatever the thing we are fighting about triggered inside of me.

We pulled ourselves back over the top of that cliff by acknowledging that all of this stress, and this downfall was really a fight with the enemy, and not so much with each other. We pulled ourselves back up by realizing that to get where we want to go, to have the relationship we want to have, and be the people we want to be, we’ve got to fight together, instead of against each other.

We’re a bit exhausted, if I’m being honest. These past two months have been A LOT.

A lot of me facing my biggest fears.

Fear for my health.

Fear of lack of provision.

Fear of being deceived.

Fear that Jeff would let me down again.

Fear that these past few years, all of our hard work, everything we’ve put in to rebuilding this marriage, would end because of a bad decision, or because one or both of us just couldn’t push through one more hard day. That we would do all of this, only to fail. To end up with nothing.

And then there’s the fear that we would let all of you down.

I looked at Jeff, in the middle of our fight, and said, “This is not just about us. We’re at a crossroads here. There’s something big ahead, bigger than just us, I can feel it. And I feel like we need to be real careful how we move forward. A lot of people look to us. They look to us as an example of hope. The choices we make here, now, don’t just have the potential to affect us, there’s a whole lot of other people we would be letting down too.”

We’ve been given this platform, and we don’t take it lightly. So, yes, besides the fear of being hurt again, letting you all down or failing you in any way is one of my biggest ones.

But the truth is, we’re human. We don’t have the magic formula for repairing a broken marriage. I’m not an expert. We aren’t licensed therapists. We aren’t ordained pastors. We are just Jeff and Amy. We are two people that walked through a very dark place. We’re the guy that made the worst mistake of his life. We’re the girl who’s heart was broken. We’re a couple that found our way through the brokenness to forgiveness. We chose goodness. We chose the hard path of refinement and redemption. And I’m just the girl, following the pull on her heart to share it all with you. To be real…and sometimes painfully, raw, with sharing our story with you in a way that most people wouldn’t. Because I feel so strongly that this world needs more people willing to share their truth. Not in a vague way. Not in a glossed over highlight reel. But in the details, in the hard truth of the trenches, and the bright light of the mountaintops, and all the highs and lows of the moments in between. The world needs more people willing to shine a light in ALL the dark places, to admit that you’ve been there before, and help others see that there’s a way out.

It’s become painfully apparent to me that my biggest struggle is with fear.

I constantly have to remind myself that the fear, all that fear that I fight on a daily basis, is a liar.

He’s the demon in my dreams trying to hold the doors and keep me stuck in a place where I can’t share God’s goodness. Trying to strike out at me and wrap his wiry fingers around my throat and choke the light, God’s light, right out of me. He’s the one I see in the face of Jeff at the end of my dreams, the one telling him that he might as well give in. That he’ll never win this fight, that he’s not the man God says he can be.

The truth is, even if we failed, even if, after all these years of work and hope and sweat and joy and tears, we end up falling over the edge of the cliff, God is still there.

And He will no doubt have a path full of goodness mapped out for us. He will hold out his hand, and pull us up, and show us the way out, whether that be together, or apart. All we have to do is look to Him. I’ve seen many, many examples of God’s goodness in situations where a marriage ultimately doesn’t work out. And so while I won’t stop fighting, I also shouldn’t be afraid of letting you all down if we fail. Because while this blog is about restoration and redemption and hope for broken relationships, it’s also about restoration and redemption on a personal level. My hope, our hope, the true hope of God is that He has a plan for you, no matter the decisions of someone you love. We can’t control the actions or choices of others. All we can do is look to Him and trust in His presence and His goodness.

He’s there on the good path. He’s there on the easy days. He’s also there in the midst of those really, really hard ones. He’s there on the edge of that cliff.

And if we happen to find ourselves falling over that cliff and ending up crumpled and broken at the bottom of that canyon, He’ll be there too.

I know, because I’ve been there.

We survived the initial fall all the way to the bottom several years ago. And the climb back up has been hard, and exhausting, but also rewarding, and full of joy. We’ve had more good days than bad ones. I could have chosen not to share any of this latest struggle with you. I could have given in to the fear that to continue to give you the hope you need, and to “promote the brand” or keep up a certain image that we need to have a perfect marriage from here on out, with the appearance of neither of us failing and only having good days. But the truth is, we aren’t perfect. And a dishonest version of redemption is not a story of redemption at all. I don’t write this blog to create a brand or to gain followers. I write it to show you that we all have good days, we all have bad days, we all have victories and struggles, and that God is right there through all of it. I share our setbacks and our failures with you so you know you’re not alone. So you know that just because you’ve pushed through your hardest days, you still have to be intentional and fight for your family, for yourself, for your marriage, for the life you want. I do it so you’ll know that the goodness is worth the fight. And I do it so that you know that even if you get off course, and take a little tumble, that it’s ok. It happens to all of us. You can still grab on to that ledge and make your way back up to steady ground.

We took a little tumble. But we climbed back up. And we woke up the next morning with a renewed sense of purpose. A reminder to be intentional.

And also with great expectation. Because when the devil comes at you like that, it’s usually because God has something in the works. There’s something ahead that God wants for us that the devil does not want us to have, and maybe something that God wants us to do that the devil does not want to see come to fruition. So he came swinging at us, aiming for all the places we are the most vulnerable.

And we have just a couple of words for him:

Not today.

Jeff had a dream of his own last night. He dreamed that he and I were both in basic training.

I don’t think that was just a dream either.

Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)

12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Sometimes we all have setbacks. Just because we’ve come so far and healed so much does not make us immune to the attacks of the devil or immune to simply making a mistake. But we can win those battles and overcome those hurdles. And I strongly believe that most of our setbacks are really just setups for something on a grander scale in our future. We just have to see them for what they really are and keep our focus in the right place.

So we’re gonna keep fighting.

We’re going to keep fighting for us. We’re going to keep fighting for you. And we can’t wait to see the good that God will bring from it.

Don’t give up.

Don’t lose hope.

Don’t give in to the fear.

Just keep fighting.

Even when it’s hard. Even when you barely have enough breath to push the words out. Even when all you can manage, is a pained whisper of His name.

There’s power in that pained whisper.

That pained whisper is enough, and it’s all you need to win the fight.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

Make the space

I woke up early this morning, itching to write something. Anything really. It seems that it has become increasingly more difficult to find the time for it. Writing requires focus, and quiet, and time to reflect and sort your thoughts, and it seems that my days off either become so full with daily responsibilities or time made for family or friends….all really good things, but when I go too long, I start to feel like something is missing. I start to feel a little incomplete, maybe unfulfilled?

I’m not really sure what the word I’m looking for is. I think it’s just become so inherently a part of who I am, and what my purpose is, that when I set it aside for too long, maybe I just start to feel like I’m losing a part of myself.

Maybe sometimes I don’t write for good reasons, such as the ones mentioned above, and sometimes, if I’m being completely honest, I don’t write just because I get lazy, and choose to watch the last 2 episodes of This is Us instead of writing a new blog. I can’t say that isn’t a good reason either though, because that show is SO, SO good. There are some really good life lessons hidden away in some of these shows. I mean, if the Pearson’s don’t move your soul, I don’t know if we can be friends or not. 😂

But, at some point, if I don’t purposely chase down the time to write, the writing chases me, and I find myself unable to lie in bed for another minute, or turn that tv on, or do that laundry.

I guess that’s how you know the difference between a hobby and a calling. When something is just a hobby, you can live without it. But a calling, a calling chases you down. You can run from it, you can try to ignore it. You can fill up your time with all kinds of things so that there’s no room for it. But you can’t escape it. It will not stop coming for you. And you will find that you never feel as whole, as fulfilled, as when you choose to stop, and make the space for it. To step into that calling, your purpose, His purpose.

So today, I write.

Today I write about making space.

I was talking recently with one of the young ladies that I am helping navigate the early days of surviving infidelity. We were discussing how infidelity happens and what is going through the mind of the cheater that makes them able to justify going through with it, especially when the marriage seemed to be a fairly happy one. I explained to her that the choices people make, all go back to what they are making space for.

With Jeff, it happened like this:

Honestly, I would have to say Jeff and I were probably always a little disconnected. He had a porn issue and always had a flirty nature and tended to get close to people he worked with and such. I always kind of felt like I was a bit of an outsider. Like he had his life at home with me, and then his work life that I wasn’t really privy to. Not that he necessarily intentionally kept things from me, just that he kept things compartmentalized, and because of that I felt like sometimes, all I ever got was pieces of him. I was definitely an important piece of his life, but then, when the other woman came along, their friendship crossed the boundaries bit by bit. He slowly started having more conversations with her and less conversations with me. He began to share more of his thoughts and feelings with her and became less and less open with me. This went on until the pieces of him I did get became less and less, and the space I took up in his heart and mind got more and more crowded out by the fantasy world he created with her and so to him, in his mind, it felt like he had lost his connection with me. So he told himself that we weren’t really happy, that maybe we weren’t really compatible, that we didn’t have that spark anymore. When in reality, none of those things were really true. We had not lost our connection or our love for each other. He had just stopped making space for it by filling his head with the illusion of his life with her.

Little by little, he allowed the thoughts and the flirtations and the conversations to take up more and more space in his heart and mind until he couldn’t see me anymore through the cloud of it.

Thankfully, when he was no longer able to hide in that fantasy world he created, and everything was brought to light, he was able to break through that fog so he could see the truth of that. And the truth of the destruction that was caused because of his choice to make space for all the wrong things.

Now, he and I both make an effort to include each other in every part of our lives. We are definitely more connected now than we ever were before any of this happened and it’s because we’ve learned how to love each other and HOLD THAT SPACE for each other well.

Be careful of what you’re making space for. Don’t be fooled by that thing that maybe boosts your ego, or makes you feel good in the moment. Don’t be fooled by that thing that looks all shiny and sparkly and fun on the surface. Because before you know it, it will grab hold and grow like an unforgiving cancer and you will lose sight of everything that ever really mattered to you. It will fill you up until it eats away every piece of who God intended you to be. And you’ll be so blinded by the illusion of it, you won’t even realize it, until it may be too late.

So be careful, so very careful, with what you make space for.

But mostly, be intentional in what you make space for. Make the space for your spouse. You may feel like that spark is gone, or that you just don’t have the same connection that you used to have. But I am here to tell you, if it was ever truly there to begin with,

you did not lose your love for each other. You did not lose your connection to each other.

One or maybe both of you simply stopped making the space for it.

You have to choose what and who to make space for.

And if you need help with figuring out how to do that, come talk to me. Come talk to Jeff. We will do our best to help you find your way down this path. We may not be that far ahead of you, but we are far enough ahead to be able to tell you what it looks like. We know the traps, the detours, the potholes that can sometimes make it feel impossible to travel. But we are here, we made it through them all so far, and so can you. It’s a steep and narrow road, but you do not walk it alone. We will make the space for you.

Make the space for the things that really matter. Make the space for your family. Make the space for your spouse. Make the space for your health. Make the space for your spiritual life. Make the space for your healing. Make the space for your calling. Make the space for your purpose.

Make the space for every bit of goodness you can find. Just make the space for it, and God will fill you up with more goodness than you can hold.

Decide today what you need to clear out. Decide today what you need to make the space for.

Just make the space.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

Feels like freedom

Oh September. I try to ignore you. I really, really do.

And I was doing a pretty good job of it.

I mean, it’s usually around mid August, when the heaviness starts setting in. When I remember the date looming ahead, September 10th. The day life as I knew it irrevocably changed forever.

But this year, August was nearly over and I realized that I really hadn’t thought about it. That’s when it suddenly struck me how well we are doing. How far we’ve come. How far I’VE come.

How quiet the hum just underneath the surface has gotten. That hum used to be such a roar, I could barely focus on anything else. The thoughts and the pain, they not only ran through a never ending loop in my mind, but they seemed to course through my veins, seeping into every part of my existence. I learned to push it back, to try and drown it out so that I could function in a halfway normal manner for all outward appearances. But it was still SO loud for what seemed like so long.

I’m not sure exactly when it got so much quieter. I can’t really pin point it. I think it was so slow, so gradual, I just didn’t notice it. I mean, I did notice. I knew there had been healing. I knew it got easier. But I hadn’t really noticed the stark distance between where we were and where we are. I hadn’t really noticed the gradual lessening of the hum.

Most of the time, it’s nothing more than a faint whisper now. Echoes of the past. I don’t suppose it ever completely leaves you.

But to know it won’t always be so loud, so painfully loud, well, it feels…kind of like freedom.

Maybe not freedom in the sense that it has no bearing on you anymore. It certainly still affects the present sometimes. But sometimes maybe freedom isn’t necessarily a release from something, as much as it is learning to live your best life in spite of something. Learning to make the most of the changes it brought. Learning to live through it, and launch from it.

Maybe freedom is actually acceptance. Maybe, freedom is merely growth.

Maybe, freedom is simply gained not by trying to forget, or pretend as though that bad thing never happened, but maybe it’s in the ability….no, the insistence of moving forward in search of the good.

It definitely shaped the person I am today. In good ways and bad. It tore me down. Stripped me of almost everything I believed to be real. Shattered my heart.

It broke me.

EVERY SINGLE part of me.

But I survived it.

WE survived it.

I put myself back together. Although the pieces didn’t fit quite the same anymore. There were cracks. So many cracks. But if you allow it, God can fill those cracks with goodness. The cracks are still there, and you can still see the seams of every single one.

I’ll never be the same.

But eventually you won’t see the emptiness through the cracks anymore. Just the goodness shining through.

And sometimes, there’s goodness that was already hidden underneath the cracks. Gifts and talents and wisdom that’s always been there, but has been locked away, waiting for the outer layers to be torn away so it can rise to the surface.

I had to choose that. I had to choose to either dwell in those empty broken places, or let Him both draw out what was hidden away beneath them or fill them in with something I was missing. And if today, you are the one that is broken, at some point you will have to choose too.

Not all at once. But little by little, after you’ve spent some time exploring those broken pieces of yourself, and taking the time to grieve the parts you lost, you will have to decide if you want to dwell there, in that dark broken place, or if you want to look for the goodness to come. You have to choose to allow God to fill that space in, even when you’re not sure how it could possibly be filled. No, it won’t happen quickly, or all of a sudden. But your time will come. Your deafening hum will get quieter. You’ll suddenly realize that it isn’t so hard anymore.

That life can be good again.

Broken is hard. Shattered is painful. Being torn down is nothing less than completely devastating.

But being torn down is sometimes the only way to be built into your full potential. Being shattered is sometimes the only way to release the things hidden away inside of you.

And sometimes, broken is beautiful.

Because sometimes, broken is the only true way to wholeness.

Sometimes the broken you is the only way to the best you.

I woke up a few days ago, finally feeling the heavy pull of September. Feeling the pull of darker days; echoes of that awful September day three years ago, and the excruciating days that followed it, calling out to me. Drawing me back like some giant magnet into a dark hole. That hum that I had just recently realized was so quiet, threatening to get loud again. The images, the memories, trying to force their way in.

There’s no peace for you, they say.

You don’t get to be a normal couple, they say.

You’ll always be broken, they say.

And the worst one….

I can ruin you again, they say.

But I fight not to listen. Not to let the lies settle in to my spirit. I fight back with the truths that I’ve hidden away there.

It’s not easy. Because those whispers feel like loud, unavoidable truth sometimes.

Sometimes it feels like those dreams you have where you try to scream but you can’t get the sound out, or you try to fight but you’re frozen and can’t move.

So you have to dig deep, and let God’s truths you’ve hidden away in your heart speak for you until you find your strength and your voice again.

Because God says that He heals the broken-hearted, and He binds up our wounds.

Because God says no weapon formed against us shall prosper.

Because God says He gives us a new heart.

Because God says He makes a way for us in the wilderness.

Because God says He will make all our paths straight.

Because God says He is for us.

Because God says He knows the plans He has for us, and they are always, always good.

Because God says what He has joined together, let no one tear apart.

Because God says we are more than conquerors.

Because He says He makes all things new.

Because He says He will give us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

Because God says let the redeemed of the Lord say so.

And I SAY so.

I am redeemed.

WE ARE REDEEMED.

So take that, September. Take your darkness. Take your sadness. Take your bad memories. Take your anxiety. Take your deafening hum.

You had your day. And that day has passed.

You tore us down, but He built us up.

You took away everything we had and everything we were, but He replaced it with something far better.

You won the battle on that dark September day, but Jesus, grace, and love,

Love won the war.

Matthew 7:25

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

Hope lives here

I’m stalling. I’ve been stalling for weeks, and I know it. I sit down and think about picking it up. I know I should. But nothing comes. Then I tell myself all the other things that need to get done. The clutter picked up. The piles of laundry. The dishes in the sink. 

No. I can do that later. I need to write something. Stop stalling. Stop making excuses.2 hours. I can spare 2 hours. 

Ok. Here I go. 

But still. Nothing. Not so much as the first word is popping into my head. 

I’ve got nothing. 

Then I hear it. The thought in the back of my head. ….“That’s not true. You’ve got stuff. You just don’t want to write about it.” 

Gah. Couldn’t I have just folded the laundry and let myself off the hook instead of smacking myself in the face with the truth? Nooo. That would be too easy. Easier than dealing with my truth.

So here it is. 
I’ve got stuff. Some things I deal with. But it’s really just the same stuff. You’ve heard it all before. Fears. Insecurities. Issues with trust. Control. You know, the regulars. 

And so in trying to write this post, my thought process went a little like this, (basically, ALL over the place) : 
-“Does this part of it, the inability to fully trust, ever truly lessen significantly or do you always think you’re doing better just to have it sneak up and slap you in the face again forever?”
-“Do I even have anything else to say? Or more importantly, do I have anything NEW to say?”
-“Hellooo God, are you gonna tell me what to write about or just leave me hanging here?”
-“Maybe I thought this was my calling, but maybe it just isn’t.”
-“Is anybody even reading these posts anymore?”
-“Is the laundry EVER completely done?”
-“Do you really want to keep telling everyone in the entire universe what goes on in your life and in your mind?”
-“Do you even want to tell this story anymore or just tuck it away and hope it becomes such a distant buried memory that you can nearly completely forget it?” 
Yep. I’ll admit it. I got issues. 
(Am I the only one hearing that Julia Michael’s song “I got issues” in my head now? 😂)

Fear. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Mostly it’s fear. Of so many things. 

Of being betrayed again. Of betraying myself by not seeing it before it’s too late. Of being so afraid of that happening that I sabotage the happiness of now. Of not having security. Of not knowing what comes next. Of not being enough. Of not losing the extra weight I’ve picked up. Of my blood pressure getting any higher. Of failing as a mom. Of writing a book. 

Of NOT writing a book. 

I sit for a minute. I hear Him say “Hope is the anchor.” Hmm. Maybe that wasn’t Him, I tell myself, maybe I just pulled that out of my mind because it’s the subject of the most recent series of sermons at my church. 
But one word stands out. THE. He didn’t say “Hope is an anchor”, or “Hope is my anchor.” I heard “Hope is THE anchor.” 

Ok. Alright then God. I’ll see where that leads me. 

Yes. Hope is my anchor. Hope has always been my anchor. Hasn’t it? I’m all about some hope right? The belief that no matter what, everything’s going to be ok. 

Yes. Sure. Hope is my anchor… I think?

And that’s when the little light comes on and shines itself directly all up into the dark little corners of my heart and says, “hey. See this stuff? Yeah. It’s still there. Maybe you want to think about dealing with that?”

Uh oh. 
IS hope my anchor? Is it what I cling to? Is it what I believe in? Is it what I’m living my life by? 

Or has something else taken it’s place?

Several times over the past few weeks, I’ve felt uneasy for reasons I literally don’t even know. 
You’d think by now I’d know the difference. The difference between an uneasiness that’s prompted by God to alert you of something you need to deal with or avoid or a danger ahead, and an uneasiness that’s not from God, and just a distraction to keep you stuck or drag you down. 

And I kind of do. I know the difference. But that’s where my fear kicks in and tries to make me second guess by throwing all the what if’s at me. “What if this is real? What if you ignore this feeling and you miss something?”

The fear of missing something, of not catching that something has gone wrong in time to fix it before it’s completely broken, it’s like a magnet that pulls me in. 

Sometimes I feel like I’m just stuck there. 

Trying to move forward, trying to let go of it, to break free of its hold on me. But the gravity, the crushing weight of that magnetic pull always pulling me back. 

Or is it? Is the fear holding me? Or maybe, just maybe, am I holding fear? 

I didn’t ask for the thing that brought this fear into my mind, my heart, my life. I didn’t invite it in. It’s a natural byproduct of what I’ve been through. And it didn’t just creep in. It crashed into and enveloped me in a fierce crushing wave, and instead of leaving when the storm subsided, it settled itself right in my heart and made itself at home.

But my life is good now.
I don’t wake up every morning anymore with visions of what Jeff did and questions of what life looks like for all of us when I divorce him. I don’t spend my days sick to my stomach at the thought of what they did. I don’t cry myself to sleep or wake up gasping for air because I feel as if I’m literally drowning. I don’t go lie in a sobbing heap on my bathroom floor because a crushing wave of sadness hits me out of nowhere as I’m chopping vegetables in my kitchen. 

That is not my life today. 
My life is full and good and all kinds of lovely. 

I wake up every morning with a man that treasures me. A man who gives me no real reason to ever doubt or question his devotion to me. Yet, I do. 

I continually question it, because I have a fear of being blindsided. Because I have fear of being deceived. Because I once lived a life believing it was one thing, when the reality of that life was not at all what I perceived and believed it to be. But I don’t live in that life now. I live with a man who hasn’t forgotten what it was like to lose me. A good and decent man. A man who doesn’t want to live that life, the life in which he betrayed me, and God, and himself, ever again.

Why is it so hard for me to just trust in that? 

One word. Fear.
Fear of rejection. Fear of pain. Fear of not having control. Fear of regret. Fear of being made a fool of. Fear of loss. 

Well, maybe there is something else too. Self protection. Defense mechanisms. 

Those two things aren’t always bad. They can be helpful, and sometimes even necessary. But there’s a fine line. A line that is crossed when you begin to LIVE from it. 

Too often, I cross that line.

Too often I live from that self protection. 

Too often I live from those defense mechanisms.

And much, much too often, I live from fear. 

It’s taken me some time to really see that. It’s taken me even longer to face it.

Does the fear hold me, or is it me holding too tight to the fear? 

I think, it’s a little bit of both. It’s a codependency.

I’ve become codependent with the fear.

I battle it, yet I also tend to feed it. I fight it, but I also use it as a source of self preservation. 

That’s not the self I really want to preserve. So it’s time me and fear have a little chat.

Dear fear,

This relationship between you and I really isn’t working out for me. I would say that’s it’s not you, it’s me. But truthfully, we both have contributed to this toxic relationship. It’s time for us to part ways. You’re just taking up too much space here. You cause issues with my real relationships. You keep me from the things I’m supposed to do, and the person I’m meant to be. So, I’m gonna have to break up with you now. 

Sincerely,                                                                  Amy

What are you living your life from? Not on the surface, but really, really deep beneath it? What, truthfully, is your anchor? 

Is it fear? Is it insecurity? Is it doubt or pain or anger? 

Maybe you need to write a hypothetical Dear John letter today to whatever it is that’s holding you back. 

And that’s just the start. Overcoming whatever it is that holds you, or whatever you are holding on to isn’t solved by making this one declaration. It’s something we have to continually work at. It’s a process of waking up every morning with gratitude for where we are, and countering all the negative thoughts that bombard us with God’s truth. Learning how to lean into discernment instead of paranoia. Learning to live in the goodness of today, and not let the circumstances of the past overshadow it. 

Learning how to enjoy the “It is”, instead of constantly worrying over the “what if’s”
This is where I have to admit to you that all of that is easier said than done. This is also the part where Jeff looks at me and says “You need to read your own blog. There’s some really good and helpful stuff in there, maybe you should listen to yourself.” Ha! 
It’s not easy. It’s a spiritual battle. It’s something that I can write about pretty easily because I can clearly see it and identify it and come to terms with it in my head. The truth is in there, but the actual application of it in our lives is where most of us tend to get stuck, myself included. 
You can’t get unstuck by just acknowledging that you’re stuck. You can’t get unstuck by just thinking through why you’re stuck or even what you need to do to get unstuck. The only way to get unstuck is to actually move. You have to apply the right thoughts and then take that course of action. And then, we just have to be a little more aware and careful of the places we drop our anchors. 

I don’t think my anchor has been completely entrenched in fear. I know it hasn’t, because there is SO much hope in our story. And because we have so much goodness and I can see the progress we’ve made in our marriage and in our lives. The bottom wasn’t an easy place to start from, but despite the difficulties , there’s been a LOT of beauty and joy and happy days. 
I think we’ve been moving forward, sailing ahead, but my anchor just keeps getting caught on the rocks and debris. It doesn’t bring us to a screeching halt but it does a pretty good job of keeping us from getting to where we are going. 

So that brings me back to the whole writers block situation. I told myself it’s because maybe I just didn’t have anything to say. But the truth is that I just didn’t want to say it. And the reason behind that was fear. Fear of being misunderstood or of being judged or of my words just not being anything meaningful to anyone. And there’s the fear of sharing my deepest hidden thoughts with basically the entire WORLD. I am here to tell you, being vulnerable like that is not for the faint of heart. But mostly the fear of facing the things that hold me back. 
I haven’t been writing my book. I did for a while, and then, I just stopped. Mostly because I’ve reached the part that gets into the hardest and most painful days of my life.  I’ve worked so hard to not let it take center stage in my thoughts, so to have to go through the process of writing it out, basically reliving those moments, I just haven’t been able to find the strength to face that challenge yet. I know I could do it. I could recite the story and be capable of separating myself from the pain of it, but I also feel that it’s important that I be able to tell it from that place of heartache, as authentically as I can, because that’s what people will connect with. It’s important that anyone reading it that is going through something similar, or through any kind of heartache, is able to read it and know that they aren’t alone in that place. 

I just have to find a way to be able to write from the recollection of that pain, without being drawn back into it, if that makes sense. Really, when it comes down to it, the procrastination of writing that chapter comes from that same root of fear. I’ve been afraid to face it, and I’ve allowed the fear to convince me that going there and writing out that part of the story will drag me back to a place in my mind I don’t want to be. If I keep telling myself that, then the book never gets written, the story never leaves the pages of this blog, and maybe someone who needs it, who needs the hope of our story, and the hope of God’s goodness, never sees it. And then fear wins. 

The truth is, I can do it. I just have to choose to make it happen. To push through the hard to reach the good, and finish the work set before me. I have to anchor myself in hope. Hope that everything will be ok. Hope that even if at anytime it suddenly isn’t, God will find a way to work things for my good. 

Hope is the thing that holds you steadily in place, yet also the thing that when lifted up, puts the wind in your sails and drives you forward. 

Hope is THE anchor. 

The ONLY anchor.

Anything else is just an anvil pulling you down. 
Fear knocks on the door of all of our hearts everyday. Sometimes it’s just an annoying tap, and other times it beats so hard that it seems the door could cave in. May we all learn to answer that knock with this reply:
“This is not your home. Hope lives here, and there’s no room for anything else.”

💗

Amy Thurston Gordy

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

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