In the Beginning, A Young Love Story

 


Once upon a time in a land far, far away, over the river, through the woods, past miles of corn fields, soy bean plants…and nestled between cow pastures and a horse farm…I met the man of my dreams.  Though neither one of us actually knew it at the time.  My dad had been appointed pastor of this cute little country church out in Appalachia territory about an hour away from my home town of New Richmond, OH.  I was 16 years old and very much in a “serious” teenage relationship.

Mr. and Mrs. Storer, Chad’s parents, were members of this little church.  As a matter of fact 3/4 of the members of the congregation was Chad’s family…his grandparents, a couple of his aunts, and a bunch of his cousins.  Chad, however was not a regular attender.  So Chad’s mom did what any loving, concerned, Christian mom would do…she told her son that there is a new pastor at the church and they have a cute daughter and maybe he should come and meet them…ahem…her.  Now, Chad, at 20 years old, was involved in a very serious relationship of his own so of course he was not interested in meeting this new pastor’s daughter, especially at church.  So it was a couple of weeks before he finally graced us with his mysterious presence.

Not that it mattered anyway because when he found out I was only 16 and I was told he was 20 then we were undoubtedly out of each others leagues.  I was far too young for him, he was definitely too old for me.  And none of that apparently made a bit of difference to either of our mothers!  Because while he had his mom in his ear bribing him to church, I had my mom in my ear dropping hints that I shouldn’t “be so serious” with my boyfriend trying to get me to go out with this guy!…This OLDER guy…our mothers must have known something because oh what a difference a year makes…

My serious teenage relationship did not last forever like I thought it was going to, but Chad was still ultimately out of my league.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely acknowledged and admired his devilishly handsome good looks, but there was not one part of me that thought I could intrigue his affection.  We did , however, begin building a friendship that no one else seemed to really understand and more who did not approve.

See, Chad was the black sheep of the family…of the church really.  He showed up every once in awhile, half hungover, after long nights of partying and living the bachelor night life.  He was basically engaged to this other woman, he had an apartment of his own, a job, a cool car, and looks to die for.  He did his own thing and if you didn’t like it or approve he simply didn’t care and didn’t have time for you…and that included family and especially included church.  But that never swayed my dad away from being the good pastor that he was to still reach out to him and visit him.  To present every opportunity to get this boy’s soul saved.  Trying his best in the most subtle (and sometimes not so subtle I’m sure) ways to minister to him and love him.

His serious relationship finally dissolved when he finally realized she would not (or could not, not really sure which) follow through with finalizing her divorce…yes, he had been dating a married woman this whole time…SEPARATED but still very much married.  And so he started showing up to church a little more regularly.  And being the black sheep that he was, he would slip in and sit alone in the back of the church.  This is where our friendship began because I would be the one to go and sit with him.

Remember my shattered serious teenage relationship?  Well this potentially left me without a date to my Junior Prom.  As our friendship grew he just kind of threw it out there that if it came down to me not having a date to my prom he would be more than happy to take me…as “friends” of course.  Just so I didn’t have to miss out.  I was a little shocked and really in disbelief.  Why in the world would this guy go out of his way to take me to a high school prom when he has already left those days behind.  But, I did tuck that away in the back of my mind as an option…WAY BACK!  I didn’t really want to have to rely on that though.  Not because I didn’t like him, but because I was afraid that I really would!  I could not risk falling head over heals for this gorgeous guy just to have him break my young little naive heart.  So my Junior Prom date was filled by a friend from school, and there was no harm no fowl.

Skip forward to my Senior Prom, when again I found myself to be without a date.  I had dated a couple other guys between then and now but my heart was not ready for that “forever relationship” with them and I let them go.  I thought that I was still scared to commit to that type of relationship.  I thought that I just wanted to have fun not being committed to one guy.  After all, I was still “just a teenager in high school.”  But, who was I really kidding, I still longed for that type of a relationship where I felt butterflies every time I saw him and I would blush just at the mention of his name.  I longed to have that one relationship that would be the end-all relationship, the love of my life, my forever partner and friend.  And one day I realized he was literally right in front of me.

One night at church (I can’t remember if it was a Wednesday or a Sunday), in March of  1998, we were sitting together in a pew like always.  I brought up the fact that it didn’t look like I was going to have a date for prom again.  (Ok, now this was about 2 months out…I very POSSIBLY could have still come up with a date for prom by then…but I had another plan in mind.)  I reminded him that he had given me an open invitation about a year earlier that if I ever found myself without a date that he would be more than happy to fill that spot for me.  Now, I also knew (or hoped anyway) that with prom still being about 2 months away that there was no way he would wait 2 months to take me out!  I was hoping that this would open the door for him to actually ask me out on a regular date well before prom.  So I mustered up the courage and asked him if he would still take me to prom, and he said of course he would.  And the butterflies started.  And I’m sure my face was beyond blushed!

Before church was over he had also posed the idea that maybe we should go out on a date before prom gets here, because that is still a couple months out…(WHAT?! It actually worked?!)  So of course I very non-nonchalantly said that would probably be a good idea (as my stomach and heart is turning somersaults inside me!)  How about this weekend?  (So I am thinking we planned all this out on a Wednesday night now that I am playing out this scenario in my head.)  We can get dinner, go see a movie?  It’s a date then.

I can honestly say I have NO IDEA where we ate…I can’t remember that at all.  But I remember we went an saw The Man in the Iron Mask at the movie theater in Hillsboro, OH.  And on Monday morning when I went back to school my best friend in the whole world since Kindergarten turns around in Spanish class and asks me, “So…how did it go?”…”I’m going to marry that man”  I said very matter-of-factly.  And with a grin from ear to ear she lovingly and approvingly said, “I knew that’s what you would say.”

I knew from the moment I began dating my husband that he was the man of my dreams.  The man that God made just for me.  As I look back on the circumstances that brought me to him, that brought my family to him, I see how God literally laid and directed our path.  I could almost say from the moment I met him I knew that he was meant for me, but I suppressed that feeling for awhile.  I certainly was attracted to him from day one!  I thought he was the most beautiful man I had ever met.  I WOULD get butterflies every time I saw him!  But I just brushed that off as a silly fan-girl crush.  Until the day that he asked me out on a proper date.  Then I knew.  It was not a crush.  It was destined.  Even better than that, it was PRE-destined!  Our family could have gone a whole different direction.  My dad could have taken a prosperous job in Indiana and we never would have even come to this church!  But I was the one to speak up to say maybe we should.  I was the one to pose the question, “What if this is a test?  A test from God to see if you are faithful to Him and His calling.  To put a choice in front of you like that…money or ministry.”  I was the one to initiate this direction and destination.

I see now looking back on everything that God had carefully and thoughtfully aligned our lives.  God ordained our relationship, ordained our marriage.  God brought us together and recognizing that, there would not be anyone or anything that I would let distort, destroy, or dismantle that!

Today, I still get those butterflies.  But it is more meaningful these days.  Back then there wasn’t much of a fight for my man.  I mean let’s be honest, the beginning is almost ALL about physical attraction.  It’s at least very heavily based on physical attraction!  I’m just being real here.  Most of my efforts went into trying to look pretty and smell nice.  But the older you get, the more comfortable you get in your relationship, you begin to take those little things for granted and the effort to look pretty becomes…well…EFFORT!  And I am sad to say that I began taking those little efforts for granted after awhile and didn’t realize how much it actually meant to my husband when I would go out of my way to look nice for him.

But that story is for another day.  Because today I celebrate the young love that started it all.  I celebrate the flirty beginnings.  I celebrate friendship starts and friendship middles.  And I celebrate that there is still not an end to this young love story I call my life.

This is dedicated to my husband of 19 years today.  The love of my life.  The match to my soul.  The beat to my heart. 

 

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The Lonely Pursuit

Struggling with loneliness

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I have been struggling fiercely lately with an overwhelming feeling of isolation and loneliness.  Like I am just trudging along in my own world dealing with my own problems and no one gets it or gets me.  It’s not completely rational…I know this…and yet I find myself in this slump on a pretty regular basis.  And it has been coming in waves much more often and sometimes with much more intensity.  There are days I feel like I am literally on the verge of a panic attack…I have nothing to panic ABOUT but the sense of feeling overwhelmed, followed by my breathing getting more shallow, and then the tears start to well up.  I close my eyes, take a deep breath and say a simple little prayer…sometimes I don’t even get a whole prayer in, I just say His name…”God.”

This weekend as I read and prepared my studies on Paul I found that I was actually going to be teaching on…loneliness.  As I read about Paul’s isolation when he finally was  returned to Rome and was basically put on house arrest, I couldn’t help but feel a connection with him.  Here he was alone, isolated, and abandoned by some.  He wasn’t in the worst conditions by far, but he was still a prisoner none the less.  I am sure they could have treated him much worse and held him in a much worse establishment, but he still did not have anyone there for him or with him.  And yet, in his loneliness, in his isolation, in his despair he did not break.  He didn’t lie down in a corner and curl up in a little ball rocking back and forth feeling sorry for himself or crying himself to sleep at night…well, I don’t know, maybe he did once or twice…but he didn’t just exist in that state and do nothing!  Instead he took a bad situation and turned it into good…turned it into opportunity.  He began to write.  He was already a writer, and he already had things to say, so he might as well do it here too!

So now…I write.  I know, it’s not the same.  I am not the same as Paul by any measure of standards.  Except that I am a person.  And I am a lonely person right now.  I may not be a prisoner in the physical sense, but I do feel the isolation.  It is a lonely world when no one can relate to what you have gone through.  It is a lonely world when you have so much emotion built up and you have no friends to confide in.  It is a lonely world when you continue to be afraid to vent your emotion to your husband…not because you are afraid of how he will react but because you are afraid he may not be ready to handle it.  Because you don’t want to bring attention to and create an issue that just may not be an issue to him.  It is a lonely world when you have so much to say and so few to say it to.

In 2 Timothy we know that Paul felt lonely as he was writing this letter because he mentions multiple times that he had been “deserted” or “abandoned” and he talks about how he can’t wait to see Timothy again.  And yet he took the opportunity to speak words of encouragement to Timothy.  To offer words of warning and words of wisdom.  He took time to reminisce even if maybe it was to lift his own spirits I’m sure.  To be reminded of the good friend that he had and has in Timothy.  He chose to still minister to others and fulfill God’s calling on his life even while being on lock down and in isolation.

This is a letter from Rachel.  And I am writing to all the lonely women, mothers, wives, ministers, and wives of ministers.  I pray that you be encouraged and find peace knowing that you are not alone.  Even if you are alone in your space you are not alone in your circumstance, you are not alone in your situation, you are not alone in spirit.  You have someone praying for you right now where you are in your struggle.  You have someone speaking life over your marriage, life INTO your marriage.  You have someone yelling at the enemy and pushing back at him, standing up to him for you.  You have someone praying for your ministry and your spiritual health.  You have someone praying protection around your children and stamina for your prayers as a mother.  

I am weary in my moments.  But I choose to be steadfast in my faith.  I feel like I am alone in my mind and in my heart, but I know I am whole in my spirit.  And I choose to speak life and encouragement in my isolation.

You are loved.  You are cherished.  You are saved by His grace.  And so am I.

 

 

Motherhood Overloaded

Motherhood has to be the hardest role I have ever played.  It is full of such a broad spectrum of emotions that sometimes hit all at one time…which can make for a volatile   and very exhausting day.  Being a mother is such a heavy and scary responsibility.  A responsibility that I do love, but sometimes brings me to my knees in pain.

Imaging the pressure of knowing you are the sole reason for the existence of a life form.  I mean, sure, dad contributed to the very beginning of that little life, and of course God breathed the breath of life, but mom is carrying that life and growing that life through formation and into being.  Without that mom’s womb and body with her blood flow and nutrition that baby never would have an opportunity at life and future.  What a great responsibility and gift God has trusted us with.  What a miraculous body he has formed us to have.  And what a frightening realization.

That pressure and responsibility does not subside after that baby is born.  It just changes.  We are still responsible for the physical nutrition and growth of that child, but now we are responsible for creating socially and emotionally functioning adults.  Even at the youngest age, everything we are teaching, coaching, and guiding them on will be for the ultimate purpose of them being a good, decent adult person in their future.

Our society has made that so hard on us now.  When I was growing up I think the worst things I had to deal with on a personal level was heartbreak over a boyfriend, stress over making good grades, and the occasional struggle of fitting in.  I dealt with some eating issues after a really difficult breakup, but my faith won out on that.  I came to the decision that grades weren’t EVERYTHING and so I would let a few slip here and there just for the sake of enjoyment and sanity.  And despite being the only PK I knew in school, I still had a great solid group of friends that didn’t leave me feeling completely lonely.  I did not have a rough childhood or unmanageable teenage years.  Not that there were not problems and that kids didn’t deal with heavy stuff…it just happened that I personally did not and I didn’t have any friends that really did.  So I don’t understand how I possibly could have been prepared for the role and pressures of motherhood that I find myself in today.

I am now the lucky mother of 3 teenagers (insert eye roll here.)  One handsome boy and two gorgeous girls.  That alone should be frightening enough as it is!  I did everything I thought was right in raising my children.  They were raised in church.  I taught them to believe in God and to love Jesus.  They do.  They respect God’s house and they respect God’s word.  They have been taught to behave and to be respectful…and they are.  I have very polite kids.  I used to love just sitting or laying with them curled up on me humming or singing to them.  My favorite was having them in worship service with me and singing with them in my arms.  Even when we went somewhere that a nursery was available I held onto my kids.  I wanted them in the middle of the worship experience.  I taught all of my kids their alphabet, to count, their address and how to write their own name before they started kindergarten.  I chaperoned field trips and visited on classroom party days.  I devoted hours to ADHD research and homeopathic, holistic remedies and made so many modifications so many times.  I worked a full time job in addition to my husband’s so that we could have just that much more to provide a more comfortable life with a few extras here and there.  I eventually took on full time college in hopes of opening a door for a more promising future career.  Everything I have done from the moment my first child was born, I did with them and their future in mind.  I did it to impact their lives in a positive way and to give them happy, healthy, fearless opportunities.

Now I’m lucky to get a hug in passing or sit in the same pew with them in a service.  Now I cry myself to sleep some nights because I don’t know if my son will even graduate high school.  Now I carry around a gut wrenching pit of fear in my stomach that one day I might get that call that my daughter has hurt herself…or worse.  Now I worry about their souls because I don’t know their true faith and spiritual hearts.

I’m just gonna be real here.  That pressure and responsibility of nurture and growth that I had in the beginning has turned into an excruciating burden of guilt, fear, and regret.  Those choices I made to work and go to school I second guess every day now because it took me away from my kids both physically and mentally and I see the impact.  What I thought I was doing to help my family and to be an example of hard work and achievement, I fear has actually created a void and disconnect in our relationship.  All those times I couldn’t be home to help with homework or wasn’t engaged enough to see that there was genuine emotional distress has me feeling like I dropped the ball.  Has me feeling like I did too much that turned out to really be too little.  Has me feeling like I have failed.

Childhood and teenage hood is nothing today like it was when I was growing up…and I’m not that old!  My kids have already gone through things that I still have yet to face as an adult.  I won’t go into detail about the things they have dealt with, and are probably still dealing with on a personal level, because their stories are not my stories to tell.  But when you have to take your then just barely teenage daughter to the funeral of a friend who committed suicide, you know you are dealing with different demons and a new age.

As I sit here at the end of this Mother’s Day my heart is heavy and my spirit is unsettled.  While I am full of love and joy for the precious gift God has bestowed on me, I am also crushing under uncertainty and fear.  I do not take lightly the responsibility I have as a mother and it is because of that I worry.  They are the reason I do everything I do.  Even if it may not seem to immediately or directly impact them, I still think of how it could have an indirect influence on their future.  I think of how it could change their lives.

I pray for my children every day.  I pray for my husband as a father every day.  And I pray for myself as a mother every day.  I can’t change the past.  I can’t redo my choices.  I can only make better choices in the futre.  I can only pray that my children (eventually) see the value and the care behind the choices that I did make.  I can try to trust that they will be able to identify with the reasons behind my decisions and actions.  I can only hope that they look up to me as an example and see me as a strong woman, a Godly woman, a woman with incredible faith.

I have recently shared with complete transparency about the almost loss of my marriage in hopes that someone else can find comfort and connect in that.  I share my heart tonight for the same reason.  Being a mother is a hard and heavy responsibility.  But God must have known that as women we could handle it.  Of course He knew…He created us to handle it!  I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.  So just know that if you are struggling with a heaviness and a burden, that you are not alone.  And just as I pray for myself to be a stronger, wiser, Godlier mother, I pray for you as well.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother_s Day

 

 

 

 

When God Speaks in Patterns…It’s time to listen

 

I read somewhere that when you start noticing things that keep coming up, keep repeating, then that is God’s way of getting your attention.  It’s God’s way of speaking specifically to you about something he specifically wants you to know.  Priscilla Shirer calls it “shocking patterns of consistency.”  Beth Moore once wrote, “I know God is speaking to me about a certain matter when it seems like everything I hear or read for a while points toward the same issue.  Anytime God get ‘thematic’ with me, my ears start perking up.

One of my favorite scriptures is Deuteronomy 31:6 “So be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid and do not panic before them.  For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you.  He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

This has come up a couple of times for me over last few weeks.  It came up originally as I was sharing my story of the day my husband left me and my son snuck this verse in a note of encouragement to me.  As I was reliving the events from a year ago, I was reminded of the strength and hope that I held onto in this verse.  The promise that I saw in it.  That God said himself that he would never abandon me, never fail me.  He wouldn’t just help me get through it, but He would actually go BEFORE me.  He would be ahead of me destroying anyone and anything in my path that would or could keep me from what He has promised me.  He did it for Joshua and the nation of Israel, and he would do it for me.

Then a funny thing happened yesterday morning.  I made my coffee, grabbed the closest coffee cup to me (after scanning for my FAVORITE cup and not finding it), and then I sat at my computer to do a little brainstorming work for our church’s children’s ministry Facebook page.  A couple of hours in I noticed a new post had popped up on our church’s main FB page.  It was a message from our new pastor.  He greeted us all with an encouraging word about this time of transition that we are in.  He read the scripture Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”…you’re waiting for the funny part…I look over and the coffee cup that I grabbed and it had the word “COURAGE” on it with a small banner underneath that read “JOSHUA 1:9.”  When I turned it around to the other side the verse was written out “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  The words from Deuteronomy flashed in my mind, because let’s face it, they are pretty much the same words!

This morning I got up with the intention of spending time in the word and in prayer.  I have been a little discouraged lately.  I don’t really know why.  I think it’s because I have been confused.  I AM confused.  We (my husband and I) have gone through SO MUCH CHANGE in the last year! Personally, professionally, and spiritually.  And while it has been super exciting, it has also been extremely exhausting.  All within the last year our marriage almost came to an end, we salvaged it, we stepped out of ministry, we left our church, we started attending a new church, I went on TWO missions trips last year, we went through a leadership development training, we stepped back into ministry, I left my (high paying) job, I started a new job, he got a promotion, we took on a new level of ministry development and began taking classes to obtain our ministerial credentialing licenses, we lost our pastor, we gained a new pastor, and now we are getting ready to take on a more active role in the ministry we have currently just been “helping with.”  Why am I confused?  Because in all that we have been through, I feel like my husband has a very clear grasp on what it is God is calling him to do.  He has been given clear direction and a clear vision…and I feel like here I am just going along for the ride…doing whatever seems to cross my path.  Contemplating ideas and mapping out plans in a variety of areas without feeling like I have 1 true designated direction.

I try to figure everything out.  I just do.  I try to rationalize and reason it all.  ;Fit it all together even if the pieces don’t quite seem to fit.  I want to do what God wants me to do.  I don’t want to fall into the trap of doing something purely out of selfish emotion or feeling.  Now, I do believe that God gives us emotions and feeling to help guide and drive us in the direction that He wants us to go.  But sometimes we forget to listen for God’s voice before we take action.  Lately I have been full of emotion.  I feel pulled in different directions, and I am having a hard time discerning the direction I am meant to go.

My heart is in missions.  Fully and unquestionably.  It is the one area and the one time I can say without a doubt that I heard God tell me to take a step and go.  It was also the area that the enemy used against me when he tried turning my husband against me.  Now that we are beyond that, my husband is fully supportive not only of me continuing to go on missions trips but helping our kids go and even planning to go himself!  He knows that I am meant to continue my work with missions, as do I.  Then there is children’s ministry.  We have been helping out as a rotating team for several months, but now it looks like we may be the primary leaders.  I love working with kids.  I feel like I am good at it and it really feels natural for me…but this is not the area that my husband feels “called” himself.  While I am excited about this, I am also extremely hesitant and feel very cautious about diving completely in and devoting to it long-term.  We have been doing this together, because we feel called together, but his heart is not in it like mine.  I don’t want to do it without him, but I don’t want HIS heart and ministry endeavor to suffer either.  I made a commitment to God last year that I would not move forward or take on any ministry that my husband was not called to also.  So this is where I am stuck.  I am so afraid to make a personal move or ministry decision.  We must be in this together because I will not risk losing my husband to “the ministry” ever again!

I poured my coffee this morning and as I looked down at my cup, guess which cup was instinctively in my hand again…”COURAGE”…don’t worry I washed it!  I have a thing about the shape of my coffee cup…it’s why I have one favorite one that I look for first.  Not this morning.  My hand went straight to this one not really even realizing which one I was grabbing.  “OK, Lord.  I’m listening.”

I opened my Bible to Joshua.  In Joshua chapter 1 it opens up with the death of Moses.  After Moses died Joshua was granted leadership over Israel.  He was going to be the one to lead them all to the Promised Land.  He was promised the same thing that was promised to Moses, whatever land they set foot on would be land that was given to him, promised to him, by God.  And God promised to be with him, never letting him down and never leaving him.  Three times God told Joshua to be strong and courageous.  God spoke to Joshua in patterns!  He was persistent, insistent, and consistent in the word he wanted Joshua to hear.   Which tells me he was about to be having some moments that would be difficult and he would need to stand strong and have courage to face it and keep moving on!

 

 

 

 

 

Love Restored

My husband was barely down the road 10 minutes and my phone rang.  It was him.  My heart raced!  This was either really good…or really bad.  Very timidly I answered the phone.  Was he calling to say he has made a huge mistake?  A mistake leaving?  A mistake to try to let it work? Was he going to tell me he actually missed me?  Or to say he never wanted to see me again?

“You can’t be telling me you love me.”  He called to put me on notice that I already put this trial in jeopardy.  He called to tell me that he was about to change his mind.  But instead of going with his first instinct to run as fast as he can in the opposite direction from me, he was going to give me very specific ground rules and expectations to at least have a fair chance and opportunity.  “When a guy and a girl meets and goes on that first date they are NOT using the words ‘I love you.’  You can’t be telling me you love me.  Because I do not love you.  And quite frankly I do not want to hear that you love me because that is just going to make me run from you.”  We are literally starting from scratch in this relationship.

When he said he wanted to start over and fresh with me, he meant from the very beginning.  As far as he was concerned, he didn’t know me and I didn’t know him.  He didn’t know if he could have any attraction toward me, but he was willing to find out.  He was very clear, however, with what he knew and felt about me only based on our marriage, he had no desire to be with me.  No desire to want to know me or be attracted to me.  But he noticed something different about me this day.  He saw something different in me that…intrigued him I think.

He said that I seemed different.  He could see a change in me just in these past few days.  He was willing and interested to get to know what appeared to be a new side of me.  And for that he was not going to run.  The fact that he has been praying for the right thing to do, and he felt the right thing to do was to at least give me a chance.  A fair chance.  But I needed to know where not to cross the line.  He did not love me, he didn’t even know if he liked me.  And regardless of what my feelings are for him, he did not want to hear from me that I loved him.

My heart sank when I got off the phone with him.  I already felt defeated and doomed.  I felt like no matter what I did, said, or tried he would be looking for a way to justify that I failed his test.  For a moment I thought this was all going to be for nothing.  That he still had his mind made up and he was just going through the motions…just for a moment…then I took a deep breath, regrouped, and started praying through those fears, those insecurities, those lies that the devil was trying to whisper in my ear to distract me.

I prayed that God direct and guide my steps over the next couple weeks and give me exactly the words that Chad needed…wanted…to hear from me.  Give me a tender, gentle approach in all of my actions and speech.  Help me to back off.  Help me be patient.  Help me to win his heart.

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I spent the rest of the evening in prayer.  Before bed time the kids and I joined hands in our prayer circle as we have been doing for the last 3 nights.  In order for our marriage to be reunited, our entire family had to be united.  We had to stand together strong and committed.

Friday was like a breath of fresh air that I hadn’t had all week.  I had a big corporate meeting and luncheon to attend for work so it was actually a pretty low pressure day.  The drive time allowed me some additional time with God as I was still fervently still seeking his voice and guidance, and the laid back itinerary helped me to ease back into life.  The day wrapped up with attending a concert downtown with my kids and some people from church.  Honestly, I still wasn’t really in the mood to be around people, but I did know that my spirit needed some refreshing.  What better way to rejuvenate your spirit than spending a few hours in praise and worship.  Not to mention be in the company of good, prayerful minded friends and family.

I came home that night and collapsed on my husband’s side of the bed.  Once again I prayed for him.  Not just to come home to me and to love me, but to feel a refreshing in his spirit as well.  To feel God and to know God.  To feel God’s love and care for him.  To feel at peace in His presence and to feel a reassurance as he moves forward with clear direction.  I prayed Proverbs 31 not only over my own life but over both of our lives and into our hearts.

So many things I prayed for over the last several days.  That God would forgive me for letting my husband go.  For not making him know that I love him or appreciate him.  For not sacrificing more when he sacrificed so much.  I prayed for patience and slow reaction.  I prayed that my husband would forgive me and could find love for me.  I prayed that he could heal-that we could heal.  That he could feel my love, that he could feel God’s love.  I prayed for a new heart, not only for him, but for myself.  A new heart for God and His purposes and desires.  I prayed that God loved me enough to hear me and that my hurt and passion would move Him to hurt for me and to move for me.

And oh, how God loves us…Saturday morning my phone rang and it was Chad.  My heart caught in my throat.  Our last conversation had not exactly been…hopeful.  But this was different.  He sounded calm, peaceful.  I wasn’t supposed to see him until Sunday night when he was going to come over to be with the kids while I was at work.  He said he couldn’t wait until Sunday to tell me…he felt like I deserved to know now…he has made a decision.  He wanted to call me first thing so that I didn’t have to go any longer worrying and thinking about what he was going to do.

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Divorce was no longer an option!  He wants this marriage to work and we are going to make it work no matter what.  He began telling me how he has been praying and seeking God like he never has before-like I have never heard him do before!  He desires God not only in his life but completely in CONTROL of his life.  His desire is for God to be 1st in this marriage so that this marriage will work.  He knows that if we would put God first in our marriage then everything else would just fall into place and we will have the best marriage ever!

I was stunned!  Overwhelmed with emotion, relief, excitement!  I almost could not believe my ears.  And the timing?!  I was almost confused!  God had worked and answered so many of my prayers so quickly and so specifically that it almost didn’t seem real.  Didn’t seem possible.  But that is exactly how I know that God worked in this.  To have seen the look in Chad’s eyes as he said the words that he said to me at the beginning of the week…to have heard the tone in his voice on the phone…this was not an empty threat to get me to change my ways.  He wasn’t interested in me changing my ways.  He wanted out very plain and simply.  He was cold and stern.  So to hear him say now that he wants this to work…that it WILL work…I knew that God got ahold of his heart and changed it.  I also knew that his heart could not have been changed if I wasn’t willing to allow God to change mine as well.

Now, he still wasn’t moving back home just yet.  He still did not feel that we were in THAT place.  We were going to move forward as planned by starting to date again.  Get to know the new people in each other that God has started and is creating.  He felt we still needed time apart to allow God to keep working on our hearts and spirits individually.  Once we allowed God full control over our individual spirits then we could allow Him to work on our spirit as joined back together as one.  But we needed to be strong apart first so that we could be even stronger together.  He had been staying with his parents during this time, instead of the friend he had originally made plans with.  Staying in his parents’ home, surrounded by Godly influence and a faith filled atmosphere was exactly what he needed…what we needed.

I have never been so excited for what the future holds.  The anticipation of the “what it will be” is overwhelming!  I just can’t wait to see how  God uses Chad and me separately and then how he is going to use us together.  I am just so thankful right now that I get to think about my definitive future with my HUSBAND!

“Lord, I pray for my husband.  Make him a strong leader in our family.  An example not only to the kids but to me.  Give him passion to pursue you and passion to make sure his family is a Godly family.  Allow him to have deep understanding as he reads your word so that his spirit and gifts grow and that he can share that word with his kids and his wife…

Give him a burning, passionate desire for me…Fill every space in his mind and heart (that is not taken up by you) with me.  Let my face be the last face he sees when he closes his eyes at night and the first one he sees before he opens them in the morning.”

“Lord thank you for answered prayers, thank you for mercy, thank you for grace, thank you for my husband!  I am so thankful for Chad’s heart.  His new heart to follow you closely, to take in your word, to listen for your voice, to obey your commands.  I am grateful for second chances.  That not only did you show me grace, but that my husband showed me grace. 

Help me now as I continually pursue you and strengthen my faith and prayer life.  Help meImage result for pursue love as I pursue my husband.  Let the pursuit never end!  Let me always want to chase him, love him, hold him, long for him.  And let him always pursue me.

Amen.”    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passion, Prayer, and Strategy…Taking My Love Back

February 18, 2016…6:00 AM

Today is the day God has been preparing me for.  I wouldn’t see it until now.  The people, the words, the circumstances that have been aligned into my life that would direct my thoughts and guide my prayers.

1 Samuel 30:1-8, 18, 19

vs 8:  Should I chase after this band of raiders?  Will I catch them?  And the Lord told him, “Yes, go after them.  You will surely recover everything that was taken from you!”

vs 18:  David got back everything the Amalekites had taken, and he rescued his two wives. -NLT

“The devil has raided my home.  Just as the enemy stole David’s wife, the enemy has stolen my husband.  As the Lord told David to chase after his enemy, I chase after my enemy!  I hold to God’s promise to recover everything that was taken from me.  I will rescue my husband from the enemy.  Thank you for that promise.”

Every hour on the hour I had my alarm set to my phone “Pray”.  Every hour on the hour I sat down in the middle of my living room floor, removed my house shoes, opened my Bible, and laid out my book and my prayer journal.  Every hour on the hour, through the Image result for woman bible9th hour, I prayed and completely immersed myself in God’s word and His presence.

7:00 AM  Hebrews 4:16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

“Lord, I come to you boldly-confidently- knowing you have us in your hands.  I need you now more than ever.  I need your strength, I need your grace, I need your mercy, I need your forgiveness and compassion.  You paid a price for me that I could come to you and ask these things.  Help our hearts heal.  Restore me.  Restore Chad.  Individually and then join us again as one.”

8:00 AM  Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. 

“A prayer for my husband.  That he leans on God and not his own thoughts and will…Allowing God to speak in his heart will guide his thoughts and action in the right direction.  The direction of his family.”

9:00 AM  Mark 10:4-9

“Lord, Chad’s heart is hard right now.  His hardened heart has lead him to this idea of divorce.  It is in your written word that divorce is a result of hardened hearts.  Break Chad’s hardened heart.  Soften it again.  Your promise is that no one split us apart.  We are joined as one.”

10:00 AM  1 Peter 3:1-2

“Lord, let me be submissive to my husband.  Let me follow him with honor and respect.  Let me honor and respect his word and opinion.  It is my job and duty as wife to follow respectfully and without complaint.  I should have been doing it all along.  Don’t let it be too late.  Let me have the opportunity to show that to him again.  Let me be able to show him that I respect his word and his voice and his decisions.  Let him see that I am not grasping at straws to keep him  Let him see that I am genuine.  I have a genuine heart for him.”

11:00 AM  Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6

“Lord help me to speak with Chad today with gentleness and love and respect.  Let my voice and words encourage him.  Let my presence soften him.  Allow his heart and spirit to receive my words and voice as soothing.  Calm his soul.  Calm his spirit.  Make it still so that he can hear you clearly.”

12:00 NOON

Up until this point I had been taking time during each hour to read and pray with a scripture and write my own personal prayer according to how that scripture spoke to me.  During the noon hour I felt compelled to pray through the entire hour.  Exodus 40:9 would be my inspiration for the noon hour.  “Take the anointing oil and anoint the Tabernacle and all its furnishings to consecrate them and make them holy.”  

So I proceeded to anoint my house!  I got out my big bottle of olive oil and I laid hands on every surface that I thought my husband might even come close to coming in contact with!  I anointed the door frame so as he passed through it into our home he was crossing the blood of Jesus.  I sprinkled and poured oil across the entire front of the house, down the steps, into the driveway, and across the entrance of the driveway from the street.  The moment Chad entered onto this property he was entering holy ground.  Grounds and a home that was fully dedicated to the Lord.  I plead the blood of Jesus on this property so that negatively could not even step foot here.  Destruction could not abide here!  The devil was forbidden to step foot on these grounds or to enter into my home!  Lord, surround us with your protecting power and shield us from the enemies attacks and misdirection!

1:00 PM  Ephesians 4:31-32

“Lord, take any bitterness inside me toward Chad away.  Do not allow me to be vengeful in my speech.  Let him see a tenderness in me toward him.  Likewise, God, do not allow bitterness and malice enter with Chad.  Do not let him have the slightest thought of deception or manipulation, or hatred.  Melt him.  Soften him so that he is tender and desires to be gentle.  Allow him to forgive me for everything I have done and every way I have treated him and everything he thinks I have done.  Lord, break the walls down around him and his heart.”

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2:00 PM Psalms 88 1:-2

“I cry for my husband.  I cry out for my husband.  Hear me God.  Listen to me God.  Feel my pain.  Feel my sorrow, my loss.  Let Chad feel sorrow and loss for what he has walked away from.  Let him cry to you.  Hear his cries.  A reconstruction can only be done with a complete breaking.  We are completely broken Lord.  Allow our brokenness to be the building blocks of a newly reconstructed marriage and relationship.  Rebuild us piece by piece into a glorious new masterpiece.”

3:00 PM-the 9th Hour

John 17:4  (KJ) I have glorified thee on the earth:  I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.  vs 5 (NLT) Now, Father, bring me into the glory…

In Jesus final prayer-his final hour on earth-the ninth hour-he said “it is finished.”  His work is finished and it is time to go home.  Lord, in this final hour-this ninth hour-I declare victory in the finish!  I have done the work.  Prayed, sought your face, loved-for these nine hours I suffered through torment of the devils lies and his thievery.  I am claiming victory and holding to your promises.  I am claiming my husband and going home.  I have finished.

Within the hour Chad would be here.  I spent the entire day preparing my mind, my spirit and my home…now it was time to prepare my body!  I had to get PERTY for my man!  Freshly showered, blow dried and straightened my hair, and fixed my makeup.  I want him to walk in that door and be awe struck with the beauty of the woman standing before him!  I want his heart to skip a beat with an attraction that he hasn’t felt in a long time, if ever.  I wanted him to see me with fresh eyes as a different woman, a new woman.

I prayed that Chad would be given a plan and a strategy of his own.  That he would set criteria for me to meet.  That God would fill his mind with ideas of the woman he wants to love and that I would portray those exact ideas.  I prayed that God would equip me and guide me to fulfill every desire, every standard, every hope that Chad had set.  God, let me be the woman of my husband’s dreams, the desire of his heart.

When my husband arrived it was…awkward.  I truly did not know what to say.  I offered him dinner, which he politely declined.  I could see him looking around noticing the little changes I had made.  He complimented the new pictures that were hanging.  At one point he walked in the bedroom and he commented on the new bedding.  After visiting with the kids and dogs for a bit, it was time to face the difficult stuff.  This was the moment of truth.

What happened next and the words that were spoken was nothing short of a miracle.  Chad started by telling me he has been doing a lot of thinking…and praying.  “I have decided not to file for divorce…YET.”…hey, I’LL TAKE IT!…Now, that does not mean he was ready to come home.  As a matter of fact he said he still would not be coming home, for quite awhile actually.  He still can’t be in this house with me.  He still does not love me.  As a matter of fact he does not even look at me as his wife.  Instead, he would like to start fresh…a guy meets a girl, they go out, see how it goes, see if there is an attraction, and then just build from there.  He still has hurt and bitterness when he looks at me…I dare even say hatred.  But for the sake of the kids and all that we have invested in this marriage he is willing to see if there is hope for it to be salvaged down the road.  So, he’s going to let ME take HIM out on a date!

There were some rules..(hmm, sounds like he’s got a strategy and plan!)…this was to be like first date status…no wedding rings, no holding hands, hugging, kissing (unless HE felt led to initiate it), no talk of “our family”…just a simple boy meet girl date.  If after the conclusion of the date he felt the attraction kindling, the desire to see me again, then he would ask me out on another date.  He was allowing me 2 weeks to win his heart and affection.  If at the end of the 2 weeks he still felt nothing but resentment and disgust, the divorce was back on the table and there was probably nothing I could do at that point to change his mind.

As harsh and unreasonable as some of this may sound, it was absolute music to my ears!  Immediately I felt a huge weight was lifted and the tight grasp around my heart had been loosened.  EXACTLY what I had asked God to make happen was happening right before my eyes…in real time!  I asked God to give him a plan so I just KNEW He was going to help me to fit that plan!  I had no doubt in that moment that my husband would be coming home.

I agreed with everything Chad had to say.  I spoke softly and answered gently.  I did not challenge anything he said and accepted his proposition with contained excitement.  2 weeks didn’t seem like very much time at all to come to such an important and detrimental decision, but I knew it was just the right amount of time for God.  After all, He MUST have been the one behind this thought out plan.

As Chad walked out the door I made it a point to say “I love you” as I have missed so many opportunities to say in the past.  I closed the door, not leaving any time for response so as not to make him feel obligated to respond…still  this would turn out to have been a bad move!

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Love Worth Fighting For

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I could not sleep Tuesday night…at all.  My mind was racing, my emotions were completely unstable.  Just when I would manage to doze off I would wake up crying…maybe I woke myself up from crying, I don’t know.  Even my dog knew something was up.  She rarely comes into my room, but tonight she would not leave my side.  She slept curled up on the floor next to Chad’s side of the bed.  Every once in awhile she would walk over to mine and lay her chin on the bed, I would stroke her head and then she would go lay back down.

I finally just got up.  I was supposed to be at work in just a couple hours.  There was no way I was going to make it through a day working with the public with my emotional state of mind.  I texted one of my third shift co-workers to try to figure out if I could just come in for a couple of hours to get my paperwork done and then duck out.  After finding out it was only going to be me and one other employee I felt doomed.  He ended up calling me and I told him everything that was going on.  There were few people that I wanted to get into the details of this with, but this person had been a great friend in faith to me since I had begun working there.  Immediately he took charge of the situation.  He told me to stay home, he had me covered.  He told me to rest and to pray.  To prepare myself, my home, and my mind for the meeting to come Thursday.  And as far as he was concerned, I was not coming in to work Thursday either.  He had me covered that day as well so I could spend the day in preparation for Chad’s visit.  My priority was to my marriage and to my family right now.  Thank God for placing just the right people in my life!  For setting me up and already preparing me and equipping me for what was going to be the fight of my life!

Now I was really awake.  I felt restless.  Like I had to take action NOW and not let one minute go to waste.  I began to write.  I wrote Chad a letter.  If he wasn’t going to hear me out in person or on the phone then I was going to take another approach.  Something he said to me Tuesday haunted me.  He said he felt like I have been searching for something and he thinks it has a lot to do with the fact that I got married so young and that I was trying to recreate or get back what I had missed out on.  That was so far from the truth.  I had exactly what I had always wanted!  I knew since I was a little girl that I wanted so badly to be married.  To be a wife, a mother.  I knew that I wanted to be a YOUNG mother!  So I could be active and involved with my kids!  That was my dream.  That IS my dream.  I was reminded of a word that was spoken to me on my missions trip in January.  In an altar service a word was given to me through one of our interpreters.  I was told that God was going to give me my desires, and that God was going to remind me of what my true desires are. Well, at the time, I couldn’t quite put my finger on that.  I had been mauling over the idea of going back to school, so in the moment I thought well that must have something to do with my new endeavors.  Isn’t it amazing how we feel like we have to grab onto everything in the NOW?  I wanted that word to confirm my desires in THAT moment.  I couldn’t see beyond that it was not yet a word for that moment, but a future moment.

And I wrote…

“I don’t know where or when exactly I lost sight of that.  I think it must be when I graduated from college.  College was not what I expected.  It didn’t turn out how I planned.  Here is what in my mind was supposed to happen.  Grandma was dying…I was supposed to be able to help her.  Save her.  That is how it was going to happen in my mind.  But she died….When I lost her I lost my purpose for school.  But I couldn’t fail at it.I had already asked for so much sacrifice of you and the kids with our time and money  that I felt like I had to make it work…I wanted to see through that I did right by you.  But I never did…a part of me always felt (still does) that I let you down.  And I felt guilty for taking that all away from you.  I know what I was searching for.  I was searching for a way to not let my degree-all the time I took from you and the kids, all the money that is wrapped up in it-to not let it be for nothing…ironically the pursuit to make it up to you consumed me the wrong way.”  (excerpt) 

I had a plan.  I was going to drive to my husband’s work, with this letter.  I was going to place the letter in his car…and that was pretty much it!  That was my plan.  My “well thought out, strategic” plan.  It was all I had so that was what I was going with, and then I just prayed that God used it and built off of it.

” I love you.  I have always loved you-I will always love you…you were created and sent specifically for me.  You are the only one who could put up with me, support me, love me for all of my flaws and attitude.  And for that I am also sorry…that I have taken full advantage of that so much to the point that I actually pushed you over the edge of not being able to handle it anymore…I took your love for granted thinking it would always be unconditional and be everlasting..”

I got in my car and drove.  And as I drove I prayed.  I am all about my worship music in my car, but today I needed my silence.  I needed to concentrate.  I had to focus.

God!  Help me!  Help my words to speak to Chad’s heart.  Soften his heart so that he is receptive to my words.  Start chipping the barriers away from his heart and his mind so that he is receptive to YOUR words.  Allow him to hear your voice and to see your face.  Give him the desire to seek your face and to begin listening for your voice.  Protect him from the enemies attacks.  Surround him with your angels, not only to guard him and shield him, but to FIGHT for him.  To fight off the blows of the enemy as he targets him.

The closer I got to Chad’s work the more nervous I got, and the harder I prayed.  I prayed that when he found the letter that he would actually read it.  I prayed for God to prepare his mind even now at this moment.  Begin filling his thoughts with thoughts of longing for me and for our marriage.  Fill his mind with a longing to hear from God.  God start speaking to Chad in such a way that he will recognize you unmistakably.  Fill his van with your Holy Spirit so that when he enters in he enters directly into your presence.  Surround his van with your angels so that before he even approaches his vehicle he is already coming into contact with heavenly presence.

I placed my letter in the front seat of Chad’s car, and I left.  I was leaving in God’s hands now.  Only God could soften the harshness and bitterness that I saw, heard and felt the other day.  Only God could save this marriage and relationship.

As I headed back toward home you would think that I would be feeling some sort of relief at this point.  Some sort of satisfaction that I took a step that I was confident God was going to use.  Instead I was filled with a rage!

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The entire drive to Chad’s work I was calling out to God.  Now I found myself calling out the devil himself.  I began yelling and challenging him!  I couldn’t help myself.  I called him out for the coward he is!  How DARE he come after my husband!  How DARE he pick on someone not his own size! Chad was not in a good spiritual place to be dealing with a spiritual attack.  And that is exactly what the devil went after.  How sneaky, how cowardly, and quite frankly, how lazy!  It wasn’t even a challenge for him!  He swooped right in while my husband was vulnerable and I was wearing blinders, and he walked right out the front door with him.  I demanded that he back off.  I demanded that he give my husband back.  I demanded that he come at me instead.  I was ready for him.  And if he wasn’t going to come at me head on, then I was certainly going to go at him head on!  I was not letting my husband go without a fight.  The enemy may have avoided a fight with Chad, but he was not going to avoid one with me.  I would hold onto my husband until death, and I would take on the devil himself if that’s what it would take.

“This hurts so deeply, but I know this must have bee the only way God could have gotten my attention.  I have been so absorbed with moving forward with blinders on that I had to be thrown completely off the bridge to see the view.”

Now it was time to get my  house in order.  I went home and I began to clean.  I folded cloths, I cleaned out cloths, I tidied up our bedroom, I washed dishes, and I organized the living room.  As I looked around the living room there were little reminders of my missions trip all around.  Very strong and loud I could hear Chad’s words in my head:  “I do not believe in your missions trips.  I don’t think they are right, and I do not believe in what you are doing.”  He had a lot of resentment towards those trips.  It took his time away with his wife, it took attention away from him with his wife, and it took away his money.  He had no desire to go himself, and after time he had no desire to see me go.

I was faced with a question.  The night my parents came over my dad asked me pointedly:  “Would you give up your trips for Chad?  Would you give up going to Mexico if it meant saving your marriage?”…WHAT?!  Did I have to choose really one over the other?  Did I have to make a choice between God’s work and my husband’s feelings?…Yes.  Yes I did.  I had to make a choice between saving my marriage or going on a trip.  And I had to make that choice clear.

I took down the pictures of Mexico, of the kids, and replaced them with pictures of our family.  Chad made it clear he did not want to be bombarded with confessions of my undying love.  He made it clear that he no longer loved me and could not see us together at this point.  So the photos were of me and the kids only.  When he walked in the door Thursday I wanted him to see me as a woman and a mother.  I wanted him to have a fresh vision of me.  I wanted him to get a flutter in his heart for this woman standing in her home, taking care of her home and taking care of her children.

I had a new plan.

I went to the store and purchased all new bedding for our room.  Things were not the same between us and if I had any hope of him coming home, our bedroom was definitely one place that things would not be the same.  It needed to be a new neutral environment.  A place where a fresh start could eventually take place.

I continued to pray through the day and into the night.  I knelt down at my husband’s side of the bed and prayed for him.  I prayed that God would speak directly into his ears.  I prayed that God’s voice would be audible and recognizable.  I prayed that Chad would begin to pray.  That he would be overcome with an uncontrollable urge and desire to pray and seek God’s voice and that he would be listening.  Because I knew if he would just allow God’s voice to enter into his mind and heart then it would be inevitable that his heart would be changed.  That his mind and decision would be changed.  But it had to be his own.  He had to recognize it himself.  He had to come to the conclusion on his own through his own personal account with God.

Tonight I slept.  I had a big day ahead of me tomorrow.  Tomorrow would be the day Chad’s mind must be changed.  There was still so much preparation.  Spiritual preparation.  Our church had been called to a day of prayer.  I was committed to a day of prayer and fasting.  Nine hours of prayer.  Nine hours of being submerged in God’s presence and will.  Nine hours to prepare my own mind, heart,and spirit.  If I didn’t win this day, I knew I would not win.

“I am the woman who will love you, defend you, fight for you, take care of you, support you, and submit to you until the day I die.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Lost

I have waited a long time to put my full heart and story out there.  I have revealed pieces, and overall the people in our lives know that we faced a really rocky point in our marriage.  I have referenced how I almost lost my husband and marriage and spoken of the milestones we have accomplished in the last year, but I have yet to have disclosed the full story.  The origin of it all.  The demons in the closet, if you will.  Today I begin to tell it all.  Not to just tell a story, but to hopefully offer encouragement to another woman, another wife, another mother.  To offer support and understanding to another couple.  To offer sympathy to a love lost.  To offer hope to a love not yet lost.

One year ago today I was not celebrating Valentine’s Day like I had planned and certainly not how I hoped.  As a matter of fact I did not get to celebrate it at all.  I remember, it was a Sunday.  My husband did not “feel well” and did not make it to church that morning.  I didn’t feel well myself but was hoping to come home to some sort of surprise.  The surprise was…there was no surprise.  No “happy Valentine’s Day honey”, no flowers, no candy, no new outfit, not even a recognition that it was V-Day.  Just my husband laying in a dark house showing literally no emotion.  I wasn’t feeling well myself so my treats turned out to be self-bought Theraflu, Tylenol Cold & Flu, tea, and a slew of vitamins.  We both kept to our corners of the living room and eventually our corners of the house.  Barely a few words were spoken all day…if only I had recognized…I had felt the true thickness in the air.  If only I had gone out of my way and taken a step of love on my own.  This was the last biggest mistake I had ever made.  For had I known what my husband had been feeling,thinking, planning in those moments and days leading up I would have given my very life to prevent what happened next.

Valentine’s Day came and went in our household completely avoided.  The most extensive conversation Chad and I had was that he said he wanted to talk to me about some things when he got home from work the next day, but he didn’t want to get into it now because he didn’t feel well.  Again, HOW did I not see it coming?!  WHY didn’t I feel how weighted that statement was?

February 15, 2016 at approx 3:30pm my husband walked through the door…I don’t even think he sat down-I don’t know-this is a bit of a blur, he just lingered near the door, and he very matter of factly told me that he was leaving and would be filing for a divorce.  He already had a place to stay…he would be staying with a friend from work, he already had his bags packed and loaded in the van along with some of his other belongings, he even had already spoken to a lawyer.  It was settled and he would be back later in the week to sit down and discuss living/visiting arrangements with the kids and the bill payment situation.  He was not going to leave me without the house and a vehicle.  He was going to make sure we were taken care of and comfortable, but he could not be here, in this house, in this marriage, anymore.  And then he left.

My head started SPINNING!  Everything from the day before, the months before started flooding into my mind.  If I were to imagine what it feels like for your life to flash before your eyes in a moment of tragedy this was it!  In what seemed like several minutes, but I am sure was only several seconds, I saw the entire day before play out.  I saw my son’s birthday a week before-when he didn’t seem quite right, I saw my missions trip in January-when he was so supportive and teasing when I came home.  I saw our discussions about going back to school-when he was encouraging and driving.  I saw us at Christmas and Thanksgiving with all of the different family-when at times if felt oddly strained and a little disconnected but not obviously broken.  I saw us on our anniversary trip when we spent days hiking and he presented me with a new beautiful ring of my dreams…I saw it all: the good times, the fun times, the bad and difficult times, the arguments, the make ups…I was overwhelmed with a feeling of…confusion, FAKE and deception!  Had any of those good moments actually been good?  Were they genuine at all?  Were the strained and off moments my moments of missed opportunities?

A wail rose up out of me that I almost did not recognize as my own.  I collapsed into the floor and just melted in despair.  I felt like I had just been notified of my husband’s death!  And I guess in a way that is exactly what had just happened.  He was no longer mine.  He was no longer here.  And supposedly he would never be back.  Within a few moments I felt warm, strong arms around me.  “I love you mom” my son says to me as he slipped a piece of paper into my hand.  “I’m going for a walk, but I’ll be back.”

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It took me a moment but I opened up the letter to the words my son wrote.  In the midst of it all the 2 things that stuck out to me the most and I still remember clear to this day “fight for the man you love”…and he wrote the words of Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”  Next I did what any heartbroken girl does…I called my mom and dad.

The next days were going to be critical.  Because once I got through the shock and raw emotion, it was time for a plan.  A specific course of action that was going to bring my husband back.  This was delicate!  No amount of begging, pleading, promising to Chad was going to bring him home to me…although I did still try just in case it held up with any form of authenticity.  I had to be fierce and unrelenting and come up with a battle plan against the enemy, all while being gentle, humble, and genuine while dealing directly with Chad.  I had to be strategic, strong, patient, calm.  I could not be manipulative or harsh.  God was going to have to infuse me with all of the elements and traits that would allow me to win.  Win the battle, win his heart.

I spoke with Chad on Tuesday, the next day.  This is where the begging came into play to really no avail.  This is the day I confessed my undying love and commitment…with absolutely no reciprocation.  This is the day I realized who I was REALLY going up against and that Chad was NOT my enemy.  I tried to understand how Chad had come to this decision and why he felt like this was the only solution.  I tried to approach his logic from a spiritual perspective and hopefully help him see that this was not a spiritual answer.  I asked him if he had been praying about this and simply stated that if he felt like this was the answer that he was given then this answer was not from God.  This is not biblical and was not a solution that would be suggested by God.  His answer put it all into perspective to me…”I never said this came from God… I just finally got the courage to do this.”

I knew in that first statement that I was going to have to go head to head with the devil himself.  I was going to have to take my husband back.  I was going to have to plead the blood of protection around my husband’s mind and body…because that dirty devil just picked a fight with a girl…a woman of God!  And he was in for a fight!

Chad told me he would be by the house on Thursday after work to see the kids and to sit down and talk.  And by talk he meant establish visiting arrangements with the kids and bill payment arrangements.  Thursday.  2 days.  I had 2 days for God to work a MIRACLE!  2 days for God to soften Chad’s heart and change his mind.  2 days for God to work me over and transform me into the woman Chad wished to love…

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…to be continued

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Pursuit of Ministry

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My husband and I have taken quite the step this year by making the decision to pursue our ministry credentials together in our church organization.  We have had quite the journey getting to this point and I must say I never expected this to happen.  It’s truly amazing what God can accomplish in your life and your relationship when you actually let God work on you and your relationship…specifically your marriage.

It’s hard to believe that almost a year ago our marriage almost came to an end.  For being such an involved couple in our church, we were far from involved in our marriage and relationship with each other and with our own family.  And that sounds even more bizarre when you take into account that the church we attended and worked in was my PARENT’S church!  My dad was the pastor, my sister was the youth pastor, my brother was in the worship band, my husband ran the sound and was on the pastor’s council, and I was the children’s leader…my whole family was involved in the church and in ministry, but at some point the work in ministry took over the true meaning and value of ministry.  My husband lost enjoyment in our ministries (if he ever really even had enjoyment begin with.)  It turned into a routine…like showing up for a job.  We didn’t even get to enjoy being in church together because as soon as we showed up we separated.  He went straight to the sound booth and I would either go to my seat for  worship service or straight downstairs to lead children’s church.  I missed being with him on Sunday mornings, but I can’t say that I really thought a lot about our situation.  Like I said, it was routine.  My husband, on the other hand, was very much affected by this scenario and apparently thought about it (or began thinking about it) a lot.  It took a toll on his mind and spirit.  He was miserable and suffering…and sadly I had no idea.  We hit a brick wall in our marriage and the time came that we had to renew our relationship not only with each other, but with God.

There was a struggle and certainly a process.  Our marriage almost came to an end!  This forced me to get serious about what was really important and evaluate my priorities…my family had to come first.  First before ministry, first before church, but second after God.  I stepped completely out of ministry as did my husband.  We left our church, left my parents.  We had to find a place where we could just sit back and be a family on a pew.  We were open with our new pastor about our struggles and our past and he welcomed us in with open arms and compassion.  The kids immediately grounded themselves in the youth group and they were able to honestly and without reserve open up about their own struggles.  We allowed ourselves as individuals and as a family to be ministered TO for awhile.

A great opportunity came up for us to take part in a leadership development program.  We dove right in not wanting to miss any opportunity of learning more about God’s word and His purpose for our lives.  We wanted to take advantage of every chance to soak up more knowledge, inspiration, and guidance.  God worked a miracle in our marriage for a reason, and we did not want to give the enemy one inch of wiggle room to wedge a divide between us again.  We knew that God had a calling on each of our lives and we finally broke down and handed Him the reigns to start driving us toward those callings.  What a relief to hand it over to Him.  To stop fighting the idea and trying to run from our callings.  My husband and I were, for the first time, running towards our callings.  And the best part was that we were doing it as one.

Then that day came when I felt God calling out to me to step back into a ministry role.  I heard it, I felt it loud and clear and almost painfully…and yet I still tried to ignore it and turn my head to it.  You see, I made a vow when I stepped away from ministry that I would not step back into ministry unless I would be doing it along side my husband.  If we were not called together then I was not called by myself.  This has been pivotal in our relationship with each other and with God.  So when I felt the pull to step back into children’s ministry at our new church I did not make a move!  I was not going to be the one to make the decision and take the first step.  I knew that if this was truly what God was calling me to then he would call my husband too.  So I waited.  And of course, I didn’t say a word to my husband about it!  He kept asking me though!  He would ask if I wanted to do it, or if I felt like I should do it.  I just denied it because the truth was I COULDN’T do it.  I couldn’t bring myself to it unless I knew we would be doing it together, but I couldn’t suggest that to my husband because I had to know if he made the decision to be involved it would have to be his own decision…or him recognizing that God specifically was speaking to him to do it.  And that’s exactly what happened.  Point blank, he said “We should do this.  You need to do this, and so I need to do this with you.”

We began working in children’s ministry together…as a team…as a couple.  We have stirred over the idea of becoming full time children’s pastors if that is what God wants us to do.   We are enjoying working together during our Kids Church weeks and worshiping together on our off weeks.  We have started looking toward the future in our pursuit of ministry and have begun the process of obtaining our credentials in ministry together.  And I believe the next step on this journey together is a step across the border into the missions field.  I have already taken that step on my own (having been on 6 missions trips in the last 5 years), but I know that I am not meant to walk it alone.  This coming summer all of our kids will have traveled to Mexico with me, so my husband gets the next trip.

I do not believe any part of our journey in ministry is meant to be walked alone.  I believe God has called my husband and I together.  We may not be called to do the same thing or minister in the same way.  We may not even be called to the same areas of ministry, but I know that we are meant to serve together regardless.  Even if it means walking along side my husband in his area of ministry so that he can fulfill his call, and my husband walking along my side so that I can fulfill mine…where he serves, I serve…where he goes I go.  Likewise, where I serve, he serves…where I go, he goes.  We are in this pursuit of ministry TOGETHER!

 

 

From Prudence to Proverbs

Week 1 Wrap-Up (A Virtuous Life Bible Study)

As my study in prudence continued through last week, we read in the books of Ruth and Proverbs.  One thing I learned about myself already in this study is that I am not as insightful as I thought I was!  Who knew the story of Ruth was full of so much symbolism and foreshadowing into the new testament?  (Well, obviously some people did…I just was not one of them.)  I am so thankful for the online resources being posted for this study and for the numerous comments and perspectives that are shared by others that are participating.  Without hearing other people’s thoughts I would have never connected the symbolism in Ruth’s story!  I certainly did not recognize that we can actually parallel our relationship with Christ with the relationship of Ruth and Boaz.  If there is one thing I hope to take away at the end of this series it will be to learn how to open my mind more to a creative way of thinking and to learn how to meditate in and on the Word for a revelation in meaning.

I personally read into the story of Ruth a little more literally though.  Perhaps it is because I am on such a specific quest to improve myself and my own marriage that I focused in more on the love story.  The love story of a devoted and loving daughter-in-law who was honorable and caring well beyond any obligations.  The love story of a meek and patient woman who pursued ever so gently, humbly, and honorably a man who would provide and care for her in the ways she deserved.  A love story of a Godly man who took notice of a woman because of her true virtue and strength not because of fleshly lust or desires.  Ruth is a beautiful example of how a respectful woman approaches a respectable man and wins his heart through God.Proverbs 31 has become my manual, my go-to guide.  “A woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.”  To me that verse sums up the whole idea of being a virtuous woman.  But I love all of the specific examples this chapter gives as practical insight.  And although some things may not seem “practical” today, the ideas can still be applied and modified to fit into our changing times and roles.  I really see Proverbs 31 as a standard set for women, wives, and future wives.  Both a standard for men to look for in a Godly woman and a standard for women to strive for in Christ.  These attributes and traits listed throughout the chapter I believe are offered to us because not only are they pleasing to men but they are pleasing to God as well.  If we strive for these qualities for our husbands then we strive for these qualities for God and as obedience to His standards.  I also believe that if wives strive for Godly goals and attributes then so will our husbands.  If they want good wives then they will be good husbands.

I was beside myself with fear and disappointment in myself when my husband walked out on me.  All I wanted to do was make him happy with me again.  For him to look at me and feel absolute love.  I started praying for a way to make that happen.  I prayed for God to give me the opportunity to be the wife my husband desired and for him to see in me the woman he loves.  I prayed for guidance and insight and I began reading Proverbs 31.  My prayer every day from that moment was to become this Proverbs 31 Wife.

 

 

 

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