Our Redemption Story: Part 7

Prologue, Part 1, Part 2 Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

I have my husband’s full support and permission in sharing the details of our story. He and I are completely different people now and are eager to share our story of redemption, because our desire is that God would use it to give others hope.

When I went back home for our baby’s doctor’s appointment, Will and I were ready to get back together. Because of the scare of possibly losing his family, he was ready to do everything he could to not give into temptation. Miraculously, we were only separated for about 3 weeks.

We went to counseling and stayed accountable to the few people who knew our situation. One time, about a month after we got back together, he didn’t come home.  I confronted him and told him I wouldn’t put up with this again; if it happened again, I’d leave again. That was the last time it ever happened.

About 3 months after we were reconciled, Will got a revelation from God. God wanted to deal with the root of the issue, and Will was ready to respond. He realized that because of his broken relationship with his earthly father, he didn’t view God as a loving father. He pictured God as almighty, all powerful, and way out there somewhere, but not a God who could have an intimate relationship with him, who would care about the little things, and love him no matter what. Once he understood God in this new way, the bondage of sexual sin was broken off of him! He was on fire for the Lord and acted like a different person.

A month later, God wanted to reward us for being committed to the covenant of our marriage. We found out I was pregnant again! When we learned it was a boy, we quickly settled on a name that meant, “Gift from God.” Since then, we’ve been blessed with 3 more children, and we just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. The Lord Thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save… Zephaniah 3:17.

If someone you love is struggling with addiction (a sinful habit they can’t break), something I learned from our story is this. Usually a Christian’s addiction stems from one of two wrong belief systems. Either they have a tainted view of who God says they are, or a misperception of who God says he is.  Pray for God to give them a revelation of who he made them to be and who God really is. The reality of those two things has the power to break addiction. What keeps us in bondage? Satan’s lies about us or his lies about God. Remember what he said to Eve? “Did God REALLY say…” Then he convinced her that what God said wouldn’t happen (Genesis 3:1-19). Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Satan deceives, kills, steals, and destroys, but Jesus came to give us abundant life, life to the fullest. He’s so ready and able to open up people’s spiritual eyes so the truth can bring their freedom.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:17-19a

 

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Look Up

At the end of a crazy week, Matt and I found a few hours to get away. Heading down to the beach, we were surprised to find the parking lot not only full of cars but people sitting and standing all around. We thought maybe something was happening on the pier until we noticed the common factor. Their phones. Every single person was looking down at their phones. Every one. I was so confused until Matt said that maybe they were playing Pokémon Go or something similar (This is NOT a commentary for or against the game).

We walked through the crowd out onto the pier where the sun was glistening off the water, and the waves were hitting the beach. Hot and windy, it was my favorite time to be near the water and I was loving every minute of it. Eventually, there was a steady stream of people walking towards the end of the pier.  A mom and dad passed us, a little girl on her daddy’s shoulders. The sun was hitting her bouncing curls just right as she pointed at the seagulls and chatted away. Only they weren’t listening. They barely looked up except to make sure they were walking the right way.

And then I got mad. And judgmental. So mad that I wanted to yell at them, LOOK UP!

 Don’t you see what you’re missing?

 Look up!

That scene stuck with me, only instead of telling those people, I felt convicted MYSELF. How many times have I missed the beauty around me, either in creation or in the faces of my loved ones, because I was distracted by something less important? DSC_0039

Will you join me today? In the midst of lists, and work, and even fun things, let’s look up. Be present to see, really see, the faces and beauty around us.

Chasing the Wind

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If you simplify your life, quit chasing the wind, and be quiet before Him, He’ll show up.” Chip Ingram

Quit chasing the wind <—-That right there. That phrase speaks to me.

I can add that phrase to “stop the glorification of busy,” be true to yourself,” and “you are enough.” Combine all 4 of those phrases and you have my summer mantra.

I’ve written and erased so many words….wanting to share with you my thoughts on what those phrases mean to me and how they’ve changed how I feel about many things, how I now approach my days or think about things. The thing is, each time I try to express my thoughts, it just doesn’t seem to be the right way. The words don’t do the thoughts justice. And those who know me know I’m all about justice. By the way, I wrote that last sentence while chuckling, but it is true.

I would love to encourage you to embrace those phrases for yourself, to really allow them to sink in and not just say them, to maybe even change a few things in your thoughts, in your life…to own those phrases. But I realize that we are all on a different path and in a different place. It’s taken me a long time….in my opinion, too long….to quit chasing the wind, to quit pursuing the wrong things,to quit trying to fit in within the wrong places. It’s very freeing to realize that we are not meant to pursue it all, or to fit in in all areas or places.  And then to release a big sigh when you actually allow yourself to be still and find the path your supposed to be on, to find the place you do fit in. When that square peg finally finds that square hole….good gravy, it’s a beautiful thing. So, what do I mean by fitting in? I mean…fitting into your own skin. Being all you. Not feeling like you have to be doing what everyone else is doing. To be quiet enough to hear that still small voice….that voice that gives you peace…God’s voice….and go in that direction.

Wishing you beauty and freedom today. Take a nice slow walk and quit chasing the wind.

 

 

 

 

Our Redemption Story: He’s Always Been Faithful – Part 6

Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

There’s a song called “He’s Always Been Faithful,” by Sara Groves. It has been a favorite of ours. During the year we weren’t dating, I was asked to participate in a talent show at my co-worker’s church. I really loved this song and could play it on the piano, but I wanted guitar too. I invited Will to come along to play and sing with me. We have been able to sing it together many times since, and it has become an anthem for our relationship.

I will share the lyrics with you so you know can see how this song has been a testament to God’s faithfulness even when we didn’t know how his faithfulness would work out difficult situations for us.

Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me.

I can’t remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can’t remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me.

This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful, He’s always been faithful
He’s always been faithful to me.

 Though the pastor forgot during our ceremony, we were supposed to have the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” in our wedding. Sara Groves’s song is based on that hymn. We have sung “He’s Always Been Faithful” together in various churches quite a bit. Each time was either during a time of uncertainty when we were counting on God to be faithful, or right after a time like that when we could sing about his faithfulness with absolute conviction.

When I was staying with my parents, I was asked to sing in church one Sunday. Of course, I chose this song, and sang it as a prayer: “I can’t remember a trial or a pain he did not recycle to bring me gain… God has been faithful, he will be again…” I didn’t know if God would heal my marriage, but I desperately prayed he would, and I knew that he would show his faithfulness in my life once again. I sang it expecting that he would do a miracle, and I sang my heart out.

 

Our Redemption Story: Part 5

Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

I have my husband’s full support and permission in sharing the details of our story. He and I are completely different people now and are eager to share our story of redemption, because our desire is that God would use it to give others hope.

In the bank’s parking lot, I asked him if he wanted to follow me to the car to say goodbye to the baby. After he did, I awkwardly hugged his limp arms, said I loved him, and told him I wasn’t looking for a divorce. He walked away without saying a word. He was so mad.

With my dad, I began the 5 hour trip to my parents’ house. It took a few hours longer since the baby was colicky. When we got there, we moved things around in the spare room so the baby and I could both fit with our stuff. Then I hung up a few pictures of Will over the changing pad so our baby wouldn’t forget him. I was so broken, worried of what would happen with my marriage, and exhausted from taking care of a baby who wouldn’t nap or sleep well out of my arms. I was also a bit relieved, because now I had a lot more help with the baby and support from people who knew what was going on – something that was missing from my day to day life back home.

It felt so good to have the physical comfort of my parents. I remember tearful conversations with my mom while navigating each step from separation to reconciliation. She would pray and give practical advice when necessary, then remind me to trust God when there wasn’t more to say. Her godly wisdom and presence helped me get through.

I hadn’t heard from or called my husband since I had gotten there, but one day while my parents were out, I was trying to figure out how to hook up their video camera to the TV so I could watch my wedding video. I needed help and saw that as an excuse to call Will. It was less than a week after I had gotten there. He didn’t know how to help me over the phone, but somehow, just the fact that we were talking started to soften his heart. He told me he got a credit card and bought a computer. He wanted to set up a time to chat online with me. When he told me his screen name, I didn’t comment, but I had a little flicker of hope. He used parts of both of our names in his screen name!

After the initial anger about me leaving him and being kicked out of our apartment, he started to realize that the addiction and all of his actions that went along with that weren’t worth losing his family over. We started talking more, especially online, because neither one of us had many minutes on our prepaid phones. Almost immediately after our first conversation, he said he wanted to do whatever it would take to get me back. He was sorry for everything and ready to do whatever would be needed to overcome the addiction and work toward healing our marriage.

He was done with Canada. He was ready to stop working at the restaurant. He set out to prove that he was ready to make changes so he could take care of our family. He interviewed for a more professional job and got it. Working full time during the day would help him be more accountable to come home straight after work. Because a man’s sense of worth is often wrapped up in his vocation, working a “real job” would help with his depression and give him a purpose.

There were a bunch of financial hurdles that we had to work through. Though he was making good money at times at the restaurant, much of it had been blown to feed the addiction as he got further into it, so it had been hard to pay our bills. He used the new credit card to get some other things for the room he had to rent. He got into more debt to buy a suit for the interview and a few more after he was offered the position. The job required him to get licensed in the field, which of course cost money. It was a commission only job, so after he took it, there were times when we couldn’t pay our bills. It looked to be a rough ride in more ways than one if we were going to work toward reconciliation. God was doing a miraculously quick work in us, and we were ready to take those steps.

 

 

Our Redemption Story: The Vase -Part 4

vase

Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

I have my husband’s full support and permission in sharing the details of our story. He and I are completely different people now and are eager to share our story of redemption, because our desire is that God would use it to give others hope.

The day before I left my husband, my friend and her husband came over to help me pack. She had a gift for me. Before I opened it, she started crying and said something like, “I’m not crying because of the cost or value of this gift, I’m crying because of what it means.” I opened it, looked at it, and started crying too. Up until then, I thought I was the only one who believed that God could heal my marriage. God used my friend and this gift to give me so much hope!

The gift was a beautiful vase that has 5 sides. Each side has a quote from 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter, on it. It says, “Love always perseveres. Love always hopes. Love always trusts. Love always protects. Love never fails.”

Since the day I received the vase, I’ve always had the “Love never fails,” side facing out. When circumstances, emotions, and actions said something very different, I held on to this promise, and believed in a miracle with all my heart.

Years after we our reconciliation, we got home from vacation to find that our cat had knocked over and broken the vase. I told Will it was my most prized possession, and I was so upset. He comforted me and said it looked fixable. It broke into 3 different pieces with the biggest missing chunk going right through the words, “Love never fails.”

I love the vase even more now with cracks showing and all, because it is a clearer, truer picture of our story. It’s like a parable telling its viewers of an almost hopeless, broken time where God bound up our wounds and turned our ashes into beauty. He truly made all things new. Without our messed up, ugly past, we wouldn’t have developed the character needed to become who we are today. What situations, people, and experiences have molded you into the beautifully broken and put-back-together-again person you are now?

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:7-9