Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Your Momma Is A...

What’s the job of a mother?

According to my three-year-old, Judah, it can be summed up like this:  “A Momma’s job is to clean blank-blanks (I.e., favorite blankets), clean messes, turn lights on, hang up some pictures and give tickles.”

If only it were that easy!!


One name, a gazillion and one roles to play.  Our job could be summed up like this, a mother is: a housekeeper, disciplinarian, teacher, chef, nurse, role model, chauffeur, maid, butler, caretaker, cheerleader, drill sergeant, prayer-warrior, social director, leader, manager, visionary, mentor, coach, clown, travel agent, banker, negotiator, technician, bookkeeper, peacekeeper, therapist, story teller, personal shopper, sports fan, activist, companion, wife...okay, you get the idea!!

I don’t know about you fellow mamas-in-the-trenches, but wearing that many different hats can be a real pain in the neck (especially so when those hats don’t always fit right and they make us itch).

There are some roles we fill with ease and usually enjoy doing.  For example, I actually enjoy the role of cook: making a five course dinner (when I am not multi-tasking between my brood, food and the usual frenzy) is challenging and rewarding for me.  I also love playing chauffeur; driving from here to there with the kids (usually with a phone stuck to my ear) is relaxing and enjoyable to me.

Then there are the other roles.

Maid: I would just as soon as hire Ella from Enchanted to dance around my house, magically leaving sparkling sinks and shiny toilets in her wake.  Nurse: considering how I passed out when I was on a tour of the hospital and a real nurse demonstrated to us how shots are given, I’d rather pass on this one (I’m embarrassed to add it was a tour given to kindergartners using a fake needle with red water and I was one of the chaperons!)

As you read this, perhaps you identify with certain roles of motherhood you enjoy and other roles you also would like to avoid like the plague.  I propose a possibility at why we woman are called to be mothers, a high calling but a very difficult one.

I believe we were called to be mothers because God knew we couldn’t do it.  What?!  You may be thinking, has this Momma lost her marbles (and you’re not thinking of my kid’s toy ones!)!?  My response: exactly, it doesn’t make sense.  If God knew that we could do it without him, in our own strength and brain-power, then He would have worked himself out of a job.  I think God loves to be needed by us!  He is our ever present help in time of trouble (verse here), our strength when we are weak (Psalm 46:1-3) and the very reason we were created (Col. 1:15-17).

No matter how easy you’re three-year-old may think you’ve got it as a Momma, the role of a mother is a very difficult job sometime, but is there any other role you’d rather have?  Thankfully, there is help and strength available to empower us every step of the way so we never have to do it alone.  And if my Judah has a say in it, as long as we get the "important stuff" right, like giving tickles and turning on the light, I think we're doing pretty darn good!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sunday Morning Doughnut Balls

We love traditions around here!  Some of our favorite traditions involve a special meal/yummy recipe and I would LOVE to share one of our favorites (and super easy ones) with you...

*Disclaimer: this isn't for those who have aversions to fried foods and lots of sugar!!  This is NOT low fat (;  That's why we only have them once in awhile, like Sunday Mornings!

Gather up yer' grub:
*1 can of buttermilk biscuits (this is plenty for our kids when we have other foods served, like eggs and fruit, but you may need 2 cans or more!)
* Enough oil (I use canola which has no trans fats) to fill a medium pan (this can be saved to reuse too!)
* Sugar!  We like both regular and powdered
* Scissors
* Lots of paper towels
(pretty simple, hey?)

Step 1:  Heat up the oil over medium heat.  Oil should come to a "gentle rolling boil" when it's ready.  On my stove-top, 2-3 is a good setting for this.  You want to be sure the balls are cooked through and not overly browned when done.

Step 2: Cut up each biscuit into thirds using scissors (or a knife).  Roll them into balls (kids are great with helping with this step!).

They are ready to get FRIED!

...almost done!  (They should be golden brown and pop to the top of the oil when ready, use a tongs to spin them to keep them browning evenly)

Drain those babies on some paper towels and it's time for their SUGAR bath!

Roll them in your choice of sugar and serve while still warm, YUM!!

The verdict is in by our littlest voters: WE LOVE DOUGHNUT BALLS!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No Easy Answers

Tonight I stood in a quiet hospital room feeling absolutely helpless.

I felt shock, anger, sadness and without words as tears streamed down my face.  The clock on the wall in the hospital room was the only steady noise to be heard even though the room was filled with people.  The steady noise I longed to hear, the steady noise the dear mother laying on the bed longed to hear was the sound of her sleeping baby.  My precious friend was holding her newborn baby boy in her arms and he was perfect in every way.  His cheeks were chubby and soft and tiny fingers intertwined with his mother’s shaking fingers as he seemed to be asleep.  Only he was not sleeping, he was dead.  

Her tiny son had been kicking in what seemed to be anticipation when she arrived that morning for her scheduled C-section but things got complicated quickly.  I felt like a knife pierce my heart when my friend looked at me and sobbed “This was supposed to be the happiest day of my life but it has become the very worst.”  Even now, I shudder to remember her tear streaked face hovering over that tiny baby’s peaceful one.

My feet echoed down the tile hallway when I left the birthing center, a crushing weight of sorrow on my lungs, my breath coming out in shallow gasp as I tried to cope with what had just happened.  The echo of my shoes in the empty corridor brought me back to a few years before this day when I was leaving a different birthing center room in a different city.

I had felt the same feelings of helplessness and sorrow after saying goodbye to my longtime childhood friend.  Even though her eyes were filled with tears, a sense of shock hung in a hospital room designed to welcome a newborn baby that had instead became a resting place for a tiny baby girl.  That baby girl was also perfect in every way from her dimpled fingers to tiny toes but her unique baby cry would never be heard on this earth.  My dear friend will one day hear her laugh and witness her baby girl run and dance…but not yet.

One day both of my friends will hold their babies and feel those little bodies snuggle into their arms, full of life and full of joy…but not yet.

One day I will get to hold our baby boy. I never got a chance to breath in his soft baby smell or blow on his chubby belly and hear him laugh that baby laugh, the purest sound in the whole universe.

So tonight, as I rode the elevator back down to the parking lot, my heart heavy and my eyes blurry, I had to wonder the question we all wonder in times like these, “Why?”

I knew there was no easy answer. If there was an answer, we would have to wait until the other side of Eternity.  Standing alone in the elevator, I realized I was asking this question to Someone who really can relate to me and the many others whom have had to do the unthinkable: bury their own child.

It was 2,000 years ago that God watched the burial of his own beloved Son.  What kind of sorrow filled his heart to see his Son die a cruel death after a life lived in such selfless love?  When his Son stepped out of that tomb three days later, what excitement must have filled Heaven as a joyful Father got ready: I’m going to hold my boy again!  His Son made a way so that each one of us can make a choice and one day, we can forever hold those we have lost.

Why should a parent ever have to bury their child?  I don’t know.  I shudder to think about this terrible side of life.  But there is one thing I do know, He cares and He understands.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dancing with the Stars...or NOT!

What would possess a mother who still gets up at night with a new baby to stay up past midnight, wearing a dress and spelling out Y-M-C-A in front of a mirror?  The answer is really a confessional.  If there is ever a spotlight shining on a dance floor, I can guarantee you where I’ll be: NOT in it!  In fact, me, rhythm and "moves" are like oil and water: we just don’t mix.

I can paint.

I can write (well, you be the judge of that!).

I can calm a fussy baby.

But  (cringing to admit this)….I CAN’T DANCE!

I could blame it on my southern roots (I’m a Cajun girl!) where we are better at being still in heats hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.  I could blame it on my color (if white men can’t jump, would it be safe to say this white woman can’t dance!?) or I could even blame it on being born with two left feet.

There’s a reason after I tried out for cheerleading in junior high one of the coaches patted me on the back with that smile (you know, the “ohhhh…hon…nice try” smile) and said, “You have great spirit, Tara!”  I bawled my eyes out when I got home in my mother’s lap and she assured me as she wiped away my tears, “You are good at OTHER things, honey!”

Things OTHER than dancing.  It was shortly after my dream of wearing a little red and white striped skirt and punching pom poms into the air died a miserable death that I finally came to terms with my fate: I will never take Broadway!  I will never flutter across the stage and bask in the oohhhs and ahhhss of the masses!  I CAN’T DANCE!

This well-known fact (known well by anyone that knows me well!) has nonetheless never prevented me from throwing my heart and spirit (that was something I DID nail at the tryouts!) into dancing in every function I’ve attended from the coast of Louisiana to the borders of Canada.  I’ve even enjoyed embarrassing myself with some salsa dancing moves back in the day when I hit up some clubs in the big city.

But tonight, while trying on dresses for some upcoming summer weddings, I knew it was time.  Time to put away my “more is more” dance move mentality (the more head wiggling and butt jiggling the better, right?!) and become a woman of grace and glam on the dance floor.  Thus, I sought out the best studio (my bedroom in front of the full length mirror), hired the most sought after instructor (my husband, the price was right) and picked the classiest wedding song (The YMCA) and got to work.  

We pivoted slowly, shifted smoothly, and moved arms gracefully in an attempt to transform my dance moves from super scary to elegant fairy.  Overall, I think it was just an excuse for my instructor to cop a feel.  But between hysterical laughter (mostly his when I whipped out my Top Five BEST Moves) and collapsing on the floor in defeat (and MORE laughter), I don’t think I came away as a woman of graceful dancing but we had a heckuva time and, in the end, that’s the best move we can make!
Tinkerbell Disney

....And The WINNER Is!!!

Thank you all for joining us on our new adventures with Belle of the Bustle!  I am so excited to get to know each one of you and grow in friendship while having FUN!

The name was drawn out of a hat this morning (by our unbiased professional-my four year old who can't read yet!) and the WINNER of the $25 Target gift-card is...

Jamie Nebel!

Congrats, Jamie!  Send me your address and I'll get that in the mail to you today!  Be blessed ya'll!

Much Love, Tara

Friday, May 20, 2011

Turn It ON!

Here is my dilemma: there are times I jump into the sack (keeping’ it PG for any kids out there that believe a stork dropped them at your front door) and I’m not thinking, “Oh, yea, I am TOTALLY crazy for my husband and into this right now!”.  Instead, I may be thinking other scandalous thoughts such as, “Did I turn the dryer on after I loaded the wet clothes in it or…oh, sweetie, you’re so fantastic…fantastic…that reminds me of Fantastic Four, I think that movie is due back at the library…oh, no!  I hope it’s not overdue…due…do…oh, honey, I do love you…if it is overdue, I’m cutting up my library card since we’ve paid enough fines to build them a new library!  Holy cow, what do they do with those fines?  Fines…oh, honey, you are SO fine…so…which reminds me…I haven’t sewed that hole in Gideon’s pillow pet yet, darn it!  Pillow…now, where was I again?  Oh, yeah, pillow talk…”

This is the REAL pillow talk that goes on in my mind sometimes and what I wouldn’t do to just shut ‘er down and focus on what (really, WHO) is more important at the moment: my lifetime lover!

Although I shamelessly and gleefully celebrate the JOY of married intimacy in a previous blog, "Married Sex: The Grand Slam!" , I'll be real with you: I’m not ALWAYS in the mood (proof positive that opposites DO attract).

I have a little story to share here so won’t you be my neighbor (no button-down-cardigan required) and pull up a chair to eavesdrop in a recent conversation between me and my husband...

Me: Hey sweetie (collapsing onto the bed after tucking in the last of the children for the evening), I am so tired but I’ve been looking forward to talking with you ALL day.
Bob: Oh, that’s nice.
Me: Yeah, I had a really hard day and just need you to listen to me vent.
Bob: Well…I have a headache.
Me: Okay, I’ll be quick.  So, I was trying to plant some flowers out back when the kids got into the dirt and…hey, are you listening?
Bob: You know, I’m really not in the mood to listen to you.
Me: Seriously?
Bob: Yeah, I’m going to bed.  Goodnight.  (Turns off his lamp and falls asleep)

To begin: NO husbands have been hurt/killed in the making of this blog.  If the above conversation had REALLY happened, well, let’s just say my darling would have a new address: the doghouse!

I’m wondering if most of us ladies would feel very unloved (or at the very least, feel some serious smoke coming out of our ears) if the above conversation really did take place between them and their spouse.  Yet, so often…it does.

Only it may go more like THIS…(all italics are thoughts)
Husband: Hey sweetie, how was your day? (I am so tired after a long day at work but I have been thinking about her all day and can’t wait to BE with her)
Wife:  Good…but I am tired!
Husband:  Yeah, me too, I’ve been looking forward to SEEING (hint, hint) you.
Wife: Oh, that’s nice.
Husband: Do you want to…you know?
Wife: Um…I have a headache.
Husband: Well, we could make it quick maybe?  (I’ll take anything, I just want to be with her!)
Wife: You know, I’m not really in the mood.
Husband: Really?  
Wife:  Goodnight.  (Turns off lamp and goes to bed)
What if a man feels unwanted when one of his strongest desires (for his wife) is shut down after he’s been looking forward to it all day (or week…or month!).  If this seems farfetched to you, just ask him.  Ask him what being with YOU means to him.  Could it be comparable to your need for him to LISTEN and UNDERSTAND you?

If that’s the case, then ladies, we have a problem!

Because the truth is (and it’s OKAY!), we just AIN’T going to ALWAYS have that lovin’ FEELING.  But there are times (the headache excuse is a golden ticket and can be used of course, but perhaps less frequently?) when we must not FEEL our way into an ACTION but rather ACT our way into a FEELING.

The feeling may be the bus that never (or rarely) comes but we’re still sitting at the bus stop a waiting! Forget the bus (feeling), let’s start walking towards the goal and hopefully by the time we get there, we may be feelin’ the heat…if you get my drift!

Instead of thinking, “I better check on the clothes in the dryer” (don’t worry-laundry, like Jesus, will never leave you nor forsake you) how ‘bout, “I better check to make sure the kids are asleep so I can give that man the kind of kiss that he deserves!”.

And if there is a pile of laundry on the bed keeping you from enjoying some pillow talk with your spouse, for gosh sakes, throw it all on the floor (just don’t forget to first grab that lacy thing that is generously called underwear) and don’t worry if you lost that loving feeling.  Get busy DOING it and the FEELING will come!  Who knows, maybe instead of wondering if you turned on the dryer while you’re getting busy...you may forget turning the dryer on and realize something else got turned on instead!

Now that’s REAL pillow talk.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Welcome Friends!

Hey Everyone!

Thanks SO much for visiting Belle of the Bustle blog!!

You may be wondering, why belle of the bustle?  My inspiration was a reality show I've been into called our life (ha, no turning that show off around here!).  In the bustle of kids, messes and crazy moments, when we keep our eyes on Jesus, He gives us PEACE in the storm.  He enables us to be a Belle in the Bustle!  

So, ALL glory for that goes 100% to the Big Guy...as for the times I'm NO Belle, I'll take the blame because it usually means I try to do things in MY own strength and brainyness (or lack of it some days!).

I'm so glad you are joining us on our life adventures, your friendship and support makes the journey so worth it!  THANK YOU!

Sincerely, Tara Cole


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Dish on the Belle

Hi, I'm Tara and I'm happy to get to know you!
Thanks for stopping by our "barn"...

My husband and I are proud to call four little people the Cole kids (unless we just discovered one of them dunking something in the toilet..again.  Then we plead the 5th.)

We live by this for our day-by-day survival: 
Laughter required, sanity optional.  

On days we get lucky, we actually don't just survive but THRIVE...which usually means we remembered all of our children's names (at least their first names).  

Me and Bob are City-Girl meets Country-Boy...this works for us, most days.  We are madly in love and at the same time, a work in progress! 

And I wouldn't have things any other way.

I dig shoes,
 long walks pulling a wagon/pushing a stroller,
 escaping with friends, 
delicious home cookin'
dreaming BIG
 my relationship with Jesus and
of course...blogging!  
(Thanks for reading)

Thanks for swingin' by our place and sharing our adventures. 

God bless ya'll!

Killing Fred

I discovered something rather depressing about myself tonight: I'm a PANSY Momma!  This realization dawned on me today while I was fishing with my boys as I attempted to get a worm on the hook of my son, Gideon's, fishing pole.

For the last few weeks, the boys have overturned every rock this side of the Mississippi in search of the biggest and juiciest worms to take fishing with them.  Taking the boys fishing has always been something my husband, Bob, does with joy and expertise so I’ve always been happy to chill with my little ladies and shop or…change their diapers (we haven’t actually graduated to Ladies’ Night Out yet!).

But the last few weeks my Hard Workin’ Farm Boy (just calling him that because he wears cowboy boots to EVERY function imaginable!) has been making hay while the sun shines (i.e., the real estate biz is hopping so he’s working 24/7).  Meanwhile, the boy’s worm collection in their buckets is about to hit Guinness Book of World Records status.   Thus, I decided if I didn’t want the worms in our backyard to out-populate our town’s population, I better take those little Huck Finns fishin’!

I mean, really, they’re only 3 and 4 years old…how hard can it be?

They were bursting at their overall seams when I announced this afternoon we would be heading to a nearby river to go fishing!  The worms were transferred with lots of T.L.C. to a travel-worthy tote: one WITH a lid, the kids are wiggly enough in the car without REAL wiggle-worms on the loose!  Next, their little fishing poles were carefully loaded into the van as their excited owners tumbled in after them.

The river looked smooth and golden in the light of dusk and the floating dock echoed the sound of the boy’s shoes as they pounded to down it, thrusting their lines into the waters as soon as they reached it's brink.  Their little sister was right on their heels, holding the tote with the sacred collection of worms.  Oh, right…the boys suddenly remembered, the worms!  They pulled up their lines and hurried over to me, time was a-wasting!

“Mommy, can you get a worm on my hook, I gotta get back to fishing so I can catch a big one!”

No problem, I assured them, reaching into the tote and pulling out a worm.  I had never actually done this before, but it couldn’t be that difficult.  Right away, I felt a little squeamish from just squeezing the slimy little guy between my fingers but when I attempted to poke him with the little hook, I was shocked to see the worm flinch.

Did the worm just FLINCH in PAIN?!  My heart began to race.  Was this actually going to hurt the little dude?  I tried again and got the same reaction, the worm jerked away from the sharp end of the hook.  I took a jagged breath as my son’s sneakers shuffled back and forth in the corner of my eye.  I could feel him watching me, waiting for me to do IT.

Great, now I have a witness to this murder!  My heart was pounding harder…faster.  Maybe if I close my eyes…

I tried again, with my eyes closed, but now my imagination began to run wild: this worm is alive!  I mean, his mom is probably pulling dinner (a piece of dirt?) out of the oven right now and wondering if he (George?  Billy?  Fred?  He did kinda look like a Fred…) would be home soon.  Maybe Fred had been voted “Best Blue Eyes” in his high school yearbook (do worms even have eyes?!).  Fred could be engaged for Pete’s sake!  His wedding could be tomorrow for all I know and here I am, trying to turn him into a Fish Sandwich the eve of the most important day of his worm-life!  The least I could do would be to give him a little something for the pain before I stab him with a HOOK!

I threw Fred to the ground, my hands still shaking.

What kind of person am I?!  What kind of example am I being to my boys?!  What kind of Mother would murder a nice guy like Fred!?  I’m a PANSY and never even knew it!

“Momma…aren’t you gonna put that worm on my hook?”

I took a deep breath, gotta hold it together for the kids.  I had no idea that fishing was such a violent-contact sport.  Think of all the little Freds out there who die so that we can eat fish!

“Um…you know, buddy, I think we’ll just use the rubber baits today and you can use Fred, I mean--the worms, next time when Daddy takes you.”

Our evening was a fish-less fishing trip but we did catch some good memories and as we drove home, a beautiful orange sun was sinking beyond the hills.  I smiled to myself, I had caught a Big One and I wasn’t going to let it get away…a Big Realization that is.  I thought about how much of a blessing it is to share the adventure of parenting with a spouse.  Their strength may be my weakness and my weakness (or pansy-ness!) may be their strength.  I can’t do it ALL.  I need my man and he needs me (I may not be able to take down Fred but once they bring home the fish, I can fry up a mean walleye!).

I think there will be one Hard Workin’ Farm Boy waiting at home that is due a big kiss of gratitude for little things (like taking the boys fishing for REAL) that I never before truly appreciated.

Now, Fred may have a different point of view…

Friday, May 13, 2011

Despicable "D"

It was an amazingly fateful day many years ago when I walked towards a man standing tall in a starched black tuxedo with tears in his eyes that met with mine and melted me.  I knew without a doubt that I was about to marry Mr. Right.  What I didn’t know at the time was that he was Mr. Right All The Time.

Love is blind but marriage is a real eye-opener.

The school-rhyme held true for me and Bob Cole, a.k.a, The Man of My Dreams: first comes love then comes marriage then comes the baby in the baby carriage…THEN comes reality.

I couldn’t say the exact day it happened, but sometime after the tan faded from our blissful honeymoon-stay on a tropical island and before the birth of our first child, we rolled over in bed, looked at each other and nearly screamed in shock in terror as we realized: “I married a…HUMAN!!!”

Our fights had moved on the spectrum from cute (during the dating days) to killer (post “I Do” days).  At first it was, “Honey, you are so busy working hard so don’t worry about it but I noticed you forgot to take out the trash.  Actually, I thought it was kinda cute because you are my sugar-smoochie-poochie and nothing you do could ever bother me.” Before long though, it was more like, “Don’t forget to take the trash out again or I’ll go all Nick Nolte on you (please see picture below).

The thing is, some days we just don’t FEEL like being married.  We don’t FEEL knock-off-our-socks, sweep-us-off-our-feet, and madly in love with our spouses.  And when these feelings come knocking, they bring with them a very repulsive and deadly friend that goes by the name of Despicable “D”.  

Despicable “D” has a pretty trashy reputation that is known all around the globe. His presence in someone's life has actually shortened their life expectancy* (*see below for all documented stats) In fact, a researcher from Yale concluded that the effect of Despicable “D” in a person’s life is so dangerous, it is almost comparable to smoking a pack a day.

Despicable “D”  has a negative influence on the mental health of both men and woman that often rears it’s ugly head through depression, hostility and negative personal growth and relationships.  As if ravaging the mind and body weren’t enough, the Despicable “D” goes after people’s pocketbooks too.  Sixty percent of those who have been pillaged by the Despicable “D” are under the poverty line.  

Unfortunately, the Despicable “D” is no respecter of persons and it is not beneath him to attack innocent children as well.  These young victims will sometimes earn lower grades and be less pleasant to be around than their peers.  The older victims (teenagers) are more likely to need psychological help with a year of the Despicable “D” visiting their home.

In studies that compare the children whose parents were affected by the Despicable “D” verses children whose parents died, the children from homes affected by the “D” have MORE psychological problems (more on this below also).  The health of children from these homes is also at risk.  Children affected by the Despicable “D” are more likely to experience injury, asthma, headaches and speech defects.  There is more on the Despicable “D”’s rap-sheet of suffering and pain but there’s not enough room in this blog to continue.

Take a breath right now if you need one.  I understand that well since my heart is heavy too as I share these sickening and mind-boggling statistics about divorce, the Despicable “D”.

Divorce isn’t the easy way out of a marriage, it’s the hard way.  May I now suggest something about those feelings that tell us we’d be better of without him/her…the feelings that say we don’t have the same _______ (passion, love, fun, fill in the blank here) as we did when we were dating or first married?  We need to tell our feelings to take a long walk off a short pier.  We need to kick their butt out of our lives when they are shouting BIG lies into our heads.

There are many things that ignite passion in my Irish blood (and my husband is a passionate man as well) but there is nothing we feel MORE passionately about than this: the “D” word will NOT be an option.  The Despicable “D” may come knocking and he can huff and he can puff but he will not blow this house down.  Good ol’ Mr. RIP VanWinkle is the only way the love of my life will ever get rid of me (now don’t get any ideas, my dear).

Best-selling author and marriage guro, Gary Thomas, puts it this way, “If we get married for trivial reasons, we get divorced for trivial reasons.  Compare yourself to Jesus and tell me if you have any time left over to fix anyone else.  Let us purify OURSELVES (not our spouses) (2 Cor. 7:1).”  I love the biblical concept he presents that is quite opposite to the world’s ideology: the MAIN purpose of marriage is not to make us happy but holy.  

To be quite honest, I’m not very excited about this concept when I’m facing off my sweetheart in some all-important debate (that I can never remember later, why is that!?), because I want HIM to make ME happy.  But in those (rare!!!) times that I die to self, entrust the situation over to God in prayer and let His peace fill my heart then I feel God changing me.  He makes me more like Him.  That is HIS goal (1 Peter 2:5) and I’m striving to make it MY goal too (rather slowly and with some backward steps too as my husband could confirm).

We need to face down the Despicable "D" Grumpy-Old-Men style: ornery and stubborn.  Will you be ornery, mean and stubborn about not letting this be an option?  Because if so, it could change your life and the lives of your children forever.

*Note from author: this is a message written with the audience of married people in mind. Knowing that this audience may include people having gone through divorce, I want to encourage you that there is ALWAYS hope and grace in Christ.  Even a dark and difficult situation can be turned around and (my favorite part) gloriously used in His Kingdom!  Also to be noted: there are biblical grounds for divorce and I am not arguing against those as much as the very petty reasons people are separating over these days.  If you are in a situation of ANY kind of abuse, it would be wise to seek immediate help and possibly a separation while you both undergo professional counseling.  With care and prayers, Tara Cole

Life expectancies for divorced men and women are significantly lower than for married people (who have the longest life expectancies). 3
A recent study found those who were unhappy but stay married were more likely to be happy five years later than those who divorced.4
The health consequences of divorce are so severe that a Yale researcher concluded that “being divorced and a nonsmoker is [only] slightly less dangerous than smoking a pack a day and staying married.” 5
After a diagnosis of cancer, married people are most likely to recover, while the divorced are least likely to recover,6 indicating that the emotional trauma of divorce has a long-term impact on the physical health of the body.
Men and women both suffer a decline in mental health following divorce, but researchers have found that women are more greatly affected.7 Some of the mental health indicators affected by divorce include depression, hostility, self-acceptance, personal growth and positive relations with others.
1 Pamela J. Smock, "The Economic Costs of Marital Disruption for Young Women over the Past Two Decades." Demography 30 (1993): 353-371.
2 John Crouch, "Virginia"s No-Fault Divorce Reform Bill," interview with John Crouch and Jim Parmelee on Television Channel 10, Fairfax, VA, www.divorcereform.org.
3 Robert Coombs, "Marital Status and Personal Well-Being: A Literature Review," Family Relations 40 (1991):97-102; I. M. Joung, et al., "Differences in Self-Reported Morbidity by Marital Status and by Living Arrangement," International Journal of Epidemiology 23 (1994): 91-97.
4 Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage (New York: Doubleday, 2000), p. 148.
5 Harold J. Morowitz, "Hiding in the Hammond Report," Hospital Practice (August 1975), p. 39.
6 James S. Goodwin, William C. Hunt, Charles R. Key and Jonathan M. Sarmet, "The Effect of Marital Status on Stage, Treatment, and Survival of Cancer Patients," Journal of the American Medical Association 258 (1987): 3125-3130.
7 Nadine F. Marks and James D. Lambert, "Marital Status Continuity and Change among Young and Midlife Adults: Longitudinal Effects on Psychological Well-being," Journal of Family Issues 19 (1998): 652-686.
5. Studies in the early 1980’s showed that children in repeat divorces earned lower grades and their peers rated them as less pleasant to be around. (Andrew J. Cherlin, Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage –Harvard University Press 1981)
6. Teenagers in single-parent families and in blended families are three times more likely to need psychological help within a given year. (Peter Hill “Recent Advances in Selected Aspects of Adolescent Development” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 1993)
7. Compared to children from homes disrupted by death, children from divorced homes have more psychological problems. (Robert E. Emery, Marriage, Divorce and Children’s Adjustment” Sage Publications, 1988) The DEATH of a parent is LESS devastating to a child than a DIVORCE. (Even I wouldn't believe this if I didn’t see the statistic myself.)
8. Children of divorce are at a greater risk to experience injury, asthma, headaches and speech defects than children whose parents have remained married. (Dawson, “Family Structure and Children’s Health and Well Being” National Health Interview Survey on Child Health, Journal of Marriage and the Family)