No Burn Day

I’ve been looking forward to October 1st for a few weeks now, and it’s not for the reason you’re thinking.

A few weeks ago, I headed into my closest to retrieve something from my file. In my closet I have not one, but two huge filing cabinets that each have four drawers. Perfect for my family of eight, right? Each drawer is for a different member. In each drawer there is the basics, like birth certificate, and social security card, but also fun stuff. Special drawings from the kids they’ve done in school. Touching cards, they’ve wanted to hold onto. I have love letters from my husband. But I also have important papers like our marriage certificate, degrees, old taxes and mortgages. Included in these important papers happen to be 19 years of parenting plans, child support calculations, and a divorce decree.

Nineteen years ago, I separated from my ex-husband and filed for divorce. Two weeks later I discovered I was pregnant with my third child. It still took TWO and a half years to finally get divorced. We both tied for having the World’s Worst Divorce Lawyers. Although, mine only cost me the cost to file the papers, so who got the better deal? Side note, you get what you paid for, so trust me when I say, I paid more than the cost of filing…my attorney just didn’t profit from it.

Anyway, back to the filing cabinet. While searching and searching for something that should be relatively easy to find, I found myself overwhelmed from sifting through years and years of documents I’ve collected, including the 19 years of divorce stuff.

I was suddenly struck with a brilliant idea!

My third “child” is now 18 and has just graduated (BARELY!) from high school this past spring. There is legally no reason I need to continue to hold onto these documents. None that I can think of anyway…

So I thought…


Yes, I have been divorced from my sons’ father for over 17 years, but now I am FINALLY FREE from him! Really, the only reason I would NEED to see him would probably be for weddings and births. I can live with that…just as long I look better…just kidding…or am I? 😊

But the problem was I live in Arizona, and we have No Burn days. In fact, the entire summer is a NO Burn Day, which makes sense, I guess with as dry it is here and as many forest fires we have. I’m not sure when the summer No Burn Day starts, but I learned September 30th is when it ends. Which was perfect, considering it was only a couple weeks away!

Well, TODAY WAS THE DAY!!!! I almost forgot about it, because honestly, my divorce, and my ex-husband doesn’t cross my mind very much at all now days. However, the big box of crap I no longer need from my file drawer, sat on the ottoman in my living room to help me remember this is something I want to do.

It was during dinner, at a restaurant, that I remembered today was not only October 1st, but it was no longer a No Burn Day!

We hurried home. I dug out our small firepit from the garage, moved one of the cars a little farther away from where I set things up, grabbed the huge box from the ottoman, lighter from the kitchen and eventually lighter fluid from the garage, because you know as flammable as paper is, it’s still pretty difficult to keep burning.  

And there I began lighting everything up…well slowly. I learned fire was much harder to make than I was anticipating. I honestly thought I would have more success accidentally burning the house down. I would not have been surprised if my husband was inside the house, watching me on the cameras just to make sure that didn’t happen. But seriously, I found myself thinking, what’s a girl got to do to light something on fire????

I figured it out. Finally.

So, I sat far enough away, with papers in hand, slowly feeding them to the firepit, poking the ashes from time to time, watching the flames and thinking…

I am so sad.

Why am I so sad?

I was thinking I would be excited, liberated, ecstatic… I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks. Yet, when I wasn’t frustrated with the dang flames, I was feeling really sad.

My daughter eventually came out as the ashes were cooling off, and white smoke was billowing up into the sky.

I told her as I watched the flames and the documents burned, I started thinking about the person I was when I was filling out and receiving those papers. It was a tough time in my life. Life was hard and scary.

I told her we went out and saw her grandfather earlier in the day whose wife has recently passed away. He’s been concerned about making ends meet. After all the bills are paid, he said he should have $400. I remember my mom concerned she only had $100 left after paying her bills. And I told my daughter, I remember for many years after my divorce I was surviving with only $10 left at the end of the month, while taking care of four little ones. (Remember the World’s Worst Lawyer?)

I don’t ever want to have to live like that again. Always wondering if we had enough. Always wondering where I’m going to get their clothes and shoes, and food.

I had one kiddo who lost his jacket, several times one winter. The boys went to The Boys and Girls Club after school, and as luck would have it, the Boys and Girls Club were getting ready to donate their Lost and Found to some place by the end of the week if the items were not picked up. I told them the jackets weren’t ours but asked if I could take a couple anyway. My kids were embarrassed. I was ashamed. I lived in fear that one day a parent would recognize their coat on my kid and confront them.

The kids’ school would have food drives to feed the needy and they would always beg me to let them take extra food to class so they could participate. I had to keep reminding them, WE were the needy people. We didn’t have enough to give away.

But I told my daughter, this wasn’t even the sad part. The sad part was my kiddos aren’t those little kids anymore. Those little kids grew up and are struggling so hard at life. Well, not all of them, but two of them for sure. After all the work, all that fear, all that worry, I made it! And yet, did they?

One of them is paralyzed with anxiety, and the other wrestles daily with depression.

Did I help them at all? Did anything I do make a difference? Is this how it was supposed to end? We were all supposed to make it out of their childhood victorious! But this just sucks. I know their lives just sucks. What the hell?

I feel I could have done better. I should have done better. What could I have done better? This wasn’t supposed to end this way.

So, I’m sad.

And my daughter…she’s so frickin’ sweet. She sat there with me watching the ashes turn from red to white. She said a lot of stuff that made sense. That made me smiled and made me cry.

After digging into her brothers for a minute, just because she could and she’s the little sister, she reminded me they all know life can be hard, and when it is, and when they can’t do anymore, they all know I’m still here. Some of them must live their own way, and it might not be easy to watch. But they all remember what life was like, what I pulled them through, and life will never be like that again.

So I’m going to try to be less sad, because I hope she’s right.

I have one left, and I can’t let her down.

In My Weakness

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-11

Five days ago, I received a call from my friend. She informs me, Butterfly’s biological father wants her to call him.

Cue a mother’s tailspin.

Even now, I’m struggling with what words to say first. So many emotions. I should probably start with the back story.

I believe I’ve shared that Butterfly is not Mike’s biological daughter. She also doesn’t share the same father as Tunes, Justice, or Fun, either.

In fact, her entire existence started in a very dark time in my life. I’ve written about it here and here.

I was living with a man who terrorized me. And I became pregnant.

It certainly didn’t start that way.

I was living alone with three little boys and going through a divorce. Let’s pretend for a minute that these were three normal little boys, which alone is a handful, and exhausting. I had left my cheating and emotionally abusive husband over a year earlier, and even the judge was like, “Why has it taken so long for this divorce to happen? Good grief.”

In walks this man…

He was charming. And funny. Liked kids. Made me laugh. Made me feel special.

But in the end, he was really a drug addict, womanizer, alcoholic, thief, hustling monster who would taunt me every day. He was always trying to make me mad. He would do something or say something to get arise out of me. I was somehow a challenge he accepted to make me lose my temper. Just how much can she handle before she loses her mind. I would start to get frustrated, and he would laugh at me, “Ooh wee! Look at her. She’s getting feisty!” But I would never let him push me too far. Until the day he did.

I had told him once again to leave. I was going to call the police and he took my phone. I picked up a stereo he had connected in our backyard, that he probably stole, and threw it on the ground, busting it into a million pieces. He had finally won, and he couldn’t be happier. He threatened to call the police on me. He told me they would come and get me for domestic violence because I broke something in anger. Didn’t matter that I didn’t throw it at him. Didn’t matter that I hadn’t touched him.

At this time, I was already pregnant. I was sleeping in our living room on the sofa. I tried to stay on the side of the house the kids’ bedrooms were on. Even though I had asked him to leave, he wouldn’t. I would wake up in the morning with him wrapping his arms around me and whisper good morning. I would push him off in disgust. This would excite him. He loved seeing me angry, defenseless, and hopeless. He would laugh.

I somehow got him to leave. It was by God’s grace, a restraining order, and the Goodyear police department I was finally free. God had broken through and rescued me.

Now this man wants to talk to my daughter. He has only seen her maybe three times as an infant. I have spent sixteen years living in fear of him suddenly reappearing and pulling her into his chaos.

I’m remembering the manipulation that trapped me. The powerlessness I felt. The way he would change my words around and make me believe I did something wrong. The guilt…the shame…the despair…

I spin.

I turn back into the person who was terrified of him. Who was hopeless and helpless. Who was broken, who was weak. I’m crying. I hand the phone to my husband, and he’s like, what is going on?

He tells me…

Kim, what are you afraid of? Don’t you remember who you are? You are not that person anymore. He doesn’t have that power over you. Remember, you’re God’s favorite.

And the next day I wake up asking him, “Would it be ok if I agreed to meet him?”

I’m sure he was like, “What the hell?” I know my friend who I asked to arrange the meeting was.

During the night I did remember who I was. And I know he doesn’t have any power over me anymore. I remember I am God’s favorite. 

Butterfly has always been curious about her bio dad.

So, today he has agreed to meet with us.

So many emotions I’m feeling. I can’t wait for this to be over.

But I’m kind of excited for him to see the young lady that will sit across from him.

She is strong. She is determined. She is not easily persuaded. She thinks for herself. She will never, ever, find herself stuck with a man like him. She has told me, “Mom, you have been training me for this day my whole life. I am not afraid. You don’t need to be either.”

So again, I am reminded, for when I am weak, then I am strong.

God must be very close, because today I feel very strong.

Kingdom of Heaven is Like…

Have you ever stood in front of one of those stereogram illusions where your eyes had to look differently at it to see the picture? The kingdom of heaven is like that. At first all you see is a bunch of squiggly lines. Lots of colors. But nothing makes sense. This is not art. You don’t see anything of value. But once your eyes learn how to look differently, an entire picture is revealed to you. 

Suddenly things are different. You stand next to others who are looking at the same thing you are, and like you, when you first stood there, all they see are squiggly lines. Lots of colors. But nothing makes sense. You could try to explain to them that there is something beautifully amazing in front of them. You could explain in great detail what you see. You can coach them. Explain how to refocus their eyes. Maybe just look at one part of the picture, and ignore the rest for now.  But they look at you like you’ve lost your mind. There is really nothing you can do to get them to see the picture any differently. It’s not until their eyes learn to see differently do they understand. They won’t get it though, unless they try and keep trying.

I wish everyone could see the Kingdom of Heaven like I do. It doesn’t look like much if you don’t know what you’re looking at. It often looks like a lot of squiggly lines with lots of color. But nothing of value or importance. 

But once the picture has been revealed to you, there’s no going back. You can’t unsee what you’ve already seen. And people call you crazy and that you’ve lost your mind. 

But it’s ok.  I’ve seen the truth. I know what’s there.

“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become callused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ – Matthew 13:13-15

A Mother’s Prayer: 29 of 30

Dear Heavenly Father,

I thank you Lord, for loving us. Thank you for showing us what love is. Thank you for allowing us to recognize it when we see it. 

And thank you for the bad times we have, because then we learn to cherish the times that are really good.

Great things are happening, and I never want to stop praying for our son or our family.

We love.



A Mother’s Prayer: 26 of 30

Dear Heavenly Father,

Please continue to allow great things to happen in our relationship with our son. Please help him break free from what is holding him back. Please continue to give him strength and understanding. Help him to make wise choices. Allow him to find good people who can speak truth into his life.

We love him.


A Mother’s Prayer: 25 of 30

Dear Heavenly Father,

THANK YOU FOR HEARING MY PRAYER! Thank you for giving us hope that relationships can be mended and possibly be healed. 

Please continue to have your hand on our family and keeps us protected from influences that aren’t from you.

All glory to you.

Thank you for loving us, and loving our son!


A Mother’s Prayer: 23 of 30

Dear Father,

Is he well? Is he safe? Does he hear you? Is he looking for you?

Lord please rid him off all distractions, and help him focus on what needs to be done today. Don’t let him be overcome by life’s decisions and therefore become paralyzed. Continue to lead him, even if he’s a terrible follower.

We love him.