Dad with children laughingMy name is Mary Jo and I'm here for you! I'm passionate about helping people who have been or are going through divorce, because I've been there too and seen God's restorative power at work.


My favorite bible verse is Galations 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, …”.  Ever since I started going through my divorce, this is what I wanted, especially the peace part!

When I was going through my divorce, I wanted (and needed) to get rid of my anger and to learn how to communicate better.  I desperately needed to figure out how to be “OK” being single and learn how to deal with my loneliness and sadness.  I wanted to move on and be blessed with the fruit of the Spirit.  Most of all, I wanted to live a peaceful life.

When talking to people about the divorce recovery class, I often hear, “I have been divorced for X number of years and know I probably should go through divorce recovery because I am still angry at my ex-spouse and I have a tough time with forgiveness.” I then ask if they have dealt with the divorce by going to a counselor or a divorce recovery group.  Usually the answer is no or if the answer is yes, they still feel angry or sad. Often people don’t think they need help.  I was in that category for two years.

According to the magazine, Psychology Today (Mark Banschick, M.D. February 6, 2012) 67% of second marriages and 73% of third marriages end in divorce.  Yikes! These are alarming statistics that should make a person want to go through divorce recovery.  According to Psychologist Thomas Whiteman, (co-author of Starting Over with Randy Peterson, Pinon Press 2001), forgiveness is releasing animosity toward the ex-spouse and establishing new relationships with healthy patterns and effective boundaries.  He states that a support group that can help with forgiveness is invaluable.  He said, INVALUABLE!  I totally agree, Dr. Whiteman!  Divorce Recovery changed my life and I want the same for you!

So, who should go through divorce recovery class?  Anyone who has gone through or is currently going through a divorce will find a divorce recovery class very beneficial.  Also, anyone who is hurting from the break-up of a relationship, even though they never married, will find the class helpful.  It doesn’t matter if you are going through the break-up or if you’ve been divorced for 20 years. If you are still angry, haven’t forgiven, want to learn to communicate better, and meet others in the same situation this class is for you.

Most people who sign up are a little anxious the first day, but soon find out that the class is welcoming, friendly, understanding and upbeat.  My passion is to lead divorce recovery so that you can move on and live a happy and peaceful life.  Philosopher George Santayana stated, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  This class will help you look at yourself.  It will help change your life around so you don’t repeat history.

The next divorce recovery class will be starting September 12th, 2016 at Joy! Lutheran in Gurnee, IL.  May God bless you on your journey to living the life God has meant for you to live.

Life after divorce…

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11


I walked into the apartment.  The floors were brand new.  I had searched and searched for an apartment I could afford.  I needed nice floors because my baby wasn’t walking nor was he crawling yet.  He was only 7 months old.  I was a little unsure about the neighbors, but it was close to work and the rent was cheap.

Before I found the apartment, my child and I lived with my parents for 6 weeks so I could get on my feet, save some money and find an attorney.

I had no idea what was down the road for me.  I did not have a relationship with God yet.  I was on the road to depression, worry, anxiety, fear, etc.  There were so many things I worried about.   I felt horrible about not having my child’s mom and dad in the same house.  I worried about not being able to support my child.  I was anxious about going to court.  I felt guilty for getting a divorce.  I was exhausted doing it on my own, especially when the baby was up all night with the flu.   There were so many sad feelings.

Fast forward two years in to my separation.  I felt depressed, anxious, worried, guilty etc. 24 hours, 7 days a week. It didn’t matter what I did, I couldn’t shake my feelings.  It was a cold winter night, almost Christmas.  I was on my knees, looking up to heaven, quietly I told our dear Lord that I cannot do this anymore.  I explained that my heart hurts and I can’t go on like this.  I knew I couldn’t take my own life because where would that leave my precious baby.  But I begged God to stop the pain.  I begged and begged and pleaded to God to relieve the pain I constantly felt.

Just then my brother called(sometimes God works fast!).  At that time he lived thousands of miles from me.  He asked me how I was doing.  Not well, I answered.  He asked if I had heard of a church called Willow Creek.  I said yes and explained that a lady at work had given me a brochure 6 months prior for their divorce recovery program.  He urged me to give it a try.  I hesitantly went to a church service.  Then I went the next week and the next, etc.  I signed up for the divorce recovery program.  The first night I went I had to pick my jaw off the floor.  There must have been over 100 people for the divorce recovery program.  I thought I was the only one going through a divorce!  All these people were in a similar situation.

As the days went by, the sunshine started to break through the clouds.  I started to feel relief from the pain I was feeling.  Little by little God started blessing me.  He sent me a good friend.  He sent me financial help.  He sent me promotions at work.  He sent me the gift of feeling good.  He sent me the gift of hope.  He sent me a wonderful church.  The list goes on and on.

Baby steps.  Little by little things got better and better.    There were so many times I saw how the road I was taking could have gone bad.  Such as the time there was a fire in my apartment.  It could have gone very bad, but it didn’t.  I have felt his protection, guidance and love.

I share this with you so that you know; if you are struggling right now, please let God help you.  Let him handle your pain.  Don’t do life without God.  He will protect you.  He will give you what you need.  Your dreams will not only come true, but they will be better than you ever imagined.  I am pinching myself today.  God has blessed me.  He will do the same for you.

Start by praying to God and He will guide you after that.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I am hurting.  I don’t know how to break out of this pain.  Please help me break out of this pain.  Please guide me in the way that I am supposed to go.  I give all my pain to you.  Thank you Lord for taking care of me and my family.   In your name, Amen


I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  Proverbs 3:5

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Philippians 4:6


How are you feeling on the inside?

Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.    Ephesians 6:14

The other day I took my minivan through the car wash.  Oh, did it need cleaning so very desperately!  When I was done, I went to the grocery store.   Coming out of the grocery store I let out a happy sigh at how clean the van appeared.  When I opened the van to put the groceries away, the wind started twirling all the papers inside.  As I looked around inside the van I realized I could live in there for about a week with all the food and clothes I saw.  I couldn’t believe what a mess it was.

My house was a lot like my van.

This year after I put my Christmas lights up I had the kids get in the van and drive around the block so we could get a good look at them.  They were red, green and lots of white lights.  I felt good about it.  We got out of the van and went inside and while we were gone somehow a tornado went through our house!  I had wished I felt as good about the inside of the house as I felt about the outside.

This is similar to how we feel on the inside and how we look on the outside.    I can do my hair and put on nice clothes and feel somewhat together on the outside, but feel not so together on the inside.  I would love to always feel good on the inside.  One of the biggest blessings from God is feeling good on the inside.

I thought it would be a good idea to have a bible verse in our back pockets for every feeling we may come across.  When we are feeling depressed or insecure or however we may feel, we can turn to a bible verse and focus our thinking on God.

 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  Ephesians 6:13

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1

The devil is just waiting to tempt us, to squeeze into our lives, depress us, make us timid, make us insecure and to make sure we are miserable.  We can protect ourselves by reading scripture and living in His word, daily.

I have put together bible verses for different feelings we may have.   Let’s be equipped to handle any situation.  Print this page out and tape it up so you can read it every day.  Do whatever works for you to memorize the below verses.

(You can also print the page of verses from the free downloadable located at the right of this page.)

When I am angry…

 Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool.  Ecclesiastes 7:9

When I am anxious…

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Philippians 4:6

When I need to forgive…

 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32

When I need patience…

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Colossians 3:12

When I feel insecure…

And we know that God causes everything to work togetherfor the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  Romans 8:28

When I need help…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;  
Proverbs 3:5

in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
 Proverbs 3:6

When I feel like getting back at someone…

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Romans 12:21

When I am fearful…

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:27

When I need a way out…

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13

When I am depressed…

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
Psalm 34:17

 When I need wisdom…

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  James 1:5

Christmas 2012

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

I just finished listening to Pastor Bill Hybels message on “Not a Normal Christmas”.  Here is the link, if you would like to listen to it: http://media.willowcreek.org/weekend/not-a-normal-christmas/

Pastor Hybels is talking about Not a Normal Christmas for the next 3 weeks.  I really need this message as this Christmas is going to be “not a normal Christmas” for me.

The last 8 years my mom has been with us on Christmas morning.  My kids would quietly walk in the bedroom where she was sleeping and whisper, “Grandma, get up, it’s Christmas morning.  We have to see if Santa came.”

My mom would wake up with a smile and we would all walk down the stairs as a family.  She would sit in her “normal” rocking chair. Each time a present was handed to her, she would say, “another one for me?”

My mom is now under hospice care.  She is not strong enough to come and stay with us this year.

Maybe you are having  Not a Normal Christmas, too.  Maybe you are separated or divorced and your ex has your kids on Christmas.  Maybe you are missing someone that won’t be with you on Christmas.

It would be so nice to be the picture of strength this Christmas.  I want to be strong on Christmas.  My kids don’t like to see me cry or be unhappy.  I want to keep it together on Christmas morning, especially if my daughter says, “I miss Grandma”.  I have to prepare for that statement.  What do you have to prepare for?

My plan is to focus on how God would like me to behave on that day.  I am sure He would like me to have peace, love and kindness in my heart.

My plan over the next several weeks is to spend time with Jesus, praying, meditating over his word and thanking him for all the gifts he has given me.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

I wish I had this verse and the many others when I was going through my divorce.  I now know the wonderful peace that God can give us.  I am counting on God to pull me through Christmas morning.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  1Corinthians 1:3

A prayer for you to pray during this Christmas Season:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray that I honor you on your birthday.  Please give me peace, love and joy.  Let it show to all the world that I have the love of Christ in my heart.  Please bless me with the fruit of the spirit, Lord.  I am thankful for all your blessings.

In your loving name, Amen

Verses to meditate on:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

“The LORD is my strength and my defense ; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.  Exodus 15:2

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.  1 Chronicles16:11

 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13

Difficult Times

I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws (Psalm 119:30).

Are you going through a hard time?  Maybe you are in a court battle or grieving a loss or maybe you have to work with someone that just makes your day miserable.

I was absolutely, down right miserable when I was going through my divorce.  I dreaded going to court.  It didn’t make sense to me to let the judge make the decision.    Attorneys used to tell me that I’ve gone to court more than any attorney.

Weeks before a court date I would go through the motions of life.  I would just barely get through the day.  As the court date approached my stomach would be in knots and my entire being would be drenched with fear, worry and exhaustion.

What do you do when you find yourself in a situation you can’t seem to get out of?  I certainly couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.  By the time my son was 5 years old, I had already gone through two court trials.

I love the story of Joseph in Genesis 37 through Genesis 50.

Joseph’s brothers were jealous of Joseph so they sold him as a slave.  He was a slave for Potiphar (captain of the palace guard of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt).

The Lord was with Joseph.

Potiphar put Joseph in charge.  One day Potiphar’s wife told Joseph she wanted him.  Joseph remained faithful to the Lord and would not sin.  Joseph refused Potiphar’s wife, so she accused him of being unfaithful and coming after her.  Potiphar put Joseph in jail.

The Lord was with Joseph.

Soon Joseph was in charge of all inmates.  Because of God’s blessings to Joseph he became the highest ranking official next to pharaoh.

Each time Joseph was put in a difficult situation he remained focused on the Lord and the Lord blessed him for that.  While going through a difficult time try to concentrate on God by praying and meditating His word.  Try to do your best in whatever situation you are in.  I believe God will drench you with blessings when you remain faithful during difficult times.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Please keep me on the path you have designed for me.  Whatever life throws me, Lord, please be by my side every step of the way.  Please take away all temptation to sin and bless me for staying true to you.  Amen


Verses to meditate:

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).

 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws (Psalm 119:30)

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments (Deuteronomy 7:9)

The LORD rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. The LORD delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed (1 Samuel 26:23).

Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; (Psalm 86:2)


Back to School

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).

It was the first day of Kindergarten get-to-know-you camp.  We had been talking about Kindergarten and I thought my little guy was going to take it pretty well.  But, when the teacher said, “Okay kids, lets go into class”,  my son took his hat off and threw it on the ground. Then, his backpack went flying.  As the class left, I tried to get him to go, but he stood there with his arms crossed.  I told him I was going to count to 3 and that he’d better go.

That didn’t work.

I then walked towards the classroom, but he didn’t follow, nor did he budge.  The more my anger grew, the more stubborn he became.  I could feel everyone looking at me.  My friend came by and gave me a big hug and then another friend came and gave me a big hug, too.  They could feel my pain and they were there for me if I needed anything.

It then dawned on me.  My little guy didn’t need me to be angry, he needed my love and patience.  I dropped to my knees and gave him a big hug and told him I loved him.  I reached deep down in his back pack where I had hid his favorite stuffed animal and asked if he would like to hold it.  He nodded his head yes.  Then I asked him if he would like me to walk in with him.  Another nod.  That got him moving.

How do you handle someone who is stubborn with you or someone who has just hurt you?  Do you respond with anger to someone who just made you angry? Are you in a custody battle where anger is the norm?

In Psalm 86:15 it says, But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

To be compassionate and gracious is to be kind, loving and warmhearted.  Throughout the bible, Jesus is described as being gracious and compassionate to so many people.  He is slow to anger and is a loving God.  He calls us to do the same.

 Because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires (James 1:20).

School is starting soon and the kids may have a multitude of emotions going on.  I am reminding myself to be patient.  They may come off being angry and I will need to be patient.  They may be scared and I will need to be patient.  This is the same when someone is angry with me, they may have stressors at home or at the office and I must remain patient.

A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel(Proverbs 15:18).

May God bless you all with an abundance of love and patience as you head into the new school year.

Dear Lord,

I pray that you give me patience with my kids.  Help me understand what they are going through.  Help me to have love in my heart for those that lash out at me.  I pray that love is in my heart for my ex-spouse and know that we are all children of God.  You are a loving God and I am so thankful for the grace you have shown me.  Please protect my children and family as we begin the new school year.

In Your Holy Name,  Amen.


Further Reading:

Surviving in an Angry World, http://www.intouch.org/you/surviving-in-an-angry-world

Dr. Charles Stanley talks about how anger affects our health.


There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens: (
Ecclesiastes 3:1)

I am in an unexpected season filled with a roller coaster of emotions.

Right before school let out for the summer, I thought I could blog once a week.   I had completed a couple blogs and was committed to helping others get through the pain of divorce.  I was looking forward to blogging at the very least once a week.

Unexpectedly my mom’s health took a turn for the worse.  She entered into the hospice program.  I had no idea of the emotional roller coaster that was about to hit.  My emotions were all too familiar.  I have felt all these emotions before.  It was so similar to when I got divorced.  I even had a nightmare I was back in the court room!

I was profoundly sad.  I was angry. I was in a daze.  I was often just lost.  It didn’t happen in any exact order and each day brought a different emotion.

It is a busy season for me; with the kids being home for summer and caring for my mom.

I have learned I must be patient with life and take the seasons as they come.  I need to see what God wants me to learn.  What part do I play in this season of my life?

Unlike during my divorce, I have made God part of my life from the very beginning.  I know I can count on God for answers to tough decisions.  I know He will guide me in the way I should behave.  I know He will take my anger and sadness away.  He will replace my roller coaster of emotions with happy blessings.  This is how God loves each and every one of us.


Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the love you have shown me.  Thank you for being with me during this busy season of my life.  Lord please show me how to act and guide me as I care for the ones I love.

In your holy name, Amen




The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry, and filled with unfailing love.  Psalm 103:8


Have you ever felt such anger you thought you were going to lose it right here, right now?

I learned what anger was after I got divorced.  I had never been so angry and I didn’t know what to do with it.  When I would receive a court order in the mail, it would trigger this rage that would start at my toes and work its way up to my mouth, which would spew horrible things.  I would be angry at everyone in my path.

I used to react immediately to anger.  I would say and do things I would regret later.  I used to scream so loud.  I’m sure it even scared the little bugs outside.

One day I looked in the mirror and couldn’t believe what I saw.  I looked so worn out, the anger was killing me.  I knew I had to change something.  I came up with a system to help me deal with the anger (that’s the engineer in me).

I put my anger on a shelf.  In my mind, I saw my self with a box, which held my anger.  I took this box and put it on a shelf.  I told myself I will reopen the box one week later.

After I put the box on the shelf, I get on my knees and tell the Lord how angry I am.  I ask Him to take that box away for me, unless He wants me to do something with it.  I ask God if I need to address this issue with the person that made me angry. If so, by the time I talk to the person I am cooled off enough to talk rationally.

I ask God to give me the words He would want me to use.  I ask Him to help me confront and communicate in a loving way.  Then, I wait for an answer.  You may hear an answer in something you read or through another person.

He will answer you with the direction you should go.


Dear Lord,

I know anger is a normal part of life.  Please help me deal with all my anger.  Help me to work with you on my anger.  Show me the right time to walk away and the right time to confront.  In Your Love, Amen




Living Together Before Marriage

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable…  1 Thessalonians4:3-4

Some people that have gone through a divorce say they want to “play it safe” and live with the person they are now in a relationship with rather than getting married first.  This topic came at a good time for me because my 15 year old son asked me why people can’t live with their boyfriend or girlfriend before marriage.  I knew he wasn’t going to accept my simple answer, “well, you just shouldn’t and God doesn’t like it”.  He’s the type of kid that wants details.  This led me to days of investigation.  It wasn’t an easy topic like I thought it was going to be.

My sister-n-law from Texas is a caring, beautiful, southern speaking and loving person married to my younger brother. I love what she had to say about living together before marriage:

“You know how you wake up Christmas morning and you see all those presents under the tree and you are just so excited?  Well, imagine if you had peeked at the presents before they were wrapped.  When you awakened Christmas morning you wouldn’t be so excited to open up the presents.  That’s how it is if you live with the person before you marry them, you just don’t experience the honeymoon and all the excitement.”

God would like us to marry first before living together.  He believes marriage is to be honored.  A wonderful marriage is a gift from God.  When you involve God from the beginning it will be blessed. You may be reading this and don’t think a whole lot of marriage right now.  I too at one time thought it was impossible to find a soul mate and never thought I would ever get married again.  But, if God’s will is to send you a soul mate then you will want to honor Him in every way.  If the person is not sent from God you will not want to live with the person.  If you wait to live together with the person God sends you, God will bless you and your soul mate.


Dear Lord,

Please help me understand why I should wait to live with my soul mate.  Please give me the strength to abstain until after I am married.  Please show me if this relationship is not your will.  I only want to do what pleases you Lord.

In your Holy Name.  Amen.

Further reading:





Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26


Confiding in me, my friend told me how overwhelmed she feels.  She explained that she is struggling to “get it all done”.  Her feelings of NEVER being on top of the game, the tasks of running a household; getting dishes done after dinner, getting laundry from the washer to the dryer before having to rewash it due to sitting there for two days, getting the folded laundry put away, getting her bed made after changing the sheets, getting bills paid on time – despite having the money in her account to pay them, just getting them PAID and remembering all the “little stuff”.  This feeling of never getting it all done is never ending and can leave her feeling defeated.  She went on to say that she feels out of energy and borderline depressed.  It also left her feeling less patient with the kids as she looked around her house noting that yet another toy or activity was started when there were several out already.  My friend also struggles with the amount and quality time she wishes she could have with each of her kids.   With tears in her eyes she said she just bursts with love for her little ones and wants to do her best for them.  Sometimes she just feels so behind with the dishes and the messes that are all around them, such as the toothpaste messes that were crusted over on their bathroom counter for who knows how long. My friend said there was one last issue she would like to share with me and that is the need for help, the never-ending gratitude for help and yet she feels inadequate from not being able to manage or pull it all off on her own.  She stated that she must accept that she can’t do it all on her own.


I could totally understand every single word my friend was saying.  I have been there and I still am often at that place of just feeling overwhelmed and will I ever have that peace of being “caught up”.  It’s especially hard when you are the only one running the house hold, paying the bills and raising the children.


We want peace in our household.  When I think of peace I think of Jesus.  He is the Lord of Peace.  We need our time alone with Jesus, just as Jesus took time alone to be with God.   Mark 1:35, Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.


In Matthew 6:31-33 Jesus says, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ ‘ What will we drink?’ ‘ What will we wear’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.


Jesus is saying when you walk into your home and you see the mess, the overwhelming duties of the home life that hasn’t been accomplished, don’t worry He says.  He knows what you need.  Jesus doesn’t want you to worry about those things.  He does want you to seek the kingdom and He promises He will give you everything you need.


Dear Lord,  I pray to you today to help me with my overwhelming feelings.  I feel so overwhelmed by all the things I need to do as a single parent.  Sometimes I feel as though I can’t do a thing because I don’t know where to start, there are so many things to do.  Please help me to be motivated and have the energy to get the things done that I need to get done.  Please help me to overlook the things that I cannot control and that do not matter.  I thank you for your love, Lord and I know that you will provide me with my needs.