How To Survive Infidelity: The Betrayer’s List

Yesterday, Tonya posted her Top 6 Ways To Survive Infidelity.  It only seemed right that I speak to the other side of this, to the one who caused the hurt.

6 Ways to Help Your Spouse Survive Your Infidelity

1) Cut ties with the other person.  This was not a problem in my case, since it was a one time act, but for those of you in actual relationships with another….FLEE.  Cut ties and don’t look back.  Delete them from your phone, your Facebook, change jobs: WHATEVER IT TAKES.  Your marriage is WORTH fighting for, so do it.  Do not ever enter into a “friendship” with the opposite sex again, it has no place in your life.

2) Be soft & tender before God and your spouse.  You caused this hurt and unspeakable pain to your spouse, now it’s your job to make it right.  Be prepared that the Lord will want to continue to do a work in you, now that the truth is out.  It’s time to step up to the plate, make lifestyle changes, get accountability partners set up, and get the help you need to walk in freedom.  Admit that you made the mistake, own up to it or it will own you!

The more soft and moldable you are during this time, like clay in the potters hands, the less chiseling Jesus has to do to make you HIS.

Watch this video to see what I mean, it’s my favorite:

3) Be Open to Answering Questions & Talk About It. Openly Share Your Remorse.  Unanswered questions grow GIANT in a hurry, where as a truthful answer, quiets those fears and allows your spouse to move past them.  Tonya had many, many questions that were hard for me to want to answer at the beginning, but I knew she needed my truth.  I knew I owed that much to her, even if reliving my mistake made me sick to my stomach and angry at times.  Each and every time she was told an answer, I would watch her struggle to accept it, work through it; cry or whatever she deemed necessary to heal, before a quiet resolve came over her.  A new level of peace was achieved, as she was able to silence those thoughts or questions.

 A truly remorseful spouse is a huge huge huge part of a successful restoration. Make sure you are totally transparent to your spouse, nothing hidden. If she asks questions, answer honestly and FULLY….not just enough info to get her to be quiet for the moment, because if later, she finds you weren’t totally honest, it sets things way back for you both.  The path to healing is paved with difficult choices, being open and forthcoming is key to the successful healing of your marriage.

4) Be ready to scale walls and slay dragons.  When Tonya gets scared she throws up walls between us and takes her heart back, I can feel it happen.  I know this is my fault, I caused her this pain and mistrust.  My job is to not be angry that she pushes me away.  Rather, my job is to scale those walls, and slay those “dragons” (fears) that are holding her back, and lovingly swoop her in my arms. We are to be our wives heros, their rescuer, their knight in shining armor.  Trust is hard to build, and easy to break.  Give you and your wife both extra grace during this rebuilding time.  And TALK about things. (see step 2)

5) Put On Your Armor.  It is ESSENTIAL that satan is unable to attack you in this manner again. You have been burned once, be on the look out for him to lure you back to that pot of water again.  You KNOW the consequences this time, you KNOW the tools the enemy used last time to make you fall, so be on alert for those.  You want to win the war? Then be sure you know what your enemy is bringing. 

   Putting on the Armor means being in God’s word, DAILY. Being on your knees before him, DAILY.  Seeking His help to be the man He has wanted you to be all along.  When you put on the armor, you are essentially putting on Jesus.  Anything you say or do, listen to or look at, must FIRST get filtered through your Jesus armor.  Look at it that way, and it’s a total game changer!

6) Forgive Yourself.  I don’t have a lot to say here, except that I am still working on this.  Some days are easier than others, but remembering that Jesus spread my ashes as far as the east are from the west, keeps me going.  Why would I want to keep swimming out into the ocean to gather up my transgressions again?  I just end up wearing myself out.  Jesus died for ALL sins, and there are no levels of sin, none worse than another in my Father’s eyes.  I am working on living this out.

I hope this can help you and your spouse to heal.  God is the great Healer, He wants to put the pieces of your marriage back together for His glory, if only you will give Him all the pieces.

Dale

How to Survive Infidelity: The Betrayed

So, Dale and I survived infidelity.  We survived the writing and sharing of our story turned HIS, and we joyfully renewed our vows in a Beauty from Ashes, I Do: Part 2 ceremony.

    Phew.

  What a journey we have been on!  9 months in the making, just like the gestation of new life!  We have NEW life in Christ!!!

Thank you, Jesus!  It’s all behind us, now we can move forward with joy, peace, forgiveness and LIFE abundantly.

LOVE wins.  JESUS wins.  MARRIAGE wins.

  If I could sum up How To Survive Infidelity from my point of view as the betrayed party, this is what I would say:

 6 Steps to Survive Infidelity

1) FORGIVE.
Forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive. Every moment of every day, then forgive some more.  Forgiveness is a choice. CHOOSE IT.  Then live it, daily in your words and actions.  The quicker you forgive, the quicker the Lord can move in those soft hearts you have laid before him.  The quicker your marriage will be healed and renewed.

  I had to make a decision after I forgave Dale, to not speak down to him, or throw in little jabs that came from the deep hurt in my heart.  It was not my place to take Dale’s sin from where it hung on that cross and throw it in his face.  Do NOT go there. 

  When you feel hurt, tell your spouse, “I am hurting right now.” Or a sentence I used with Dale a lot is “I am in a bad place today.”  Let them hug you, as touch softens your heart and melts those walls that try to be thrown up.  Seek the Lord immediately, “Help me do this your way, Jesus.”  Dale was always good to wrap me in his arms and pray over me when I was struggling.  His tenderness and love for our Savior bringing tears to my eyes.

2) Be aware of the devil and call him out.  See him at work in your life.

  Never have I been more aware of the devils attacks, as I think about the trap he laid out for my husband. It is disturbing how well thought out it was, how many years it was in the making. 

  First, satan lured him into the pot of water….it’s only porn, you are just looking, not acting. It’s HARMLESS.   Next, he turned up the heat….YOU and you alone can provide for this family. It’s all about YOU, you don’t need the Lords help, look at how successful you could be.  Heat gets turned a smidge higher as he convinces Dale that telling me he started looking at porn again, would only hurt me.  PRIDE came next, too proud to admit he had a problem.  DISTANCE from his Lord and Savior, as he was ashamed of his actions.  Then, LUST sealed Dale’s fate, as porn attaches a deep and powerful lust to you.  Coupled with distance from the Lord, and those clanging bells of warning, have officially been muffled .  Dale was boiling and dead in that pot of water before he even knew the devil had him in the pot. 

I Peter 5:8 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

  Satan will not let you fix your marriage without fighting for the death of it.  Remember who the enemy is, NOT your spouse….it’s the DEVIL!  He HATES Christian marriage, for it is the very PICTURE of Christ and His bride, the church.  No wonder marriages are failing at a 51% rate now.

  3) Take your thoughts CAPTIVE.

  If you have survived a betrayal in your marriage, you will know EXACTLY what I am talking about.  The devil TORMENTED me day and night, night and day.  He used my thoughts on what I deserved and how I should find it elsewhere with a new man and new marriage.

He put many a destructive thought in my head about my marriage, calling again and again with what I deserved and what I didn’t, attacked my self-worth, and feeding me lies.

“You aren’t really going to take him back, are you? He will only hurt you again.”

“Boy, Dale sure is late tonight, wonder why he’s not answering his phone…”

“Look at you, 4 babies sure have done a number on your body. I bet he’s seen hundreds of better bodies on the computer. You are disgusting.”

  When satan attacks, pray your eyes will be opened to see it right away so you can fight and win. Our VICTORY over the devil has already been won. Claim it, PROCLAIM it.

Out loud say: “I give NO consent to that thought.” Then I’d add for good measure, “Leave me! In the name of Jesus.” 

  And he would flee, shrieking at the sound of the name of Jesus.  I don’t care how foolish you feel saying it out loud:

DO IT.  It helps!

  Take it from a girl who has a very vivid writers imagination, I HAD to take control of my destructive thoughts, the out of whack roller coaster of emotion I had Dale and I on, or we wouldn’t be where we are today.

  Satan is out to destroy you, he is throwing his head back and cackling with glee that he got you and your spouse this far. He is circling for the kill.  Stand up and FIGHT BACK. You’ve GOT this!  THE VICTORY IS YOURS!

  This attack on worth and thoughts, is not just a tactic he uses on the betrayed party, he also used Dale’s thoughts! Tormenting him about his inability to say no next time, making him scared he couldn’t stay pure in his thoughts and actions.   And, just when we both thought the onslaught was over, he’d come back stronger and more often.  Get your armor on!

4)  Allow yourself to Grieve. It’s healthy, it’s ok, it brings healing.

Psalms 126:5 “Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.”

7 Stages of Grief:
  1. Shock & Denial - This is NOT happening to me, to my lovely marriage.  You may deny the reality of the loss of your marriage at some level.  This stage may last several weeks.  (See related post: Broken Hearts, Shattered Promises)

  2. Pain & Guilt - As the shock wears off, it is replaced with suffering and unbelievable pain.  Do not hide this, do not escape, allow the tears to come.  You may have guilty feelings or try to live in the land of “If Only”.  If only he hadn’t gone to work that day. If only I was skinnier. If only I had called him more that day…..
    Don’t go there.  Flee this mind-set.  (See related post: The Other Woman)
  3. Anger & Bargaining – Sadness gives way to anger. How DARE you do this to me!  You may want to lash out, but please remember to ask yourself if you are speaking life or death.  Helping or hurting your spouse.  This is the time to release bottled up emotion, but do so in a healthy way.  You may ask “Why me?” during this time.  Trust that God will help you through.   (See related post: Confessions of A Heartbroken Housewife)
     
  4. Sadness, Reflection, Mourning - Just when it seems life should move on and get better, a period of sad reflection will likely overtake you.   This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be “talked out of it” by well-meaning friends. It is a necessary step to move to a point of healing. (See: The Death of Little Girl Dreams) 
  5. The Upward Turn – As you start to adjust to this new life, you feel more normal.  The physical symptoms of heartache are less, and you find yourself smiling and laughing more.  (For me, this came after I forgave Dale: Choosing to Forgive)
  6. Reconstruction & Working Through - This is the stage that you will find yourself seeking to define what your “new” life will look like now that you forgave your spouse.  This is the beginning of a new chapter of hope, new-found love and a fresh start in Christ.  (See post: Welcome to Tonya-land, Won’t You Let the SONshine In?)
  7. Acceptance & New Beginnings -This is the final stage of grief, in this stage you accept and deal with the reality of your situation.  Acceptance doesn’t mean instant happiness, or that bad days won’t come, but you will find a way to move more and more quickly past these bad days. And, they are coming farther and fewer between them. You will find new joy in the one your soul loves and you will find that your love is deeper than you could’ve ever imagined.  What doesn’t break you, DOES make you stronger!

5) Love Freely 

But be aware of the walls the devil tries to throw up between you….

First my wall would go up while Dale’s heart sought me out, longing to connect with me. Begging me with sorrowful eyes to let him back in my heart and life.  Then, when I would be ready to give him my whole heart and was seeking him out, he threw up a wall and was trying to protect his heart from the roller coaster of emotion I had him on….one day loving fully, the next day, cowering in fear behind a wall, taking my heart back so he wouldn’t hurt me again.  By calling satan out and calling it what it was, an attack from the devil, we were able to quickly overcome this stage, praise God!

  There was a few weeks at the beginning were I could hardly let Dale touch me, let alone make love to me.  But this is an important part of connecting and healing.  When two become one, it strengthens the bond between the two of you, and the devil has a harder time worming in.

You need this connection with your spouse, putting aside all fears and giving them all of you.  It reminds me of one of my favorite songs.  You will recognize this one from yesterday’s slide show:

“You’re going to have all of me. You’re worth every falling tear, you’re worth facing every fear, you’re going to have all my love, even if it’s not enough to mend our broken hearts…..”

  Sex is a beautiful gift from God to be enjoyed with your spouse. Don’t bring the past hurts into the bedroom.  Don’t let satan invite anyone else in, through your destructive thoughts, wondering if “The Other Women” or “The Other Man” is here with you.  She is not!  He is not!

  We bind his or her presence in the name of Jesus, we break off their connection with our spouses, and then move into a tighter, closer bond than ever before.  Pray and speak these things out loud and watch satan flee.  There is POWER in the spoken word.

  6) Remember that the power of LIFE or DEATH is in the tongue. 

  You have a choice for your words to be sweet and life-giving, or poison, bringing death and destruction.  Make sure you speak lovingly to your spouse, not taking cheap jabs or throwing in snide remarks….anything you think you are saying that is “Your Right” because you were betrayed, is WRONG! 

 Assignment from counseling:

  Both of you take out a piece of paper and list off ALL the things you love about each other and your relationship.  Afterwards, read them out loud to each other.  The more you write, read, speak and hear positive things, the more you believe them. AND, the more those positive thoughts travel back and forth in your brain, they will create a “Positive Path”, easily traveled next time.  Soon you will find “glass half full” kind of thoughts come more and more easily.

No matter what, keep your chin up, and remember….GOD IS BIGGER!

~T

Tomorrow, a post from Dale:

How to Survive Infidelity: The Betrayer’s List

 

After the I Do: Part 2 Vow Renewal

   Don’t be mad.

 I don’t have many photos to share today.  SORRY! I know you are waiting so nicely, but it will be weeks yet before I have the video and photos back from our “I Do: Part 2″ Vow Renewal Ceremony.  We can be patient together, ’cause I can hardly STAND it myself, I am SOOO excited to see them!  :)  I PROMISE, my lovely photographer and videographer are working HARD to get them done, and as soon as I have the disks in hand, I will share with you, but for today, I want to talk blog numbers and blessings, as well as share the few photos I have at my disposal! :)

During the first 12 posts of “Surviving Infidelity: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises” the blog was viewed 34,024 times! (this does not count the Love Story Re-told posts) Reaching as far as Italy, Kenya, Costa Rica, India, Australia, Guam and Poland! Wow, praise God! May it continue to travel the world for HIS glory!

During this series we received hundreds of wonderful comments, and even more private messages and emails.  People are hurting and just need to be told that others are out there surviving the same hurts!

We were blessed with this AMAZING “Shattered” candle-holder from a fellow blogger and sweet friend in Christ, Joy from Simply Bloom, which we used at our Vow Renewal. 

We did this in place of the traditional Unity Candle, since our lives are already one.

 

This hand written note says:

A mosaic Candle-holder so perfectly displays the reflective beauty of a broken life reconstructed. His light bounces off and floods trough the shards of broken, shattered dreams surrendered to His creativity.

   It represented perfectly, our desire to have the Lord shine His light through the broken pieces of our lives, all to create a beautiful mosaic for HIS glory!

  We were also sent several amazing books!  Now that the renewal has passed and “regular” life sets back in, we are anxious to dig into these.

A big thank you to Megan, from The Pearl, for blessing us with the 3 Laaser books: 7 Desires of Every Heart, Shattered Vows & Healing Wounds of Sexual Addiction!

  Our Beauty from Ashes ceremony was everything we dreamed it to be. 

The Bible tells us that “Whoever sows in tears, reaps in joy.” Ps 126:5.  What a joy it was to join my life to Dale’s again, to make a fresh covenant before Christ, and to be wearing a wedding band proudly on my finger once again.

For those of you that live locally, Venables is seriously the place to shop for rings! WOW.  Talk about personal service.  Gina bent over backwards to make our experience a good one.  This included allowing us to pay as we could up to the event and ring pick up, personal phone calls when items came in, custom ordering and quick turn around…she was a dream to work with!  I cannot say enough about Venables!
Send your boyfriend for all your engagement ring shopping needs!  :)

  In the weeks to come, I will show you some of the things I made for the Renewal, like this Paper Flower Garland, which is pictured here in my bathroom. 

(WHAT?! I needed it to be safe until I took it to the barn for the renewal!)  :)

And the t-shirt scarves I made for gifts!

    My friend Heather is a photographer, so naturally, she brought her camera to the Vow Renewal and was sharing these on Facebook last night.  I was gobbling them up as fast as she was posting!

She titled this next one: “Everything as it should be.”  I say YES and Praise Jesus!

  Last, but certainly NOT least….here is the slide show we played after the Vow Renewal! 

More soon!  Hugs, T

In Honor of Beauty from Ashes

 

PW’s Mushroom Swiss Burgers with Spicy Fry Sauce

  Doing a “regular” post for Memorial Day, since you all are having some lighthearted family fun. :)  Tune in tomorrow to hear about the Vow Renewal and all God has been doing in our lives since our story came out……

_________________________________________________________________________

Man, do I love a good burger! 

Avery says “Wait, did you say BOOGER or BURGER, Momma?” 009

“I said Burger, sweetie.”

Avery: “K, good I wanted to make sure it wasn’t from my nose.”

  Yup, no worries there darlin’!!!!

  You can’t go wrong with a recipe from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.  We’ve made these TWICE now!

  Most of the time when I make her stuff we just say yum and keep going, I don’t bother blogging it because it’s already made its mark in the blog world and probably even on her TV show!  BUT, for these burgers, I am going to make an exception and post something of hers.  We did these full size, rather than sliders and doubled the Spicy Fry Sauce.  I will post my changes, if you want her original follow the link back to her amazing food blog.

PW’s Mushroom Swiss Burgers with Spicy Fry Sauce

Mushroom Swiss Burger (3)

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup Mayonnaise
  • 4 Tablespoons Ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (less If You’re Sensitive To Spice!)
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1/2 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
  • 8 ounces, weight White Mushrooms, Chopped Finely
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
  • Kosher Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 8 burger patties
  • 8 slices Swiss Cheese
  • 8 whole wheat burger buns, toasted with butter

Make your Spicy Fry Sauce:  In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, ketchup, and cayenne. Stir together until totally combined. Set aside.

While hubby is out grilling your hamburger patties, seasoned just the way your family likes, melt butter in a large skillet. Add onions and cook over medium heat for five minutes, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms and toss around, then add Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Cook for several minute over medium heat, or until all liquid has evaporated.

Have hubs bring in the grilled burgers, add a bloop (yes, that’s a word) of mushrooms and onions to the top, and cover with a slice of swiss.  Send him back out to melt the cheese on the hot grill.  While he is gone, butter toast the hamburgers buns, then smother in fry sauce.  Assemble and serve with curly fries.

YUM!

You can’t go wrong with a recipe from P.Dub!

www.thepioneerwomancooks.com

Happy Memorial Day!   ~T

Our freedom is the most precious legacy we can pass on to our children. There can be no alternative that would satisfy the sacrifices made by those who have defended our liberty with their very lives. As we look back today over our nation’s history, we must also acknowledge those who are at this very moment fighting on other battlefields in our world to recapture or preserve freedom from the grasp of evildoers who would enslave men and families in false religious cults, dictatorial governments, and the insanely narcissistic men who consider themselves to be gods in their own eyes.  The cost has been high. It may get much higher in the near future. There are still those who would love to see our nation fall. They are of that evil empire that former president Ronald Reagan warned us about. We cannot forsake all that our nation has stood for and all that our brave soldiers ,sailors, airmen and Marines have died for, as well as those who are carrying the banner of a freedom-loving country to various other nations in turmoil around the world. We must rally around our flag once more. We must pray for those in harm’s way, today and always. It is our duty. It is our responsibility. And it is our honor. Let’s not fail to take a stand for freedom. Let’s pay our debt as fully as those who have gone before us…no matter the cost.”

MSgt. Ronald E.  Baker, Retired, Air Force

Smoked Pork Sandwiches With Sesame Slaw & Weekend Potluck #19

   I was in a bind last spring, trying to feed 2 hungry lumberjacks that helped cut trees all day, so, I came up with these Smoked Pork and Sesame Slaw sandwiches from our fridge leftovers and ingredients.  The mixture of the smoky meat, with the kick of the peppery Homemade BBQ sauce, added to the unique flavor brought in by the sesame slaw, which makes this sandwich SO amazing!  And just when you think it might be too rich, the cilantro comes in a freshens things up.  You are gonna LOVE them!

SMOKED PORK SANDWICHES WITH SESAME SLAW

(Click on title to print on TK’s website)

Pork slaw sandwiches

1- 5 lb. bone-in pork roast, smoked or slow cooked to your liking (Dale smoked ours the day before)

Your favorite dry rub.

1 cup water or beef broth

Salt and pepper to taste.

1 package Whole wheat hotdog buns

For the Sesame Slaw

Combine:

3 cups coleslaw cabbage mix

1/2 c. green pepper, finely chopped

1/4 cup snipped cilantro

3 T. Sesame Oil

2 T. White vinegar

2 cloves of garlic, pressed

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper


Tangy BBQ Pepper Sauce

Combine:

1 cup ketchup

4 T. Soy sauce

2 T. Honey BBQ sauce

2 T. Brown Sugar

1 T. Apple Cider vinegar

2 tsp. pepper

2 tsp. Oregano

2 tsp. dry mustard

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Directions:

Thaw pork shoulder and rub with your favorite dry rub.  Send your hubby out to the smoker to babysit it all day.  (Bye-bye honey.  See you in 8 hours!)

OR, place dry rubbed pork shoulder in a crock pot with 1 cup beef broth or water, salt and pepper.  Cover with lid and cook on high for 4 hours, or until pork is very tender.

Make Sesame Coleslaw by combining in a medium bowl, coleslaw cabbage mix, finely chopped green pepper, snipped cilantro, sesame oil, white vinegar, pressed garlic and salt and pepper. Set aside,or refrigerate until meat is ready.

To make your Tangy BBQ Pepper sauce.  Combine: ketchup, Soy sauce, Honey BBQ sauce, Brown Sugar, Apple Cider vinegar, pepper, Oregano, dry mustard and kosher salt.  (Thanks to Sweet Pea Chef for this great sauce recipe! She uses it with her rib recipe, which is FANTASTIC!)

When your meat is done, shred pork, removing any visible fat and gristle.  Place in large bowl, leaving excess liquid behind, and toss with Tangy BBQ Pepper sauce.

Butter toast buns, add BBQ coated, shredded pork and top with 1/2 cup Sesame Slaw.   Makes 6-8 sandwiches, depending on if you, or your hubby, get to pick how much meat each sandwich gets.  :)

Now, Weekend Potluck! Where friends & foodies meet and eat ALL weekend long!

Last week’s Weekend Potluck made it difficult for our team to choose which recipes to feature. I guess that is a good thing, right? If you missed it, go back and take a look at all the delicious recipes available. I promise that Pinterest-addicts will be very happy.

NOTE: We cannot feature the recipe with the most clicks since it was not linked back from within the post. (Please refer to the linky guidelines for more information.) That makes us sad, but we are very happy to recognize…

The recipe with the most 2nd most clicks was ~

iced sugar cookies

Lofthouse Sugar Cookies by Stella B’s Kitchen

Recipes that caught our attention ~

Gooey Peachy Butter Cake

Gooey Peachy Butter Cake by The Cannery Family

quick chicken breast recipe

Easy Cheesy Bacon Chicken by Serving Joyfully

And, a personal favorite ~

Fiesta Dip

Fiesta Dip by Eat Cake For Dinner

If you were featured today, please feel free to grab the red “featured” button from my sidebar.

Your hosts ~

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We TWEET. We PIN. We LIKE.

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A Love Story Retold: My Very Own Happily Ever After {Part 4/4}

Just tuning in?  I’m sharing Dale and my love story with you this week, in honor of the Beauty from Ashes Ceremony we are having this weekend to celebrate 2nd chances, as well as our 10th Anniversary, which is TODAY! 

  An anniversary has never held more meaning for us, as it does this year.  Today is extra extra special, because I just keep thinking, had I gone with my initial thoughts back in July, we’d be sharing custody of the kids this weekend instead of celebrating as a family!!!! Woah.
What doesn’t break you, DOES make you stronger! Praise God that He is able to trade beauty for ashes, joy for mourning and peace for despair!  {Get caught up here: Surviving Infidelity }

Happy 10th Anniversary to the love of my LIFE!
We’ve been given a second chance at a once in a lifetime kind of love, and I am not letting you go

I will see you this weekend,
At the end of the aisle,
I will be walking towards you with
Tears and a smile…..

I love you, Dale!

xoxo T

——————————————————————————————————-

  Part 4 of our Love Story, from the archives:

  I was engaged to the man of my dreams!  Now the wedding I had in my head since my childhood could take place.  Well, a budget version of that dream, but my dream wedding, none-the-less!  I had always wanted a huge foo-foo Princess wedding dress and a fancy night-time wedding in a church packed full of the people I loved most……

Scan_Pic0096

By the time the invites were done, we had invited 800 people. I had chosen 7 special people to stand up with me as bridesmaids and witness our vows and Dale had done the same, choosing 7 groomsmen.

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I wanted to involve all 7 of my nanny kids, whom I loved and adored, as well as those who I babysat for for years.

  Scan_Pic0048

Scan_Pic0049And Dale, coming from a large family, thought it’d be nice to involve his cousins too.  In the end, we had 12 flower girls, who would head down our churches 4 side aisles that day, while handing out flowers to start the service.  Next would be 2 bell ringers down the Center aisle, followed by the Jr. attendant walking with the 2 more flower girls.  I wanted it to be a day to remember, Dale just wanted me to get down the aisle already!

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I’d like to tell you May 24th, 2002 dawned bright and sunny, but it didn’t. Well, it was bright and sunny on the inside, but outside? Terrible storms and rain.

My best friend called me in a panic that morning, worried how I was handling the weather, but my cheery “HELLLOO!” took care of any concerns she had.

This was my big day, a few thunder claps weren’t going to ruin anything!

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I had never been more thankful that God had restored my parents marriage and that I, once again, had a great relationship with my dad.  Because I had not moved out during our “rough patch” as I family, I woke up the morning of my wedding, in the bedroom of my youth.  I smiled to myself, giddy for the day to begin, and tried to capture in my mind the regular morning noises of my mom, dad and little brother making breakfast downstairs….for this was the last time that would occur.  When I left the church that night, I’d be heading to the home I would share with Dale, the one we still live in today! I was a 20-year-old young woman, ready to spread her wings and fly for the first time!

After all the hub bub of hair and make up, Dale and I met pre-service for what is now called a “First Look.”  We wanted to get photos over with ahead of time, but still have a private special moment when we first saw each other.  I don’t have the professional photos to capture it, but this is a snapshot from a friend.  Dale meet me at the end of the aisle with tears and a smile.  Before we parted ways, he grabbed me, pulled me close and whispered a prayer in my ear.  I loved that when the big moment came for me to enter the church and walk down the aisle on my Daddy’s arm, the butterflies were gone because I had seen my man. He had prayed with me and calmed my spirit. I was ready!

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The wedding was at 7 pm, and it was everything I hoped for.  The church was dark, the stage accented only by soft lights and twinkling candles.

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Our pastor gave a beautiful wedding charge, and when it was time, Dale and I  tearfully read our written vows to each other.

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Soft piano praise music played in the background the entire time, thanks to the musical talents of Dale’s friend on the Baby Grand, inviting the Spirit of the Lord there in the church with us that night.  And He was there, I could feel Him and He was smiling at us. The angels in Heaven rejoiced as they sat back and watched another ”Happily Ever After” of a Love Story written by the Author of Love Himself.

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Lest things get too serious on our big day, we tried to end on a fun note, and lighten the mood with the recessional song:

A roarin’, piano-thumping rendition of Little Richard’s “Great Balls of Fire.” It wouldn’t be complete without the part where you zip up and down the piano keys, and Dale’s friend nailed it!

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WOO-HOO!  He’s finally MINE! :)

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After an appetizer reception in the church gym-turned Garden, with twinkling lit trees, shrubs, gazebos and winding lit paths, Dale and I took off for our new home as a couple.  The day was everything we’d dreamed it would be and so very much more.

To end a perfect day, we sat down on a quilt in the bedroom of our new home, opened the picnic basket my mom had packed for us, and had a carpet picnic; eating all the wedding food and cake we had missed at the reception, as we greeted and hugged our guests for hours.  During this picnic, I presented Dale with my box of letters and purity ring.  As we ate, we opened them and read them from earliest to most recent.

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We laughed at the little-girl scrawl of age 13, starting with “Wuz up?” and ending with an oh-so cool “Ciao”, smiled at the grown-up words of a 17-year-old young lady, had flashbacks of a difficult time during the broken-hearted letter of age 18, full of apologies for giving her heart away to a guy named Dale, and finally, a tearful letter addressed: “My dearest Dale”, full of love and devotion from a 19-year-old woman, engaged to be married to the man of her dreams.  It was a beautiful moment, one I will not soon forget.

We were blessed to go on a week-long Honeymoon to Maui the next morning, thanks to the generosity of the amazing family I nannied for.  It was Paradise, just like they say!

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A lot has changed in 9 years, and we are not without our trials and tribulations, fights and tears. But I can tell you one thing, there is not one time I look back over our Courtship and that particularly difficult time in my life, and not see the Lord’s Fingerprints ALL over it. He guided us when we were lost, He carried us when we were too weary to stand, He lifted us up when we were broken down, and most importantly, He lovingly took us away from each other, to prepare us to one day be together again, this time FOREVER.

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When I said “I Do” I meant it, forever and ever, till death do us part.067

I leave you with 2 thoughts:

Guys, “If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy. If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing. If she’s worth it, you won’t give up. If you give up, you aren’t worthy.”

And girls remember this, “A girl should be so lost in God, that a guy has to get lost in Him to find her.”  You must be content in who you are alone, before you’ll ever be content in who you are with someone else.

Take these quotes to heart, hold out for your very own “The One” and GO get those books by Eric and Leslie Ludy.   They are LIFE CHANGING!

Thanks for letting me share our Love Story with you! It’s been a really fun walk down memory lane for Dale & I!

~T

A Love Story Retold: Letting God Write Your Love Story {Part 3/4}

Our Love Story, continued from yesterday….

The time line is a bit blurred in my mind, but somewhere along the way, close to the Holiday’s, the Lord asked me to let go of it all.  My dreams, my plans, my hopes, all of it.  He needed me to let go so He could take over. And when He takes over, AMAZING things occur!

He began to speak to me about Courtship instead of dating.  I finally had a name for what He had been asking me to do in High school.  He was asking me to be friends with a guy, hanging out with my family and his, until the Lord told me “Yes, this is the man I have for you, Tonya.”  Courtship is dating with the intent of marriage.  He was asking me to wait to date, UNTIL I found my spouse.  Interesting.

Then He brought me “THE BOOK”.  The book that forever changed my life and altered my course….

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“When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy.

By the second page in the book words were LEAPING off the page and grabbing my heart…..

“…….You have searched for true love in your own way.  But my ways are not your ways.  I want to script a beautiful tale just for you, but first you must trust Me with the pen of this precious area of your life.  Will you let Me write your love story?”

“God is longing to write your love story.  A love story far beyond the most incredible fairy tale ever written. Will you give Him the pen today?”

  What a thought!  God was longing to compose MY love story, my very own fairy tale?  WOW!   He cares about all the areas of our lives, even this one, what a thought!   He was asking me to hand Him the pen, stop worrying, stop planning….and just sit back and hang on for the ride of my life.

Book-WDCT-2I  was so excited about what I was reading, that I bought this book and the next one for 7 of my friends (including Dale). I knew it was going to change their lives!  It’s called “When Dreams Come True” and tells the true love story of the couple, Eric and Leslie, who handed over the pen and let God script them a beautiful story.

More of Eric and Leslie’s AMAAAZING books are found here at http://ellerslie.com/Books.html  I highly recommend them for pre-teens and teens, and their parents as well!

Some of their popular titles include:

Authentic Beauty

Teaching True Love to A Sex-At-13 Generation

When God Writes Your LIFE Story

God’s Gift to Women

This couple has started an incredible ministry working towards raising youth to be a light to a dark world, to be IN the world but not OF the world. Play around on their website when you get a chance!!!!

Ok, so that was a major bunny trail, but an important one.  Back to the story:

After months apart, Dale & I decided to start spending time together again, we missed each other so much!  We were determined to just “Be Friends”, but we felt so much more.  Not long after this, we decided to take a week, not see each other or talk, but fast and pray, seeking God on our knees as to whether this could be turned into a courtship or not. Once again, the Lord began speaking to me immediately about forgiveness. As in, Dale prayed with me about our week apart and left, and before he had even left the neighborhood, I opened a book and there in front of me lay a 12 Steps To Forgiveness page. No doubt, the Lord was asking me to forgive as He had forgiven me, I knew this by now. He spoke to Dale too that week, about making things right with his past relationships.  That amazing man called each girl he had been in a relationship with, and asked their forgiveness for not respecting them as he should have.  Some were tearful and thankful, some called him crazy.

But as far as our Courtship?

The Lord was silent.

{SIGH} Fine. Friends it is.

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That Christmas Eve, during the candlelight service at church, 1 year later almost to the day that my world fell apart, I forgave my dad and walked away from the ugly bitterness I had been carrying!  Praise God for the freedom that comes from forgiving, my relationship with my dad is a close one, and I had missed him!  I also forgave Dale for his past that night and let it go, to be stewed about no more.  Jesus’ blood was strong enough to cover any and every sin, why was I worried it wasn’t strong enough to cover Dale’s indescrestions of the past? 

  What a load off! I tearfully rejoiced, feeling light and free!!!  I was SO thankful my relationship with my dad was restored to better than ever, and that I could enjoy my time around Dale without always thinking of his past!

It was the next night, at a Christmas celebration with family and friends that the Lord gave us the green light to pursue a courtship, dating with the intent of marriage, and we were thrilled!  He had been waiting for my forgiveness of the 2 men in my life all along!

Family and friends had been teasing us that we basically were like a couple anyways, and it was obvious we loved each other, why didn’t we make it official already?  We were hesitant to “slap a label on it”, but mostly, scared the Lord would take us away from each other again if we acted outside His will.

We were sitting at the piano, shoulder to shoulder, dinking around and talking about our relationship.  I told him what my mom had told me just the other day that maybe God was asking us to take a step of faith before He answered us.  Hmm, what a thought!   Dale thought for a minute then turned to me and says something like, “What if I ask you to be my girl right now?”  I hesitated, made and face and was like, “Welllll…”.

“See,” he says,”it’s so scary. I can’t do this alone, tell me what you are thinking in here (points to heart) rather than here (points to head).”

“Well, in my heart I’d say yes in a second, but then all those doubts creep in my mind.”  I just couldn’t lose Dale again!

We go on for about 10 more minutes trying to decide what God was asking us.  Finally,  he turns to me and says…

“So, do you want to be together?”

Me: “More than anything!”

Dale: “Ok then, let’s do this, let’s take the next step.”

Me: “Ok.” Big smile.

Silence.

Dale: “So are we together?”

Me: “I think so.”

Dale: “Do you feel any different?”

Me: “No.”

Dale: “Me neither.”

Me: “Is that a bad thing?”

Dale: “No, I don’t think so.”

Me: “Ok.”

Dale: “Ok.”

{BIG SMILES ALL AROUND}

In that moment, we realized nothing was different, we had been a couple all along, just without the label! I am sure the Lord was happy we were finally “getting it”!  Sometimes He speaks in a whisper, other times Neon flashing lights.  We heard His whisper that Christmas night, what a beautiful gift!  :)

Now that the “label” issue was out the way, we fully embraced our Courtship and began to spend time together once again, with me going to his family functions and he coming to mine.  My family adored him!  How could they not?  There was never a dull moment when he was around!!!!

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Soon after this, the Lord called Dale to travel with the ministry team“Souled Out” again.  This time for 6 months!  I was SO sad he was leaving, but knew the Lord needed him.  He walked away from his job knowing it may not be waiting for him when he returned.  (It wouldn’t be.) What a test this long distance relationship was for us, but through the ups and downs of it, our love just grew stronger, and Dale (who DOESN’T write) filled a journal FULL of love letters to me while he was gone. What a special gift.

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Dale came home for a visit the first week in June, around our 6 month anniversary, and we went ring shopping. HOW EXCITING! I had been waiting to do this my whole life.  Sadly, Dale told me since he left his job to travel with the ministry team, he had no money, and it’d probably be another year until he could save up for it.  I was totally ok with that, floating on my happy love bubble.  No worries, for him I could wait!

The very next morning, as we worshiped in church, my Pastor called me up on stage.  I was worried what kind of sermon analogy I was going to be!  He told me to close my eyes……and when I opened them, there was Dale, on his knee in front of me, with tears in his eyes and a ring in his hand.  My heart was pounding, my palms were sweating…..this was IT!

THE MOMENT I had been dreaming of!

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Dale looked me in the eyes and spoke, voice thick with emotions:

“Tonya, I could list a million reasons why I love you, but it boils down to this…..God let me love you.  You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  I’m going to ask you one question…….

WILL YOU MARRY ME?”

I wiped my tears and THREW my arms around him!  I had found my Mr. Wonderful, I was going to be his bride, THIS was my happily ever after!  All those months of heartache and doubt, all those times of questioning what God was asking me to do…..all of it built up to this life changing, dream making moment.  The moment I said YES!

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That August, as I turned 19, I sat to write my Future Husband a love letter, as I had since I was 13, but this time I got to write on top….My Dearest Dale.  What a tear-filled, joyful letter it was!  I tucked it away in my shoebox, knowing that by my next birthday, I’d be a happily married woman!

Dale and I were engaged for a whole year, something our children will NOT be allowed to do. It’s so hard to remain pure, plus it’s just waaaay too long to plan a wedding.  It gave OCD me, more than enough time to comb through the details of the big day, organizing and reorganizing each detail!

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As the year-long engagement finally came to an end, I could scarcely believe it, May 24th, 2002 was here.  I was about to marry my best friend and become Mrs. Tonya Ferguson!!!!!!!!!!!!

Conclusion tomorrow…..

~T

A Love Story Retold: Summer Love {Part 2/4}

From the Archives: Our Love Story Retold

SUMMER LOVE

  Needless to say, I fell and I fell hard that summer, despite the fact that I was not speaking to the Lord or pleased with my father or men in general at that point. 

Dale eventually did get around to asking me on a date, and although he picked me up, payed for it, HE named the time and HE named the place, and thankfully, NEVER used that awful line again! Phew!   Funny, I was no where NEAR ready to be in a relationship, yet I willingly, for the first time, jumped into a dating relationship. You know, the “pick you up at 8” and all that.  No good night kiss though, I told Dale he’d have to wait on that! lol :)

It was summer love!  It wasn’t long before we were together nearly every evening, going for drives, walking in the park holding hands, sitting by “our fountain” listening to the water and talking.  We talked about EVERYTHING for hours and hours.  Oh, if there is anything I miss from dating Dale, it’s the hours of uninterrupted conversation…  :)

We talked about our goals, our plans, our dreams.  We talked about the Lord and faith a lot.  Dale admitted to falling away from the Lord and becoming  a “Sunday-Wednesday Christian” only.  I challenged him to think about his life in light of eternity, he teasingly called me his “Lightening Bolt” from God.

It was a summer to remember!

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That August, a little over 2 months after we met, Dale took me out for my 18th birthday, a surprise he said.  We arrive at his mother’s restaurant, which closes at 2 each day, to “pick something up”.  When I walked in all the tables were pushed aside except one in the center of the dining area, it was lit with candles and had flowers and gifts on it.  He had his brother back in the kitchen, making my favorite foods.  It was so sweet and romantic!  The radio he wanted to use for romantic background music was locked in a back office, but that didn’t stop us from slow dancing anyways.  It was amazing!  Dale gave me a gorgeous diamond heart necklace and promised me the world.

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He also told me he loved me for the first time that night, although I wasn’t ready to say it back until much later in our relationship, he put no pressure on me to return the sentiment.  And like the gentleman he was, Dale got teary, hugged me, raised my hand to his lips, kissed it, and told me how thankful he was to have a girl like me in his life.

God was doing amazing things in Dale’s life and he was making some positive changes, but I was starting to feel a nudge from the Lord.  Nudges I tried to ignore.  You know how that goes, it’s miserable.  I knew what He was saying, and I didn’t want to hear it.

He was asking me to break up with Dale.  He was asking me to lay him on the altar, and step back so the Lord could do a mighty work in his heart.  He was asking me this because neither of us were ready for a relationship.

I told Him, “Yeah, right! I love this guy and finally found someone that would treat me like a lady and not a piece of meat.  And helloooo?! Did you catch the part that he respects my purity pledge and is willing to wait for me and everything!?? Nope God, not gonna happen, I wanna marry this one! PLEEEEASE?!”

Still, the Lord prompted and I eventually listened.  God was asking me to let Him have Dale, maybe forever, to prepare him for being a husband one day, and whether he was to be mine or not, it needed to happen.

Bawling, I sat down and wrote the hardest letter I had ever written, one I’d have Dale read as we sat together, for what I thought was the last time, as a couple.

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I knew what needed to occur, our breaking up and going separate ways.  I was so disappointed in myself for listening to my heart and not the Lord.  After all those years of trying to save the pieces of my heart for my future husband, I’d given the whole thing away to Dale without consulting the Lord first.  I was so thankful we’d never kissed, at least my physical purity was intact.

I wrote in my journal: “I feel like I have let God down.  I feel as if I have tried so very hard in this area of my life to obey and stay focused on Him, but now I have messed that up.  Now I have to tell my future husband that I not only gave a piece of my heart away to another guy, I gave the whole thing away!  I have to tell him that I have loved another before him.  Ouch. That will be so hard. He’s out there, I know he is, my knight in shining armor.  The one who I have prayed for since I was 13. He’s out there, I know it….just waiting for me.”

I had Dale come over, read his “I have to break up with you because the Lord needs to work on both of us seperately” letter and then we talked, sobbing and hugging.  He knew it was true.  The Lord needed to make both of our hearts whole alone, before they could be whole together.  He needed me to forgive my dad and learn to trust men again.  He needed Dale to work on letting go of the past and fully embracing his future in Christ.  I placed my feelings for Dale on the shelf and determined to leave them their until the Lord let me take them down again.  Until we were both ready this time, IF that was the Lord’s will.  And then, he took Dale away from me.

God was doing mighty things in Dale’s heart and he was excited to get the opportunity to travel with a ministry team called “Souled Out” for a few weeks.  I was glad to see him go, I didn’t want to run into him anymore, it was too hard.

Dale will tell you now that God broke him over and over on that trip.  Like brought him to his knees at the altar.  He’ll tell you that each time the Lord broke him, He picked him up, dusted him off and loved on him as only a Father can.  He went through the layers of sin and disobedience in Dale’s life, stripped him down and begin a new work in him.  And when he came back? He was a new man.  The light that can only comes from Jesus was shining through his eyes.  I could scarcely believe the transformation!

While Dale was gone, I waged my own emotional war of unforgiveness in both the area of Dale’s past, as well as forgiving my father!  I had so much to learn before my heart would be ready to love fully and with 100% trust.

This story is a long and drawn out one, I have the stack of journals and emails to prove it!

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We spent months apart, God daily working on my heart in the area of grace and forgiveness.  It’s funny to me how my forgiveness of my dad was directly connected to my forgiveness of Dale’s past, and my readiness to move forward in both relationships.  I was being asked to forgive as Christ forgave me, but I was still feeling too justified in my hurts to do so.

More tomorrow……

~T

A Love Story Retold: Once Upon A Time {Part 1/4}

As you can imagine, this past month has been highly emotional for us, as we bore our souls and owned our truth.  I am so thankful and blessed for readers like you, who lovingly showed your support of us!  This week is busy for me, planning our vow renewal, which is THIS weekend!!! (as well as our 1oth Anniversary)  So, I will not be blogging anything new this week. I will be taking a break and instead, reposting our Love Story for you to read every day until Friday’s Weekend Potluck, which proceeds as usual.  I posted this Love Story series last year for our 9th Anniversary, but there are enough new readers, I think it might be fun to post it again.  I hope to be back next week, after the renewal is all said and done, and share our sacred day with you.  And, as soon as they are edited, pictures as well!

Thank you for investing in my family with your time, your encouragement, and most of all, your prayers!

 I can’t wait to see you next week and tell you ALLLL about it!  I am so excited to once again have a standing covenant with Christ and my husband.  So excited to once again wear a wedding band proudly on my finger, its symbol of a circle never broken, representing the truth.

Great big hugs,

~T

I give you Our Love Story: 

Once Upon A Time: from the Archives

Written May 24th, 2011 

Happy Anniversary, Dale!  I am so blessed that God allowed me to marry you, the man of my dreams! Just when I think I couldn’t possibly love you any more than I already do, I see you scoop up one of our children in a giant daddy bear hug or stoop down low to kiss an owie knee.  When you loving stroke the cheek of our baby as you lay him in his crib, or come up behind me and kiss my neck while I am doing supper dishes, my love for you grows a bit more.   Not just any kind of love, the forever and ever, till death do us part kind of love…… A love that lasts a lifetime.  Happy 9th Anniversary, honey!  I love you! xo ~T

  In honor of our Anniversary, and seeing as how this is my blog’s first year and we are all still getting to know each other, I’d like to tell you the story of how Dale and I met.

Let’s start waaaaaaay back at the beginning………..

Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, I loved fairy tales, LOVED them, as little girls seem to do.  I played bride and princess and dreamed of my very own Happily Ever After………..

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My little brother, Chad, made such a lovely Maid of Honor! :)

But more often than not, I played Mommy.

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From my kindergarten papers on, if you asked me to tell you what I wanted to be when I grew up, it’d say A Mommy.  I loved children and begged to get to help in the church nursery whenever possible.

Oh, how I wanted to get married, have babies and live happily ever after.

When I turned 13, I was starting to think about my “Mr. Wonderful”, somewhere out there in the world. My parents took me out on a date to what was to me a very “fancy” restaurant…….. Red Lobster  :) and presented me with a Purity Ring in honor of my birthday.  While on this special date, we discussed and wrote out curfews, standards and rules for dating for when I turned 16.  I giggled thinking about it, wondering what my grown up teenage life would be like.

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I went home and wrote my future husband a letter, something I would do from age 13 on, each and every birthday.  I got this idea from a wonderful Christian fiction series called The Christy Miller Series.  I placed that letter in a shoe box and slid it in my closet, full of little girl dreams for the future.

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Fast forward to when I turned 16, the “official” dating age at our house, and I realized I was being asked to do something by the Lord, but I couldn’t figure out what just yet.  Even though I had my parents Ok to date, I was very big into “just being friends” and not having a serious boyfriend, and although I had a major crush or two (or five) in high school and was asked out, I just couldn’t see myself dating anyone! You know, the “Pick you up Friday night at 8” thing, it just didn’t appeal to me really.  Most of my activities were done with a group of people, which I gotta say, is so much fun!

Soon after this, the Lord begin to do a work in my heart towards Emotional Purity as well, not giving pieces of my heart away to each and every heart-throb that came my way and flashed a charming grin!

I decided then and there to take dating VERY seriously.  Very.

As in, let’s-just-be-friends-even-though-I-have-a-big-crush-on-you-until-God-tells-me-differently. Like until God tells me this guy is “THE ONE”.

I had so many questions;

How would I know he was “The One” unless I dated him? 

Why was God asking me to do something so unheard of, so “WEIRD”?

My Junior year, after writing my 3rd “Dear Future Husband” birthday love letter, I sat down and wrote out a “Husband Wish List”.  I listed out all the things that I wanted in a spouse and begin to pray over that list each evening during my quiet time.  It was quite the detailed list!  I wanted him to be a virgin, I wanted him to love children, to be a hard worker, good with money, fun-loving, have nice hands, be a Mr. Fix-it, the Spiritual leader of our home….the list went on and on.  If you know me, this should not surprise you! I am a detail girl!   :)

It seemed I would never find anyone to date if I was going to view them as a future potential spouse and check them against the “What I Want In A Husband” list.  I begin to wonder what was “wrong” with me, or if my standards were too high?  Why couldn’t I just be free and fun, date and be kissed good-night on my front porch by guys that I couldn’t picture myself marrying? Why was I thinking about marriage so much?  Something was holding me back and it would be years before the Lord would reveal to me what He was asking of me.

I graduated from high school with my heart in-tact, memories of best guy Scan_Pic0067friends that made me smile and I left for college, more determined than ever to save my heart for my future husband.  I had been kissed just once during high school, something I instantly regretted, and I knew……the next man that kissed me was going to be my future husband!

I was going to be sure of it!

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I went to a near-by Christian College at my parent’s prompting, though I would’ve happily just stayed home and worked with children.  Things started off great, my room-mate was awesome and college was going to be amazing, I just knew it!

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Half way through my first year of college, a time that is supposed to be one of the best in your life, my world fell apart. Broke in a million pieces.Scan_Pic0113

I will not go into the yucky details, but long story short is, due to devastating circumstances, my parents separated.  This may not seem like a big deal to you in this day and age, it happens all the time, right?  But to me it was as if the rug had been pulled out from under me.  I looked over my life and questioned every bit of it.

Everything I knew to be true, was no longer.

Everything I had been raised to know as truth, was a lie.

But how could it be?

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We were a happy church-going, God-serving family.  Growing up we went on evening bike rides nearly every night, we sat around the kitchen table and played games and ate popcorn on Sunday evenings, we were happy…….

Weren’t we?

I never knew what harm unforgiveness could cause, but I was angry! Ticked at my dad, ticked at the world and ticked at the Lord.  I determined to speak to neither of my Fathers, Heavenly or earthly until further notice.

And I didn’t.

For a whole year. 

It was the darkest time in my young life.  Never had I known such anger and pain.  The Lord spoke to me once, during a weekend at home, that my unforgiveness would kill me.  I told Him I didn’t care.  I wasn’t speaking to my dad and I sure didn’t want to hear from the Lord either.  I turned a cold shoulder and went on my way.  My new motto:  “Life sucks then you die.”

I had never seen my dad cry up to this point, so you can imagine how hard it was one Sunday, when he came up to me after church and with tear-filled eyes and a choked up voice, asked me if he could please take me to lunch.  He told me how much he missed me and loved me.

And I turned and walked away from him.

I went home and bawled my eyes out.  That was my Daddy.  I loved him, but I was SO full of anger I couldn’t even speak to him.  I had no words to say.  I wept bitterly for what my life had become. For the ugliness that boiled and festered inside of me.

I had been driving home from college every weekend at this point, leaving the second classes let out Friday and not heading back until the last possible moment Sunday night for my 8 am class Monday morning….my mom was alone and hurting and she needed me, you know?

One morning as I got out of bed to head back to college, I slid to the side of the bed and stood up.  Well, I tried to stand up.  I couldn’t, instead I doubled over in pain and cried out for my mom to come.  I could not stand up straight or walk.  The Lord had told me my unforgiveness would eventually kill me, and it sure felt like He was right.  Turns out I had a stressed induced issue, resulting in a giant grapefruit-sized cyst on my right ovary.  (Ew, I know, I said ovary.)  Thankfully, I didn’t have to have surgery to remove it, but I knew the Lord was telling me something and that I needed to forgive my dad, and soon.  I spent weeks trying to “get better”, eventually dropping most of my classes and just coasting through the rest of my first year, trying desperately to keep my head above the tide of anger and pain that now consumed me.

Summer break came, my mom and dad reconciled and dad moved back in.  I was PISSED!  How dare she forgive him!  She and I were a team, us against the world of the pigs called men.  I felt betrayed by her and continued to struggle with forgiving him.  We were now on speaking terms, but very cold ones.  I had little to say to him and tried to work as much as possible to stay out of the house.

Scan_Pic0069Back in the day, it was “cool” to cruise Main.  This makes me giggle now to tell you that’s what we did all weekend, but its true.  Gas was less than a buck a gallon, we didn’t go to clubs, there were tons of “hotties” out there cruising too, and I had a convertible;  it was a win-win-win.

What I didn’t know, is that I’d meet the man of my dreams on Main Street, while cruising.  What an UNROMANTIC story!

My car was in the shop, thanks to one of my darling kids I nannied for at the time, “drawing” me a picture on the side of it with a rock.  Oops.  Scan_Pic0083

So that night, I was cruising with my friends in my mom’s Jeep Cherokee, when a group of guys called us over to where they were parked at the bank.

First trip down Main, my friend and I just waved at them and giggled.  We rarely pulled over, it was too scary, much safer to just wave, giggle and keep on driving.  The next loop I noticed it was a guy from my church youth group.  Ok, well he was safe, we’ll pull over for a minute but stay in the car.  We pull in and this gorgeous guy in a white baseball hat (what is it about guy’s in white hats, anyhow?) comes sauntering over.

“Where’s your Mustang?” he asks.

My mouth threatens to drop open, but I try to maintain my “cool”.

“How do you know I drive a Mustang?” I ask.

“I know a lot about you, Tonya.” he says.

My heart leaps into my throat, Hottie in the White Hat knows my NAME?!  I hold in a squeal and I turn to my friend in the passenger seat and mouth silently:

“OH MY GOODNESS, HE IS SO HOT!” 

She agreed.

Long story short, this guy, named Dale, had been watching me for a long time and had been hoping to get to meet me.  He had grown up with the guy I went to Youth Group with.  Deeming him “safe”, I parked the car and we hung out with those guys, parked along Main street, for the rest of the evening.  I couldn’t tell if Dale liked me or my friend, but somehow we left with promises of Roses from him the next time we met on Main.

Scan_Pic0070

True to his word, the next weekend he pulls up to the bank and hops out of his White jeep in his smokin’ hot white hat, all nice and tan in his white cut off sleeve shirt with 2 red roses.  I just KNEW he liked my friend, since she got hers first, but later to my delight, he says to me….

“I wanted to call you this weekend and invite you to my blah blah blah {some youth group event I can’t recall} but I didn’t have your number.”

“Well, if you’d have asked for my phone number a long time ago, it wouldn’t have been a problem, now would’ve it,” I spouted back.

“So can I have it?”  he asks, grinning.

Can you have it? I thought you’d never ask!

No, I didn’t say that, but I THOUGHT it! :)

I write it down on this teeny scrap of paper from my cup holder and give it to him.

Then, “El’ Suave” says, SO unromantically….

“You name the time, you name the place and I’ll pick you up and pay for it.”

WHAT?!

That is NOT how it works!

To be continued…..

~T

P.S.  Look what still lives in Dale’s wallet 11 years later. :)

Crunchy Poppyseed Chicken Salad & Weekend Potluck #18

Welcome to Weekend Potluck! Where friends & foodies meet and eat ALL weekend long!

First things first:
 Flashback Friday!

Where I flashback to one of my FAVORITES from the archives.  Salad season is fast approaching, and this one tops my list of favorites:

 

CRUNCHY POPPYSEED CHICKEN SALAD

This is so quick and easy and makes for a really colorful, fun salad….

2 bags Broccoli Slaw
2 large Red peppers, chopped
2 cups carrot shreds
1 16 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained
4 cooked, seasoned chicken breasts, cubed
2 packages Ramen Noodles, broken into small pieces (No Spices)
Cashews to taste
1 bottle Kraft Creamy Poppyseed Dressing

Combine all ingredients except dressing and cashews in a large bowl. Sprinkle with cashews. Serve with Dressing on the side.

Serves 6-8.

Delicious!

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Now for Weekend Potluck!

 

Wow. Last week was a super-tremendous party and it was almost too difficult to pick favorites, but we tried…

The recipe with the most clicks was ~

Banana Pudding Cheese Cake recipe

Banana Pudding Cheese Cake by Recipes for Divine Living

Recipes that caught our attention ~

CHICKEN CRESCENT ROLL CASSEROLE recipe

Chicken Crescent Roll Casserole by Simply You & Me

Strawberry Cream Dessert recipe

Strawberry Cream Dessert by The Big Green Bowl

And, a personal favorite ~

Blueberry Fantasia Bars

Blueberry Fantasia Bars by Homestyle Cooking Around the World

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Your hosts ~

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