10 Ways To Spread Kindness This Holiday Season

The art of engaging in community is something that brings me joy. It's always a work in progress, but the memories it produces are some of my favorite!

Below you will find a list of 10 ways to spread kindness this 2018 holiday season.

1. Call a local school and pay off a student's past due lunch account or book rental fees.

2. Share the Bible Binge podcast with a friend who needs a good laugh!

3. Give a copy of "You'll Get Through This" to someone attempting to find a new normal.

4. Help a neighbor shovel snow. 

5. Send a $5 Starbucks gift card to a person you haven't heard from in awhile via the Starbucks app.

6. Offer to watch kiddos for a "Santa" who needs to check off their list -- without a migraine. 

7. Snail mail a handwritten note to someone who encouraged you this year. 

8. Bring cookies or pizza in for your co-workers. Everyone speaks fluent carbohydrates.  

9. Drop off this easy (and kid-friendly) Mac and Cheese bake to someone that could use a night off of dinner duty. 

10. Help those who are swamped with a never ending to-do list by hosting a gift wrapping party (Friends episodes & Moscato non-optional). Together you can knock it out with time left over to Amazon Prime some gifts on the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital wish list!

There you have it! Ten ideas to love on the people in your life. 

What are some of your favorite ways to spread kindness?

What Discipleship Means to Me

I'll never forget the day that an old friend called me to give her opinion regarding a post on Facebook I had made that she didn't agree with. "Iron sharpens iron", she said. I was extremely turned off, but I respected that she felt prompted to call me.

Then there was the time a different friend went on a missions trip. Over coffee she described the moment our pastor announced the invitation to join the trip. She said she instantly felt she was called to go. As I looked back on that same sermon, I wondered why I didn't feel the calling she did.

I spent many years wondering why I didn't feel called to feed orphans, travel the world, lead a Bible study, or to call a friend to "sharpen her iron", I felt that Jesus was so much a part of my day to day life that I usually didn't go out of my way to bring up my faith in conversation. 
 I had read the Bible many times, yet I still had questions that others didn't seem to have. I thought that somehow I had missed my calling....until this year.

Every January, I pray for God to give me a word to focus on. In 2018, He gave me three words: the twelve disciples. This seemed like a very unproductive (boring) topic. But, I listened and had various books shipped to my doorstep.

They were anything but boring. 

I learned about how much of their ministry took place right in their own homes. I read about the community they created. The way that they challenged each other. How they stumbled trying to get it right. How they grew together, fed one another, loved one another, and fiercely supported one another. This was when I realized that I really wasn't as far away from "my calling" as I thought I was.  

Through the twelve disciples, God was showing me that sometimes your "calling" is in the community you create. It is a home that always has an open door. It is the answered phone call to listen to a grieving friend. It's a freely given smile. It's a meal. It's in the interest given to a person who is different from you. It is acceptance. It is love.

John 13:35: Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

LM ACTION: There is a place for you in this community. You are needed and appreciated more than you probably know. "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25 

What has helped you understand your calling? How are you a disciple? 

CONVERSATION: Don't Ask Me "Who Filed?"


When I filed for divorce, I expected some people to take sides. I expected advice I didn't ask for and figuring out what "moving on" meant. What I didn't expect was to continually hear some form of the question, "Who filed?"

The question would start with what seemed to be genuine concern. But, once I revealed that I was one that filed, the conversation would come to a halt. "Oh, you gave up?"

The first time I was told that, it cut me deep. I was triggered and pissed that someone had me so wrong. It seemed like a really lazy assumption, which made me defensive instantly. I had spent years trying to fix it! I was the only one who cared and now I was the bad guy. And while it wasn't a quick decision, others' simple response to me was.

So, I did what many people with wounded pride do: I threw up word vomit about how awful my ex-wife was. I told him she was lazy, more into Instagram than real life, selfish, etc. Class act, right?

The whole time I was talking I thought, "This isn't you. This isn't right. Just. Stop. Talking." But, I just couldn't quit. I talked until I felt like his face showed he believed I wasn't to blame. I felt I had to convince him that even he would have done the same. Then, I walked away hating myself.

I wish I could tell you that this only happened once, but I can't. It happened repeatedly. I couldn't just say, "We split." without being hit with dozens of more questions.

I have become bitter and reclusive. The last thing that I want to do is be out and hear, "Who left who?" again. When I do get asked, instead of just being quiet, I begin to tear apart my ex again. Its a cycle that I hate.

I don't like the person that question has made me. It takes away from who I am trying to be now. I'm not in that relationship or divorce anymore. All of that is over and I am trying to move on. 

Please, stop asking who finally had the nerve to file. Is it really your business anyway?

LM ACTION: This conversation was very thought provoking for me. I never considered that certain questions I ask (even when they are genuine) can prompt someone to feel like they have to provide a particular answer to vindicate themselves. I'm reminded of the quote, "You know who hates divorce? Divorced people." The recovery is tough. You go through a wide range of emotions.

Going forward, instead of asking what happened or how, I will remember to ask, "Can I help?" or "How are you?" I feel those questions produce more fruit than, "Who filed?" or "What happened?"

If you are in a cycle similar to the author, remember that the people in your life love you and usually want to show that they are concerned. But, they are human! Human responses may not always be in the best taste, but most of the time I wouldn't assume they are malicious. 

In Galatians we are told that the Holy Spirit is one of self-control. Of course it isn't easy, but you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13).

Try meditating over Psalm 38:9 - All my longings lie open before you, Lord.

He knows what you are going through. He knows that you are longing to finally have peace in your life. You weren't made to hide from life after divorce forever. Pray for wisdom and strength as you navigate this new chapter in your life. He will comfort and sustain you.

-- Cayla

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<a href=”https://www.lastmarriages.com/2018/11/how-atheist-brought-christ-and-i-closer.jpg”><img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-2160″ src=”https://www.lastmarriages.com/2018/11/how-atheist-brought-christ-and-i-closer.jpg” alt=”Last Marriage Meet Cayla Polston″ width=”850″ height=”883″ /></a>

Cayla Polston is a 20-something blended family advocate. Midwestern living with Southern roots, she is often found cooking, frying, or baking. Her perfect Saturday would include a crab boil with friends, football, and a game of "Don't Step In It" with her three daughters. On New Year's Day 2016 she married her best friend in a private ceremony. 

Click here to learn more about why Cayla founded Last Marriages and how she hopes to inspire you. Also, don't forget to connect with her on Instagram

Cayla & Dougalicious (aka: Doug)
at a wedding in the summer of 2018.

CONVERSATION: How an Atheist Brought Christ and I Closer

<a href=”https://www.lastmarriages.com/2018/11/how-atheist-brought-christ-and-i-closer.html.jpg”><img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-2160″ src=”https://blogtacular.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/how-to-name-your-blog-photos1.jpg” alt=”how an atheist brought Christ and I closer width=”850″ height=”883″ /></a>

Here we were...back in counseling. Or should I say, "Here I was," since my spouse wasn't even showing up after being told he was abusive a few weeks back.

I sat in silence. I felt so defeated. I had no idea what else I could possibly explain to this counselor that she didn't already know. I could tell that she wanted to say something, but was unusually quiet. Finally, she spoke.

"I have to ask...why are you staying in this relationship? Why are you still allowing yourself to be treated this way?"

I immediately felt defensive and snapped back, "Umm, because I'm a CHRISTIAN. God HATES divorce."

The look on her face was one I had not seen before. It was one of great sadness.

She said, "Look, very rarely do I get involved in religion when it comes to my clients. I myself am an atheist. However, the moment that my client continues to place themselves and their children into an unsafe situation based on their 'god' is when I have to step in. Do you truly believe that this is right?"

I left that day feeling even more defeated. What was I doing? What did I believe? Was I being an enabler? Was I putting myself into this toxic situation because it's what God wanted for me?

I thought back on the last few years of my life.

Every time I went to a Christian for advice I usually received a response along the lines of:
"Well, staying married is better than the sin of divorce."
"You clearly haven't tried EVERYTHING."
"You aren't being physically abused, right? So it can't be so bad?"
"Read your Bible more!"
"Stay + Pray."

No one at church wanted to hear about the holes in walls. No one wanted to hear about the fear I lived in daily. No one wanted to hear that I had completely lost my identity. No one wanted to hear about not having access to my debit card for weeks at a time for making my spouse angry over the dishes. No one cared about the porn addiction among other infidelities. No one wanted to hear about how my toddler had started screaming at me in the same fashion my spouse did every evening. No one cared about the alcohol abuse. In their minds, the weight of a toxic marriage was nothing in comparison to the weight of divorce.

How was this possible? My head was spinning. When non-believers saw me continue to go back to the same lie of a marriage...were they perceiving that the God I serve is unjust? Was it possible that I was actually disrespecting God by staying?

I realized I had some digging to do. I told myself that for the next few months I was going to pray about this instead of talk about it. I wanted to be sure that I was actually living in God's will instead of all of the humans around me. After all, who was I trying to please?

As I searched and prayed for guidance, I came across this verse in Ephesians, "You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. He's using us all irrespective of how we got here in what He is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now He's using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together."

I know this was written by Paul in regards to gentiles, but I couldn't help but feel that this was directly speaking to my situation. I realized that I was believing a lie that being divorced would mean I was no longer a follower of Christ or worthy of Him. Jesus loved me more than I could imagine. He paid a price for my sins, including the sin of divorce. My broken marriage wasn't a surprise to Him. He knew what I was going through daily and the sacrifices I had made mentally and physically. This divorce was not going to be the end of my walk with Christ. It was not going to separate me from His love just as gentiles weren't separated. I still had just as much right to the name Christian as anyone else. He was still my cornerstone. He was waiting to help me move forward in building my life in Him...all I had to do was ask.

That night I prayed, "Dear Lord, I never thought I would be here. I truly feel like I have done everything I humanly can to help this situation. I'm tired. You know that in order to move on with my life, I will need a full time job. Please be here for me as I move forward with what I believe you are leading me to do."

I opened my laptop and signed onto Indeed to look for a job. Four minutes prior, a full-time job had been posted with the exact pay I would need to make it on my own. I applied and was hired the next day. I filed for divorce a few months later and never looked back.

A new life began for my child and I. We were free.

My chains were gone...thanks to Jesus and an atheist.

LM ACTION: Not only am I very proud of the person who authored this post, but I am encouraged to be a better listener. I hope to remember that I won't always have the right answers...and that's okay. Sometimes listening and praying may be a better response than whatever I could come up with.

Ephesians 6:18: In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

-- Cayla

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What Divorce Taught Me About Myself

A question I get asked quite a bit is, "Why are you divorced?" I think I get asked this for a few reasons.

1) Most who know me know that I'm an open book.
2) I was 25 when my divorce took place.
3) We seemed "happy" if you checked my Facebook page.

I have several answers I could give you. I could add up the sum of everything the other party did wrong and tell you that is why it equaled divorce. But, I don't think that's productive. Instead, I choose to focus on what I could have done differently. This leads to both maturity in Christ and the ability to create better boundaries for our future. And the truth is...there are many mistakes I made before we said "I do" that rainy October day.

The biggest mistake? I wasn't using discernment. I was using the comfortable crutch of humans to confirm who I was. I would take their advice with no thought as to which perspective they were giving it. Looking back, it was often one of fear. Apparently, I had yet to meditate on Romans 8 where Paul says, "The resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It is adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike 'What's next, Papa?' God's spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are: Father and children."

Notice Paul is pointing us to look to God, our Father, to ask, "What's next?"...not humans.

Being a romantic at heart, I was stuck in an immature mindset that consisted of the "90's purity ring craze" and "marriage will bring me even closer to God". I was listening to the guidance of a mentor that was telling me that marriage would be "good" for me. Even when God gave me red flag after red flag that I should have interpreted as, "Hey...this choice probably isn't for you", I refused to listen. I didn't have the courage to admit that I was wrong.

I also believe I had not healed from my past emotional wounds. I had a turbulent childhood and the trauma was far from resolved. I can now see that I was searching for a purpose from that experience. I grew up in church. I knew that God redeemed many situations and I was ready for him to redeem mine...ASAP.

However, when I didn't feel like I was finding the purpose of those unpleasant years fast enough...I began creating a purpose for it on my own. Although it was mostly subconscious, (I know now that this was partly the result of being an Enneagram 7, but that's for another blog post) it's crazy how quickly it snowballed. I assumed the purpose of my adolescence was to find someone who I could connect with on the same level. But in the end, I was wrong.

I didn't need a marriage or a family of my own to restore anything. God had so much redemption waiting for me and none of it required rings, vows, or a man. I could write 5000+ words of all the goodness God has shown to not only me, but also to my parents as we have moved forward in recovering. This verse brings me comfort on the days that I'm tempted to race for answers instead of waiting on Him. I hope it comforts you, too!

"God, your God, will restore everything you lost; He'll have compassion on you, He'll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there." Deuteronomy 30:3-5

LM ACTION: Maybe you are in a similar situation. You are using humans to guide your life when you should be using the Lord. Maybe you are like me and you spent many years thinking that you were now living out your "punishment" because of an initial choice you made. Maybe you think you wrecked His plan. Let me remind you that you aren't that powerful :) Paul wrote in Romans 8, "The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air,  freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death."

His plan was and is always for you. Not against you. You can't change the past, but you can change your future.

Make today the day that you start listening to the Spirit. Use better discernment when listening to advice from humans. Dig deeper into scripture. Pray. Hide His word in your heart. "God's word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long." Ephesians 6

-- Cayla

Get to know me here

1 Peter 4:8

I decided to start this blog after being hurt and confused at the reaction many Christians had after I was divorced. Other people I knew dealt with the same thing...and I realized that someone else might read this thing :)

I felt confused by the church. I remember very boldly saying, "I don't believe in 'church' anymore." At that point I had attended church for 25 years, but I planned to never step foot in one again.

The place I had attended completely turned their back on me when I filed for divorce. There was all the drama that I thought church wasn't: gossip, lies, rumors, rejection. I was even removed from a serving position. Not one person asked me what happened.

After a year, Jesus got a hold of my heart. (He's good like that, isn't He?) He reminded me that those humans were just as human as I was. That it was ridiculous of me to expect perfect responses from them. That perhaps that church just wasn't educated in how to deal with divorced members within the congregation. But, most importantly, He reminded me that if HE could be flawless, the MESSIAH, and rejected by the church...then I could get over rejection from a couple hundred people. That day, I stopped being a victim of my circumstances.

I let go and I let God.

I would be lying if I said it was easy. I would be lying if I told you there were no tears, hard feelings, or regrets. But, the day I chose to walk away from feeling sorry for myself was the day Jesus was able to start His new work in me. 

His redemption began.

I learned how to create boundaries. I learned how to give my life back to God instead of my circumstances. I grew into stronger woman, mother, friend...and a better spouse for the marriage He had waiting for me all along.

I strongly believe the response a member of the body of Christ receives during a marriage and/or divorce can have a lasting (sometimes devastating) impact on their future. Last Marriages wants to have conversations so that we can learn how to provide one another with kindness, respect, and community through these changes.

Marriage is messy.
Divorce is messy.
Second marriages are messy.
Co-parenting is messy.
Single-parenting is messy.

Whether you are fighting to make your current marriage your last, recovering from a previous relationship, or finding a new normal...I am here for you. Over time, I hope that this space can empower singles, couples, friends, and families through it all -- no matter what your relationship status is.

"Above all, love one another deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

Get to know LM's founder here