Posted in advice, Beatitudes, christian living, depression and anxiety, divorce, grief, mental health, military, service, and veterans, motherhood, parenting, Podcast Show Notes, prayer, recovery, relationships, spiritual practices

Comfort in the Mourning: Beatitude #2

If we are born into this world we will, at some point, experience the exquisite pang of loss. We will weep for what was and mourn what will never be again. This world, it seems is the perfect training ground for grief and sadness.

But Jesus, in his sermon on the mount, as found in Matthew chapter 5, tells his followers, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

He doesn’t elaborate on this point, or frankly, any of the points he’s making in this exact moment of his discourse. He leaves it plain and simple. Essentially what he’s saying is, “The people who mourn will be happier than those that don’t because they’ll be comforted.”

Well, that seems odd, doesn’t it? Because like I said, if life teaches us anything, it’s that we’re all going to mourn at some point. So, what makes this statement so poignant?

This week, Brandy explores this brief beatitude by looking further into Jesus’ own suffering, the mission he was prophetically called to when he stepped into humankind as a man, and the mission of his second coming.

We’ll be looking at Matthew 5:5, John 11:32-38a, Isaiah 61:1-3, and 2 Corinthians 1:3.

The fact is, we are not alone in our suffering and grief. We have a God who can relate to our pain and has stepped into it with us.

Listen to this week’s episode to find out how well he can relate to us and what he promises us as our future with him unfurls.

Listen to the full episode here

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Special thanks to James Swanson and James Page for their contribution to our theme song, The Long Road Home, written by Brandy J. Goebel. Copyright 2018.

This episode was recorded, edited, and produced at 4G’s Studios in Sandy, Oregon, home of Bigfoot…. We have a hotel to prove it. 2019. All rights reserved.

Posted in advice, christian living, depression and anxiety, identity, mental health, Podcast Show Notes

Show Notes: “Identity: Who Am I Anyway?”

In this week’s episode, Matt and I talk about how and where we typically “find” our identities and where, as Christians, we should look instead. Even if you’re not a Christ follower, there are a few things that God says about who you are and what you’re made to do.

BUT FIRST, a little glimpse into one of the towns that I, Brandy and the teens stopped in on our road trip this summer, Wallace, Idaho.

Wallace’s population, in its peak in the 1940s, was well over 3,000. It is now estimated to be a mere 758. But what it lacks in people, it more than makes up for in charm and history. Established as a silver mining town, it continues to thrive as such.

I share some fun facts about Wallace and laugh uproariously while doing so. Seriously…I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my chair while recording. (We really ought to video these things!)

For information about Wallace, Idaho or if you’re planning a trip that goes through the area and you want to stop and visit, please check out these sites:
Historic Wallace
Wikipedia – Wallace
Wallace Chamber

Left: The Stardust Motel still stands. The spaceship out front is part of a little diner where we had “The Best Huckleberry Milkshake.” The people inside this little diner were, hands-down, some of the nicest people we came across our entire trip. They were top notch with customer service.
Right: The manhole cover that declares that very location in Wallace, Idaho to be the Center of the Universe. I mean…there’s a manhole cover that says it, so it must be true.

Please, go check out this cool, historic town. There is so much to uncover here and I only touched on a few little things. I look forward to exploring it more in years to come.

Wallace, Idaho…thank you! You promised to be a great place to visit and you delivered!

 

And now…IDENTITY

Quote at the start of this segment was taken from Psychology Today. “Examining Our Sense of Identity and Who We Are. Written by Michael J. Formica MS, MA, EdM. Posted Oct. 25, 2009. Below is a link to the entire article:
Full article

Psychology defines identity as the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and /or expression that make a person or group. It relates to self-image, self-esteem, and individuality.

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “identity crisis” as: the state of being uncertain about oneself regarding character, goals, etc, especially in adolescence.

Places we often look to for validation or in order to discover who we are:
* Social media
* Hollywood
* Friends/peers/co-workers
* Family
* Self-help instruction
* Personality quizzes and assessments
* Employment/job titles

WHAT SCRIPTURE SAYS ABOUT WHO WE ARE:

Psalm 139:13-14
“For You formed me in my inward parts, You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works and my soul knows it very well.”

We have a RELATIONSHIP with God:
“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.” – 1 John 3:1

We have an INHERITANCE:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…” – Ephesian 1:3

We have been TRANSFORMED:
“He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of His will…In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace…” Ephesians 1:5 and 7

We are ACCEPTED:
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16

We are SECURE
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?… But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, no life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor heights, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:35, 37-39

We are SIGNIFICANT:
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God…” – 1 Corinthians 2:12

We have PURPOSE:
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10

And Finally…

“Woe to the one who quarrels with His Maker – an earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?'” – Isaiah 45:9

A PERSONAL NOTE:
After the busyness that has been my life recently, I had a health-induced rest for a couple of days. That being said, I am still working on getting a PDF made with a bunch more verses that speak to our identity in Christ. I am also still working on getting transcripts for the most recent shows. Please forgive my delay. If you happen to know of someone who might want to volunteer to do our transcripts, please have them email me.

Our social media links are as follows:
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Intro and Outro Music: “The Long Road Home” Written by Brandy J. Goebel. Arrangement by James Swanson. Performed by James Page. Copyright 2018.

Love God. Love People. Pray hard.
-Brandy

Posted in christian living, depression and anxiety, divorce, friendship, grief, identity, Marriage and Dating, mental health, parenting, Podcast Show Notes, recovery, relationships

Show Notes – “Coming Out: I Had An Affair”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery;’
but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
– Matthew 5:27-28

Adultery. 

Not a very pretty word is it? But there it is. In black and white. You can sugar-coat it and call it something different, but it’s all the same ugly sin.

This week, we dive headlong into our own journey of adultery and the grace and redemption that God provided. Eight years have passed since the news came out that shook our world to its core.

We invite you to step into this conversation with us because we hear, on a near daily basis of so many other marriages that are struggling with their own battles of infidelity. We want to bring hope and encouragement to those of you currently walking this path and in next week’s episode, we want to provide some common pitfalls to avoid or overcome that oftentimes lead to an affair.

Listen to the full episode here

If you are struggling in your own marriage, please listen. Please reach out. To us. A pastor. A counselor. There is grace. There is healing. There is a new beginning available to you and your marriage. You are not alone.

Read the full transcript here

Here are the links to many of the tools I used in my own recovery process:

“Breaking Free” Beth Moore
“When Godly People do Ungodly Things” Beth Moore
“David: A Man After God’s Own Heart” Beth Moore
“The Genesis Process”

Previous episodes can be found here on Google Play!

We can also be found in Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes), Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Spotify and pretty much any podcast app. Please share with your friends, neighbors, people you love, and people you love to hate because everybody needs a little encouragement and grace.

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Special shout-out to our friend, Phil who has recently become a Patreon supporter! We appreciate your encouragement and kindness!

Alright…Love God. Love People. Pray hard.

 

Posted in advice, christian living, depression and anxiety, Podcast Show Notes

Mini #3 Show Notes: “Lessons from the Road to Emmaus”

In the third week of our summer series, two dudes walk to Emmaus. Brandy croons a tune. And we get our first Patron through not-so-veiled threats.

Listen to the episode here

We all have troubles, right? Please tell me I’m not alone. Life is hard, sprinkled with aggravation and sometimes thoroughly horrible circumstances. The news is depressing and it seems kind of like the sky is falling.

Take heart! Things weren’t any better 2,000 years ago as a man named Cleopas and his buddy were walking to Emmaus, talking about the recent crucifixion of Jesus.

Seriously…take heart. Things may not look any brighter in the here and now, but in this story, we are pointed back to the prophets who told of the Messiah’s first coming and assure us of His second coming.

Read the Full Transcript here

Scripture: Luke 24:13-35

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Special thanks this week to Teresa for becoming our first Patreon supporter! She signed up as a Ride or Die-er and will receive the Micah 6:8 print as well as a hand-bound journal.

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One final note: Master Closet Studios has been given a fresh coat of paint and a mini-makeover. To see the video tour go to Facebook. You’ll find the video there!

Posted in advice, christian living, depression and anxiety, mental health

Living with Generalized Depression and Anxiety: One Christian’s Perspective

I really struggled with what to write about this week. Nothing was coming to me naturally and every time I tried to force something out on paper, it was just that, forced.  And then it occurred to me why: my anxiety is pretty high these days, which makes me want to “go ostrich” and bury my head in the sand. (Though, now that I’ve googled that particular phrase, I am well aware the way we use it is highly inaccurate. I trust you get my point.)

So…here I am. Anxious. My heart is racing. My blood pressure, I’m sure is up, though testing it seems like wasted energy. Depression levels are sinking. I’m overwhelmed, under-rested, and would rather be in bed with my favorite blanket and the remote control.

This isn’t terribly uncommon.

In fact, if you’ve ever suffered from depression or anxiety, chances are you can relate. Likewise, if you’re a Christian suffering from either of these or a whole host of other mental health issues, you’ve also been told all the reasons you shouldn’t ever be depressed or anxious.

You’ve heard it, too, I’m sure…

 

It seems to me, the most-oft quoted scripture I hear is Matthew 6:27, “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” This is, of course within the context of a much larger portion of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus gave his magnum opus in the preaching world.

To be sure, there is great wisdom in that verse and the ones surrounding it in regards to trusting that the God who created us will also care for our needs. I dig that. A lot.

But here’s the thing: anxiety and depression have little to do with those concerns. When someone says they suffer from anxiety, they’re probably not talking about worrying about how the bills are going to get paid. That can certainly be a part of it, don’t get me wrong.

Anxiety vs. Worrying

 

Anxiety, though is less about ‘worrying’ about things and more about being paralyzed to do anything about what causes normal worry. At least, for me.

Most people, when they worry about bills getting paid, they find a way to increase their earnings, through a second job or selling some goods. Likewise, most people, when their homes start to get messy and cluttered, they take a day and whip things back in to shape.

Sometimes I can do those things, too. A lot of time, though, I become completely overwhelmed and unable to see what next step to take. That leads to frustration because I know I should know the answer. You know?

Instead, I pace the house, seeing clutter and mess all around and I can’t figure out how to make it go away. I get jittery and snappish with the people around me. Even if they try to help in one way or the other, odds are their help will feel threatening and they’ll still get snapped at, anyway. (It’s a barrel of laughs, yeah?)

Christians Suffer, Too

 

It’s just not enough to tell Christians that they shouldn’t suffer from these issues. It’s not fair to say that because we’re Christians we shouldn’t need medication or therapy and even then, continue to battle with it on an on-going basis. To suggest, in any way, that followers of Christ are supposed to somehow be happy and content at all times, is dangerous and needs to stop.

The fact is, we live in a fallen and broken world. If you turn on the news or look at social media for five seconds, it’s pretty clear just how broken and fallen we are. It’s easy to find 100 things that cause stress on a daily basis without even trying hard.

When we look through scripture, it is riddled with people of faith who suffered greatly and wrestled with their own falling societies and cultures. Moses, Gideon, Jonah, Ruth, David, Esther, Paul, Jesus himself. They all lived in times of serious upheaval and societal pressure. Only one of those listed (and the list is quite a bit larger, just read your Bible), was perfect. I imagine Jesus, though He grieved at the knowledge of what He was being asked to do in His final hours, didn’t succumb to worry or anxious thinking.

But I do. And so do lots of other people of faith. You might even be one of them. You’re not alone.

Stop the Stigma!

 

The more we address this very real and growing epidemic that is ravaging the people in our churches, the less stigma there is surrounding mental health care. We are bold to pray for healing for people with cancer, but mental disease is the modern-day plague of Biblical times and we run around crying, “Unclean! Unclean!” as though depression were highly contagious. (Hint: it’s not.)

So, here I sit with this anxiety weighing me down. I’m able to stave off an anxiety attack; I’ve learned pretty well how to fight those back. But the general sense of overwhelm and lack of motivation is a very real battle I fight almost daily.

Look, I know where my Hope is. I know who I am and to whom I belong. I know that God has my present and my future safely locked in His hands and my eternity is secure. But that kind of knowledge still won’t help me get my To-Do List done.

So, if you’re feeling like I am today, let this be our plan: one foot in front of the other. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Repeat as many times as needed. Take a nap if possible. Do the next thing.

And at the end of the day, find that cozy blanket and remote. You did amazing.

Love, B.

Posted in advice, christian living, depression and anxiety, identity, mental health, Podcast Show Notes, recovery

Show Notes: Episode 10 “Reasons For Hope”

Here it is! We promised you that we’d bring you some hope after last week’s talk about depression and anxiety and we did it!

This episode was actually recorded a few weeks ago, so there’s no Road Trip Fun Facts…er Corner….er Station. It’s just us delving into today’s topic. Take a listen and hopefully, it will strengthen your own resources for the dark days that plague us all.

Also…I, Brandy, got a little bit carried away looking up a verse (which I never found) but sure made a lot of noise trying. So….sorry for that.

Listen to Episode 10 here!

Matt’s Reasons:

1. The evidence of God in Creation.
Here are a couple of good resources to explore, though not necessarily the ones that Matt used:
Dr. William Lane Craig – YouTube
The Case For A Creator; Lee Strobel. Zondervan Publishing; Grand Rapids, MI

2. The prophecies that declared Christ.
* Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
* Isaiah 35:5-6 “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”

For additional prophecies: 
Jews For Jesus
Jesus Film

Read the TRANSCRIPT here!

Brandy’s Reasons:

1. Evidence of God’s faithfulness through recovery classes and Bible Studies. I don’t remember the exact order of these studies, but these Beth Moore studies were particularly healing for me and opened me up for a whole new relationship with God. I’ve done other studies by her as well and have learned so much in all of them. I highly recommend any of her studies.

When Godly People Do Ungodly Things
Believing God
David
Breaking Free
The Genesis Process: Book 1
The Genesis Process: Book 2

2. The passage that God gave to me before I even knew it was scripture was Psalm 40:1-3.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined His ear to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.”

 

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 says:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

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Posted in advice, depression and anxiety, mental health

When Panic Attacks

It came on suddenly and without any warning, in the middle of the local grocery store with my cart half-loaded.

I looked into the basket and couldn’t recognize any of the items resting at the bottom. My eyes seemed to glaze over as I tried to piece together where I was and what I was doing.

My heart was racing, I was getting hotter and hotter. Looking around, all I could see was a sea of people and it seemed like they were all crowding in. My defenses on high, my first instinct was to lash out at the women passing by with their own carts full of goods. I wanted to crash into them. To knock them over, out of my way.

What was I even doing here?

Coming into some sense of awareness I realized that I had to finish my grocery shopping and get home. But if I’d had a grocery list in my hand at one point, it certainly wasn’t there now. My brain kept shouting, “Just get the groceries and leave!”

With no ability to regulate my thinking, I simply started grabbing items from the shelves. All I knew for sure was that we had no food at home, we needed food, and this was the place to get it. What kind of food didn’t matter.

It took amazing effort, but I was able to convince myself that I had to wait at the check-out line and pay for my groceries. All I wanted to do was running, screaming,”Tawanda!” through the doors, but not in the funny ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ kind of way. More in the panicked, I-may-just-run-someone-over-spree-killer kind of way.

Groceries paid and bagged, now all I had to do was get to the car and navigate my way home. But even getting through the parking lot was an ordeal. Everyone seemed determined to hinder my progress. Meanwhile, my heart was still pounding loudly in my chest, my breathing was shallow, my vision was blurry and death seemed imminent.

I’m not sure the exact order of things after this point. I know I ended up at the University’s theater where Matt was working on the production of an upcoming show. Sitting at the light booth in the middle of the auditorium, he listened as I recalled my flash of crazy while grocery shopping.

I was beyond worried. Dad had died from a sudden heart attack just a couple months before. I didn’t know exactly what the symptoms were, but it seemed entirely possible that’s what I’d just experienced.

Later that week as I sat around the large oval cherry conference table, staring into the faces of others who’d also lost a loved one, I shared my tale with my grief group. Death. Loss. Sorrow. These were the only things we shared in common.

Our counselor listened intently as I recounted my experience then quietly assured me that what I’d had was not a heart attack, but in fact, a panic attack. She then proceeded to share different strategies for coping with the symptoms as they present themselves. She talked of deep breathing, visualization, and the simple mantra, ‘This won’t kill me.’

Years and countless panic attacks later, I think I understand better. They still come on sometimes. But now, rather than managing the symptoms, I am able to recognize their onset and head them off before they become crippling. Deep breathing, visualization, and mantras are still my most-trusted tools.

But why am I sharing this story?

Because on a regular basis I meet people who are dealing with anxiety and panic attacks and they don’t have any idea what’s going on. All they know is they feel like the fight, flight, and freeze responses have all kicked into high gear at once and it is terrifying. I honestly believe it is by God’s grace that I didn’t literally run people over with my car that day, 20-some years ago in the grocery store parking lot. Because everything in me felt like that would be my best course of action.

I’m sharing this because if you deal with these or similar feelings, I want you to know that you are NOT alone. You are NOT crazy. This does NOT have to overtake you. And for sure, this does not have to be something you suffer with alone or forever.

Please, if you or someone you know suffers from anxiety, depression or thoughts of suicide, seek help. We are created to ‘do life’ together. We’re not meant to go it alone.

If you see someone who is hurting, scared, isolated, anxious, depressed or any of the hundred other words we use to convey our burden, please reach out to them. Depression is rooted with fear. Fear keeps us paralyzed and unable to seek help from outside sources. Sometimes we need those outside sources to reach in and gently draw us out.

Friends, be well. You are too wonderful to lose. And you are never – not ever – alone.

Love, B.

Suicide Prevention Hotline
1-800-273-8255

Posted in advice, depression and anxiety, mental health, Podcast Show Notes

Show Notes – Episode 9 “Depression: When Dreams are Broken”

It seems like we are hearing about more people dealing with depression and anxiety every day. People are lonelier, more isolated and overall increasingly fearful every time they hear the news. While the stigma is losing traction, depression continues to be something of a taboo.

Listen to the Full Episode here!

Listen in as Matt and Brandy share their journeys as they navigate through their own depression. Matt shares the struggles he’s faced as his career path veered far from what he’d planned and Brandy talks about generalized depression and anxiety along with postpartum depression, grief, and adrenal fatigue.

It’s a little heavier of a subject this week, but one that’s important to talk about. If you or someone you know is or has struggled with depression of any kind, you will surely relate to today’s conversation.
Read the Full Transcript here
BUT, before we get into all that, let’s talk about road trip music!
We share some of our favorite jams when traveling down the road. Here are some that we talk about:

Tom Petty: We didn’t talk about any particular album, but some of our favorites are
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Greatest Hits
Wildflowers
Highway Companion
Echo
The Last DJ

Shawn Mullins Soul’s Core
Mumford and Son Sigh No More
The Beatles 1962-1966
The Beatles 1967-1970

Hamilton the Musical (explicit)

Hamilton the Musical (edited)

Les Miserables (Original Broadway Cast)
The Chorus Line
Phantom of the Opera (Original London Cast)
Disney musicals, specifically Aladdin

Now that we have our playlists loaded, it’s time to get on the road.
So, grab a drink and a cozy seat and let’s get started.

Listen to Episode 9 here!

If someone you know or love is in emotional distress call:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255
Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
National Suicide Prevention

Posted in advice, christian living, depression and anxiety, friendship, grief, Marriage and Dating, mental health, recovery, relationships

Picture (Im)perfect

It was a quiet conversation.

The two of us sat across the dining room table from one another, working on a jigsaw puzzle of a tiger lurking in the trees. Our voices were calm. We even laughed a little bit as we shared memories of our dating years and talked about where our relationship was currently: broken and on the edge of divorce.

We were less than 3 years into our marriage.

High school sweethearts, we’d met through our drama department our Junior year when Matt’s family relocated to our little town. We’d noticed each other immediately. His shaggy, bleach blond hair and dimpled cheeks shone like a beacon home for me.

It wasn’t until a year later that we’d begun dating and then, only after our friends Jimmy and Joy forced us to have a face-to-face conversation about how we liked each other instead of simply telling everyone else. It proved to be an off-again-on-again kind of relationship for a few years, but once we decided that we meant it when we said, ‘I love you,’ it stuck and wedding preparations were soon underway.

On June 24, 1995, before friends, family, God and one homeless lady who joined the festivities, we gave our vows and celebrated the start of our lives together. We danced, we toasted, we tossed the bouquet and garter. A week later, we loaded all my earthly possessions into the bed of a truck and the trailer we towed behind and drove the 12 hours to our first home together in Ogden, Utah.

wedding photo Matt and Brandy(Matt and I, exhausted from all the photos we took after the ceremony.
June 24, 1995. Welches, Oregon)

Pulling in well after dark, it was hard for me to really see what our new town looked like, but walking through the door of our little house-turned-tri-plex, I was overjoyed. It had great charm and it was OURS! Unpacking and decorating was a thrill. As a kid, I’d only ever lived in three homes and two of those were before I was 5, so I’d never known what it was like to actually move. It felt a little bit like playing house.

Our first 2 years in Ogden were full of college for Matt and work for me. We had little to no money but learned how to make the most of instant mashed potatoes, Kool-Aid, and pancakes. When time allowed, we’d pack a picnic basket and head to a local park. When time was tight or the weather didn’t cooperate, picnics happened on our living room floor. By working at the college’s theater, which also had touring companies coming through, we had the opportunity to see and be a part of some wonderful shows and performances, including Ballet West, Christopher Parkening, and Sundance Film Festival.

Matt and Brandy hiking(Me and Matt hiking in Ogden, Utah. circa 1996.)

It all seemed pretty good. We had our friends, we had our little nest. We had each other.
But lurking underneath was a dissatisfaction growing inside me.

Growing up, what I wanted most in life was to be a wife and mom. Here I was, on the path. Step 1: Get Married. Check. Step 2: Have babies. Not happening.

I’d wanted to get pregnant from the beginning. Matt wanted to wait until he was done with school. Tension was growing, while my belly was not. Health issues from earlier had me worried that fertility might be a problem. Meanwhile, I was seeing people everywhere both getting pregnant and also having abortions. It was heart-wrenching.

Then my world came crashing down in the most unexpected way. My dad, at the age of 48, died of a massive heart attack. He’d been my rock. We shared a love of oldies music, fly fishing and ‘puttering’. And suddenly, in the blink of an eye, everything changed.

Dad and I painting trailer(Me and my dad painting the trailer that carried all my belongings to
my new home and life with Matt. 1995)

The week or so that followed is a blur. Matt and I went back to Oregon, we buried and memorialized my dad. My mom, brother and I sat silently together, numb and unsure. Eventually, though, the regular flow of life had to return to normal. Matt returned to Utah, where he was chin-deep in school and work. I stayed behind with my mom, unwilling to leave her side.

Life was untethered and I didn’t know how we were going to survive.

When I finally returned to Utah – I’m not even sure how long I’d been gone – I was restless and anxious. I jumped everytime the phone rang. I couldn’t concentrate. I hated to hear about anyone else’s struggles or problems because it all seemed so petty. I lost any compassion I’d had. And I was angry at Matt.

He hadn’t ‘performed’ the way I wanted him to in the wake of my dad’s death. He shed few tears and in my mind, felt distant and emotionally unavailable. What I then saw as a character flaw, I now know to be a strength. Even though I wanted Matt to mourn with me, what I needed most was for him to be strong and hold me up. He did both. But he did them quietly. I was too lost in my own chaos to even recognize what was happening around me.

Within a few months, I got pregnant and soon thereafter, miscarried.

Devastation. Again.

I was at a complete loss. I didn’t want to be in Utah anymore. I wanted to be with my family and friends back home. I wanted my dad and my baby and I wanted my husband to do more than he was capable of doing for me.

So there we sat. A jigsaw puzzle between us. One thousand pieces of a perfectly destroyed image. And it was our task to put those pieces together, to recreate the picture on the front of the box, the picture that looked so seamless and perfect.

We worked for hours and as we worked, we talked. We reminisced about the day we first met. We laughed about our awkward beginning. We recalled our first kiss and so many kisses after. We talked about our fears and our hurts, our disappointments. We talked at length about the possibility of divorce.

As we talked, the pieces in our fingers began to come together. The edges were formed and soon, the inside picture grew, little by little.

We talked about how much we’d grown up with each other in the 10 years since we’d met. How we’d shared so much of ourselves with each other that we’d never shared with anyone else. We’d already invested so much of ourselves into one another, the thought of having to start over with someone else seemed daunting, at best. After all, despite the struggles we’d endured, we were best friends. We loved each other.

We always would.

Before we knew it, the final piece of the puzzle was set in place revealing not a seamless image, but a complete image. Where the pieces had been cut, there were crevasses as they joined together. It wasn’t smooth as a photograph. But it was whole. And together. What sat between us was a picture, not of a tiger stalking its prey, but a picture of how two separate people with their own brokenness can come together and form a beautiful union.

We weren’t perfect, but we were together.

 

[Wedding photos by Eileen Hunt]

Posted in advice, christian living, depression and anxiety, divorce, Finances, friendship, Marriage and Dating, mental health, parenting, Podcast Show Notes, recovery, relationships

Show Notes: Ep. 7 – What’s Love Got to do with it?: A Look at Divorce

This week we take a look at divorce in America. Who’s doing it and why? Because, seriously…marriage is hard work and it’s important to know some pitfalls before you take the plunge.

Listen to Episode 7
While it’s a pretty stat-heavy show, it’s also got lots of commentary and conversation surrounding those numbers.

Read the full transcript here

These statistics come from the following sources:
http://www.healthway.com; “The Most Common Reasons Marriages Fail According to Divorce Lawyers”; Sager, Jeanne; Sept. 20, 2017

http://www.wf-lawyers.com/divorce-statistics-and-facts/ Wilkinson and Finkbeiner Family Law Attorneys, California
* During the average marriage vows (approx. 2 minutes), 9 divorces happen.
* One divorce in America every 13 seconds = 277 every hour or 6,646 every day or 46,523 every week or 2,419,196 every year
* On average, every divorce cost American taxpayers $30,000 in government assistance
* 50% of all marriages end in divorce or separation
* The divorce rate is declining slightly, but the rate of marriage is is declining even more
* Every re-marriage increases your chance of divorce by no less than 10%
* The years of marriage that are at greatest risk for divorce are years 1, 5-8, and 20-25.
From a recent national study (as quoted by Wilkinson and Finkbeiner) the 8 top reasons people cite for getting divorced are:
1 – Lack of commitment (73%)
2 – They argue too much (56%) – arguing about money at least once a week can increase your chances of divorce by as much as 30%
3 – Infidelity (56%) – addiction to pornography was cited as a major contributing factor
4 – Married too young (46%) – loss of virginity before the age of 18 increases your chances of divorce. Likewise, couples who live together before marriage increase their odds of divorce by as much as 40%.
5 – Unrealistic expectations (45%)
6 – Lack of equality in the relationship (44%)
7 – Lack of marriage preparation (41%)
8 – Abuse (25%)

“Every unrealistic expectation is a resentment waiting to happen.”
– Father Richard Rohr
Heuertz, Christopher L. The Scared Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2017

Buy ‘The Sacred Enneagram’ here

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Intro and Outro Music: “The Long Road Home” Written by Brandy J. Goebel, Arrangement by James Swanson, Performed by James Page; copyright 2018