Developing Our Internal Power

After a really rough morning getting the littles to school – I trudged toward home in the snow and truly believed that it was only me and no other mother in the neighborhood that struggled so much to make life happen and it wasn’t even 8:15am yet!  (I hate it when I start to believe those lies that simply aren’t true!)

I sat down and put pen to paper and naturally started to figure out how to “fix” my woes.  I’m a one on the Enneagram (love this book if you want to look more into it!) so looking at things and trying to improve upon them – well, that’s my specialty!

I started with my little that was giving me so much trouble – crying and whining all morning long.  Then I moved onto Jason.  Then someone or something else.  Before I knew it – I realized that my “problems” had so much less to do with them and so much more to do with me.

I couldn’t fix anyone but me.  I held the power, not them.

(I hate it when I realize this!)

So often we give others power in our lives that only belong to us.  Sure – other people’s actions affect us.  We experience a lot of emotions – all across the board – based on our interactions with others.  This is a given.

But when we start to operate from a mentality that everyone around us needs to change in order for us to be okay – that’s when the slope can get slippery.

* To Be Clear *

Because most of you reading this have a similar story to mine – one of betrayal, lies, deception and manipulation from the one that was intended to protect you the most – I need to insert a caveat.  I am NOT saying that you should just ignore or move on or only work on yourself in the midst of your husband’s betrayal.  Not even close.

The absolute best way to work through betrayal is when he goes first and leads the way on doing the *hard* work of repairing the marriage.  You are working hard, too.  Grieving, finding your voice, grieving some more.  He is the one working on fixing the damage done.  His choices are not your fault and you don’t need to even begin to look into yourself for why he did what he did.  Absolutely ridiculous.  He can look into himself for those answers.  You are an innocent bystander to his choices.  (Don’t even get me started, I feel my heart pumping just typing this out.)  This is the way we have done things at Redemptive Living for the past 13 years and we stand behind the methods we use.

– Back to the Story –

What I am speaking to is more from a 30,000 foot view in the way we operate with others.  In our day to day interactions.

As I continued to journal – I realized that it was me and only me that could enforce what time my boys go to bed.  Clearly part of the morning melt down was lack of sleep and the boys going to bed too late the night before.  It was me that needed to change the bedtime routines and push them up by about 60 minutes.

I realized that I couldn’t change Jason’s demeanor and the heaviness he brought into our house this week (did I mention he is a four on the Enneagram?!).  Can I care about his heart and where he is at?  Absolutely, I can and I do.  But at what point do I need to separate myself from the heaviness and weight that he is carrying and not allow it to take me down?

These are the questions I have been pondering this week, my friends.

If you are into psychology – there is a word for this – it’s called internal locus of control (versus external locus of control). It’s something that I talk about ever so often in my groups and it’s a great way to conceptualize figuring out what we can own and have agency to change.

With that said – here are three practical tips to help cultivate and strengthen our internal power (or internal locus of control):

Get Grounded

First and foremost when I start to circle the drain in this way (think:  me freaking out in my head and thinking I am the only mom that ever struggles in the morning) – the first thing I have to do is get grounded and get some perspective.

This oftentimes mean wading through the situation and then stepping away from it to breathe a bit.  Getting outside and walking can help, expressing my feelings by getting them out of me (writing them out or processing out loud to a friend or to Jason) is also super helpful.

Vision Casting + Implementation

Don’t let this scare you.  We can set a vision for the small things just as much as the big things in life!

Once I am grounded mentally – it’s important to think through where I want to be.  For myself – I realized that I really needed to set myself up for success in the mornings.  While I can’t control if one of my boys spins out – I can control managing my time better.  I can either get up earlier to give myself more time for the hiccups or I can take a couple of tasks off my plate by making lunches the night before, having the boys set out their clothes, etc.

It’s important to note that tweaking just one or two things can often make a big difference.  I’d encourage you to start there (with just one or two tweaks) else you might risk becoming incredibly overwhelmed and aborting the entire mission – then you’ll be back where you started.  No bueno.

Detachment + Visualization

I talk a lot about detachment as it pertains to setting boundaries and also in regards to self-care in the healing process.  Think of detachment as an intentional buffer or space between you and someone or something else.  It doesn’t mean you don’t care but rather that you’re going to need (for your sake) to move forward with your day even in the midst of the crazy (with your husband, someone else, or even the crazy you might feel in your head).

Lately, I have used visualization to help myself detach.  Case in point – as I was starting to lose my internal power because of Jason’s heaviness – I imagined myself walking down a road.  There were beautiful old oak trees on either side of the road reaching their arms over the road like a canopy shielding and protecting me (I like my visualizations to be pretty, ladies) and there is also a yellow painted line on either edge of the road (not so pretty but important).  As I am walking down the road – taking the next step in my day and in my journey – there are all these distractions and things that keep crossing the yellow line.  I then mentally and visually push those things back to the other side of the line with my hands to make way for me to move forward with my day.  I then I take a bunch of deep breaths.

What About You?

I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts as to how you help develop your internal power.  I would also love for you to join me at Restore which is in just two weeks in sunny California.  You can get more details here.

xo – Shelley

Photo credits here and here

I’ve got work to do – Part 3

Before reading this post, it will help to read Part 1 and Part 2 of “I’ve got work to do”.  I’d hate to confuse you anymore than necessary!

As I mentioned in Part 2, I received some feedback from my life coach as I was doing this forgiveness work.  She pointed out two areas that, for all intents and purposes, I missed.

Here are the two critical parts in my big release that I didn’t realize would be helpful to my healing –

Part One – I didn’t spend near the time and effort writing out why I felt hurt in these four five relationships (okay, seriously, I am feeling insecure that I might be coming across as super unhealthy given the number FIVE.  Oh well.  It’s my truth today.  The end).  I was advised to write out every single thing that hurt and to shush the “fairness police” peering over my shoulder telling me I’m too sensitive or too whatever.  Instead, by doing naming the hurts, we are choosing to value ourselves.

Part Two – In releasing others (aka forgiving them), it’s helpful to remember we are forgiving past hurts – not necessarily on-going hurts where there hasn’t been a chance to detach, get safe, and grieve.  As in, oftentimes, we must get some distance and perspective before forgiveness can take place.

Check out this excerpt from Boundaries

“Forgiveness has to do with the past.  Reconciliation and boundaries have to do with the future.  Limits guard my property until someone has repented and can be trusted to visit again.” (page 263)

Going a little further, something we can ask ourselves is this – What will I do differently next time? By asking this question, I’m able to actively figure out what I can do (not anyone else) in the future to help guard my heart in a healthy way.  Empowering.


So a couple of days later, I went back to the drawing board.  I listed out the hurts. I thought through and wrote down what I will do differently next time.  And let me just tell you – this was SO validating and healing for me.

Doing these extra couple of steps also helped me come to this realization – a lot of my “do differents” had more to do with boundaries and self-control than anything else!  (I literally pulled back out my boundaries book and have been flipping through it over the last couple of days.)  Again, empowering to figure out what I can do differently moving forward!

All that said, let me tell you ladies – I am under no such illusion that because I have released these five precious women from my heart – that I will never ever struggle with feeling bitter or resentful toward them.  I know this all too well from my forgiveness journey with Jason.

Jesus take the wheel!

What I DO have is greater peace.  Greater freedom.  My load is lighter because I have let them go.  I’m not spending near the amount of emotional energy thinking about the hurt!

If any of this is hitting home with you – I want you to know, you can do this too!  I’ve never met someone that needs help with forgiveness more than me!  So, whether it be forgiveness work related to betrayal or forgiveness work in a completely different relationship, there is freedom awaiting you!  Chances are, it won’t be glitzy or glamorous.  It will happen only with a LOT of effort on the front end followed by creating a quiet space to meet with Jesus and allow Him to work through you in a mighty and mystical way that we can’t explain.

One last thing, remember as I mentioned above, forgiveness requires a LOT of grieving and naming the hurt.  I used to think I could forgive in order to circumvent the grief process but I know differently today – grieving is a big part OF the forgiveness journey.

xo – Shelley

I’ve got work to do – Part 2

I was waiting for the perfect opportunity for my big release.

(I encourage the women in my groups to go before God and ask Him – is there a particular way that you’d like for me to forgive my husband?  The other woman, the other man?  That said, I’ve heard of some really powerful ways that this forgiveness work has transpired – releasing helium balloons with each one symbolizing a different hurt, hurling rocks in a lake with each one labeled with a different offense.)

I wanted to get creative – and at the same time, I wanted to be obedient to what I knew would be a fleeting kairos moment that I felt deep in my soul.

(Side note – do y’all know what I mean by this?  Oftentimes, I sense God pushing me to forgive someone for a minor offense or to be generous with my time or money.  I hear it, I acknowledge it…and then life moves on and it becomes a fleeting desire that I never act upon.  This happens so often to me.  So I KNEW – creativity needed to just fly right out the window so I could be obedient to what He was asking of me.)

So I asked God.  I waited.

And what I ended up doing was neither glitzy nor glamorous.  I tucked my youngest in bed for his nap last Tuesday afternoon and had exactly one hour before my olders would walk in the door from elementary school.  I knew it was time.

I sat down with my Bible, pen and journal.  I prepared my heart by writing out about 5 verses to inspire me to let it go.  Here’s a couple of them –

Work toward being compassionate, kind, humble, patient and gentle.  I choose to forgive because Jesus forgives me.  I choose to love because this is the greatest commandment. (paraphrased from Colossians 3:12-14)

It’s good for me to suffer so that I might learn your ways, LORD. (paraphrased from Psalm 119:71)

I then asked Jesus to be right by my side.  I took each woman individually (I added one more to the mix, after a rough weekend with a neighbor) and started with confessing what I did wrong.**  What I regretted doing or not doing.  I then spent just a little bit of energy writing out how I was hurt.  And then I released each one of them – pen and paper, just me and God.

This took me less than an hour to do and by the time I was done, not only was my hand cramping but my soul felt lighter (I say this because I never really think it’s going to work!  Anyone relate?)

However – and it’s a really BIG however – I missed some critical steps that I wouldn’t have realized if it hadn’t been for me processing this with my life coach.

And I’m SO thrilled to share this with you ladies in Part 3 because I think it’s really REALLY big!!!  Don’t worry, you won’t be waiting long for the conclusion.

Until then, any of you feel like there is someone God is asking you to release?  Anyone that comes to mind that is taking up so much emotional energy that it’s time to sit down and do some business with God and experience more freedom than you have at this very moment?  Would love to hear your thoughts!

xo – Shelley

(**A note to those of you contemplating forgiving your husband after finding out about his betrayal – I don’t know that in your case there will be much, if any “confession work” for you to do.  Confession and asking God to reveal any shortcomings is important work but to be clear, I’ve yet to meet a woman that forced her husband to look at porn or have an affair.  For these sorts of hurts, I can’t imagine there is anything to confess.

What I shared in this blog post is about releasing women that I’ve been in relationship with where the hurts have been much much more minor than betrayal in marriage.  Thus, this is slightly different than the forgiveness work you will do with your husband.  I would never want you to think you bear any blame for your husband’s choices (which is something I struggled with for months and is why I want to make this perfectly clear).

I hope this helps clarify any doubts creeping in.  xo)


I’ve got work to do – Part 1

Do you ever know that you have some work to do?  And you know what the end result needs to look like?  But you just don’t know how to get there?

Kinda reminds me of my forgiveness journey.  I knew I wanted and needed to forgive Jason.  I knew that by forgiving him, my burden would be lighter.  I knew that the ONLY way to live a whole and joy-filled life was to chase after forgiveness.  And yet, I really didn’t know how to get there.

I had no choice (Actually, I had a choice – I could stew in my bitterness and resentment or I could GRIEVE) but to slowly and surely put one foot in front of the other and TRUST that God would lead the way, just as he did with the Israelites as they left Egypt some 3500 years ago –

“By day, the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night, in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or by night.  Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” – Exodus 13:21-22

And that’s exactly what happened – I started to get real (I mean, REAL) uncomfortable sitting in my pain and grieving my reality and allowing God to lead the way.  Grieving that the one man on the planet that I chose and that I thought had chosen me – also chose other women, too.  And he never told me this reality until after I said – “I do”.  I had to grieve that no. matter. what. my marriage was officially tainted.  I had to grieve that I was officially broken.  Oh yes, so so much to grieve.

And little did I know that it was that grieving that propelled me toward forgiveness.  More specifically to the grieving, it was putting on my brave pants and getting super honest about how I felt.  You ask why it required my brave pants?  It’s because there is NO way I could FIX those feelings.  I had to SIT with them.  I had to SIT with them.  I had to SIT with them.  UGH.

And then I realized, the one and only way to move forward through the pain was to lay it all at the foot of the cross and ask Jesus to do a miracle in my heart and release me from the hurt and the pain that Jason caused.

Jason never could do enough to pay me back.


So maybe that’s the answer to my question from above.  I know I have work to do.  I acknowledged late last week that there are not one, not two, not three but FOUR people that I need to release.  Dear me.

I keep thinking of Paula Rinehart from Strong Women, Soft Hearts, where she talks about pulling out her yellow legal pad and going to town – just she and Jesus – looking inward and asking the big question – who do I need to let go of?  It’s something she says she does every six months.  Inspiring.

I’d say that’s my next step – to take out the paper and make my confessions obvious in black and white – a marker of sorts.  To confess what I did wrong in these relationships.  To confess that I’ve harbored bitterness and resentment.  And then to ask Jesus to work in me and through me to change my heart.

I am ready to release.  I am ready to be more free.  Anybody want to join me?

Shaking out the blanket

Hi Ladies!

I’ve been yearning to sit here and write to each of you – and it’s been a bit cRaZy over here so I haven’t been able to.  This morning, I’m putting everything to the side,  I’m sitting in my comfy pants and I have my favorite chartreuse blanket wrapped around my legs.

So here we go.

What’s been keeping me so busy,  you ask?  Well, several things –

I’ve been prepping like crazy for two events coming up.  If you live in the Seattle area, I’d love for you to come to this one day event.  And if you find yourself sinking and in need of a weekend-long intensive, I’d so love for you to come here.  This is six months of healing wrapped up into one weekend and let me just say – you are worth it!

As if prepping for these events wasn’t enough, Jason had a bit of an emergency a week ago that landed him in the ER.  Ten hours later and one surgery later, I brought him home.  My parents were absolute life savers as they immediately drove seven hours to come help and took the littles back to Texas with them the next day.

So it was just me and Jason in this home of ours.  And it was incredibly quiet.  I loved it.

I realized like never before how much I love this man.  How thankful I am that I chose to stay.  How thankful I am that he did the hardest work that any guy could do to save our marriage.  Thankful.

We had some sweet conversations this past week – and realized some things that need to change.  I guess that’s what a surgery will do to a family.  Allow us to see things in a different light.  To recognize the importance of family and friendships and love and connection like never before.

Why do we keep landing here?  Asking ourselves – what are we really doing?  Why are we limping along like this?  Should it really be this difficult?  This stressful?

The answer – maybe, maybe not.  Certainly raising little boys makes life a bit more intense.  Trying to keep our marriage a priority makes things, well, messy.  At the same time, we are asking ourselves, where can we simplify?  What can we say “no” to?

(And before you start to think that I do it all, please know that I don’t.  And if I’m brutally honest, the truth is – these speaking events I’ve been prepping for?  Well, I’ve sacrificed other really good things like time with Jason, time with my littles, time with friends to make them work.  And I don’t know that that’s even right.  Sigh.)

Reminiscent of the breakdown I had almost three years ago – where we had to completely shake out the blanket and re-prioritize almost everything.

Anyone feel like they are here?  Like they are just barely making it through their day?  So much on their calendar and on their to-do list that life really is all about that and not about celebrating, loving, connecting and enjoying?  Well, if you are feeling me here – know you aren’t alone.

I was talking to a friend yesterday and she was saying that by the end of the week, they are ripping off pieces of a paper towel to use as toilet paper in their house because they’re all out of the TP.  She asked – what are we doing??  All I could do was nod and say, I get it.  Completely.

So maybe, like me, it’s time for an overhaul.  It’s time to set all commitments and priorities out on the table and look at them one by one and decide – does this stay?  Or does this go?  Shaking out the blanket.

This is always scary for me, is it for you?  I’m sitting here as I type and asking myself – why is this so scary?  Why not exciting?

There is relief, that’s for sure.  Anytime I get to the end of myself and realize, there must be a better way – there is relief.  But I don’t like change.  I don’t like facing the reality that I can’t do it all.  It taps into my incompetence like none other.  So maybe that’s why.

I’m reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9 when Jesus says – “My grace is sufficient for you.  For my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Okay, God.  Maybe this is an alright place to be.  To know I can’t do it all, to know I have limits.  To know that when I am weak – that is when You are strong.

Would love to hear from you – are you feeling like you’re barely making it through the day?  And if so, what could you say “no” to?  Likewise, if you are reading this and thinking – I was there but I’ve made some changes, thank goodness I’m not there anymore – then please tell us, what did you do different?

love you gals – Shelley

ps.  I promise, I will come back to worthiness soon.  I hope you are still keeping track of the lies in your head like I am.  My list is growing.  Holy cow, can’t believe how I shame myself.  xoxo

Perfectly Broken and Whole

(This was originally posted on the MOPs blog on December 19, 2016.)

While growing up, through a series of explicit and implicit messages, I believed “order” was necessary to be accepted, chosen and loved. In other words, I needed to be perfect.

I couldn’t change the freckles on my skin (which I deemed to be completely imperfect) or the look of my face (which I wasn’t too excited about), but I could change other things. The size of my body primarily.

My quest was to have the perfect body and I was willing to starve myself to get there.

It took less than two years of dabbling in restricting my food before I was anorexic. It took another 10+ years to undo the damage done.

Little did I know that holding myself to a perfect standard, also meant I expected everyone around me to be held to those same expectations. And it wasn’t just food and body image that I felt needed to be perfect, it was my academic endeavors, my home, my car, even my husband.

When my world came crashing down all around me – the night I realized my husband didn’t ONLY have eyes for me – that’s when my perfect life came to a screeching halt.

I thought perfection in all things was the bridge to peace, happiness, wholeness and completeness.

I was terribly wrong.

My husband did the really hard work of recovery first. I stood by angry – watching, waiting, grieving – wondering how this had happened to my perfect life.  How could he possibly betray me with images he saw on the computer and women he met from the internet? I thought I was perfect. Why wouldn’t he want just me?

As we limped along through those first few years of recovery, I returned to the familiar control I’d once had over food. The one thing I could control. The one thing that I thought would allow me to feel accepted, chosen, whole. When that didn’t quite work, I tried to use my career for acceptance.  Surely that would allow me to live a whole and complete life.

I was wrong once again.

It wasn’t until six years into our recovery, after my husband had done a lot of work and I’d done a little, that I saw what wholeness looked like.

I saw it in my husband.

He was vulnerable and willingly risked being fully known by others. He had this confidence, peace and joy that radiated from within.

I saw this and I wanted it. I wanted to risk; to be fully known. But I didn’t even know how or where to begin.

It started small for me, with a group of women that were willing to talk about the messiest pieces of their life. It was in that safe group where I tested being vulnerable and connecting fully with other women. I gained the confidence to try it in my marriage with the man that hurt me more than any other person. Years later, some of us still meet every other week to share our “ugly” with each other.

It was through sharing my ugly and my broken self – my biggest fears, the things I was ashamed of, the mistakes I’d made – I actually started to feel whole. To feel complete.

I thought wholeness and completeness came from living a perfect life. I was so wrong.

Today I know better. I believe wholeness and completeness come from embracing my brokenness. It comes from willingness to drag my ugly truth into the light for others to see. It comes from accepting others exactly where they are and not putting unrealistic expectations on them. It also comes with accepting myself right where I’m at. (And really, it’s more than just acceptance, it’s embracing and loving even those freckles on my skin!) It also comes from allowing God to love me just as I am.

Embracing my brokenness. Working toward fully connecting with God, myself and others. That’s living a whole and complete life.


what I’m learning about myself right now…

Hey Girls!  It’s me again, Shelley.

I laugh as I say this because Jason and I have this running joke that dates back to college.  I saw someone I knew walking down the street while Jason and I were driving past them.  I proceeded to stick my head out the window and honk and yell as I waved, “IT’S MEEEEEEE, SHELLEYYYYY!”.  I guess I figured they might not recognize me.

It was too funny.


I still do this occasionally.  Takes me back to my roots and it makes us laugh ’til our bellies ache.

I wish I could say that laughing is what I’ve been up to lately but that hasn’t been the case.  It’s been a bit heavy here at the Martinkus house.  Jason’s been working through some heavy stuff – grappling with unmet expectations and what we fondly call, “mid-life recognitions”.

It’s left me feeling like I need to detach and protect.  It’s triggered the past.  I’ve seen these small glimpses of old Jason here and there and I’ve wondered – oh boy, where might this be taking me?  Where might we end up? or this one: Does he even want to be married to me anymore?

Jason warned me not to catastrophize or over-react (see the above paragraph for examples of this).  (Does he not realize that I am a professional catastrophizer?)

After my over-reactions, I started to wonder – does this ever end?  Will there ever be a time that there isn’t a reminder of the past?  Where there isn’t more to process from decisions from long ago?

I don’t know the answer to these questions.  I just can’t believe that we are coming up on 13 years into this process and there is still work to do.  Not the ugly slow work of the first three or so years but work none-the-less.  As soon as I think we are coasting, I realize there is something else that God is pruning and shaping in ourselves and in our marriage.


The card Jason left for me yesterday morning. He says I’m the straight line and he’s the bunny. Well honey, you definitely keep me on my toes!

So we’ve reached out for support.  Jason met for lunch yesterday with a friend, someone he trusts.  Thank goodness, this man was able to tell Jason things that I could have told Jason (I know, I’m so humble) but that Jason wouldn’t have heard well from me.

I sent out an SOS to my go-to girls and they came a running ready to support, ask questions and encourage me.

Finally, last night, Jason and I had a break-through.  He reassured me with tears in his eyes that he is grateful I chose to stay married to him.  That he wants nothing more than to be with me and our boys.  And that he needs space to wrestle through these hard questions he’s working through.

So what might I be learning right now?

  • This road might not ever end.  I get to choose if I’m going to buckle up and surrender the ride to God or grip the wheel and exercise my controlling tendencies.
  • I will always need community.  We will always need community.  Support is priceless and it’s something I’ve had to fight for and will continue to prioritize in the years to come.
  • I’m stronger than I was when we started our recovery.  Because years ago, this would have probably sent me into a tail-spin.  Today, a tail-spin is not out of the question but I feel like I can detach and allow Jason to grapple and to find my grounding in something other than him.  It all comes back to trusting more in God and less in me and my situation.

This verse keeps playing in my head:

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet i will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”  Habakkuk 3:17

I choose to surrender.  I choose for Jesus to take the wheel.

What about you?  What is God teaching you about yourself right now?  Is it hard for you to surrender and allow Jesus to take the wheel?  – to fully trust in Him?







Sitting in Pain

Hi Girls!  Summer is in full-swing here.  I love Colorado weather in the summer – cool nights, hot days and stormy afternoons.  You never know what you’re gonna get.  Kinda like life – you never know…

I’ve been sitting with some ugly feelings in my heart.  Some questions that have gone unanswered.  I’ve prayed to God for clarity.  For Him to show me which way to go.

Even though these answers I’m looking for and this pain I’m sitting in aren’t betrayal related (oh thank the heavens), I get that for many of you reading this – it is.


You are sitting in pain.

Waiting on God.  Waiting on your husband.

For clarity.  For answers.  For someone or something to take away the pain.

If you’re like me – i want to DO something about it.  For instance, write a nasty email out of my pain.  {Probably not my best move.}  Not that doing something is always bad.  In fact, it’s really hard to know – when should we move, when should we take that leap of faith?  And when should we be still.  And wait.  And not react or respond.

I came across the book of Habakkuk last week after I was reviewing some verses for my summer Bible study.  In particular, I was drawn to Habakkuk 2:1.  It says, “I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post.  There I will wait to see what the LORD says and how He will answer my complaint.”

I love it!

This is a man, a prophet, that was willing to have an honest conversation with God.  To share what he was upset over, to ask God the hard questions.  Habakkuk was concerned about the injustice he was seeing all around him.  He was asking questions like – “How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (Habakkuk 1:2) and “…why then do you tolerate the treacherous?” Habakkuk 1:13).

It was after these questions that he told God he’d wait for his answer.  He’d stand at the watchtower and see how God would answer his complaints.

The name Habakkuk means “he that embraces”.  It also means “to wrestle”.  When I first read this, I felt a bit confused because I feel like embracing and wrestling although similar, are also very different.  Both are expressions of vulnerability and being in physical proximity to another.  Yes, they are similar.  But embrace has a connotation of love and connection while wrestling has a connotation of struggle and pain.

What reading Habakkuk is teaching me is that it’s when we grapple and wrestle with our situations – it’s through this that we have the potential to move closer to God.  To connect with Him {and others} in the midst of our pain.

The potential.  Because we will go one of two ways – we will move closer to God or move further from Him.

And it’s SO hard for me to move closer.  To sit with the pain and not react.  To fully believe that God is okay with me when I have these questions and complaints.  To wait on Him to speak to me.


Whether this is through His word, through that still small voice I wish I was better at hearing, or through the people I’m connected with here on this earth.

Thank you God for hearing our complaints.  Thank you that it’s okay to grapple with the situations we’ve been handed here on this earth.  Hear our cries and refine us through the painful parts of this journey.  May we each be stronger, braver and closer to you and each other as we work through our pain.  Amen.

As always, I’d love to hear from you.  Do you feel you can freely ask God your questions?  Do you find it as hard as I do to sit in pain?  xo-Shelley

On what’s helping me survive (Oh summer, you’ve been a bad friend) – Part 2

So yesterday, I backed up the dump truck and shared a bit about why summer hasn’t been the easiest for me.  I know I’m not alone in this.  The transition to summer can be hard for a lot of us for a variety of reasons.

Maybe the summer is when your world started to fall apart because you discovered your husband’s secret life.

Maybe the summer is difficult because you have littles at home and you feel stretched in many directions.

Or maybe you love summer and find nothing wrong with it.

This is much less about summer and much more about figuring out how we can survive during difficult seasons.  None of us are immune to hard times.  And it’s important that when we are in the thick of a hard season, we pin point practicies, activities and rituals to help us survive.

With that, I want to share with you guys, as I have before, some of the things that are helping me survive right now:

#1 – Waking up even just 10 minutes before my littles so I can read in the Bible and say what has become a breath prayer as of late.  (I feel so churchy sharing this one.  Please don’t be too impressed…back in 2012 I decided I wanted to read through the entire Bible and I’m STILL in the Old Testament!  This practice definitely is one that ebbs and flows.  It just so happens that it’s flowing right now.)  To make this happen, I have a little spot in the living room where I keep my Bible and study guides.  I plop down on the couch every morning, curl up in a blanket, and literally try to read one chapter at a time.  Yesterday, I was sharing with Jason some of the the things that are helping me survive.  When I shared this one…he said, “Ten minutes?  I thought thirty minutes.”  Me: “No babe.  Ten minutes.  That’s it.” (I might have then snapped my fingers and waved my arm in Jason’s face.  Maybe.)

Live shot of the spot in my living room where I plop down every morning.  As much as I'd like to fluff the pillows and make it look pretty, I'm going to keep it real and show you what it REALLY looks like!

Live shot of the spot in my living room where I plop down every morning. As much as I’d like to fluff the pillows and make it look pretty, I’m going to keep it real and show you what it REALLY looks like!

#2 – I mentioned above the breath prayer that seems to help keep me focused on what matters most.  Every morning, I pray that God would use me for His purposes.  That I’d be His hands and feet.  I remind myself that His plans are better than mine.  A surrender of sorts.  And that I want to follow His path and His purposes for me.  This has really helped me stay centered and grounded.   Otherwise, I start to to feel like I’m being stretched like Gumby.  I want to chase after what God has put on my heart ministry-wise, but then realize He has given me these three sweet boys and an energetic husband to care for.  I can’t do it all and when I start to behave as if I can, it’s not healthy for any of us here in this house of mine.

#3 – Planning out in advance the days each week that I am going to exercise.  If you struggle with anxiety like I do, exercise is by far one of the best tools to combat it.  With summer here and my alone time feeling compressed, knowing that I have that hour reserved four days a week to hit the pavement or take a class soothes my soul and lowers my anxiety.

#4 – Picking one or two things that help me feel fully alive and making sure I fit them into my schedule no matter what.  This is not something I’ve been good at lately.  It seems I’ve had just enough time to tackle the must-do’s on my to-do’s and I’m not building in any margin for the things on my list that feed my soul.  I’m reading Hands Free Mama by Rachel Stafford which seems to be driving this home even more.  In the book, she talks about developing a life-list – a list of activities that are most valuable and important to you.  Her suggestion?  Burn the to-do list and start making sure everyday that you are investing time in the activities on your life list.

Me and my girlfriend met author Rachel Stafford (center) at a spring tea a couple of weeks ago.

And that, my friends, is why I put the to-do list to the side, picked up my laptop and started writing.

What about you?  What are you doing today that is helping you survive this season of your life?  Let’s share our ideas here.  I promise you – taking the time to identify what is helping you survive right now or what you’d like to add to your non-negotiable summer survival list could be just the thing you need to get over the hump.


On where I’m at with forgiveness…

I’ve grown to love the topic of forgiveness.  It’s complex, fascinating and I feel like I learn something new every time one of my groups discusses it.

I guess I expected that at some point, my forgiveness journey would end.  No laughing people.  Seriously, I thought at some point (and certainly by twelve years in), I’d have conquered the forgiveness quest. But… that hasn’t been the case.  Because here is what I know about forgiveness:  it’s a process.  Not only is it a process but I believe it’s also an event.  Paula Rinehardt said it so well in Strong Women Soft Hearts when she said “Forgiveness is both an event and a process.  It’s one big yes followed by many little yeses as the months and years roll by.”


By event, I mean that for myself, there was a moment in time when I said “Yes.  I choose to forgive you!”  (Followed by a sundry of thoughts both before and after like, “There is no way I can do this.  He will stop working his recovery” and “How can I possibly ever forgive him” and “Did I really forgive him?”)  And since then, I’ve had to continue to press into saying “yes” with all the twists and turns in the road called recovery.

Whether it’s because forgiveness has been a topic coming up in groups or random triggers or satan trying to derail me (or a combo of all),  I have struggled more than usual lately with the bitter thoughts that pitch a tent in my head like an unwelcome visitor.  I’ve had to talk to Jason in the last week about several triggers and more dots that I’ve connected from the past.  He has been receptive, empathetic and very sorry.  He has allowed his tears to flow.  And for that – I’m grateful.

And yet, I find myself – no matter what – faced with the moment I’ve faced so many times in the past.  When all I can do is let it go.  Open my hands wide.  Press hard into forgiving him.  Forgiving them.  Forgiving her.  I say out loud, ” I choose”.  And place my faith in God.  That somehow, someway, He will do a miracle in my heart and soul.  Again.

Because Jesus tells us, we can’t place a number on how many times to forgive. He tells us to forgive until our heart is healed.  However long that takes.  And maybe we will continue to choose into forgiveness forever and ever this side of heaven.  And maybe, just maybe, that is okay.

Forgiveness isn’t perfect.  Forgiveness isn’t even logical.  Forgiveness isn’t a one time thing.

Forgiveness is supernatural.  And I’m never ever going to feel in my human heart like doing it. But this, dear sisters, is what I can tell you:  I know it works.  God does the unthinkable and takes the bitterness away.  One small bit at a time.

God has proven himself to be faithful to me and He will be faithful to you.  Take that leap of faith.  Step off the cliff and have faith that He will catch you.  Again and again and again.