What happened after my ex husband and I threw away our custody agreement.

Every other weekend.
Wednesdays from 6pm to 8pm.
Christmas on even years.
Thanksgiving on odd years.
30 day extended visitation in the summer.
Spring break every other year.
No moving out-of-state.
30 days notice with a job change or move.
Child support.
Child support review every 4 years.
Insurance provision.
Split copays.

We were exhausted after the first year of trying to follow along with each detail. Details that were somewhat standard and very general to accommodate a broad span of families. Details that were permanent and signed by a judge. Details that never changed, even when our lives did.

Following these instructions laid out for us made us tired, angry and confused.
We were tired of times and dates and who has her when and what time she needed to be where and on and on. We were angry because of expectations that seemed impossible. We couldn’t always get her by 6pm or drop her off by 8pm, life just doesn’t work like that and occasionally you’re late or early or can’t do it at all. We were confused because it’s a mess.

Have you seen a custody agreement? There’s such a division of time and dates that your calendar is so marker up it looks like a two-year old got a hold of it with box of markers.

Our custody agreement was stressing us out, making us miserable and was causing us to argue. It was crippling the need for us to figure out how to work together as a team.

So we threw it out.
Chunked it.
Shredded it into a million pieces.
Burned it at the stake.
WE GOT RID OF IT!

We’ve never looked back, not once.

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Instead of being controlling jerks, we decided to give each other some slack and truly stop to think about what was best for our little girl.

Our entire relationship changed after that. The dynamics of co-parenting made a positive switch and we became better parents and better friends. Our daughter became happier and we were all less stressed.

When we threw out the papers we communicated better and developed compassion and understanding towards each other.

We took the time to listen to each other and find out what worked in each of our families. We stepped outside the box and created our own custody agreement that basically say that she’s equally both of our daughter. If she’s with him or me, she’s with family and that’s what matters.

We decided to simply share in the joy of raising our little girl together and to see each others relationship with her as equally important as our own.

We decided to respect each other and each other’s spouses.

When it comes to holidays we just share our time with a huge dose of understanding and grace. We made a choice to not be married and with that we knew that neither of us would have our daughter full-time. For that reason we know that she won’t be with us for every holiday and we’ve learned to not only accept it but to be grateful that she is with the other part of her family getting loved on.

As for child support and insurance, I have no idea what the original papers say. We settled on a child support amount 14 years ago and neither of us have mentioned it since. The person who provides insurance is the person who has the option for the best insurance, that might be him or that might be me. We just do it. We just insure her because she needs insurance. There’s no battle over who carries it or who’s paying more, we just do it. It’s for her and we need to provide, PERIOD. If he thinks about it he’ll he puts money in her school lunch account, if I think about it then I’ll do it. As long as she has lunch money I couldn’t care less which one of us put it in there. When she needs clothes, which ever one of us is in a position to take her shopping does it. They’re her clothes and as long as she has what she needs then I couldn’t care less who bought the clothes, him or me, who cares. My husband and I provide in every way that we can and he and his wife provide in every way they can. She benefits and she is taken care of. Bottom line, it’s all about her.

It’s far more complicated for us to constantly refer to papers drawn up by lawyers (lawyers who don’t know the heart of our family or our ever-changing needs) than it is to meet up or call each other and talk about the changes like adults. It feels good to have my ex husband call up on any given day, not an assigned day by a judge, and let me know he’s picking up our daughter for a dad night.  I can’t tell you what that does to our daughter’s self-esteem and self-confidence. I will say yes to that phone call every single time.

Our daughter isn’t a possession or a puppet. She’s not a pawn or weapon. She’s a little girl who never asked for divorced parents and she needs to feel equally important and cherished at both homes. She needs to see her parents love each other and work together as a team. She needs to see us give each other grace and mercy. She needs to know that broken things can be fixed, maybe not back to the way they were before but in a way that works and is healthy.

I’m not going to lie, it take a great deal of self-respect and respect for the other parent. It takes releasing the need to be in control of everyone and everything and it means that you won’t always have your way. It takes accepting your ex’s decisions in dating and/or marriage and realizing the importance of co-parenting in a healthy way with them as well.

Co-parenting this way means you’ll need to stock pile huge amounts of grace, forgiveness and mercy because you’re going to need a ton of each.

Throwing out the papers made us better people. It made us like each other again and took an unnecessary pressure off both of our shoulders. It made us better parents.

It might be easier said than done, I honestly don’t know because it was the best decision ,as parents of a broken home, that we could have ever made.  We love our daughter far more than any ill feeling we ever had towards each other and because of that we were able to rise above. Because of it our daughter has two stable homes with four parents that adore her and work together in her best interest at all times. Because of our decision to parent this way, our daughter has one big family full of love and abundant grace.

*Side note: I’m well aware that  this can’t always be the case and that sometimes the “other parent” is not healthy for the child. I’m talking about co-parenting situations that can be healthy and productive but have things standing in their way that don’t need to be. Just throwing that out there before the comments start coming in.

How a simple drink order completely wrecked my world.

We decided on a breakfast date before our appointment and headed to the best pancake house in our city (shout out to Magnolia pancake Haus!). While we patiently waited for our table, we told each other the most immature jokes we knew and giggled like we were both 16. Toilet humor is our favorite and we each told our best potty jokes. I may or may not have spoken in a British accent half of the time.

Her phone buzzed, letting us know that our table was ready, and we both shot off the waiting bench and almost knocked each other down trying to get to the table the quickest. I won because I outweigh her by a million pounds and she’s easy to push out of my way.

By the time we settled in our seats the conversation had somehow made a dramatic flip and we found ourselves sitting with serious faces. We talked about depression, addiction and how suicide totally sucks for those left behind. We couldn’t decide if we were sad or mad that our dad hadn’t taken us into consideration before taking his own life but we could both agree that it’s wrecked our worlds. Her world was wrecked at the sweet young age of 12, mine at 36.

The waitress approach in the middle of the thick and asked for our drink order.

Black coffee for me.

My sister asked for coffee and a chocolate milk.

That’s when my heart was torn in two, much like her drink order.

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The kid in her craved an ice-cold glass of chocolate milk, the kind we all cherished as kids.  I remember dumping heaping spoon full of Nestles Quick into my milk and stirring as fast I could, trying to get it all down before the remaining undissolved powder settled to the bottom.

My sister is a child. She was born when I was 23 yet my silliness and immaturity brings us to the same age. We overrule the fact that I’m old enough to be her mother and treat each other like sisters. She giggles like a kid, does crafts with her nieces and stays up late at night sharing secrets with my oldest daughter.

My sister is just a little girl. She likes her chocolate milk as cold as ice.

The adult in her likes her coffee hot with a side of cream. She needs the morning boost. It’s sometimes hard for her to face her day and she needs a cup of grace to get her through. She’s not like other kids her age. She’s seen more storms and treaded through taller weeds. She’s delicate when she pours her cream. It’s like sweet therapy.  I like my coffee black. I prefer nothing come between me and the fresh brewed goodness.

My sister is an adult child. She was born when I was 23 yet her boldness and maturity brings us to the same age. We have to sometimes remind ourselves that I’m old enough to be her mother and help her make choices only an adult is capable of. She spends hours in her room alone, painting with methodical strokes. She meets once a day with adults who have faced life in a similar way that she has.

My sister is walking a fine line on a fast track to adulthood. She likes her coffee hot with a swirl of sweetness.

My heart is torn in two for her. I want her to be a child. I want her to have a milk mustache that I have to tell her to wipe off. I want to correct her homework, fold her clothes, cook her dinner and watch her play in the yard. I want her to just be a kid but she can’t, the world has messed that up for her. The world has stolen from her, beat her up and knocked her down. But she’s got a little fight in her. She’s got resistance and spunk. She’s a little bit of a princess and a whole lot of a warrior.

My sister like her chocolate milk cold and her coffee hot and that shatters my heart into a million pieces.

I’ll always fight to keep the little in our kids. We’ve become a society that expects them to grow up so quickly, turning our little girls into teenagers long before their time. Turning our teenagers into adults extremely prematurely. Giving miles where we should only give inches. Letting go when we should covet just a little longer.

There’s no rush.

Let’s let them be kids, play with dolls, have bare faces and natural hair, unadorned with jewels and covered in age appropriate clothes. Let’s let them stay small and allow them the joys of just being a kid.

Let’s pray that their drink order stays an ice-cold chocolate milk for as long as we can.

Let’s keep the little in our kids.

Good Friday Forgiveness

good friday

My heart wants to burst for Jesus today. I will sing no other name. Thank you sweet Savior for Your cross and what it means to us. Thank you for this cross where I was finally able to let my father go. Both crosses changed my life. Forever grateful. Thankful for the cross.

dads cross

Family Scars

World War 3

Way back in my other life I spent about 90% of my time with two of my cousins. We did everything together. We were the three amigos.

When were were in our early twenties we spent much of our time doing whatever we wanted.

One wild night after a little too much drinking we went back to my apartment to hang out and hopefully pass out. Somehow a fight ensued.

When I say a fight I mean a knock down drag out fight.

I won’t name names or say who did what to who but at one point there was a bic pen shoved on someones leg, a bottled throw in someones face, someone got choked, someone got slapped and someone got their face smash on to the concrete in the parking lot.

Yes, it was only the three of us involved.

The night ended with our aunt driving 45 minutes to pick on of us up and the other two finally hitting the pillow and passing out.

Talk It Out

Early the next morning the phones started ringing. We mostly wanted a recount of what exactly happened the night before and to figure out why we were so mad in the first place. It turns out that one of us said something to the other to express their feelings and the one on the receiving end took it the wrong way. All out war followed.

But we are family. We love each other and just because we had one disagreement we were not going to throw our love for each other away. We sat down and talked it out. We laughed in the end at how out of hand we got but we all apologized, accepted apologizes and moved on. We would have never cut each other out of each others life over a disagreements, never.

Just Not Worth It

Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride, give or accept an apology and move on so that you don’t lose someone who is important to you. Life is just too short to hold a grudge or refuse an apology. It’s not worth it. You might wake up one day and not have the opportunity to forgive or accept someones forgiveness. I is it really worth it to be right?

We also need to set an example to the little eyes that look up to us.

Your Family’s Not Perfect, Never Will Be

We are all flawed, we are all a mess and if your pretending that your family is perfect then take a rest, you must be exhausted!

It’s okay if your aunt drives you crazy, that your husband doesn’t pamper your ever need, that your kids don’t make perfect grades, that you sister always tells you what you need to do or that you your ex doesn’t parent exactly the way you want them to.

The beauty of it is that you are family, the family that God designed. It’s okay to be frustrated and it’s okay to forgive and most importantly it is okay to ask for forgiveness.

However, it is not okay to stab your cousin in the leg with a bic pen.

Let’s Pray

Merciful Father thank you for giving us the ability to forgive. Thank you for the families that you so carefully designed for us, weather they be by blood or in our hearts. Teach us how to set our pride down and pick up forgiveness. Even though you have created all of us and the families that we have, none of us are perfect and we all fall short of your glory. Help us to see beyond ourselves. When we have our backs turn to our family to prove a point, gently take us by our shoulders and turn us back to them. In Jesus name, amen.”

I have a very small scar on my left thigh. It’s about the size of a bic pen. It is a sweet reminder of how far my cousins and I have come and how much we have grown. Oddly enough I do not regret that night. I have come to appreciate the scars that life has given me and the things that they have taught me. I pray that one day I can forgive everyone that has created the scars within me and that the people that I have left scars on can one day forgive me.

Dear Dad,

If you read W3 often then you might know that I have a slight (huge) daddy issue.

I love him. I hate him. I love to hate him. I hate to love him.

I despise that he took his own life. I pity him for taking his own life.

He did things in his lifetime that most people can’t wrap their minds around. He put me in positions that no child should face. Did I mention that I love/hate/love/hate him?

I have a friend that I write back and forth with almost everyday. He has helped me to see a different side to my dads suicide, a side that I was blind to. He told me to write a letter to my dad, tear it up and leave it at his grave. I’m writing the letter. I can’t leave it at his grave, there is no grave. My dads ashes were let go at an old wooden cross somewhere out in west Texas. I thought and thought about my letter.

Since I have free will and get to make the choice to love him or hate him, I chose to love him. We are called to forgive and I believe it is a decision that we have to make daily.

Jesus cried out to his Father while he was nailed to the cross and begged God to forgive the men that but him up there. Who would I be if I did not respect and honor the One who saved me, the one who stands with nail pierced hands telling me to forgive those who have hurt me as my Father in heaven has forgiven me.

I can dwell on the hurt or remember the smiles, today is about the smiles.  I chose to show my daughters that there is true unconditional love and even more important, true forgiveness. If I want them to grow up to be loving and forgiving women then I better practice what I preach.

My sweet heavenly Father has never done anything but love me and I want nothing more than to be more like Him and less like me. I have written about my dads mistakes, his screw ups, his addictions, his failures, what he lacked and so much more. Today is not the same. It might just be mindless rambling but heck, don’t we all need that sometimes.

My dad couldn’t love me but I can love him and maybe that’s enough for both of us.
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And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. ”  Mark 11:25
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Dear Dad
Do you remember the t-shirt that I had in 4th grade? It was blue and in white lettering is read “Daddy’s Girl”. I loved when it was clean and I got to wear it to school. I seriously thought that I was a daddy’s girl when I wore it. It made me proud. It made me feel worthy. I like the thought of everyone around me picturing us together. Thanks for getting me that shirt.

It’s crazy how all of the sudden I can want something back that I haven’t had in over 25 years. I think that I would make a pillow or something out of it if I had it right now. Well, I would have someone else make it for me because I stink at sewing.

Speaking of sewing. Do you remember when I was 9 and I sewed you a heart pillow. It was only the size of a softball but cut me some slack, I had to find some random material and I had no idea how to sew. I made it for you because at school they told us that smoking was bad for you and hurt your heart. I wanted you to stop smoking so badly. I wanted you to be healthy and live forever, so I made the heart pillow to try to convince you to quit. It didn’t work but that’s okay dad, it was your addiction and it had nothing to do with me.I know that you loved the pillow anyways.

When I turned 10 you left a jewelry box on my pillow. When I opened it there was a small gold ring that swirled up to a tiny diamond. I thought that I was the most important girl in the world and in my eyes it was a 3 karat diamond. Thank you for making my first double digit birthday something that I will never forget. The ring is sitting safely in my jewelry box.

Remember Friday pizza nights at our house. All the kids on our street would come over and you would order tons of pizza. You always ordered a special pizza for the girls down the street because they didn’t eat meat on Fridays and the rest of us pigged out on pepperoni. All of those same kids would come over and swim at our house. You would do anything to make us laugh and I have pictures to prove it. Remember how you would pull up your swim suit as high as you could and do that silly walk down the diving board. I acted like I was totally embarrassed but the truth is dad, I thought that it was cool that my friends thought you were so funny.

They always thought it was so cool when you would hand us a $20 bill and let us walk to the gas station and spend it all!. We would come home with tons of junk and that was perfectly fine with you.

Back then you use to call me pookie. I have no idea where you got that nickname and I didn’t care. I loved that you had a nickname for me. I secretly named my favorite stuffed bear the same name because I thought it was so special. Come to think of it, I’m kind of glad you stopped calling me that when I got older, it wouldn’t have gone over well in highschool.

My highschool years were rough on our relationship. I know that you wanted to be the number one man in my life but we had so many bumps and bruises that it became impossible, it’s okay dad, I made it through. The ladies in the office at school knew that you would be showing up everyday around noon to pick me up and take me to lunch. I’m not sure what you were doing all day but at least now I know that everyday around noon you were thinking about me.

I’m ashamed that I didn’t share in the joy when my little brothers and sister were born. I can admit to you now that I was terribly jealous, I wanted you to be my dad.

I know that you saw me dance with Bob that night in the school auditorium. I’m sorry that it hurt you. Bob deserved to be on the stage with me, he earned it but I can’t help but to feel sad for you. You danced with Karla the year before as her stand in dad for the father/daughter dance and for that night you made a little girl feel important and worthy, thank you dad, I’m sure it meant the world to her.

It was so hard for you here on earth. You fought with demons that most of us will never face. They are all gone now, you are safe. You can be the dad in heaven that you couldn’t be down here.

Don’t worry about me, those demons that chased you can see that I now have two Fathers that look down on me from heaven and their attempts at me are worthless.

Dad, dance in heaven, sing with the angels, praise our Father, watch your grandchildren grow up, see what kind of mother and wife I have become, brag about us and tell stories about us. Next time you get to talk to God ask Him to tell you about my forgiveness and love, He knows it better than anyone. He will tell you that I have found a way, through Him, to truly forgive you and to love you again. Rest In Peace Dad.
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Love
Your little girl
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P.S. See the picture that I posted for you to. It’s my favorite. I know the story about the silver egg that I am holding because mom has told me about it many times. The egg is not why I love the picture. I love it because you are looking at me and you seem happy. I wish that had never been lost for either of us.
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“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony> Colossians. 3:13

7×70 times.

I hate math. I’m pretty sure that I failed the class several times throughout my school years. It also gave me a headache. Numbers and I just do not get along. My triplets are learning how to add so they are constantly asking me what something plus something means and even though I am super proud of them, I can’t stand that they are trying to get my to do math all the time. Shame on them. Don’t they know that daddy is the smart one? Go ask him math questions and call me when you have a cleaning questions. OK, I’m a liar, I hate cleaning too. Maybe I don’t have a specialty that they know they should come to me when they need an answer. Well, now that I think of it, my specialty might be forgiveness. If they have a question about that I can answer it for them, no problem. I’m not calling myself a victim, I have just been through a lot of crazy events in my life that have required a forgiveness that surpasses the norm. I’ve also had to beg for forgiveness countless times in my life. I’m good at it. I strongly believe in second chance. I also believe that we are all human and make huge mistakes. I think that most of us are not malicious and do not intentionally set out to hurt each other. We all deserve grace. But….Jesus said something to Peter that I really hate. It makes me want to turn my back on Jesus and tell Him that He is wrong. It all went down like this.

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22

Okay, I’m not good at math but I used my calculator and it turns out that 7 times 70 times is 490! That just can’t be! Jesus must not have been good at math either because if He knew how much that added up to then He would have NEVER held us to that standard. I mean really, 490 times. That is ridiculous. It seems impossible and I really don’t feel like doing it. Unfortunately we don’t get a choice in the matter. When Jesus says something then we better listen and obey because he doesn’t just say it for grins. We don’t get a hall pass. We don’t get to choose who we forgive and who we don’t and we don’t get to choose how many times we forgive them. It got me thinking about who has to forgive me and who I have to forgive. Do you think that Jesus just meant the little things are the ones that we have to forgive 490 times or is it the big stuff too (oh please say just the little stuff)? In my house full of girls I can’t tell you how many times I have to say “tell your sister that you are sorry” and then I expect the “victim” to forgive her sister. In the last 12 years of being a mother I can not imagine how many times I have told my girls to ask for forgiveness. I can forgive the little things with ease but what about those huge offenses? Really 490! Yep, even the huge offenses. It doesn’t matter how big or small, we don’t have any other option but to forgive. We can’t receive it if we can’t give it. I also don’t think that Jesus really meant 490 times. I think that He was saying that we have to forgive over and over and there is no end. There is no limit to God’s forgiveness for us and there should be no limit on our forgiveness for others. Does that kind of stink or what? It stinks if your on the side that has to forgive but not the side that needs forgiveness. May be the person that you need to forgive is looking back at you in the mirror. That might be the hardest forgiveness to give. Forgiving doesn’t mean that we have to keep that person in our lives. It doesn’t mean that we have to be their friend. It doesn’t mean that what they have done is okay and it doesn’t mean that we are weak. What it doesn’t mean is that you are not going to keep yourself a prisoner to the feeling that consumed you and lived in you. Free yourself. Show yourself and show others what God’s love looks like. Be an example of what faith, acceptance and forgiveness look like. Every night in my prayers there is always something that I have to ask God to forgive me for and He always gives it to me. Who am I to think that I have the power to withhold forgiveness from someone else. Let’s Pray “Merciful Father thank you for the countless times that you have so freely given me the forgiveness that I do not deserve. Please help us to have strong enough hearts to give forgiveness where we need to. Give us the courage to fall at Your feet and confess our sins to You so that You can free us of them. Help us to bring our burdens to the cross and leave them there. In Jesus name, amen”. We need to say some extra prayers this week for all that happened over the weekend. There are many many people who are going to struggle with forgiving the boy who took so many lives. Some may never forgive and some may have already forgiven but they will all need our prayers and God’s healing hand. When you are praying for these families please do not forget to pray for the family of the boy who did it, they are forgotten victims and probable hated by many right now. They are grieving for the families and grieving for who there son turned to be. The victims may not be able to pray for them yet so it will be our responsibility until they are ready. God is giving us the chance to show everyone what a Christian heart looks like, let us not waste this opportunity.

Gossip Girl!


My husband and I had put all the kids to bed last night and got cuddled up for the few hours that we get to spend time alone. We trade off who’s shows we are going to watch. Lets just say I have become a huge fan of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and he can name the cast of Dance Moms (total guilty pleasure!). Our oldest daughter who is 12 and in middle school came in to our room and got in bed with us. She said that she wanted to talk to us. She said “its nothing serious I just want to tell you whats going on at school.” My husband and I turned off the TV and froze so that we didn’t spook her away or miss a word that she was about to say. Nothing serious, really? She has no idea how serious it is that she opens up to us the way that she does. She is always completely open and brutally honest with us. Sometimes I feel bad for her friends because she comes home and tells us everything that went on that day word for word and I know that some of her friends probably don’t want their business broadcasted it my house. But I will take that over her hiding stuff from us any day. She went on to tell my husband and I every detail of the 6th grade life at her school. Everything from break ups to make ups and everything in between. She isnt just this open with me and her stepdad but she is completely open and honest with her daddy as well. You should have heard the conversation between her and her daddy after the sex ed class! She knows that daddy and I talk everyday and that we coparent as though we lived in the same house. Mommy,daddy, stepdaddy and stepmommy have to agree on everything together when it comes to her. So, she spilled the beans on everything and then casually kissed us goodnight and went to her room. We finally let out our breath that we had been holding the entire time. She knows that we unconditionally love her and always will. She know that no matter what she says or does, we will always be here for her. Because of the trust and faith she has in us she is not tempted to do things behind our backs or lie to us,at least not yet and I’m praying that it never comes. Is your relationship with God that way? I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always tell God the whole truth. I kind of cushion my sins in front of Him, as if He didn’t already know the whole truth. I used to pretend that I didn’t know God, that way I would have to answer to Him for the crazy wrong things that I had done. If He didn’t exist then all my sins were okay. But He does exist. He does live. He does know every single one of my sins. Now as a Christian I have to hold myself accountable for my sins. I know that there will be a day when I will stand before Him and have to answer for everything that I have ever done. I’m completely comfortable with it. Not because I live without sin but because sweet Jesus payed the price for my sins, for you sins. I know that I can tell God anything and everything and He will love me no matter what. Do you have that with Him? Do you want that with Him? He wants it with you. He wants to love on you and be a father to you. Let Him. All you have to do is accept what Jesus did for you. Go ahead, give it a try. Trust me, I’ve been on both sides and I promise that the side with Jesus on it is the best. Let’s pray “Heavenly Father, I k now that I can never repay You for the sacrifice that You gave for us and I know that I can never be good enough, rich enough or smart enough to earn Your love. I am thankful that all I have to do is love and accept Your son. How wonderful You are for making it so easy for us. In Jesus name,amen.” Later in the night I went into my daughters room to tell her how proud I am of her for being so open with us. She said “Well, I don’t tell you everything, I mean sometimes my sisters and I have secrets that don’t tell you.” Oh really, like what? She answered “well I don’t know but I’m sure there will be something and as long as it wont hurt anyone we should be able to keep sister secrets”. I’m going to give her that one.