God Winks | New Memories In Old Locations | A Single Mom's Perspective
Sweet Lemonade Photography, capturing life's sweetest moments in central Illinois and beyond. Located in Mahomet, Illinois, Sweet Lemonade Photography photographs in Champaign and surrounding counties frequently and also travels nation wide and internationally for weddings and destination senior sessions.
Over the last 8 years since my husband left me, I've experienced lots of firsts. Road tripping to Florida, repairing things in my house all by myself, starting a business, paying taxes, hauling a trailer, drafting a will, learning about investments, buying a vehicle and the list goes on and on. So many of the firsts were incredibly scary cause they were new and out of my comfort zone. I didn't have the knowledge or expertise. I made mistakes along the way but I learned. And I did it! And you know what? Accomplishing those firsts were so empowering.
Some of the firsts hurt my heart. The first night sleeping all alone as I cried myself to sleep. The first Christmas without my boys... oh that one has me tearing up just writing about it. It was so heartbreaking. I have learned to appreciate the time spent with my boys celebrating holidays whether it's on the actual holiday or not. Our traditions surrounding them are just as wonderful even if it's a day or two early. But oh that first Christmas, every holiday really, was a tough one.
Last week, the boys and I spent a few days up at my forever sister-in-law's cabin. After our separation, I went to my ex's mother’s funeral and all his sisters made a point to let me know they'd always consider me to be a part of their family. You see, even though I am no longer married and I don’t keep in close contact with them, I still consider them part of my forever family too. One of his sisters invited us out to visit last week and included a few nights stay at their cabin in Grand Lake, Colorado. I was really excited for the cousins to get together to enjoy lazy nights at the cabin soaking in the lake view and filling our days with new adventures.
It wasn't until we pulled in the drive that I realized, this was another first. The last time I was at this cabin was when we were a family of 5. We drove out here as husband and wife, with not only our 3 kids in tow but also brought along my ex's aunt and uncle. It was a fun trip and I wasn't sure what my heart was gonna think about this trip. I'm sleeping in the same bed as the last visit... this time alone.
As soon as we arrived, the stories were already being told about how my middle boy peddled his bike right off the driveway, down some railroad ties and landed in a bush. And right after John misjudged the edge of the driveway (he was the SECOND kid to do the exact same thing) Uncle Allen grabbed some rope to create a barrier. At the time we laughed and explained how important the height of the rope he was putting up to barricade the area would be. We said it will either stop them from doing it again or clothesline the kids on the way down. We laughed again retelling the story to my boys.
I shared other stories with the boys about what I remember from the last trip. And you know what, it's all great memories. Honestly, my ex was not in any vivid memories from the trip to the cabin. I remember the hikes the boys and I took with his sister-in-law and her family. I remember photographing my 3 boys climbing rocks and picking flowers for me. I remember the great meats my brother-in-law smoked for us. I remember my Aunt Mary loving on my boys on the couch. I remember his uncle drinking lots and lots of coffee. Oh he LOVES his coffee! :-)
For a moment, this trip to the cabin, had me wondering how my heart would react. Well, it reacted just fine. I made new memories with my boys and our forever family hiking waterfalls, going on a boat ride, putting together a ridiculously hard puzzle, taking pictures of my boys being annoyed that I was taking pictures 😂and listening to my two younger boys bicker with their cousins like they were all siblings. ha!
While at the cabin I was reading When God Winks: How the Power of Coincidences Guides Your Life (good, quick, heartwarming read you should check out). One of the last days at the cabin, we hiked at Adams Waterfall and barely made it back to the car before it started pouring rain. It rained for probably a half hour or so. Shortly after the rain stopped, my aistwr-in-law exclaimed she saw a bright rainbow peeking through the trees. I, of course, ran to get my camera to try to capture the beauty. (Side note... My oldest son barely looks up from his phone when his Aunt points out the rainbow and says, "oh it's not near as bright as it was a bit ago." A 16-year-old boy obviously doesn't see the grandeur and beauty in things like this as I do. I couldn't believe he didn't tell anyone. gee whiz! I thought I raised him better. 😆
Anyway, as I tried to capture the fading cascade of colors (which was actually still pretty vibrant) I got so excited. Then after the rainbow faded, my attention was directed to the raindrops glistening on the pine trees and at that moment, it felt like my very own God Wink. Here I am, in a cabin belonging to my ex's side of the family... a cabin I had last visited when I was still married. And here I am enjoying myself so much after the 'storm'. I then and there thanked God. This trip was my 'rainbow'.
A reminder that when you weather the storms, there is beauty on the other side. God does not ever promise we can avoid the tough parts of life... the parts that leave us confused, hurt, angry or broken. But He promises He will be with us when we walk THROUGH the storms. Without storms, we would not have rainbows. Without the upheaval of my 'safe and comfortable life' as a wife, I would most certainly have missed out on some pivotal transformations in my life. I see things with a new perspective, a more thankful heart, and I have more power and confidence to chase my dreams.... dreams I would never have even attempted to chase before. Shoot, I didn't even have the confidence to dream the dreams back then, let alone chase them.
So whatever storm, you may be facing today... please know 1) you are not alone in your struggles 2) you are loved and 3) you too will be seeing rainbows soon and high fiving yourself for surviving the storms.