A Weekend At Women’s Encounter

I  attended my second Women’s Encounter this past weekend.  This time as a Server, rather than an Attendee. 

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  If you remember, Women’s Encounter played a very big role in the saving of my marriage.  Although it was so incredibly amazing, I never wanted to go back.

Ever. 

I just thought it’d be so hard to go back and face those memories.

  I was wrong.

It was healing. Freeing.

AMAZING.

  Not only did I attend, but I did the 20 minute teaching on Forgiveness. Talk about out of my comfort zone! I think God likes to keep us there on purpose, so it’s ALL HIM! :)

      I was privileged to serve an AMAAAZING group of extraordinary women, alongside my best friend. The praise music was rockin’, the voices of 130+ women, lifted in unison, gave me chills…all praising a Father in Heaven that loved them too much to keep them the way they were.

 There were many, many burdens let go this weekend. Many captives set free. Marriages Saved.  Lives changed.  Many tears shed. Many intercessory prayers, raised.

It was breathtakingly beautiful!

This is NO “retreat”. This is a tear down the walls, lay it all at the feet of Jesus, come back new and changed kind of weekend. A weekend SO bathed in prayer, before, during and after, that you can feel the power of the Holy Spirit reverberating through the room. Incredible.

     I am too emotionally drained to write anymore, so instead, I’d like to share a bit of my teaching with you, I had photos that went along with each section, because, photos are worth a thousand words on their own!  I’ll include a few of those too, for fun………..

   I am here today to talk to you about forgiveness, to tell you how to live forgiveness, to paint a picture of what it looks like in action.  The reason I know how to do this, is be cause I am currently learning to live it every single day of my life here on this earth.
See, I sent my husband of 9 years, to July 2011’s Men’s Encounter because I1) wedding was ready for him to kick it up a notch, as the Spiritual leader of our home.  He came home ready to be that man, but he also came home with an ugly secret. A secret of betrayal of the very covenant our marriage was built on.  The horrible gut wrenching pain I experienced that night, was caused by MY LOVER.

MY SOUL MATE.

MY VERY BEST FRIEND.

The man I loved most.

The man I SAVED myself for.

The man I gave EVERYTHING to.

Everything I held dear to me was stripped away and there I was, just reeling in the shock and pain of it all, sobs wracking my body, as on hand clung to my husband’s neck like a life line, the other hand, formed in a fist, pounding his chest, SCREAMING at him: How DARE you! How could you!?

The man I was one with, had become one with another. 

The man I gave my heart to, had discarded it for a few moments of lust.  The man I gave my everything to, had weighed the cost and found me the loser.

  I felt my heart fall out of my chest and down to the floor, where it shattered in a million pieces.

Life would never be the same, would it?

  I was divorcing my best friend, taking our 4 kids and walking.

2) 4 little Fergusons

He had made his choice…….

 I had made MINE!

    I went on to talk about God the Father, the Great Healer, the restorer of my soul.  The God who makes beauty from the ashes of our lives, if only we LET HIM.  I told them about my first Encounter and my moment on stage at church after I got home:

  I take a DEEP BREATH my throat thick with tears, my eyes seeking Dale out in the crowd: “And to my husband…….I want you to know that I love you, and I FORGIVE YOU. You are my soul mate, and what God has put together, Satan will NEVER separate because……..I. choose. us.“

3) Love of my life
He came running up to the stage bawling and swooped me in his arms. As we kissed and cried I looked him in the eyes and told him over and over, I forgive you, I DO! I feel so great! So light and free!    It was one of the most beautiful moments in my life!

6) I AM FREE
I am so free, I am so light, I am a NEW woman in Christ. I am loving Dale fully with my whole, restored, new heart……….

I talked more about forgiveness and what God says about it.  Why its required of us, then closed with these final 6 thoughts:

1)  Forgiveness is not some fluffy feeling. It’s a decision to release the guilty person from future punishment and to stop focusing on them.  Even when we don’t “feel” like forgiving, we need to forgive in order to live. “Feeling hurt” is a fire alarm for our souls.
Picture this: An apartment’s fire alarm blares. Instead of escaping, tenants decide to wait to take action until they “feel” the heat of the fire. Would that be reasonable? No way!
If we don’t forgive, we’ll burn up with the fire of anger, we‘ll be goners before we even take our chance to escape.

2) Forgiveness isn’t about the past, it’s about the future.
You can’t change the past. It’s done. By choosing not to forgive, you’re allowing the negative past to affect your present and future. You were bought with a price, don’t let that other persons actions own any more.


3) Forgiveness is an ACTION
. When you choose to forgive, you’re choosing to let go of the resentment and bitterness that can build up in your own heart.


4) Forgiveness is more for YOU, than THE OTHER PERSON.
It’s FOR YOU. Just go for it and choose to forgive, YOU are the benefactor!  They’re out of the picture at this point. Forgiving isn’t the same as forgetting. It isn’t a divine form of amnesia. God doesn’t ask us to live as people without a history or pretend that sins never happened. In fact, being able to recall how God has delivered us through these storms, empowering us to confess, forgive, and overcome, can give us hope and an anchor in future storms. Stories of forgiveness and reconciliation can also become part of the way you seek to strengthen and encourage others in their lives.


5) Forgiveness is a decision to sacrifice.
God’s forgiveness required the sacrifice of His Son to pay the penalty for sin. Our forgiveness requires sacrifices, too, though of a different sort. On some days, forgiveness will seem natural and easy. On other days you’ll feel ready to give up before the day is done, but work at it. Fight for it!  Growing in forgiveness will require you to stay focused on Jesus, interacting with Him and learning from him just as you must do in every other area of life.


6) Freedom is a choice, CHOOSE IT.
  FORGIVE, and you will be set FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    For when you genuinely forgive, you set a prisoner free and then discover the prisoner set free was……YOU!

   Tomorrow, I want to share the 12 Steps of Forgiveness with you.  And next month, I want to teach you how to make the flip-flops I made for Kasey and I to wear to our Encounter weekend.  :)

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~T

4) Nail cross

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15 thoughts on “A Weekend At Women’s Encounter

  1. I was wondering how do you not live in fear that Dale will betray you again? I understand we must trust the Lord and fear is not of the Lord but still my biggest problem with my husband is not trusting him or believing him, thinking he has done it before, he will surely do it again. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It has helped so many people, including me.

    • Well, I know that fear is not of God. So anytime it comes, I bind it in the name of Jesus and tell satan to leave me alone…OUTLOUD! I find it helps a ton to call him out. Make him leave me, screaming at the sound of Jesus’ name.
      I have no guarantees that Dale won’t betray me again. I don’t. But here is what I CAN do: I can bathe him in prayer, each and every day. I can encourage him to stay in God’s word, which keeps his sword sharp, slaying the enemy at the first signs of temptation. Remember, NO temptation has seized our guys, except what is common for lots of guys, but God is so faithful, He promises they will never be tempted beyond what they can handle, and they are always offered a means of escape. {I corinthians 10:13}
      Do you see good changes in your hubby? In his habits? His words to you? Are you getting help from a Christian counselor? Some things are just too big for us to handle alone.
      If you ever hear of a Men’s Encounter in your area, I’d encourage you to send your hubby. It is life changing and will renew the fire in him to make good choices, to bounce his eyes, to lead his home as the Man God has called him to be all along.
      You can do this, Amy. Choose trust. Choose to commit your husband to the Lord. Choose to leap again into the arms of love, even though you are scared.

  2. Girl! That was sooo beautiful! I know many hearts were stirred because you were willing to share your experience and lessons learned. I also know how easy it is to sometimes wish God didn’t trust us with so much, but when He does, He has a plan for us to share and minister to others who are hurting. It’s soo true…FORGIVENESS IS NOT ABOUT THE OTHER PERSON, IT’S ABOUT US! Thanks for sharing…it was beautiful…and I laughed out loud when I saw those adorable flip flops!!! TOOOOO cute! Just like YOU! XO

  3. I am so glad that you were able to go to Women’s Encounter! It sounds like a WONDERFUL time. You did a beautiful job with what you said and how you said it.
    I am so glad that you chose to FIGHT for you Marriage! You are in my prayers and thoughts everyday!

  4. So thankful for the forgiveness God has allowed you to experience. As you reach out to others with your testimony, may God get all the glory and keep a hedge of protection about you and your precious family.

  5. Lump in my throat today, sweet Tonya. I knew it would be a wonderful weekend for you because you would be speaking in the power of the Holy Spirit. Forgiving is always for the person doing the forgiving….the person being forgiven reaps some benefits, but the person forgiving reaps freedom. I want some of those flip flops, but they always hurt my toes and to be honest, it would probably take a miracle for me to do a craft…..that is true. Love you lots, lady

  6. Tonya, I enjoy reading your blog but do you not think that it is time to move on & stop talking about what happened?? Maybe that is your time to heal but if God forgave your husband, why don’t you do that as well and stop rubbing it in his face what he did? I know you write to help people but it astounds me that your husband is ok with you writing about it day after day. I really think it is under the blood, forgiven, and your family should move on from that. Do you think your kids will want to read about it soooooo so much when they are older?? Write happy thoughts! :)

    • Hi Nikki, Thanks for taking the time to comment! Here is the thing…this story is being used for God’s glory. I talk about it, because I am ASKED to! I was asked to share about Dale and I and our story of forgiveness this weekend.
      I have freedom by the blood of Jesus and I am EXCITED to tell others about it. Me sharing the teaching with you guys today doesn’t mean I am re-living it day after day, make sense? I had to share my back story with those ladies to help them understand how I had any right to talk to them about forgiveness. I am so excited to be able to talk about it without re-living it! That is HUGE! :)
      I am going to go to a local church with Dale in September, to speak at a Marriage Matters night. Does telling our story that night mean I am not moving on? Nope. Just means I am once again sharing a story of Beauty from Ashes so that more marriages might be given hope that they CAN fight and they WILL win! Hope that makes sense.
      Dale and I have a beautiful life together, when we are together people can see the joy we have, the deep abiding love, the sparkle in our eyes when they meet. I know you can’t see that through the computer screen, but I am asking that you trust me that we are in a really good place. My job is write what God leads me to….
      Hugs! T

  7. Tonya, you did an amazing job speaking at Encounter. I know God is and will continue to use your story in such powerful ways! Not that it was great to go through it but God is bringing GREATNESS from what happened! Thank you for your willingness to be used by Him.
    Sondra

  8. Some how I missed this post but I’m so glad I came back to find it !
    You will never go wrong by speaking what God Leads you to speak about!

  9. Pingback: A Weekend At Women’s Encounter « debsthoughtstoday

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