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Issue 15 - ©2001 by Kari West - Garden
Struggling to believe there really is
life after the death of a marriage is the topic of this newsletter.
Initially, when a husband leaves, most of us struggle to believe
that anything good will ever happen again. That's because
grief has a way of blinding us to the possibility of new life
sprouting through our parched hopes, shattered dreams, or
tarnished memories. Some of us are discovering that years
later the memory of a loss can unexpectedly pierce our hearts
and we feel afresh the pain--especially during the holidays.
Whether you are new to the Sisterhood or a seasoned survivor,
may this newsletter encourage you during the days ahead to
dig your roots deep into God. To savor moments. To live in
hope as you dare to believe in what remains unseen. To smile
just for the sake of it.
Perhaps this submission by Patricia in
Colorado will elicit a much-needed-well-deserved chuckle.
WOMEN DOING WHAT COMES NATURALLY
Take all American women who are within five years of
menopause; train us for a few weeks; outfit us with automatic
weapons, grenades, gas masks, moisturizer with SPF15, Prozac,
hormones, chocolate, and canned tuna; drop us (parachuted,
preferably) across the landscape of Afghanistan; and let us
do what comes naturally.
about it. Our
anger quotient alone, even when we're doing standard stuff
like grocery shopping and paying bills, is formidable enough
to make even armed men in turbans tremble.
We've had our children. We would gladly suffer or die
to protect them and their future. We'd like to get away from
our husbands, if they haven't left already. And for those
of us who are single, the prospect of finding a good man with
whom to share life is about as likely as being struck by lightning.
We have nothing to lose.
We've survived the water diet, the protein diet, the
carbohydrate diet, and the grapefruit diet in gyms and saunas
across America and never lost a pound. We can easily survive
months in the hostile terrain of Afghanistan with no food
at all. We've spent years tracking down our husbands or lovers
in bars, hardware stores, or sporting events. Finding bin
Laden in some cave will be no problem.
Uniting all the warring tribes of Afghanistan in a new
government? Oh, please. We've planned the seating arrangements
for in-laws and extended families at Thanksgiving dinners
for years. We understand tribal warfare. Among us, we've divorced
enough husbands to know every trick there is for how they
hide, launder, or cover up bank accounts and money sources.
We know how to find that money, and we know how to seize it
. . . with or without the government's help.
Let us go and fight. The Taliban hates women. Imagine
their terror as we crawl like ants with hot flashes into their
male-dominated territory and over their terrain. ---Source:
Here's what's new
Dr. Bert Moore, Jr., Director of PastorCare, a national clergy
support network, recently said this about Kari's recently
released book, Dare to Trust, Dare to Hope Again: Living
With Losses of the Heart:
"My wife Anne and I
see this as an 84-day meditational manual for countering
the negative images
of mistrust and hopelessness about life
that are burned in our
minds since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."
If someone you know needs encouragement
this holiday season, this book of hope for such a time as
this can still be shipped in time for Christmas. Autographed
copies available for $13 each postage paid by writing P. O.
Box 11692, Pleasanton, CA 94588. (This 256-page hardcover
book retails for $12.99.)
Now let's meet Sharon, a woman
just like you. This 15th issue of the newsletter
features her story.
... by Sharon in Texas
My life was a fairy tale. In 1978, a girl friend introduced
me to a young man. We had much in common and eventually married.
Having just left the military, his first job was sweeping
floors at a local manufacturing company; but even with a broom
in his hand, I loved him. In a fluctuating economy, he moved
from carpentry work to an electrician, finally settling into
a police officer's position. We lived on a beautiful small
ranch outside of Houston with our two wonderful daughters,
horses and cattle. Little did I know it would all change one
That Sunday was like any other: a morning of worship and
an afternoon of projects around the house. When I walked into
the bedroom to ask for my husband's help, I noticed he was
on his cell phone in deep conversation. Patiently, I stood
behind him and quietly waited. "See you tonight, Honey," I
heard him say into the receiver. "And I love you, too." My
heart ripped out of my chest. Six months earlier I had listened
to his lies and confession of an affair with this woman and
now he was at it again. So I threw him out! Two weeks later,
he filed for divorce. As I read the Petition for Divorce over
and over again, I couldn't believe that this man had changed
so much. And now this "selfish uncaring monster" was requesting
custody of the girls and wanted me to pay him child support!
He also wanted the ranch sold so he could lavish our lifestyle
on this new woman and her four little kids. "Why should we
suffer for what he did?" my oldest daughter said. "What did
we do that God is punishing us," asked my youngest girl.
I had no answers, except that our lives were changing and
I wasn't sure what the future held. I also felt betrayed by
God. I prayed to Him every night. "Why? Why? Why?" My only
question was "Why?" After reading Kari's book, "When He Leaves,"
I came to understand that God didn't do this to us; it is
the devil who is against families and the love they share.
That helped me understand the forces behind the destruction
of our family; yet I wondered, Could my trust in the opposite
sex ever be repaired? I had to leave that in God's hands.
During the seven months of separation, before our 20 year
marriage officially ended in divorce, I felt like a zombie.
I was deeply depressed because I had trusted this man completely.
Now I saw a side to him that I didn't know existed. On the
way home from the courthouse, I cried like a baby, even though
I was able to negotiate keeping the ranch. When I got home,
I walked down to the catfish pond, stood on the dock, and
took my wedding ring out of my pocket and flung it into the
water. (To this day, friends still call wanting to fish in
that pond so they can catch that fish that swallowed that
ring.) Every scrap of personal property my exhusband left
behind, I either took to the dump or donated to my daughter's
drill team's garage sale. I wanted no memories of that man!
(Too bad it isn't as easy to dump some of the memories.)
For a while, the ranch was a nightmare. It seemed like every
single and/or divorced man in the area called and confessed
his love to me. I even had two of my exhusband's friends call,
men I've known for years. I wanted to scream! Having trusted
once before, I wasn't going to make that mistake again. I
had resigned myself to a life of solitude. Over the months,
however, my depression increased. I couldn't eat. I had trouble
sleeping, averaging about four hours a night. At 2 a.m., I
would wake up and start thinking about my ex and would lay
crying until it was time to go to work. I looked horrible!
One night, determined to get a full night's sleep, I took
a couple over-the-counter sleeping pills and went to bed.
But as usual, I woke up around 2 a.m.; but this time it was
a voice that shook me awake--"True love is very close." I
felt that God had spoken to me! For the first time in a long
time, I felt hope. Hope for a new life.
In the meantime, I was busy with the ranch. Not only did
I keep the flowerbeds and house clean, but now chores that
were once my former husband's were mine. Every Saturday the
routine was the same: weed-eat, then mow. It took hours. The
girls helped with the housework, while grocery shopping had
to wait until Sunday afternoon. In my exhaustion, I even put
the ranch up for sale, but eventually came to my senses and
pulled it off the market. I was very confused.
One beautiful Saturday morning, my neighbor and horseback-riding
friend of 11 years, popped over to help me with the work.
Walter was a blessing. Over time, he began helping with odd
projects around the house. Our friendship grew stronger, and
so did something I hadn't recognized in a long time: love.
But could I trust him? I wondered. I found myself
thinking about Walter constantly and how much I depended upon
him and looked forward to being with him. He'd been hurt by
an exwife many years earlier and had resigned himself to the
fact that he would probably die alone. I realized that he
had trusted and lost, too; and now he was trusting in me not
to hurt him. So how could I not trust him when his convictions
were so strong for me? I began to feel a love in Walter
that I never had seen in my ex. Walter talked to me, laughed
with me, and enjoyed just being with me. My ex, on the other
hand, would walk away from me when I'd talk. In fact, I don't
remember the last time I saw my ex laugh or when he had done
anything with the girls. I began to realize that my ex had
left our family a long time ago, and I had just been too blind
to notice. My ex hadn't conquered me completely by destroying
my inner-self; if anything, his leaving made me stronger.
Well, God, who had promised me "true love," delivered! He
kept His word. I learned that I could love and trust again.
Walter is proof of it! On November 18, 2000, Walter became
a part of our family. He is the husband I always wanted and
the father that my daughters need. At night, the four of us
are together as family, talking and laughing or playing games.
Walter tells me constantly that he thanks God every day for
my exhusband's stupidity. I know that the love and trust we
share is God's handiwork. Not only is God healing my broken
heart, but He's teaching me to trust again. Now when I go
to bed at night, I no longer ask Him, "Why?" Instead, I give
thanks. I say, "Thank you, Lord, for changing my life!"
[Sharon suggests the following Internet sites
to learn more about the high rate of divorce among police
Help for today ... by Kari
(Excerpted from "Dare to Trust..." -
Section 6: Unavoidable Moments for Sorting the Past and Savoring
the Present, Chapter 42: God, thanks for what was and
what is yet to be, p. 119)
"Be cautious and alert for snags [standing dead trees] ...
They may fall without warning," read the brochure that I had
picked up at the park entrance during a vacation.
As Richard and I drove the highway that snakes past lakes
and sweeping vistas of the Grand Tetons and high plateaus
crossing the Continental Divide, I saw snags wherever we went--along
roadways and trails, in campsites and picnic areas. When we
brushed passed them during a walk in the woods, they grabbed
our socks and pulled our sweaters. I thought back to televised
images of the firestorm that roared through the park in 1988.
In its wake, thousands of snags now stand as reminders of
that fiery conflagration, of a changed landscape, and its
In our lives, we also encounter reminders of the loss that
changed us forever. Snags are everywhere--on the radio, in
stores and restaurants, during holidays and family gatherings.
Unannounced, they fall into our life and find our weak spot.
A particular date on the calendar catches you unaware. Like
a thorn, it pricks your heart. A song yanks your thoughts
back to the past. A distinctive aroma replays a bittersweet
event. An invitation to a celebration arrives, and your mind
latches on to a memory ... a time and place ... and that person
who is gone.
The biggest challenge with snags is not that they can unravel
us, but that they will entangle us. They bore into that part
of us that wants to extend the arch of mourning, indulge it,
and will it to remain. Snags grip onto those doubts welling
up on the crest of sleep. They claw at our fragile emotions
and won't let us surface from the pain. Once they hook us,
they take from us our will to live in the present and our
hope to believe in a future. In the course of the journey,
some of us get lost in the past. Our tears blind us to the
possibility of young hopes sprouting through the ashes.
Looking back to that summer day when I stood beside those
leafless, lifeless snags and saw only bare bark, charred chunks,
and scorched skeletons, I realize God saw substance where
I couldn't. Not only does God see seedlings sprouting in the
ashes of a blackened forest floor, but He sees our new beginnings,
too. His tri-focal vision sees where we have been, where we
are now, and where we are headed. He has not forgotten that
once-lush forest of lodgepole pines--nor the person you and
I were before our loss. He feels the whipping flames ane rippling
heat of the firestorm--and the suffering we undergo. When
all we see are snags, God sees the women we were created to
be and the growth still to come.
In fact, your presence here this moment is proof that God
is still working in your life. Is there a better reason to
This holiday season, if you wonder whether you will ever
be able to pull loose from the snags that remind you of what
you've lost, know that you are not alone . As you live out
the days ahead, remember that God is nudging you to burrow
your faith deep into Him. To hold on to the stability of His
everlasting love. To believe there really is a life after
the death of your marriage. To trust that He is already on
the job working on what concerns you.
A promise you can trust
Nothing can ever separate us from his
love. Death ... life ... angels ... demons can't. Our fears
for today, our worries for tomorrow, and even the powers of
hell can't keep God's love away. ---Romans
Don't hesitate to write. I am here for you, however I can
encourage or help. Please feel free 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.