Shortly after turning 50, I woke up in a vacation house that I had rented with dear friends and watched the sun rise over the peaceful lake in the above image. I’ve watched many sunrises in the last three years. Each time the light is about to peak above the horizon, I hold my breath with anticipation. The light is coming. The darkness is ending.

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. Luke 1:78-79NLT

After 28 years of loving hard and fighting harder, my marriage ended. I grieved for my husband for several years before we were divorced. Life isn’t fair. War is ugly and damaging and the destruction doesn’t end on the battlefield. The endless wars of the world have left us with generations of damage and destruction. The wife and children of a Vietnam veteran who came home forever changed, became war casualties. With those casualties unhealed, the cycle is repeated after multiple tours in the sandbox of Iraq. War is a catalyst for the propagation of destroyed families.

I’ve sat many times with the intent to write about the pain, grief, and fear of my family falling apart. The pain was too big. The grief sometimes overwhelming, and the fear hard to define. I’ve battled shame over the failures, but I do not count our marriage as a failure. We were a great team for a very long time. Our marriage produced four amazing humans. Marriage gave us someone to grow up alongside, to learn with, grieve with, celebrate with, confide in, to share life with. For many years we chose each other day after day and valued one another enough to fight for what we had. But marriages don’t fall apart overnight. They fall apart with wounds that add up and never have a chance to heal. They fall apart when disconnection becomes the norm and distrust the baseline of interactions. They fall apart when two people who should function as one, stop fighting for each other and just start fighting each other. We had more than twenty years of success before we started failing to remember that we were on the same team. I personally failed often in pausing to think about the power of my words before they escaped my mouth and my biggest shame comes from the things I’ve said that I can never take back. Fully aware that the power of life and death are in my tongue, there were many times when my words did not speak life. And so… the life we spent decades building no longer exists. The dreams of growing old with the father of my children have died. My cold feet have no warm legs to seek at night. There is no hand to hold or arms to embrace in the difficult and ordinary moments. Plans, dreams, decisions, and responsibilities are now solely between me and God. But God…

Yes, I fear living out my life without a teammate. Yes, I fear all of the uncertainty that comes with every area of my life being redefined. Divorce is kind of like skydiving from a plane that’s on fire with a parachute that you haven’t tested. You make the jump knowing that staying in the plane will lead to certain death. You feel nothing but pressure and winds and everything feels out of control on the jump. Your parachute opens with a jolt. You spin and turn as you fall. Eventually your feet find solid ground. The thing about the landing is that the moment your feet find ground is disorienting.

disorient verb


disoriented; disorienting; disorients

a: to cause to lose bearings displace from normal position or relationship

b: to cause to lose the sense of time, place, or identity

I’m getting my bearings, finding my place in this world, and giving thanks daily that my identity is wholly defined by my creator. I know who I am. I like me. I’m pretty sure God does too.

MANY people have asked me to share my story and the asks are usually followed with statements about others needing to know they aren’t alone. If you are living through the aftermath of war and your days are filled with grief, pain and fear; YOU ARE NOT ALONE!! Find a counselor. Find a support group. Confide in the people who love you and know you. Reach out to your clergy or the people in your Bible study. Join a Bible study. And please, do NOT be ashamed!!

Post Traumatic Stress, Secondary Traumatic Stress, Compassion Fatigue, Post Infidelity Stress, Codependency… all terms counselors have used on my healing journey. I have two kids on the autism spectrum. I have taught them that they are not defined by their labels or diagnoses and that labels are not excuses or justifications for failures or bad behavior. Labels serve the purpose of giving access to needed help and provide a paradigm to work within. In order to practice what I preach, I embrace who my Father says I am. I am not a victim. I am a victor. I’ve experienced trauma. I am not traumatized.

Y’all, I won’t lie. Knowing who I am and knowing the goodness of my God does not mean that a single step on this journey has been easy. Waiting for the parachute to open, free-falling, hoping my feet would find solid ground, and finding my bearings once I was standing, has been HARD!! I woke up to this song as my alarm daily for over a year and some days had to remind myself to breathe and put one foot in front of the other. Thankfully, I live on the water and my mindful breathing and walking has included sand under my feet. 😊🏝️

If you or someone you know is living through the destruction that far too often comes home from war, these are a few of the resources and supports that helped me survive the darkest days and get my feet back on solid ground. Please share and feel free to message me.

I read countless books. Feel free to message me if you need a recommendation or ten.

I am confident that with Christ I can do very hard things.

God’s plan is still to prosper me. He gives me hope and He promises great things for my future.

He says that I’m wonderful, made in His image, of great value, and deeply loved. I believe Him.

I have ground beneath my feet.

The sun ALWAYS rises.

3 thoughts on “Sunrise

  1. Susan

    Kaci, I am so sorry to hear about you and Chad. Life is hard! Stay close to God because He can get you through anything. I wish you well on your new journey. I love you and miss you!

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