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DivorceWise Newsletter
Issue 13 - 2001 by Kari West - Garden Glories Publications
Topic: New Beginnings

Welcome Survivor!
New beginnings are the topic of this newsletter. After a divorce, typically we look back on our life and see more years behind us than ahead of us. We are unsure if we can gather the courage to start over again and are afraid nothing good will ever sprout in the rubble of our crushed heart and shattered dreams.

Cardinal John Henry Newman observed, "Growth is the only evidence of life." May this newsletter encourage you to dig your roots deep into God and make a new beginning smack dab in the middle of your situation. Just start where you are this moment with what you have in front of you.

You see, to create a life and a garden is to go in search of a better world, while we keep doing the mundane tasks of paying bills and pulling weeds. It is to allow loss to enlarge our hearts like leaf mold enhances clay, while we nurture new life into being. It is to hope for a future we cannot see, while we live with that end in mind--whether it is a flower bouquet, a single moment without sorrow, or that heavenly day when God will make all things new. You can do this. You are braver than you think. And you are worth the effort.

Since spring is here and summer is just around the corner, here are some planting ideas as you envision your own victory garden. I can't remember who specifically sent me this, but it contains food for thought.

First, begin your garden by planting three rows of peas.
1. Peace of mind
2. Peace of heart
3. Peace of soul

Next, plant four rows of squash.
1. Squash gossip
2. Squash indifference
3. Squash grumbling
4. Squash selfishness

Then, add four rows of lettuce.
1. Lettuce be faithful
2. Lettuce be kind
3. Lettuce us be patient
4. Lettuce really love one another

And no garden is complete without turnips.
1. Turnip for meetings
2. Turnip for service
3. Turnip to help one another

Now tuck in a little thyme.
1. Thyme for God
2. Thyme for each other
3. Thyme for yourself

Water freely with patience and cultivate with love. Embrace each moment as you reap what you sow. And should your garden be visited by pests or trashed by winds of change, don't get discouraged. Sometimes you simply have to leave the results to God. Remember loss is a risk you take for gardening--and also for living and loving.

Now let's meet Doni, a woman just like you, who shares her story of the new beginnings that grew out of her divorce.

Personal Reflection ... by Doni in California
We all know what happens to a tree when it is uprooted and then transplanted. It goes into shock! Many of its roots and leaves die. It may go dormant, remain droopy and look forlorn for a long time. However, in time with care, the tree starts to sprout new growth. Eventually, it becomes full and strong, even more so than before. That's what happened to me after an unwanted divorce uprooted me from my life as a wife.

I went through divorce in a daze, much of the time just barely functioning on auto pilot when I wasn't experiencing and expressing the strong emotions of anger, grief, and self-criticism. Yet somehow I knew that things would change and that eventually I would change and improve, too. I wanted to be open to whatever God had for me when the time came for me to be on the road to healing. So I prayed very simply that God would put on my heart what the next chapter of my life would hold--and that I would be willing to take the next step, whatever it was.

The first thing that happened was that God gave me the opportunity to save some money. At the time of my divorce, I had only $300 to my name. My full-time job barely allowed me to pay my bills. Then, without even looking for work, I got two part-time job offers. They weren't glamorous. One was housekeeping at a resort and the other was baking pies at a restaurant. I was appreciated for my work, and I appreciated the extra money. I ended up juggling those three jobs for a year, working six days a week and two evenings. I put the money from those part-time jobs into savings. Hey, $50 a week added up to $2400 that year!

By that time, I knew I was to move out west. I had been praying for a year and there was no doubt in my mind. Even when I was pressured by good friends to stay, even when I had a couple of "dream job" offers, and a couple of men who were interested in a relationship, I just knew that God wanted me to make a new beginning. I bought a pickup truck for $2000 and sold my old car for $500. Then, I sold whatever didn't fit in the pickup. I knew there would always be other "stuff" wherever I ended up, if I needed it.

Today, I rent a furnished room with a family and also help out around the house in exchange for some of my rent. It's a little unconventional for a 44-year-old, but I am close to my sister who has multiple sclerosis and needs more and more physical help. I have few bills and I've found a church where I really feel at home. When I finally dropped my husband's last name, I didn't take my maiden name back. For one thing, I didn't like it; for another, I didn't feel very attached to that person I was so long ago before I got married. So now I use my middle name as my last name and I'm really enjoying it.

I am once again praying that God will prepare me for the next chapter in my life. I know that inevitably, change will come again. My soul is growing deeper as I learn to express this new emerging "me." Before my divorce, I usually stuffed my emotions so deeply that I couldn't even feel them. After all, who wants to feel pain? Now I know that if I don't' allow myself to feel the pain of loss, of deep hurt, of grief and anger, then I'll never be able to feel the joy of true love, of companionship, of rapture, or holy glee.

I sense the Lord also broadening my vision spiritually as I struggle to find my new place in His family. The more I learn about my brothers and sisters in Christ, the more I read of and experience their great diversity of thought, love and action from fundamentalist to feminist, the more in awe of God I become--this God who created and loves us all.

Finally, I am also learning to be bold. I realize that God created me as a unique individual, not to be alone but to live and work in community, serving others in ways that I am gifted. Being single again has allowed me the scary freedom to pack up and literally move to places I've needed to be--places that have challenged me to express God's love for others through simply being myself. What is most amazing to me is that I am learning to have fun again. Why not take that dance class, go on that archaeological dig I've always dreamed of, or camp for six weeks in the desert! Sure, there will be hard times ahead; but I am learning to enjoy and make the most of all the time I have.

As you ponder the thought of beginning again, remember that you will always be God's daughter. That will never be taken from you. God will help you as you grow, thrive and blossom into a new, emerging you.

Help for today ... by Kari
Sometimes you just have to do it. To survive you have to seize life. To make a new beginning like Doni is doing, you have to step over the grave of your marriage and stare at an unknown future. That doesn't mean you don't cry as you kick the dirt and brush off ants. That doesn't mean you don't get angry as you gaze at the yard you worked so hard on and the house you decorated, realizing divorce forced you to leave it all behind. Getting on with your life doesn't mean you have to like it or approve of it happening at all. It simply means that when you can't go back, you go on. . . One moment at a time. One day at a time. One year at a time.

If your life looks like a forest fire devoured everything in sight, don't despair. There's a lot going on that you can't see right now, because grief is blinding you. Remember that God notices substance where you can't. Not only does He see seedlings sprouting in the ashes of a blackened forest floor, but He sees your new beginnings, too. His tri-focal vision sees where you came from, where you are this moment, and where you're headed.

Your Creator has not forgotten the once-lush forest of trees, nor the woman you were before the loss. He feels the whipping flames and rippling heat of the firestorm--and the suffering you are undergoing. In the rubble of your crushed heart and shattered dreams, God sees the woman you were created to be and the growth still to come. For now, dig your roots deep into His forever love and hang in there through this season of change.

by Natalie in Maine

I have learned to laugh again,
And I have learned to cry.
I have learned to walk alone,
And I have learned the why.

I have learned to stand up tall,
And how to reach the sky.
I have learned to be myself,
And know that I can fly.

I have learned the value of
Friendships warm and true;
And that tears cannot erase
Those memories of you.

But I have learned to laugh again,
And I have learned to cry.
I have learned to walk alone,
And I have learned the why. 

A promise you can trust

"But forget all that--it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert! --Isaiah 43:18-19 (New Living Translation) *Thanks, Angie R. for reminding me of this wonderful promise"

In the meantime
Please let me hear from you. I answer ever letter and e-mail. Be encouraged to share what helped you through your divorce so others know they are not alone and that they too can and will survive. E-mail by Clicking Here or write Kari West, Garden Glories Publications, P. O. Box 11692, Pleasanton, CA 94588. 

Remember: YOU are worth the struggle!

Copyright 1998 - 2002 by Kari West