That’s really why I’m here.

I was sitting in a dining room when I (thought it was safe and) told a man who had taught Bible class that I felt I’d be speaking on stage.

He tilted his head and patted me on the shoulder, “Yeah… but if He’s not….”

I was only asking for prayers. That’s the only reason I told him. It was a small group meeting and – prayer is part of it, right?

But when he didn’t believe me, I was faced with another situation entirely: A test of faith.

Did I actually believe what I was saying I know? Or did I not?

I looked at him (not aware back then of his condescending tone) and after deep thought a minute, I said again, “But… He is.” I just …knew.

And again, this faith-lacking, prideful, young Bible class teacher looked into my eyes, shook his head and said with a smirk (clearly now I realize it was proof he didn’t believe me) and patted me again on the shoulder, “Yeahh….but if He’s NOT….”

What I read from Genesis to Revelation is that God has always used lesser known messy people with messy lives to carry out His Divine purpose.

I’ve had something like 7 years to think about that moment. He didn’t seem to believe God would choose someone like me (clearly nobody in this man’s eyes) to share God’s Word, my faith, and my story.

 

It’s funny how some moments seem to last so much longer than others.

 

I believe God allows and purposely tests our faith with moments like these.

People everywhere are constantly demanding field- and factory-tested products but they are the same people who tend to shake their fist in defiant anger when anyone tests or challenges their beliefs.

That’s a bit of a double standard.

God humbles and tests us, refines us, and He says He will finish what He starts.

And it turns out it doesn’t matter who else believes what He’s doing with you but you.

If someone isn’t tested then how will he or she stand when things seem unfair?

What about when things seem to take a long time? (“Too long” according to people watching your life. Too long? Oh my word! What does that even MEAN when The One we serve is The Author of time, itself?)

What about when other people mock your faith?

What about when it’s people closest to you who mock your faith?

People don’t like flimsy products.

Oh! How much MORE does God not want a luke-warm follower?!

Two things just happened.

This past month AS the final legal procedures of my second divorce happen, the doors have been opened for more platforms to share my faith – and my story.

Share my story — every messy broken part of it.

Yes, you read that right… second: one marriage was 7 years and one has been almost 19 by the time divorce is final… though possibly both were broken from the start. But I’ve learned a lot. And forget divorce! What about the hundred other ways God has had to be sad about me? There are so many other things! But God!

Imagine a redeeming God who uses messy people’s messy lives to share in HIS purpose?!

The thing is I knew you’d be reading this. It’s not a good thing. It’s not a bad thing. But I knew somehow in my spirit a few years ago that I’d be here writing about this someday.

I had told my kids I felt someone would come ask me to write with a group of other Christian writers.

This just happened.

Jennie Louwes, who felt God lead her to start MomPro – Teach The Way, contacted me to join her along with several other writers.

I also knew I’d be speaking on stage at some point. This also isn’t good or bad. It just is.

I was actually afraid to ever speak back then.

Mostly I was afraid because someone too close to me kept telling me in so many ways that I was never going to be enough.

The beautiful Truth is that God takes what little I have to offer and HE makes it – and He makes me – enough.

But what ever would I speak about exactly? That part wasn’t clear at that time, which again is why I had been asking for prayers already all those years ago in that small group meeting.

This just happened too.

Last week I was asked to speak at an event. I believe this is the first of many.

And guess what? I’m not afraid anymore.

In the mess…in the questions…in the middle, God gives a firm place to stand in Him.

That’s really why I’m here today: to ask you.

What do you do when your faith is tested?

Do you recognize when it happens?

When people tell you something isn’t… but God shows you it very much IS, perhaps that’s a test of your faith.

What you DO with each test of faith is up to you.

God likes to know what you’ll do and He tests you and allows you to be tested. Because… well, maybe He also wants YOU to know what you’ll do.

 

Do you complain?

Do you immediately go to Him in prayer for answers and to praise Him out loud?

Do you get mad and let pride grab a place in your spirit?

 

I believe what you do in that moment IS a part of the test.

It doesn’t matter what someone else believes. It matters what YOU believe.

Want to have some fun? Just watch God use something that someone meant to harm you, instead for HIS good. He is a good God! NOTHING is wasted. HE makes beauty from ashes. I believe in you, you believe, and God believes. THAT is already a cord of THREE!

Even when nobody else can see what He’s doing, He STILL does it. And THAT is some Good News.

An Open Letter to Divorced Parents at Christmas,

Hi. I’m Chloe and I’m 16. Divorce happened in my life when I was one year old.

This is the first Christmas I’m looking forward to. Any other year I couldn’t care less if tomorrow was Christmas and to be honest, I learned to dread all holidays.

Today I will be a voice for the four year old who doesn’t understand why this Christmas Mommy is not at Daddy’s house to open presents.

Little kids may not be able to speak out yet so I will for them.

I dreaded picking whose house I wanted to be at and dreaded the stress of hurting someone’s feelings that comes with it.

I also dreaded being forced to go to either house when I didn’t want to go.

My feelings matter.

Half a day here and half a day there is not fun. (And thankfully my parents did not make me do this.)

I dreaded presents I wouldn’t like but was told gift cards are tacky to ask for. They are not. Gift cards ARE okay to ask for.

I dreaded time with people who made me feel unwanted.

Divorce changes a family but not many people think of how the kid was affected.

You don’t “have” me or “get” me for Christmas.

You “get” chicken pox.

You “have” a rash.

You “have” to “go.”

You “got” a broken arm.

“I have my son for the holidays.”

What?

You don’t “have” him like you have a rash. You’re blessed to spend time with him this Christmas. And if you’re truly blessed to spend Christmas with him, then treat him like it.

And don’t let him feel the divorce was his fault. Don’t be fake, either. You’re the grown up and if you want your kid to be part of your family, too, then act like it and take the first step.

While I understand some kids with divorced parents act like they don’t care because they’re getting extra presents, some place underneath it all they actually do care and they’re hurting.

Most of the time I couldn’t care less about the presents because hurt and sad memories were attached to them. Because every time I see the game that was at the top of my wish list, I remember the tears of missing my mom, and of brokenness that went along with this present.

A lot of us feel hurt that Christmas isn’t “normal” (whatever normal is.) Or kids are sad that their family is broken. Or they feel like a bother because Christmas family vacations aren’t whole. Or they feel left out of family events. Being a kid is hard enough. Please don’t add stress of your divorce to my life.

The divorce was not my fault. And I should get to hear that. Often.

Contrary to what many kids from divorced parents think, I know it wasn’t my fault. But I still feel stuck in the middle – because I AM.

I’m stuck between Mom and Dad and words like “biological” and “step.”  (I’m SO done with the word “step.”)

I’m stuck between two homes.

I’m stuck between feelings of brokenness and extra love.

I already feel torn and broken that you guys aren’t married anymore so please don’t add to that by forcing me or guilting me into coming over. I didn’t ask for the divorce and I’m not the grown up.

I’m the little kid who is learning that happily ever after isn’t always true.

Just talk to me.

Even as little kids we understand a lot more than you think we do. Talk with me WITHOUT trashing the other parent. It is okay for me to love Mom and Dad and I can even love new parents and new siblings. God doesn’t limit or divide our love. He increases it.

I get it. You’re grieving.

I need time to grieve, too. Something died and it’s okay if I’m upset. Tell me it’s okay that I’m upset. I lost something too. I lost Christmas the way I wanted it to be.

Just love me today and spend time with me TODAY. Pray over me. Remind me it’s okay to love Mommy AND Daddy and all the rest of this messy family – because it IS okay and I should get to hear that.

I will be okay and you will be okay.

I will love you BOTH and anyone else I choose to love – and you need to be okay with that.

I am blessed to get to spend time at Christmas with two parents, even if at separate houses, who love me and are nice to (and about) each other.

A Note from Chloe’s Mom.

Sometimes there are things that we never would have thought of before divorce that are now real life for us.

Celebrating on “the actual date” doesn’t matter. You celebrate when you can and with the people who can be there.  And that’s okay.

You learn to accept that life looks different now – and that is okay. Even if other people don’t understand everything, that’s still okay.  We know that every situation is different.

You pray over your children and encourage them to enjoy time at the other parent’s house. Sure. Let them know you miss them but more people to love and care about any child in a healthy way is a good thing. It is okay for kids to enjoy Christmas at either house. I KNOW it’s rough. I spent many hours crying because holidays didn’t feel ….like holidays. In fact, I spent many hours crying over just missing regular, everyday life moments.

If you’re a single mom or dad, we know it’s tough. We’ve been there. A lot of presents aren’t necessary. Your time just hanging out and listening to your kids matters more. If the other parent can afford more presents, that’s okay. If not, that’s okay, too.

We will be okay and you will be okay.

We wish you a peaceful and stress free Christmas – however that looks at your house.

Love, Kerri and Chloe

 

[Note:  Unfortunately, there are many times a child should not be in the care of someone.  Please do pay attention if something seems unsettling.  Everyone involved in a divorce can probably benefit from counseling if needed. And prayers are ALWAYS helpful.]

 

Pick each other up IN LOVE and WITH LOVE

When a baby has a poopy diaper, we change it.

What if we left the baby in the poopy diaper because he’s comfortable and we don’t want to upset him because cleaning him up and helping him get out of the poop is a process and he’s tired and the wipes are cold and he’s pretty content the way he is.

No.

That would be neglect.

We change the diaper because we love him SO much. It’s called caring for him. We will change the diaper EVERY time it’s poopy. That’s how it should be.

We need to care enough for each other that we help each other out of the poop our lives are in. That is not wrong to do.

We need to matter SO much to each other that we notice and take the time IN LOVE and WITH LOVE to help lift each other out of the poop.

And it MUST be IN LOVE and WITH LOVE. It takes time and kindness. Sometimes after I know you love me, I will be able to listen to you and let you care for me.

That’s how it should be. We should matter.