Tag Archive | divorce


I was sitting in church yesterday and my mind was churning. All kinds of thoughts about how much things had changed in my life.

Many of those changes are good. Wonderful. A blessing. My hubby Ben is top of that list.

Some of them are to be grieved. Seasons pass and life changes. We change. 

Community Church Fond du Lac WI Women’s Worship Team at Ostoff 2006 (?)

I used to be the lead singer for a band. I had the confidence at that time. I used to oversee all the worship programming at a church in Menomonee Falls, WI, as a staff position. I used to be a worship leader… and it’s been years since I’ve sung on a worship team at church. Now that’s not totally the fault of anyone else because I’ve not submitted to an audition for a team. There are many reasons for that but the biggest one: I lack confidence. Every time I’ve sung at church in the past few years I received shocked comments: “I didn’t know you sang.” When I sing in front of others (or play guitar) I’m hypercritical and so worried about my “performance” and struggle because I want to be worshipping in “spirit and in truth.” I find I do that better from the congregation, holding my hubby’s hand. He loves to hear my voice and if only God and Ben hear me, I’m fine with that.

Jonah’s Vacation, late 1990’s Milwaukee WI

I’ve not been asked to speak at our Mother of Preschoolers (MOPS) group in years or any other event at church even though I have taught years of theology and even keynoted a women’s leadership conference at our church and possess a masters degree in Counseling Psychology. I coordinated MOPS and also led the Women’s Ministry for many years.

The fact is, if I promoted myself, I could probably speak at places – at my church and at others, or even sing, but one of the most vicious verbal beat-downs I ever received was from someone I looked up to in ministry. And it was all because I posted on Facebook about my writing, publishing, editing, speaking… you get the picture. Apparently, that made me evil, regardless of the fact that the most common things required of authors is to beef up their social media presence. I tried to a Matthew 18 kind of meet up for the purposes of reconciliation, but the person I had requested help from bailed on me. Time passed and I needed to accept that the perpetrator was someone I needed to disconnect from for my own health and well-being.

Now it feels like none of that happened. The band, the singing, the teaching… All gone in a poof of smoke known as…time. And I even fear doing too much self-promotion lest I encounter more abuse.

Oh, boo hoo. What a pathetic person I sound like!

Grief isn’t logical. I realized quickly that is exactly what I was doing – I was grieving. Grieving hits harder this time of year, sometimes out of the blue without me even realizing the date on the calendar. I should be able to predict it – but I guess I hope that maybe, just maybe, this year I’ll escape it.

I was wrong. But why do the above hit harder? It was all surface grief that covered over one major life event.

In late November 2003, I had a miscarriage.

Anniversary reactions are painful.

In December 2004, I gave birth to my daughter, appropriately named Joy Lucille which means “joyful light-bearer.” Lucille was my great-grandmother’s name.

Weeping may spend the night, but there is joy in the morning

Psalm 30:5b, Holman Christian Standard Bible

While her birth was something to rejoice in – her five-day hospital stay as we fought for her life – was not. Nor were the medical challenges that came later. For all that she’s healthy and a delight to my heart.

In November 2017 a judge hammered a nail in the coffin of a verbally abusive marriage. A relationship I had spent years grieving over so that one doesn’t have the same sense of loss to me. That was a relief.  God rescued me. He provided for me and my kids. He sustained me and I learned I didn’t need a man to have a good life.

I still wanted one. I still believed there were good men out there. I feared dating again. I kept my standards so high I shouldn’t have been able to find anyone that would meet my criteria. But God once again showed Himself. June 2018 I started talking with this great guy, Ben.

We began dating and it was amazing. Someone began slandering me to his family, but I quickly realized it wasn’t me personally that was the issue. It was anyone who would have won his heart. He’s worth that grief of those lies. He had to make a choice between maintaining a relationship with those people – or pursuing me. He chose me. And I’m so glad he did.

In December 2018 I married Benjamin. What a wonderful journey we’ve had so far. 

I’ll grieve my losses and be grateful for all that God has done to change my life for the better. It’s not all roses, and we still have challenges we face, but I’m blessed to have someone by my side as we face those challenges together. Someone to pray with me and for me. Someone who is proud to hold my hand and tell me he loves me. Not even a best-selling novel could beat that, or lots of adulation for singing or speaking anywhere. So I’ll let that go. If God wants me to do that kind of work He can make a way.

So I will grieve because the only way is to go through it. And I will rejoice in all God has done on my journey.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Be kind to yourself and others as we enter this season – underneath our smiles, many are struggling. 

Ben and me. December 2019



Spatzle Speaks: Root Beer & Roadblocks (Book Review)

My mom (Susan M. Baganz) writes books. In this one, she had a little boy and I love little kids so Root Beer & Roadblocks is a story I enjoyed. Johnny Marshall is a favorite character, but I was sad that at the end of Feta & Freeways, Johnny’s cancer had returned. I knew then that she would write Johnny’s story and make it a great one.

Johnny had a rough time because he endured a bout of cancer in his past and discovered the truth at the same time his wife served him divorce papers. He’d had his chance at fame as a musician and lost any chance to fulfill his dream of having children.

He sold his home and had moved in with his cousin. Partly because he didn’t see any point in keeping it when he figured he’d likely not survive this cancer battle. He wasn’t even sure he wanted to bother with pursuing treatment because he knew it would be brutal with no guarantee of a cure. He serves at church teaching little kids in Sunday school since he can’t have any of his own.

When he saves a little boy from being hit by a car after church, he gets injured instead. The crash reunites him with an old flame from high school. The one woman, Katie, he never really got over and she holds a secret, one that might give him the will to live.

Johnny is not a victim in this story although he suffers terribly. Matter of fact, in spite of his challenges he often emerges the unwitting hero. His journey and struggle seems hopeless at times, defeated by depression, illness, and cancer, he also finds that because of his struggles there are amazing blessings to be had on the other side as God opens the floodgates to fill his heart (and arms) with more than he could have hoped and dreamed for.

Johnny is still a musician and singer with Specific Gravity although they don’t tour in this book as they make time to allow Johnny the opportunity to fight this battle with his family, friends, and Orchard Hill church by his side. If you enjoyed Feta & Freeways you’ll enjoy the continuation of the relationship between Niko and his cousin Johnny in this story. While both books are connected they can be read as stand-alone novels.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

I would suggest that Johnny and Katie get a dog, but given the end of this story, I suspect they’ll need a bigger home and some time to adjust to all their blessings. I’d offer to join them but I love my mommy too much and she needs me. They don’t call me a rescue dog for nothing. I give this book five bones, because I don’t have thumbs and don’t do stars. And I’ll give my mom lots of kisses as long as she keeps rubbing my tummy.

Reviving Jules (Book Review)

reviving julesPeggy Trotter loves to take women beaten down by life and resurrect them and hopping into her stories to enjoy the journey is an adventure. This is no less true than with her latest contemporary inspirational romance novel, Reviving Jules.

Believing marriage was forever, Jules Summers is stunned when her’s falls apart. She runs from her church, family and town to lick her wounds in private. And she runs away from the God she believes let it happen. humiliated, depressed and alone, she struggles to survive day by day. When a little girl appears in her backyard, she has no clue that God is showing her just how little He forgets.

Rhett Carsen is the father of the little girl and strikes up a friendship with Jules. He too has been wounded by love-gone-wrong and has vowed to never remarry. But trying to work full-time and care for his precocious daughter when he needs to travel means he needs help.

He enlists the lovely Jules as a nanny since she to be a teacher and has bonded with his daughter. Her life is moorless and his need for help is so great, what could be wrong with a business relationship to ensure that?

The journey these two characters take is heartwarming. I’m not sure why Jules’s journey resonated so much with me but it did and watching her come alive to God, to love and to forgiveness in the wake of all the challenges she faced was a joy to read.


Second Chance (Short Story)

I stumbled off the treadmill feeling weak and dizzy. I managed to wipe it down without passing out before I weaved my way to a spot on the floor by the exercise mats. I slid down and leaned against the wall. I tilted my head back and let my heart slow to a more normal rhythm. I never managed to make my cool-down. I sniffed. Ewww! I couldn’t even stand the way I smelled. Instead of finishing my workout today, I would go home to shower, collapse in back into my bed and hibernate until I was ninety. What else were Saturday’s for anyway?

“Hey, Julie. You okay?” I heard a mat plop down close by and a body descend. The deep rich timber of the voice tickled my memory. I opened my eyes and was grateful the world had stopped spinning. Daniel lay on the mat next to me and started doing crunches. Great, I’m stinky, sweaty and now the handsomest guy I know wanted to talk.

“Hi, Dan,” I sighed. “No. I’m not well.” It was hard to not watch his abs contract into that nice quasi-six pack that most men aspire to. Dan was looking way too good to me right now. I swallowed hard. Maybe I should close my eyes again?

“I didn’t know you came here.” He watched me with a crooked smile as he switched to cross crawls.

“I started a few weeks ago. I figured it was about time I tried something healthy.” I looked away to the people working out in the fitness center. I fought a tickle behind my eyelids.

Dan stopped his workout and rested on the mat, with his hands by his head, biceps bulging. His piercing gaze was on me. “I heard about Paul. I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve to be treated like that.”

He dared to go there. Well, why not? Divorces were listed in the paper. It wasn’t a secret. His parents had probably written to him with the news. “Yeah,” I let out a ragged breath, “well, those are the breaks. Why wouldn’t he want some younger, thinner, blonder woman if he could get her?” I’m a brunette.

Dan rolled to his side, still facing me, and began to do side crunches. I tried not to look, but it was hard not to. He looked good. “Don’t sell yourself short, Julie. You were a beautiful woman when we were dating and you’ve grown only more so over these past few years.”

I glanced at him. His eyes connected with mine and my heart skipped a beat. Sweat beaded on his forehead and his sandy brown hair was damp. Maybe he was in need of glasses now? I was a wreck, not beautiful. I sighed. Why couldn’t I have married him? Oh, yeah. He had asked if I would wait until he had finished his three year stint in the Army. I said no. Three years and all I had to show for it was a divorce and a few extra pounds. And Dan? Well, he had some scars too.

“I’m sorry you were injured in that last engagement. Are you doing better now?” I could see some healed skin, but I knew some wounds went deeper than the surface. I was proof of that.

He stopped his crunches and leaned on his elbow with a furrow in between his brows. He looked around and then back to me. “I’m not twenty-one anymore, Jules. I feel like I aged far more than the three years I’ve been gone.” His voice cracked. I could hear the unspoken grief.

I gulped. “Every time you went overseas I prayed for you.” I glanced at my hands that were clasped together on my knees with the water bottle in between, getting crunched. “My one regret was that I didn’t say yes to you before you left.”

“It was probably better that you didn’t. I’m not the same guy you knew back then.” He grabbed his towel and wiped off his face.”Some days it was only the dream of you that kept me going.”

I took a sip from my distorted water bottle. “Well, apparently the shine wore off of me after only eight months.” The divorce had been quick and I had been alone now for just shy of two years.

“He was an idiot, Julie. His actions are no reflection on your worth.”

“Thanks.” I rose to my feet and the lightheaded feeling returned. I steadied myself by holding on to the wall until the world righted itself. “I had better go. It was nice seeing you again, Daniel.”

He jumped to his feet and touched my arm. Three years apart and I still got a thrill from being close to him, being the focus of his undivided attention. “Let me walk you to your car. You don’t look too steady. Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m not sure of anything anymore.” I started to move away and he fell into step beside me. I tossed my water bottle into the recycling on the way out.

“I can relate. The world isn’t as simple as it was when we graduated college.”

I shook my head. “No. It’s not. Being an adult is not all we thought it would be.” We exited the building into the warm summer air and came to my car. I unlocked the door and turned to lean against it. I still felt dizzy but I wasn’t sure if it was from my workout, low blood-sugar or being close to Daniel again. He made me want . .  I tried to shut away those thoughts. I closed that door years ago and had hurt him when I did.

“Julie.” He leaned against the car with his hip. “Do you think . . . would it be possible to . . .?”

“What, Daniel? Just ask.” I felt a faint hope rise within me.

“I know a lot has happened in three years, but I never stopped wondering if God would ever give us a do over. Could we try?”

“You want to date me?” It’s everything I would have dreamed of but seemed too far-fetched. I was damaged goods: the discarded, defective bride. “Why?”

“I’m no prize. The bigger question is why you would even consider seeing me again.” He sighed as he folded his arms across his broad chest and sweat soaked t-shirt. He turned with his back leaning against the car by my side. “You, however, still take my breath away. I never stopped loving you. Never stopped wishing things had ended differently between us.”


He stood up, turned towards me and dropped his hands. “Are you serious?”

“I’ve never played games with you, Daniel, and I’m not going to start now. Yes. I would love to go out with you.”

Daniel grinned and let out a “Whoop!” He clasped my arms and kissed me. On the lips.

I don’t remember his kisses ever affecting me like this one did. Heat spread though my body, all the way to my melting cross-trainers. When he pulled away I felt like a limp noodle, ready to collapse to the blacktop. My hand came up to touch my lips as I looked into his eyes. Deep mossy green. I tried to slow my breathing down. His breathing was ragged and his eyes intent up on me. He looked almost as surprised by that kiss as I was.

Neither of us spoke for several seconds.

“I should go home.”

“How about dinner? Tonight. We could meet somewhere. Or a movie?”  His eyes were wide and he grinned. He looked as eager as a puppy dog waiting for a treat.

“Sure. That would be lovely.”

“I’ll make reservations at Giuseppe’s for six.”

I nodded and smiled at him. That had been our favorite restaurant when we were together. I never once went there with any other man but him. “Giuseppe’s it is then.” I leaned forward and kissed his cheek. “I’m thankful God brought you home.” I smiled as I turned to get in my car. He closed my door and went to stand at the curb as I pulled away. I could see him standing there as I drove out of the lot. Tall, handsome and a fantasy come to life. Tonight we would get our second chance at love.