The truth. Live in that.

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

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

“All we do is argue.”, 

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

“maybe we can’t make this work.” 

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

Even the word, Divorce. 

All these negative words. 

And suddenly I hear it. I really hear it.

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

NONE OF THEM ARE TRUE!

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

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

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

That’s the truth.  

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

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

So you can’t let it. 

Because it’s lies. 

It’s ALL lies. 

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

So be careful. 

Arguments are going to happen. 

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

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

The lie that Jeff’s negative thoughts turned into:

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

The truth:

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

The lie my negative thoughts turned into:

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

The truth: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

❀

Amy Thurston Gordy

Love. It’s worth celebrating.

Hey y’all! It’s been a busy few weeks. I really meant to sit down and write a post last week, but never really found a good time to sit and sort through my thoughts. So this morning, I’m making the time. It’s easy to let life and the busyness of it all take control of our time, making us feel like we just don’t have any for the things we would like to do, so sometimes, we just have to create it, and purposefully carve out time for things that are important to us. 

And in doing that, it turns out I’ve actually got two posts in me today! I wrote it as one big one, but realized the end needed to be a stand alone post, so the message doesn’t end up lost in the details of what’s been going on in our every day life. So first the fun stuff, and then, be sure to hop on over to my following post titled: “The truth. Live in that.”, if you want to hear about some life truths we’ve learned in the past few weeks. 

I’m not sure where to start. 

We’ve been busy. Emily is doing great in school and working a part time job. Kate was inducted into Beta club at school this week, and we found the most perfect prom dress that ever existed for her last weekend, so that was fun. And when I say perfect, I mean perfect. She had a specific brand that she had her heart set on. An expensive one. πŸ’° And on top of that, she attends a Christian school with fairly strict dress codes, meaning no midriffs, no cutouts, not too short. And I just happened to see a post for a dress that fit all of the above requirements , and was the brand she wanted. We went to this lovely family’s home to see it in person. And the look on her face when she saw it hanging there was priceless. Love at first sight. But would it fit? 

She slips it on, and I zip the back. She turns around,and I kid you not, she was absolute perfection in that dress. 😍 It was as if it had been made specifically for her. Not a single thing has to be altered. It’s elegant and glamorous and has just the right amount of sparkle without going overboard. And it was at a price point that her Dad and I could be in agreement with. It was as if she had said “God, I want this specific brand in a dress that fits me perfectly and is ridiculously gorgeous ,that my parents can afford to pay for”, and He said, “you got it, here ya go!” 

If you don’t believe that God wants to give you the desires of your heart, this dress is a perfect example of Him doing just that. 

I truly believe that dress was meant specifically for her. 

How is it that my baby is going to the prom? It goes by so, so fast. Here’s a little preview. We’ll wait until prom for the full reveal!


Jeff has been co-leading a class on positive thinking at our church with his mentor. Yep. Jeff. Co-leading a class. Who would have ever thought?  πŸ˜œ He really hasn’t had to do much leading with it, much to his relief, ha. But he had the opportunity to share a little at our class this week. As much as I would say that public speaking was out of my comfort zone, it is so much further out of his comfort zone than it ever came close to being for me. But he did a great job, so I’m proud of him for that. We’ve also had the opportunity to speak with some couples over the past few weeks that are just starting the process of trying to recover from their own revelations of infidelity in their marriages. Jeff actually met one on one and did a little counseling with one of the men. I love seeing how God uses our story and we are thankful for and humbled by the opportunities to help lead others down this path we’ve walked before them. Seeing them where they are and being reminded of that place of pain, and how far we’ve been able to move past that pain, it reminds us how blessed we are, and how thankful we are for the work God has done in us and our marriage. And it allows us to give these couples a little hope for their own future. 

We had a nice Valentine’s Day. We haven’t typically been big on going all out for Valentine’s Day in the past. But we view it a little differently these days. We should show our love and make each other feel special every day, sure. But there’s nothing wrong with celebrating a day set aside for that sole purpose. We try to honor Jesus in our hearts and lives every day, but still make a big deal out of Christmas. This is not really all that different from that concept. So if a day is set aside to honor love, and just do a little something extra, well, I say there’s just nothing but goodness in honoring that. I may have hinted rather heavily that I wanted some chocolate covered strawberries. πŸ˜‰ He’s a wise man and picked up the hints I was laying down. I’m not much for $100 bouquets of flowers. I love flowers, but I’m every bit as thrilled, if not more so, with the $10 bouquets from the grocery store. I mean, have you seen them lately? They have all our favorites. Tulips, lilies, dahlias, sunflowers, all the good stuff. So don’t say Valentine’s Day is too expensive. It doesn’t take much to make us girls feel special. It’s more about the effort than the product. Jeff did a great job of picking out my gifts. Beautiful lilies, (from the grocery store!), a gift card to a local boutique, and my favorite gift, a dozen chocolate covered strawberries, also bought from a local bakery. He honestly could have gotten me those and nothing else and I would have been thrilled. 


Sweet gifts from a sweet man. Celebrate love y’all. Don’t just skip it and say it’s a gimmicky holiday created to make money. You don’t have to spend any. Make a card. Anything. Don’t miss an opportunity to celebrate love. The way the effort you make will serve to make her feel loved and treasured is no gimmick. It’s a gift. πŸ’—

We decided it was time to start back on our home improvement projects. First thing on the list was painting the living room. So off I went to the store to pick out paint samples. We wanted something neutral, to replace the awful mustard/gold color that was the current color. That should be easy right? 

Wrong.

Turns out picking a neutral is so much harder than picking a color. There’s just so many. And so many undertones! My heart really loves the greys. The warm ones. And the cool ones. Pretty much all the greys. But alas, my sofa is brown. Like really, really brown. So I thought I could find a nice “greige” and make it work. 

Nope. Not happening. 

So after narrowing down from oh, about 31 samples,😳 


I finally settled on this warm stone/taupe. It’s called “Stone lion” from Sherwin Williams.


 I think it turned out nicely. After 2 days of painting, and my arms feeling like they may just fall off of my body, we were nearly done. There’s still about half of the white trim paint that I have left to finish. I really hate trim and am having a hard time willing myself to pick it up and finish it, ha. But I plan to finish that out this weekend. I think our next project will be pulling up the carpet and laying wood floor in the bedrooms and refinishing the existing wood floors in the living room. If I can figure out the logistics of when and how to do them with the dogs and such, so complicated! So that’s where we are with that. It’s coming along, slowly but surely. 
And speaking of slowly and surely, that’s probably a good way to describe how the whole healing from infidelity process works. We had a good 2-3 day argument a couple of weeks ago. Head on over to my next post later today to hear all about what we learned from that. 

❀

Amy Thurston Gordy

Triggers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. 

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

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

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

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

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

πŸ’—

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, β€œBe 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, β€œI 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

How do I say thank you?

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

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

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

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

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

But I did it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-My beautiful, healthy, smart, kind girls.

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

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

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

-My husband. Who loves me so well.

-Forgiveness.

-Redemption.

-Joy.

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

And the way that You come

For all that You’ve done

All that You’ll do

My hearts pours out

Thank You

You walk through all my walls

Conquered my shame

Stepped into my past

Fill my world with grace

You didn’t have to come

But You wanted to

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

❀️

Amy Thurston Gordy

Change is in the air

It’s been a minute! Have you missed me?;)
Let’s see if I can fill you in on the last couple of weeks.
I feel like the days have been long but time has been short, if that makes any sense. I’ve been working more, and it just feels like I’ve been low on free time. Which is why I haven’t written a new post until now. 

Other than being busy, the past few weeks have been overall good. Besides the fact that I’ve battled a sinus headache for a full week, and the exception of one really bad day. 

I guess I’ll start there. 

The other day my sweet husband came to my office and picked up my car to get my oil changed, and left me his. When I got in his car to go home that night, I look over and see a sunglasses case in the floorboard. 
INSTANT TRIGGER. 

Because of what used to be hidden in the case when he was having the affair.

Immediately the physical and emotional response to the trigger sets in. My heart starts racing. My stomach hurts. I can’t breathe. In my mind I can picture them in there. In my mind the images of him with her flash across the screen of my mind and torment me. And I HAVE to open it. I know that I know, that I KNOW there’s nothing in it now. But still I can’t help myself, I have to look just to be sure. It’s CRAZY how something as simple as a glasses case can send you spiraling. It took me nearly a full day to pull myself out of the sadness and exhaustion that set in from that one stupid reminder. It’s been a while since I’ve had one that was that hard to recover from. I don’t think it helped that I had been stressed about the changes at work and also that I wasn’t feeling well. So I think I was more susceptible to being pulled down by it because of already being emotional from those things. And when the triggers pop up, they bring the pain of what happened right back to the surface, and it’s just , for lack of a better word, rough. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting. Even though the rational part of your brain knows that it’s in the past, the physical and emotional reaction the other part of your brain activates feels devastatingly real and current. It’s hard to explain, but that’s the best way I can describe it. And so that rational side has to fight really hard to push that reactive side back. So you have to go through the process. Feel the pain. Face the pain. Focus on the current goodness to overcome the pain. 

The good news is, it took less time to recover this time, and the triggers have gotten fewer and farther between. So although I’m obviously still in the healing process, It means I AM healing, and I am so very thankful for that. 

And now for the good stuff. We have had a couple of Saturdays that Jeff was not on call, and the weather was perfect, so we decided to take some little road trips. We weren’t sure where we were headed. We just said “Saturdays are for adventure!”, and we hopped in the car, headed north towards the mountains and let Google be our guide.  
Jeff’s goal was to find some beautiful views.







 My goal was to find farm animals and country markets. 




Oh, and food.

Always the food!

We found everything we were looking for. Just look at all this goodness. 


I love cows. I could just watch them all day. There is something so peaceful about them. 

After spending a little bit of time at this beautiful farm, I decided that I just want to quit my job, buy a farm, and spend my days selling pumpkins and Christmas trees and produce and baked goods and jams and honey in an adorable little barn turned country market, and spend my evenings on a huge porch, in a porch swing watching my cows and other farm animals out in the fields. Perfection! 

Ahh. One day. 


So overall we are doing great. The kids are doing great. Kate has settled in perfectly at her new school, and the decision to put her there was definitely the right one. She is flourishing in every way. Emily is doing great in school too, and has been busy making plans for her continued education and future. I’m so, so proud of them both. I’m so thankful for this family of mine. 

So that pretty much catches you up to date on our past and current events. 
As for the future…

It’s fall and change is in the air. Blowing in like an inevitable cold front. I’ve never been a big fan of change. I like to be comfortable. Settled. I prefer my life to feel like a comfy worn in warm pair of pajamas. Dependable. Predictable. Don’t we all? 

But I believe I’m entering a season of change. Well, I guess in reality I entered it a year ago. My life looks very different than it did before that. And it’s been a painful season, but it’s also brought a lot of goodness. There is more change ahead. I can see it coming and I can feel it. The anticipation of it has a tendency to bring about fear and anxiety in me. I think that’s something that most of us grapple with when anticipating change. I’m trying to stay ahead of that, reminding myself that He works all things for our good, and trusting in that. 

He’s stretching me. Calling me out of my comfort zone in several areas. And I’m not going to lie. Looking out into those unknown waters is scary. But it’s out there where we find His presence. It’s out there where we find His goodness. It’s out there where His glory shines the brightest. And it’s out there, where we relinquish our control and push away our doubts that we find that where He takes us is better than we ever could have imagined or planned for ourselves. So, when He says step out of the boat, I’m stepping out of the boat. And I’m expecting to find so much goodness there. Change is scary. But He hasn’t let me down yet. He saw me through the darkest year of my life. He even somehow managed to bring goodness , no, greatness out of it. If He can do that, then He can certainly turn unknown waters into fields of flowers, and places that feel out of my comfort zone into places of security and purpose and blessing for me. 
I’m looking forward to seeing the goodness He has in store. 

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) 

13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.

14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

❀️
Amy Thurston Gordy

Of Grace and gas bills

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

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

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

“What are you doing?”, I ask.

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

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

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

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

He says, “you paid the bill, right?”

“Yes, I paid it.”

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

Jeff takes a cold shower and goes to work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

They can come Tuesday.

TUESDAY.

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

Ugh.

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

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

What??!!

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

Dear God in heaven.

What. Have. I. Done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

She hands me the coffee,but no creamer packets.

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

Nice!

I get to work. Take a sip.

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

Sigh.

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

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

But that’s not what I got.

Instead I got this.


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

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

For real? Is that angels I hear singing?

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

I’ll tell you why.

Because Jesus, y’all.

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

That bottle of French vanilla creamer was providence.

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

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

Grace upon grace upon grace.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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