[I read recently that we can only really write about things that have hurt us after the pain has taught us ... that writing while the middle of your real time hurt is a call for help, and writing after sitting with the pain is more of a teacher. For a very long time now, I've wondered about writing about my divorce ... I've wondered when the time would be right. I've decided that there is actually NO right time. So. I think I'm going to stick my toe into the water. Dip a little in here and there, and hope that the pain that divorce and the hegira back to myself helps ... somehow.]
I can pinpoint one specific night that I knew my marriage was truly over. My son was asleep in bed, and his dad and I were going round for round in the kitchen. The soft light above the oven seemed harsh, the cars passing on the street seemed too loud, and I couldn't seem to catch my breath.
I couldn't answer the devastating questions he was asking - questions he had every right to ask. His computer was open on the table, and a bulleted list of discussion points sat before him. Talking points. When a foundation is quaking, crumbling, on fire - it's natural to run to the root of the problem.
Our first inclination is triage. Our first inclination is to throw cold water on the fire, dab at the flowing blood with gauze, and to cry out for help.
And I couldn't help him. All I had for him was apologies that did nothing to fill the sudden hole in his heart.
Liz Gilbert says to tell the truth. I have it triple underlined in the book she wrote: Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.
Even if you heart breaks, and your voice shakes. You speak the truth.
Glennon Doyle says that the truth is the only thing you're left with (and also that pain is a traveling professor, waiting to teach us how to rise).
I couldn't verbalize to him that he was a good man, a good dad, a good person, but that he just wasn't the one for me. I couldn't verbalize to him that every day felt like one more brick fell on my chest and soon, my breathing would just stop and
I was tired of gasping.
So I had to leave.
That night was unequivocally the most painful night of our entire divorce. Exhausted by the earthquake of pain shaking my heart, I walked to bed that night and felt like my entire world was on fire. Everything was too loud, too bright, too close, and too much. It felt like a plane was crashing, we were losing altitude, and I had put a mask on everyone else first before myself. I just couldn't catch my breath.
My mom and I were talking tonight and she told me, "Becky. You don't have to advertise a fire. People will just come to help."
And isn't that just so incredibly true? When you're sitting with your broken heart, and when you're trying to listen to what the pain is teaching you, people come. People come to sit with you.
JFK once said, "When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” And Glennon? My spirit animal? She says that crisis literally means "to sift".
And that night? I was in pure crisis mode. I clung to the belief that eventually, I would sift through all of the broken, and eventually, I'd be able to piece it all back together again into something that was whole.
I shut off the light, and turned on my closet light - I've been leaving my closet light on since I was in second grade. I crawled into bed, pulled the covers clear up to my chin, and I took the deepest breath I could. I sucked in air until my lungs hurt.
And then I slowly exhaled.
There aren't many people that are thankful for the night. There aren't very many people that welcome the shroud of darkness that comes when the sun sinks behind the horizon. But our growth often doesn't happen in the sunlight. Often, it happens under the comforting covers, and the dim light from our closet casting shadows on our walls.
It's nights like these when we bow our heads down low, and we pray that the holes we leave in our wake will eventually sprout roots. That trees will grow, leafing out over a tomorrow that we haven't even dreamed about yet.
And we pray that joy will come for us in the morning.
Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.
[I have been getting lots of questions lately about the "quiet time" I've talked about on my Facebook page. Since I've been in a list frame of mind lately, I came up with five things to help you get started. Nothing like gettin' right with Jesus early in the morning before ya start your day. #checkcheck]
I’m about to tell you something I never thought I’d ever say:
I’ve been getting up early.
I know. I knowwww. No one will believe me - the girl that has 11,000 alarms on her phone and the girl that sets them ALL. Every morning. Just to press snooze on them.
I’m sure it’s probably annoying to everyone else, but I’ve got some things to do.
I feel like women have been doing this for centuries or whatever, but if you’re like me? If you’ve just now started a quiet time routine? You might feel a little overwhelmed. Maybe a little lost? The bible is a big, holy book full of direction and truth. But it can also be daunting.
I started last winter with a little bit of grit. I could do it. And so can you.
If you’re just starting out - here are some guidelines that I found to be crucial:
1. Consistency is key. If you're going to dedicate a portion of your morning, then stick to mornings. If you’re a night owl, stick with the nights. I found that once I got off of my schedule, it was all the more difficult to jump back on the schedule.
2. Find your place. My desk is in my bedroom, so it makes things wildly convenient. I stumble out of bed, brush my teeth and wash my face, turn on my lamp, and then I begin. Again: consistency is important.
3. Stay Organized. I started with Open Your Bible: God’s Word is For You and For Now basically because it had a pretty cover. It was a pretty vital jump-start for me, though, and I was impressed with it's overall impact. I try to work on a bible study for thirty minutes and then a devotional or book for another fifteen.
My Favorite Books So Far: Fervent and Wild and Free: A Hope-Filled Anthem for the Woman Who Feels She is Both Too Much and Never Enough
4. Pray. This is kind of weird to have on the list, you know? Kind of obvious? Here's what happened to me, though: I would study, study, study. I would highlight, mark in my margins, think about becoming one of those bible-margin-illustrators, write scriptures down in my notes ... but I wouldn't pray. In the beginning, I went at Quiet Time like I was a student in college: notecards, fresh books. I forgot all about the talking part. The part where I had to say, "Hey. I know it's early, but I also know You're here. Can you sit with me for a second?"
I had to practice the praying. Isn't that so funny to think? I've been going to church since I was a baby. I have been sitting in those pews ever since I can remember, but I had to learn how to sit in the quiet. How to speak out loud. How to ask. And at first they were just whispers, you guys, but I'm getting better.
5. Listen. When He says, "be still and know that I am God," He's not lying. Take deep breaths and practice listening. Close your eyes, and wait for Him.
These 30-45 minutes of my life in the mornings have been such a game changer for me - the way I think every day, and the way I look at life and other people. If you're not already, maybe try it out for a couple of days.
Find a cozy spot.
Find your bible.
And find Him.
There are so many new faces around my Facebook page that I thought I'd take a second or two to re-introduce myself. There are also a lot of fun new things on the ol' blog, so I thought I'd highlight those using an upscale iPhone markup picture (see way down below) because #reallife and we're only into fancy, fancy things around here.
I'm Becky Cooper (Thumann). I put the (Thumann) in parenthesis because I got divorced and I'm not really sure about keeping his last name. I'm having a bit of an identity thing, but the good news is that I answer to errrrthang.
I've published four books - you can find those at the top of the page under "The Books" (weird, right?), and I have a four-year-old that I call The General because he totally runs the show. (That's not really his name.) He's literally the best thing I've ever done in this whole wide world.
I teach English, I love pasta and Diet Mountain Dew, and I leave my flannel sheets on year round because I just can't quit them. My boyfriend's name is Craig, but I affectionately refer to him as The Boyfriend (so original, I know). He recently moved to Iowa and none of us are over it yet. He makes me laugh a lot, he's currently growing a beard, and much like my flannel sheets ... I just can't quit him either. #hearteyesfordaaaaaaaayzzzzzz
I sometimes write for Elephant Journal and Her View From Home, but you can always find me right here, living my dream.
Fast Facts: I can knit, play the piano, and I was born on Guam. I also am not really blonde.
And I love fresh, new notepads. It's strange. I know.
Okay. Now onto Team Thumann.
[Would you still follow me if this website was called something else? Asking for a friend.]
At the top of the page, under HERS PRINTS:
Whew. I am NOT a website builder, you guys ... but I sincerely am so thankful that you guys keep coming back to read what I write.
Ohhhhh my lawdy.
I was getting out all of the boxes of all of the things this weekend in Preparation. Preparation for the Big Thing. The Big Christmas Season Thing. Plates, and ornaments, and a nativity that’s missing Jesus - except for not really because he was in the next box I opened.
And the glitter, you guys. So much glitter.
I was kind of thinking that there must be a way to get it all done. How do “they” do it all? The parties, the finding-of-the-baby-sitters-for-all-the-things. Tracking down real mistletoe, laughing at yourself, and changing your Amazon query to “fart whistles” (which is a true story, which happened to me today, and which are really real things for less than $5).
Anyway. The thing is? “They” DON’T do it all.
But if I was a gambling girl (and I’m not really because #teachersalary), I’d be willing to bet that “they” DO do all of the following:
1. Keep your quiet time on the schedule. Give yourself a moment. If that means waking up earlier, or staying up a little later - allow yourself a pause. A moment to open your journal, or your Bible, or your favorite novel. A moment to just be quiet with yourself and whatever whispers are murmuring in your heart. The most important thing you can do this season is keep yourself centered.
2. Prioritize. Ask yourself what is most important this holiday season. Your kids getting a picture with Santa at the local Piggly Wiggly (is that still a thing??)? Or, sitting in the hard church pew and loving on a Jesus that’s soft? Choose what you want most this year and don’t worry about saying no. Guard your family time close. If you’re invited to something you don’t have time for, or to something that causes you more stress, or if you just would rather sit in your fleece pajama pants that you got at Wal-Mart on clearance? Say no. Prioritize.
3. Plan. You’ve got 82 Christmas parties, 17 New Year's Eve parties, and you need all. the. white. elephant. gifts. Now is the time to become Type A. This is what you’ve been training for and this is what your momma has been preparing you for and this is real life, people. This is what keeps the makers of sticky notes in business, and this is what keeps wine companies profitable. You need a list. And ya gonna need a big one. Put every single thing that you can think of on that list - small things, big things. Everything. Your Christmas menu. The gifts you need to buy. The traditions you want to keep. Everything. You’ll feel awesome when you cross off the small things, and even more accomplished when you nail the big things.
Pro Tip: When you put Christmas stuff away next year, label it. Seems simple right? Except when it’s all over in January, every mom in the whole wide world is drinking from a can of Nope and lives in a world called A Whole Buncha Nope. Take a second to label your boxes when you put Christmas away. You’ll be glad you did come November next year.
Pro Tip 2: I hear the Type A folks like Excel for this kind of thing, but if you want to get fancy, fancy, there’s an app called Evernote that syncs to all the things and helps you remember all the things.
Pro Tip 3: Wrap as you receive. As soon as the Amazon packages start piling up, start wrapping those bad boys. You’ll be so glad you didn’t wait until the day before Christmas Eve. I promise.
4. Come to terms. The days are shorter. It’s awful. The sun is setting at five p.m. and you still have so much to do, but wouldn’t it feel so good to put on your jammies? It sure would, but resist, my friend. RESIST! Sometimes, the hardest fights come in the evenings. Kids are tired, you're tired, and you have all. the. things. Homework, dinner, dishes, baths, bedtime drinks and potty breaks 1, 2, and ...17. This is the time that routine and scheduling becomes crucial. Come to terms with the fact that a) it’s not going to all get done, and 2) it’ll be okay. Try to keep your family on the same schedule each night. And maybe, you know, wait on the dishes in the sink a couple of nights a week.
5. Set the timer. Challenge your kids and your huz to get as much done in thirty minutes as humanly possible. Nobody sits down. Nobody takes a water break. Nobody quits until the timer on the oven dings. Then, you can enjoy the sweet goodness of a clean house. And maybe? Just maybe, the children might slow their roll when tearing it all apart two seconds later because ... they actually helped. Teaching your kids ownership? You’re a dang goddess.
Five things, you know? Just five things to make your merrier season that much more ... merry. And, of course, it goes without saying that you could leave out all of that - skip the parties, skip the gifts, skip the glitzy, glittery Christmas tree ornaments.
Because the whole reason for the season that we’re racing our way through?
Well. He only had a stable.
You squeeze my hand three times in the back of the taxi
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences.
He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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