Serenity prayer
Divorce

How Letting Go and Letting God Channeled my Divorce

Serenity prayerBy Caterina Clarke

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The Courage to change the things I can;
And Wisdom to know the difference.

The Serenity Prayer is all about “Letting go and letting God.” It provides perspective when we lose focus and grounds us when we start losing control by wanting more control. It is very powerful when we let go of all false power. So what does this mean during a divorce? Isn’t divorce all about letting go of “what was” and putting the past behind?

In theory, this is correct. In theory, you don’t have to deal with emotions or deep wounds from hurtful words or actions. The reality is it causes those going through a divorce to want to hold on for dear life to possessions, children, territory, identity, and most of all, power. But does it have to be like this or is there hope and steps one can take to move through the process, recognize when you get stuck and move into a new life, one that is better than you imagined?

I had to learn this when I realized my marriage was failing. It ended long before I got divorced. My first inclination was to hold on tight to things that were not meaningful and were a complete waste of time. The tighter I held on, the emptier I was and the unhappier I became. This was not working and I had to take a different approach. I was paralyzed and stuck, not knowing what step to take. This is when I realized that I had to unlearn many lessons so I could learn to walk a new path. I’d like to share a couple of things that were very helpful.

“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” John 12:24

This passage woke me up to mystery and power of letting go of what was, letting out my hurts in a healthy way and letting it be, accepting what is. When I tried this, it did feel like dying and falling. I had to be willing to open my hands and lose everything in order to be open and gain something new. It wasn’t about what I could get but about creating space for God to bring about new life. Let it go, let it out, and let it be was my new attitude towards the divorce. This made it easier to live with open arms where abundant life was waiting for me.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust in me.” John 14:1

Trust is key to any relationship. Divorce is the erosion of trust from things you did or failed to do, till there was no more trust left. The solid foundation became a pile of sand that could not hold your relationship. I needed to trust to get through this. I needed to learn to trust God beyond what I thought was good for me and lean on his thoughts and ways. Every interaction with my ex was challenging and I had to keep my focus on trusting God and not placing unrealistic expectations on my ex and the relationship. It was time to trust in the midst of a storm and know that God was there leading me and him out of it. Yes, I had to see that God was on both sides, loving both of us, and wanting the best for both of us. I learned that trust was the path to freedom regardless of how difficult the situation was.

“Change me, Lord.” (from the book “The Power of a Praying Wife”)

“Change me?” I felt I should be praying, “Change him and I will be happy.” But changing me is all I had any control over. It was useless to try to change him and it was humbling to look at myself and pray this. These are words that do not flow easily from a person going through a divorce, yet can transform everything. This prayer refocused me and helped me see the situation and my ex with new eyes. This allowed me to evaluate the past and see where I had played a part that lead to the divorce. It’s true that no one person has the complete power and control to breakdown a marriage. You enter a dance and whether you lead or respond, each step brings you closer or further away from one another. It’s funny that I learned this from the “Power of a Praying Wife” which helped me learn the “Power of a Praying Ex-wife.”

“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44
“Forgive us out trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Matthew 6:12

Forgiveness . . . I know too well that forgiveness will knock on the door if I want to be healed and released from the past in order to love again. When you read this you tend to assume that you need to forgive your ex. But you can’t rush to true forgiveness. It is a process and a journey of the heart and soul. With great humility, care, and compassion, I learned that I could not forgive my ex, if I did not first forgive myself. I was the one who was persecuting myself and holding myself captive to my own anger and frustration for decisions and actions I took. I didn’t have to look to what my ex was doing because all I needed to do is look in the mirror at the one who needed forgiveness . . . and that was me. Learning to first be merciful and gentle with myself was necessary before attempting to forgive my ex. Internal forgiveness was the key to open up the door to see my ex in me. It gave me permission to be human without the pressure of being perfect.

“I make all things new.” Revelations 21:5

After trusting God, allowing him to heal you, and help you forgive yourself, you are positioned to co-create a new future. This journey allows you to stand on the threshold of a new horizon. One that is calling you forward into a land of second changes, possibilities and hope for a better future. It is now that you are ready to take the next step into your new life, with God, with great trust in him, with humility and compassion for yourself and others. Enjoy your new journey as you pray:

God grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The Courage to change the things I can;
And Wisdom to know the difference. Amen

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Caterina Clarke is a Leadership Development Manager in the automotive industry. She is also co-author of MissGuidedMom, offering spiritual direction and insight through Pearls of Grace. She enjoys sipping cups of tea and spending time with her son.

Health & Wellness

Basic steps for a healthier family lifestyle

By Marisol Barrios, MSPA

Introducing my sons to different vegetables, grains, and juicing early on helped me when I became intentional in taking charge of my nutrition. But for a parent who is making lifestyle changes, planning meals when you have young children’s taste buds to consider can be challenging. I asked Pam Mahon, a nutritionist for Wholistic Kids & Families and a nutrition educator for Chow Bella Nutrition, Made Simple, what three ingredients comprise a healthier family lifestyle. Here’s what she encourages families to do:

Eliminate processed foods

Try to eliminate as much process food as possible by finding healthier alternatives. Anything that comes in a package should be replaced with whole foods, foods that are unprocessed or unrefined such as legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Pam suggests choosing rice instead of rice pilaf.

Many families ask her how they can make meal planning quicker, especially working parents. Pam says to choose foods that have less than 10 ingredients that are healthier for you. If you’re in a bind, buy organic rice that is already cooked. She says Trader Joe’s, who’s making a concerted effort to sustainable food packaging, offers an organic frozen rice package that can be made in minutes.

IMG_7570Eat seasonal

Try to eat a color of rainbows. Most people eat the same seven things every week. For each season there is a different fruit or vegetable that is fun and interesting for the family, says Pam. Each week or every other week prepare one of these food items, talk about it and cook it. She suggests children can participate by reading online or finding a fun recipe of a certain kind of melon, figs, or squash they’ve never had. Instead of zucchini squash children can try a butternut or spaghetti squash.

Fall is also an ideal season to add more leafy greens with swiss chard, spinach, kale, mustard greens, and broccoli sprouts. Find ways to purchase these greens and other foods at local Farmers’ markets or cost effective grocery stores like Vallarta Supermarkets, Costco, and Sprouts.

Hydrate

Try to drink pure water and eliminate the sodas, the energy drinks, and decaffeinated beverages. Coconut water is another alternative and contains natural electrolytes unlike other sports beverages with artificial sweeteners. Instead of juices, Pam flavors water with citrus. Instead of artificial sweeteners try switching to herbal mixed teas or blend teas. “You can freeze mint and berries in an ice cube and add that to your water,” says Pam.

Our brain and heart are composed of 73% water. Essential to our health, water serves a number of functions for us. With all the daily activities of a family, the benefits of water can help you and your children focus at work and in school, keep everyone hydrated, and sleep better. On average adults should consume 64 or more ounces a day, and children should have 40 to 64 ounces, depending on age and activity level.

 

By following these three basic steps, you and your family will be on your way to a healthier year.

To learn more, you can reach Pam Mahon, nutrition educator for Chow Bella Nutrition, Made Simple on Facebook

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Mother of two sons, Marisol Barrios, a communications strategist, grace changer, and content creator, is still on a journey of self-discovery and learns many life lessons, primarily how wine and cupcakes can soothe her soul during challenging times.

New Year Resolutions
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Family

7 tips to get back into school morning routines

As seen through the eyes of her mother, Serena Solorio shares why it’s important to plan ahead, schedule tasks, and set routines in the morning to get back into the swing of school weeks.

By Serena Solorio

school routine, back to basics, back to school, morning routine, working mom, childrenThe morning of the first day back to school isn’t always easy as you want to believe. You’re so used to the children’s winter break schedule that over those two weeks, you forget how to manage getting them to school on time. Not only that, the morning of school can always be stressful and anxiety-provoking. You don’t only have to get yourself ready for work, but also have to get your children ready, making sure they brushed their teeth the correct way, serving breakfast, and preparing lunches. If you have little ones, you’ll need to make sure the shoe is on the right foot and their winter coat is ready.

A working mom of three, Amy Ley-Sanchez, knows too well the importance of setting routines to limit stressful mornings. As division director of community-based services at Hillsides, a behavioral healthcare provider, Amy says, “Our internal clock – when to sleep, when to eat, and be active begins in utero. Infants and young children are dependent on their caregivers to help them regulate internally beginning with routines and predictability.”

Amy suggests the best environment for young children is one that is safe, predictable, and nurturing. “These are the building blocks for children to enter into school and eventually into adulthood.” Having a routine can help them learn self-control. Not only do they get healthy habits by brushing their teeth every morning, it can also help set their body clock faster.

To make life easier on yourself and for a successful morning, you can enlist the help of your children and prepare things the night before by implementing some of these time-saving and anxiety-reducing tips:

  • Get snacks in lunch bag. Whether they eat lunch at school or you make lunch, have an envelope of money ready or the bag of snacks. You can also make the sandwich right before you go to bed and put it in the fridge with all the other foods.
  • Wash, dry, and iron any necessary clothing. There’s no need to wake up early to put something to wash, dry or even iron. Plan the clothes for a week’s worth during the weekend so you don’t have to do laundry daily while other pressing activities call your attention.
  • Sign slips. Sign slips for school the night and save time in trying to find a pen in the car because your child forgot to give it to you the day before or while you were home.
  • Shower the night before. Showering the night before will save time and soothe you before bed. If you’re a person who wakes up feeling atrocious, then take a quick body shower in the morning that lasts no more than five minutes, as opposed to taking a 20-minute shower and having to dry your hair.
  • Find purse and car keys. Put your purse and car keys by the door to save time wondering where you put them in the morning rush. Have a key holder or a little basket by the door to create the habit of putting them in the container and never losing your keys.
  • Plan breakfast. Whether you give your kids money to have breakfast at school or you make them breakfast, set the bowls or plates and silverware the night before can save time also. If you make breakfast, have a breakfast plan to help with what to expect to make the next morning. If you are making a simple cereal or an omelet with fruits, being prepared with the ingredients you need the night before and knowing where everything is helps. Vanessa Barrios-DeGiacomo, who is a director of guidance and counseling at a community charter school based in Cambridge says, “Eating a well-balanced breakfast is important! Think of your body as a car. A car needs fuel to run, and your body needs food to give you the energy to make it through the day.” Making sure your kids eat breakfast every morning is important for how they perform at school.
  • Sleep to recover. Getting the eight hours of sleep you need is really important. Not only is it important for you but imagine how important it’s for your child who is growing and developing. Vanessa also explains, “Regardless if you are a working professional or a student planning to take a test the next day, make sure to schedule in at least eight hours of sleep. You’ll do much better and retain more information during the day if your mental state is good.”

The children can help prepare the night before, too. Here are a few ideas to help them establish habits for a lifetime:

  • Get clothes ready. The children can pick their outfit, starting from what shirt to wear and ending with socks. Doing this can teach children how to match clothes and dress themselves. And if they don’t match, it may not be an important battle to have with them.
  • Lather and rinse. Have children shower the night to limit the use of the bathroom to only the morning essentials—bathroom break, washing your face, teeth, and hands.
  • Set backpacks and shoes by door. Have backpacks and shoes ready to go by the door to save time doing a last-minute search for the other shoe or running to get your backpack from your room.

A planned morning the night before and setting routines, as Amy suggested for the household, will lift the stress off your shoulders. You’ll realize school mornings can be manageable, maybe even enjoyable, too.

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Serena Solorio, a college student, has a curious soul, when she isn’t glued to her computer she is reading books, or working, ready to explore the world and learn from her mistakes, she is anticipating on growing up and being on her own, while eating cookies with milk right before bed.