Divorce – All The Things They Don’t Tell You (At Least They Didn’t Tell Me)

TL:DR – As of Spring 2017, I am a single man. My wife of 16+ years decided that we were no longer moving in the same direction as husband and wife, and told me she wanted a divorce. She wanted to raise the kids with me but didn’t want to be married to me anymore.

So that’s it. There’s a LOT more to this story, as you can probably guess, but for now, let’s just leave it at that.

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with what it means to be newly single in 2017. I’ll be honest with you; my marriage wasn’t great in probably the last 18-24 months of it. I’m sure my ex-wife would attest to the same being true for her. Oh sure, on the outside, things were okay. We still did things as a family, we came together when my ex-wife’s mother had health issues and ultimately passed away in November 2016, but at home, things were just…not right.

So here I am, wondering what my focus should be. I have my boys, C and E. C just turned 8 and E is 4. They are awesome, and rambunctious and curious, and so super smart. So I know my time every other week is going to be devoted to them and their schedules and routines. But when I don’t have them, which is for 7 days at a time, I find myself with a lot of idle time.

I have a lot of options, but my gut reaction is to go and find some companionship, because you know, that’s what I’ve had for the last 24+ years! I don’t know what it’s like to be alone.

So the first thing they didn’t tell me when I got divorced is that I’m going to have a LOT of free time and I better find a good use for it or you know…idle hands make for, something not good, I don’t remember the old saying.

I found myself dipping my toe back into some bad habits, nothing too run-off-the-cliff crazy but certainly in the vein of what some would consider “bad decision making”. I had friends warn me that I needed to take it easy, not go crazy hitting the bars and what-not, and to my credit, I really haven’t done that at all. To be fair, my bank balance has more to do with that than anything.

But I truly found myself looking for love in all the wrong places…well, not ALL the wrong places, but you get my meaning. God, it is so hard to be alone! Especially when you haven’t been alone for as long as I wasn’t…I mean, I had been with my ex-wife longer than I was alive before I met her!

So one week, I decided to start the process of “putting myself out there”. I downloaded Tinder, and began swiping right…and a lot left. Within a day, I had begun about 10 different “Hi, how are you? Where you from? What do you do?” conversations before I realized one thing, which is the second thing they don’t tell you…

I have the stamina for a great many things in this life, but I don’t believe I’ve got the stamina to have that many first conversations. Having to repeat the same things over and over and over again, it’s exhausting. I just want someone to get me, and think I’m awesome, and want to spend time with me, and wow, I really need to get laid I think.

So Tinder wasn’t for me…it seemed very “in the moment”, and I needed a bit more control over the situation. I started up a profile on match.com, and began the process there. I was able to connect with people there, but the conversations were more like emails being passed back and forth, way more my speed…and it seemed to go okay. I met this really nice girl and we went out on a couple dates.

I don’t know if that’s going to go anywhere, it’s still in the very early stages so I’m hopeful. But I’ve also come to realize that I really cannot put all my eggs on one basket, and most of those eggs probably need to stay in my basket for now.

I’m overweight…I could stand to lose maybe 50 pounds to be really feeling better about myself. Certainly 30 would get me going in the right direction. I’m eating horribly for the most part, a lot of quick meals and microwave things because cooking used to be something I loved doing for my family, and well, I don’t really have that same family anymore. I know, I know, I need to stay with it because you can really control your calorie intake more when you cook healthy.

And that’s the third thing they didn’t tell me…the things about your old life will seem stupid and not worth doing when you get divorced. There’s a stigma associated with cooking for me now…I’m not doing it in my kitchen, I don’t have all the things I had to cook with nor do I have as much time now that I’m working full time. It just doesn’t hold the same allure it did for me when I was married. Maybe that will change one day…

This adjustment isn’t going well for me, but I’m determined to make this work. I’m rededicating myself to eating right and reducing the calories I take in every day, which means I’m done with drinking on the regular. I’ve got a beach trip next week that I’m taking by myself, and I’m sure I will drink on that trip, then there’s a music festival in Birmingham I’m going to my birthday weekend next weekend that I’m sure I’ll drink at, but after that, I’m taking a break.

Alcohol is just empty calories and I’m going to stick to 1500-1700 a day!

Anyway, this was a long rambling read, so if you got this far, thank you. And if you came this far, maybe you’ll go a little further. You remember the name of the town in Mexico don’t you? Oh wait, wrong movie.

Do me a favor. Pray for me. And if you’re not the praying type, send good vibes my way, or drop me a line on Twitter or Facebook. Let me know that you’re thinking of me and my boys and that you’re hoping that things work out right. If you’ve been through this thing called divorce, hit me up with something that helped you get through the lonely nights (keep in mind, I’m swearing off regularly drinking on August 6th).

Most of all, love yourself, you’re the only one of you there is. And you’re worth it.

 

Making the Case for Hillary Clinton

Last night, the citizens of the United States were treated to the first of three televised presidential debates. I watched the coverage via CNN (on my Sling TV via Amazon Fire TV) and watched as my Twitter feed lit up with comments and evaluations of the candidates.

Most folks who follow politics are pretty quick to say that Hillary won the debate, although people like Chuck Todd want to say she was “over prepared”.

There could not be a more ridiculous comment than that, but then there’s what Brit Hume said about Hillary.

 

So there’s a lot to take away from the debates, but that’s not what this post is about. Speaking personally, I want to make the case to you why you should vote for Hillary Clinton in November.

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First, let’s get some facts straight. There are two major party candidates running in this election, and then there’s a third party candidate running who has almost zero chance of winning. I say “almost” because clearly anything is possible, but the likelihood of Gary Johnson making the kind of waves he would need to make in order to actually be a viable candidate in November are slim to none. Besides, in recent days, Johnson has taken to the air to discuss colonizing space as a way to help our country, and famously had no response when asked how, as President, he would handle Aleppo and the Syrian refugee crisis.

Considering the fact that he has raised only just over $7 million dollars in campaign donations (compared to over $500 million raised by Clinton and the “self-funded” Donald Trump raising around $168 million), Johnson has really no chance at winning. Many pundits have even suggested that voting for Gary Johnson is a waste of a vote. That’s not what I’m here to debate either.

For the purposes of this talk, let’s assume that there are really only two people that can conceivably win the Presidency come November 8th. Those two people are Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton. Now, let’s talk about who should be President out of those two people.

But wait, Matt, that’s my point, you say. Neither one of them should be President.

Yeah, I know. Picking between these two makes you and a lot of other people frustrated at our political process. Many have shouted from the rooftops about it. How is it possible that these are the two best candidates for the job?! How can this be what America is reduced to, a lifetime politician who has made her share of mistakes, and perhaps even broken the law, and a self-described “successful businessman” who has filed for bankruptcy more than 4 times, been sued over 3500 times, and refuses to let us see his taxes until his “audit” is complete, something financial experts around the world say he doesn’t have to do.

But, Matt! But, Matt! Hillary Clinton had a private email server on which she illegally sent classified information and that’s breaking the law! Lock her up!

Okay, sure. You can believe that. But FBI Director James Comey (a noted Republican), when hauled in front of a Republican-led House of Representatives committee to testify on these emails, said he did not believe there was sufficient evidence to warrant an investigation into Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Many news outlets have reported and continue to report that she did break the law but at the end of the day, you can only evaluate this situation on what is, not what should be. And the director of the FBI has stated that there isn’t sufficient cause for an indictment or warrant for arrest.

So, again, for the purposes of this discussion, let’s just say that Hillary won’t be charged with a crime.

So you’ve got two candidates. One of them WILL be President of the United States.

You have to pick one, and here’s why.

You may not like to hear this, but if you don’t think Hillary Clinton should be President, then you really have to believe even more that Donald Trump CAN’T be President.

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Donald Trump cannot be President. He has repeatedly refused to give details on his positions and plans, and he is in no way ready to lead anything, much less this country. He’s built his companies on the backs of individuals who have consistently sued him for various civil offenses. He has shown an utter lack of civility and then whined when shown even the smallest amount of it back to him. He lies like it’s a regular habit. He even lied last night at the debate when, about an hour after he said not paying taxes made him “smart”, he denied ever saying it.

He wasn’t prepared for last night’s debate at all, and he came across as smug and immature compared to how Hillary was calm and level-headed and approached issues with real plans, not pie-in-the-sky “I’m so great and I have the best words” rhetoric.

As John Oliver states on his show this week, if you are alarmed by Hillary Clinton’s scandals, then fine, but you should be even more outraged at Donald Trump’s.

I don’t have the time nor the inclination to get into the ramification of a Trump presidency, but sufficed to say, if he won, he would set not only the country back but the GOP back many years, and we can’t be sure that he wouldn’t do something drastic to our reputation in the world community.

Some small research would also turn up many articles pointing out why voting for Hillary is clearly the only choice we have. You may not be persuaded by any of those, and that’s fine. But at the end of the day, we simply cannot have Donald Trump be President. And while you are entitled to use Hillary Clinton’s scandals as a reason not to vote for her, I urge you to reconsider, because while it may not be the best, she’s the best we’ve got.

What I’m Doing These Days

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It’s been a hot minute since I posted something to the blog, and well, the time has come. As of September 2015, I began working from home as a freelancer. I’ve done a good many things in my 11 months, from inbound call center support, outbound calling, data mining, research, social media profile creation, social media management, email marketing, customer support and more.

I’ve learned that with the right tools and techniques, you can find a ton of legitimate work-from-home opportunities and I’m living proof of that.

I would love to share what I’ve learned from this past year with you, so if you’re interested in knowing more about how I am doing what I’m doing, reach out and let me know. You can email me at mattplanet (at) gmail dot com.

What I Know, 2016 Edition

I know that you’re never prepared for hard times.

I know the reality is always worse than what you think, even if you think it’s as bad as it can get.

I know that we are loved by God who gave us choice.

I know we can use that power to choose happiness.

I know we can use that power to choose sadness.

I know we can use that power to choose despair.

I know we can use that power to feel shame.

I know that you can’t know your whole story until you live it.

I know love is an action.

I know love is a choice.

I know forgiveness is a choice.

I know forgiveness is hard.

I know forgiveness is constant.

I know that grief hurts.

I know that losing a friend is one of the most regrettable things that you can go through.

I know you cannot control what is outside of your circle.

I know there is no secret formula to each day, beyond knowing you are loved, you are chosen, you are cherished.

I know my gratitude knows no bounds.

I know I am blessed beyond measure.

I know I will strive to live every day in that blessing and choose happiness and actively love every single person God puts in my life.

I know you probably didn’t make it this far but I hope you did.

I hope you did.

Happy 2016, friends.

A Little Bit of “Ok” in a “Not Ok” World

(Author’s note: The following are my journal entries during my mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico in June 2015. They are in chronological order although I’m not entirely sure on the exact days/times. Also, last names have been removed due to privacy issues…)

First entry

Wow God!

What a day today has been! I am amazed at how full my heart is already from the traveling day we had today.

I wish I could be with my family tonight. I hope they are okay. I hope Everett calmed down and got some rest.

Reading this verse on this page (of my journal) brings me peace. (Author’s note: The verse is “Being with You will fill me with joy.” Psalm 16:11) I love how confident and hopeful it is.

Ezra 8:21: The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake Him.

Let me not forsake you, God, this week!

Second Entry

It’s 5:45 a.m.

Not okay, Rooster. Not. Okay.

Today is Day One of building. Yesterday was spent traveling from Orange to our campsite and it wasn’t without it’s own things.

For one, I had my first In-N-Out burger. For the record, I had a Double-Double Animal Style. It was good but not the best thing I’ve ever had. Scott H. was surprised.

Then Greg S.’s truck broke down at the (US/Mexican) border and me and like 10 other guys pushed it across the border with the Mexican border guard watching (and laughing at us).

All-in-all, I slept good except I had to pee a lot. The snoring didn’t really bother me thanks to the white noise machine.

Let’s do this!

Third entry

(Author’s note: The verse at the top of this page in the journal is Psalm 28:7 which is “The Lord is my strength and shield, I trust him and He helps me.”)

Great verse, God!

Today was concrete day. Maybe the hardest I have physically worked in my life. We have an amazing group, led by Pastor Scott, Kelly, myself, Val S., Michelle B., and a ton of great youth that are on our team.

We killed it today. We got our slab poured for the foundation, and got both roof panels and two walls built. It was an amazing day and I am even more thankful to be here.

The poverty that I am witnessing is so heartbreaking. Kids and more kids make me miss Collin and Everett so much! I hope they are having a good day and night.

Tonight is Peyton S.’s baptism. I am so excited to be here for this thing in her life. She is such an amazing young lady.

Fourth Entry

About six hours of sleep.

That’s about what I’ve gotten the last 3 nights. In truth, that’s probably what I get at home, but for some reason, it seems shorter here.

Rooster was back but he didn’t get me at the crack of dawn, so that helped. I feel like medically induced sleep may be necessary.

Snoring is one of God’s creations I plan on asking God about when I get to Heaven along with gnats and mosquitoes.

Today is wall/roof day. All the hammering.

Fifth entry

Hammer and nails.

But no broken thumbs. So that’s a good thing. Today, we put up the walls, and most of the roof. We strung wire that will be used to put a type of bubble wrap insulation. All in all, a great day. I’m tired again and somewhat anxious about how sleep time is going to go tonight.

Last night, Scott went out (of the tent) and back in and woke me up and I couldn’t fall back asleep right away. The snoring was bad but it’s just two more nights.

I am becoming acutely aware of how ridiculously blessed I truly am. And how for granted I take it practically all the time.

Tomorrow we finish the roof, put the wire and wrap on the house and hopefully do both coats of stucco.

Then we’ll be all but finished.

I am filled with both happiness and sadness at the thought.

There is a kid here who is six years old who reminds me of Collin so much it hurts. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without talking to them. The pain of missing them is so real. I hope and pray that Disneyland was amazing today and they were well behaved for Christy.

I want to rededicate my life to earning her love that she so freely gives me and the boys.

Thank you God for opening my eyes.

A new command I give you.

So welcome back.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in thought and prayer about what to say…and how to say it. But I think my best form of communication is open writing, that is, without exactly putting any borders or restrictions on it. So here goes.

We have completely forgotten John 13:34 as Americans.

Sure, there are plenty of people who have taken this verse to heart and are practicing the active love of Jesus to their fellow man on a daily basis. But based on recent events, I can’t help but think we as Americans as a whole have completely lost the meaning of this verse.

Between laws that do nothing but give people the right to discriminate against other Americans based on who they love to police officers resorting to violence in situations that should never call for it, we are lost.

We have stopped believing that God is in control of our world, of our situations. When I saw this Religious Freedom Restoration Act get passed in Indiana, I couldn’t help but wonder what these business owners think about God’s influence in this world. If you believe that everything happens for a reason, then how could you not believe that God knows what he’s doing when he sends a gay couple to your bakery? Isn’t it possible that he wants to both teach you something and teach them something about love? I’m pretty sure He is not putting these people in your business and life just so you can deny them something that would make them happy…to teach them a lesson…to stand on a principle.

The veil was torn.

Seeing the video of Walter Scott being gunned down in cold blood makes my own blood run cold. I cannot imagine any situation outside of Scott firing on the officer that would cause anyone to think shooting someone 8 times in the back is what they should be doing. And yet…there are still those who think the fault somehow lies with Scott, that because he had outstanding warrants for his arrest or that he had a record that he was somehow complicit in this.

Yes, he ran away. He resisted arrest. These were his crimes. Nothing he did warranted his execution. The officer who murdered Scott will hopefully be found guilty and will spend the rest of his life in a prison. The God I love will forgive him. But sometimes we are absolutely nowhere.

Allow me to break this down for you.

John 13:34 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

First…Jesus says “a new command”. Command is defined as “an authoritative order”. Jesus is giving us an order. And anyone who has served in the military or police will tell you that when you receive an order, it’s wrong to even think about not obeying it.

Secondly, the command is to “Love one another”. But how are we to love one another? Jesus goes on…he says “as I have loved you…”

The ultimate form of love is sacrificial love. Laying down one’s life for another. Jesus did this for us. And as Christ followers, we are called to do this for the people in our lives and the people in the world. No, we’re not called to martyr ourselves (usually) but we are to put the needs of others above our own.

Thirdly, Jesus says something important at the end of the verse… “…so you must love one another.” This overrides the laws we know of because Jesus says “you must love”.

You must love.

You must.

I can’t, you say.

I know…but you must.

We must.

If you call yourself a Christ follower, you must love one another.

Not judge. Not discriminate. Not murder them in cold blood. Not think you’re better than them.

Love them.

You must.

I must.

We must.