Hungry

Just tuning in? Please start at the Original post of this Series on “Surviving Infidelity”: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises. 

Written October 2011

Our counselors told us months ago, in a word from the Lord, that when it was time for a renewal of our vows, and trading old rings for new, I would be hungry for it. At the time I sorta scoffed at it like, “Hungry for it? Whatever, it’ll be all I can do to SURVIVE this!”

Well, the Lord is taking me to that place this week: I crave the renewal of our vows, the new covenant with Christ, like a starving person. I know God is preparing us for this, and unless He says differently, we’d like to do this the weekend of our 10th anniversary, which is May 24th. He also has spoken to us that the time to share this story is coming……sooner than we thought, as I had a mom call me this week with stories of 2 more marriages torn apart in my circle of friends through infidelity. That hit really close to home for me, and I know for such a time as this.
I am so nervous about putting it out there, yet have peace that I can trust it will all be used for HIS glory.

  The Lord spoke to my fearful heart this weekend, as I tearfully sent Dale to the very Men’s Encounter that shattered my world.  He showed me, that the last encounter was to get the ugly out, to empty the broken vessel. This one? To fill the restored vessel up again! PTL!

  Dale called me from Men’s Encounter weeping, saying that I mean the world to him, and that God was making him the man who I’ve deserved from the start. That he can’t wait to come home and share with me what the Lord was doing in his heart, as he found his TRUE worth in Christ Jesus. I am so thankful for the continued changes I see in Dale, as the Lord molds and shapes him into the man He has wanted him to be all along. 

 Written January 2012

  We are starting to work more fervently on the Vow Renewal Ceremony, how exciting!  I found “The Dress”…… 

(the pockets were my favorite part!)

 My little stud muffins will be wearing these from The Baxter Boy, for both Easter and the renewal.

The girls will wear their Christmas dresses from a few years ago.  Thank the Lord they still fit, because they go perfectly!  

  I bawled the day I heard this song by Francesca Battistelli. I knew, I KNEW, it was “THE ONE”.  This is the song I will walk down the aisle to, this is the song that speaks the truth of what we have been through….”Love’s not easy, but it’s worth it.”

Dale and I have been working on our vows to each other, our hopes and desires for our special day.  It’s all so bitter-sweet. 

  I had a well-meaning friend say, “Wow, it must be nice to get to plan a wedding all over again.”  I swallowed my tears, along with the lump in my throat, and reminded her that this opportunity for a second ceremony came at a VERY high price. That, I would trade it all in a heartbeat for my husbands faithfulness many years ago, but I cannot live in The Land of If Only’s or I will drive myself mad.  Instead, I chose to live in the here and now, moving forward as best I know how, to rebuild my marriage with the man my soul loves. 

  I LONG to hear him speak those vows to me, I LONG for a standing Covenant before Christ, a new ring of faithfully forever promises on my left hand, a circle unbroken.  I have missed my wedding band on my finger all these months, and I am ready to say “I Do”, again, this time to a barn full of witnesses. 

  Yes, I said barn.

 

We are renewing our vows in a GORGEOUS horse barn, with wide open-beam rafters and 3 large sets barn doors to throw open and let the natural light shine in.

  I’d love to have my wedding dress on display, as well as our wedding photo.

  
I am hoping to use Sunflowers (my favorite!) on the food table, as well as vintage fabric banners to make the barn fun and festive. 

I am thinking Ball jars with strips of lace around the rim, old barn gates with painted signs to lead people to the location of our renewal, a big glass pitcher of fresh farm milk to go with cookies and sweets.

  Thankfully, I have everything I want to decorate with in my home already!  And the wonderful people that are allowing us to use their barn, are providing the seating as well. This has to be affordable and still accomplish what we have set out to achieve that day:

Celebrating God’s faithfulness in making Beauty from Ashes!

  My friend Whitney, of Whitney Hamilton Photography, will be our photographer.  She is the one that took the photo for our Invitations, which we emailed out.

 

  I have a feeling this ceremony will be a really big turning point in our path to healing!!!!! Praise God!

 Written Monday, January 23, 2012

  Today I completed a chapter, closed a book and put it away for good, then I wept bitter, bitter tears at what had been lost.

  Today, 1/23/12, Dale and I went to the ring store, and turned in our two wedding bands in exchange for Dale’s new band. For nearly 10 years those bands have resided on our fingers, but for the past 6 months, those same bands have caused me nothing but sadness. Sadness for what was lost that day of betrayal, anger that Dale’s ring stopped nothing it should have stopped from occurring.

  I haven’t worn my band since July, so I didn’t think I’d be sad to see it go today, but as I tried it one last time, remembering how happy I was the day Dale slid it on my finger and promised me his faithfully forever promises, tears began to well up in my eyes, blurring the ring from my sight.  Dale could hardly hold the tears in, as he too, experienced the stabbing pain of what had been lost. He told me later, with tears running down his face, that it took everything he had not to have to excuse himself from that ring store to pull it together.

  We drove home in silence, tightly holding hands, weeping bitter tears, as we both quietly processed what had just occurred.  Both of us shocked that the rings were gone I think, as it happened all in a few moments time, just as we prepared to leave the ring shop. 

The owner said:

 “Here take the new ring in exchange for the old, you have paid for it with your trade.”  

  We wanted to wait for Dale to wear his ring in May at the Renewal ceremony, but also knew him not wearing a ring for the next few months was not an option either. So this evening, as we put it on his finger, we prayed over it, asking God’s blessing on the new vows and covenant to come. We cried again, over the rings we left behind today and the lost dreams of 2 young kids in love. 

Dale’s new ring is called Tungsten, it is un-scratchable, even if you take a metal file to it. This has great significance to us, as we start anew:

  Fresh, with no scratches or blemishes.

 This one stays shiny all its days, this one has will never tarnish or get nicks….

                 New ring, new promise, new start.

Dale is a new creation in Christ, the old has passed away…..he is like this ring, unblemished in the eyes of Christ forever more.

 But we also have peace, the kind that comes from taking another step in the right direction on the road to healing, one weary step at a time.                                                                                                            

  Next Weekend, along with our 10th Anniversary, we will celebrate a new covenant with Christ.  We will re-commit our lives to each other and exchange new bands and new promises of faithfully forever.  We will re-sign our Marriage Covenant, and it will once again hang proudly in our home. 

(This is a page from our wedding book, but it shows a photo of the signed covenant, as well as gives explanation for the meaning of it all.)It hurt me to take that Covenant down last summer, but I could no longer stand to look at it and see such a bold reminder of all that was lost.  Someday soon, I plan on hanging the Covenant and our original wedding photo back up, as well as a picture of us from the ceremony this weekend. 

And I can’t forget these:

A reminder of the Cross I nailed my un-forgiveness to at Women’s Encounter this past fall, but most importantly, a reminder of the ultimate Healer, the Ultimate Giver of Forgiveness…Jesus Christ our Lord, who died on the cross for all sins.  ALL of them.

 To Him be ALL the glory, for it is HE alone who can make Beauty from a pile of ugly Ashes…….

~T

The Tale of the Water Bearer’s Pots

 Just tuning in? Please start at the Original Post of this Series on “Surviving Infidelity”: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises.

This is Post 2 for today, be sure to head back one post to The Death of Little Girl Dreams.

I want to share an old folktale with you, which illustrates God’s view of our brokenness…….

WaterCarrier

   A water bearer had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

  At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his house.

  Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

  After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

  The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you’ve watered them. “For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”

  Moral of the story: We’re all cracked pots, but nothing goes to waste in God’s great economy. He uses our flaws for HIS glory. So don’t be afraid of your flaws, for there is beauty to be found in your weakness.

May this broken vessel be used for His glory….

~T

The Death of Little Girl Dreams

Just tuning in? Please start at the Original post of this Series on “Surviving Infidelity”: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises. 

Written December, 2011

Forgiving Dale took all the poison out and I am left with a soft, yet still broken heart.  But I know, A True Love Story Never Ends……..

{I got this for our bedroom so I can see it every morning when I wake up.}

But that’s just it, I feel as if our love story did end. My ideas and dreams were dashed back in July.

  When I was 17, I handed God the pen and asked Him to write me a beautiful love story, and honestly?  I feel as if I can’t trust the Lord with my pen anymore…..

He let me down.

No, actually Dale let me down, but it all feels connected somehow.

I am so so so disappointed that this happened. I am so so so sad that my love story has such an ugly part in it. I am so so so sad that THIS is my happily ever after. I am. I can’t lie. I am disappointed because I have dreamt of this my whole life. I am disappointed because my heart is still broken. I am disappointed because my very best friend, the person I am one with, is the one who broke it, who hurt me so deeply. I am disappointed that sin has such hold on our men.

As I work through these thoughts, these days where I put walls up to protect my heart, I hurt Dale. He longs for my heart, begs me with sad eyes to trust him again, love him fully again, lavish him with my love, including the old days of sparkly eyed smiles and leaping into his arms at the end of a work day.

I can achieve that some days, even weeks at a time, but like the layers of the onion, we reach the next layer and the next hard day, and I hide. Hide behind my wall again….

He can’t hurt me again, I won’t let him.

Jesus is working on this with me. Gently reminding me to love fully, gently reminding me that….

Love is patient. Love keeps no record of wrong. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(Parts of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Yes, Jesus. I hear you.

Love is a choice and it represents a commitment. I said “I Do” and I meant it…..from now until the day I draw my last breath.

I choose Dale.

I choose us. 

I die to the dreams of little girl Tonya, and wait patiently for the Lord to breathe new life back into me. 

Deuteronomy 31:8 says:

“And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

  One of the hardest parts of my journey of late, is the death of my little girl dreams.

  My whole life I’ve dreamed of what my life would be like, the kind of wife and mother I wanted to be, the way I’d keep my house, what I’d name my kids, how I wanted to raise them, how I’d greet my husband after a long day at work….with a kiss, hug and smile.  How safe and protected I would feel in his embrace, the comfort of knowing it would always be the two of us as one, us against the World. 

  But now, we have this…this ugly that threatens daily, to destroy us. 

  This ugly that whispers horrible words and plants seeds of doubt in my ear.  A battle I CONSTANTLY wage with my thoughts as I shout at the devil to LEAVE ME in the name of Jesus!  The fears that threaten to drown me.  The insecurities that could drive me mad with worry.

  I look around me and see this beautiful dream, lying there shattered in pieces.  I am in a pit.  I am broken.  I am so so weary of these months of working moment by moment to keep my thoughts on what is good, these months of fighting for my marriage, these months of the Refiners Fire as Jesus wants to make me whole again, this cracked vessel needing to be filled and fired, filled and fired over and over again until it is whole. 

broken-pot

  Yet, sometimes it feels as if I shall never be whole again.  How could I?  How could I ever trust again? Love with abandon again?

  Forgiving Dale was a huge HUGE step in this journey, it took the rage right out of me, the hatred leaving and the door closed forever.  And, whatever door God closes, cannot be re opened.  (From Revelation 3:8)  But what remains, is hurt.  Not the gasping, can’t breath hurt of months past, just the dull aching kind that you can forget about when things are going great, but feel it anytime it is quiet and you aren’t being distracted from it.

  I have been crying out to God to show me where I am in my journey, for I am losing hope.  I am so so weary of fighting, I feel as if I want to lie down by the side of the road and quit.   We seem to have stopped our great leaps of improvement, since huge pieces of healing have already been accomplished in counseling, huge hurdles have been overcome in our lives….now, we fight to survive the onslaught on us, some days, just barely keeping our heads above water.  Clinging to each other as life RACES by, not giving us a chance to catch our breath.

Demands of regular life as husband, provider, mommy, blogger, photographer keep marching on, threatening to trample us at times.

  I am glad we are such a threat to the devil, it means we are doing something good and right and we have him running scared.  Take that, satan! Oh how I hate you and your stupid schemes to rob and destroy. Your sneaky tactics of complacency, acceptance and denial.  You won’t win this one, the battle has already been won, VICTORY IS ALREADY OURS!!!!!!!!!!

     The Lord has been speaking to Dale and I about Joseph this week, 2 times on Christian radio during Dales work day, a whole series on Joseph and Lessons from the Pit at church and then of all things, our counselor bring it up this week during our session. 

When God repeats Himself, we tend to perk up and listen a bit more closely!!!

Here is what He is showing us:

“Being Dysfunctional does NOT disqualify you from Gods plans for your life.  Neither does a stupid decision.”

God still wants to use me, but He needs me to seek Him with my whole heart.

  Joseph made MANY mistakes, but he was still called one of the Wisest men in scripture.

“Our dumb-ness, displays HIS High-ness….”

“God can lift us up from the pit and be proud of us, because He loves us and has a plan for our lives.”

  Then the Lord showed me this and I knew it was the answer to my hearts cry of “Where are we in our journey?”  I am in a season of Mourning. 

Mourning the Death of Little Girl Dreams.

Check this out…..

“The Death of A Vision” by Bill Gothard

Three Basic Aspects of the Ways of God

1) Birth of a Vision: Each one of us has special purposes for being here. God wants to reveal them to us.  This is often the dreams of our youth or things we felt spoken to us during an altar call or prayer time.

2) Death of a Vision: When things don’t seem to be going as we had planned.  When all seems lost or hopeless, but don’t give up.  The expectations God gives are powerful motivations to continue during times of discouragement.  Sometimes we just see a mess of strings in the beautiful tapestry of our lives that He is weaving. Sometimes it is not our privilege to ever see the “big picture”.  This may be hard to understand, but that is why we have FAITH.

3) Supernatural Fulfillment of the Original Vision: He fulfills our expectations in ways that we NEVER would have thought!  And in BETTER ways than we ever thought possible!    Praise His Name!

Watch this, as it happens over and over in scripture….

Abraham had a vision of being the father of a great nation.  But how could he?  His wife, Sarah, was barren.  After years and years of trying and not succeeding, they became too old to have children. In FACT, somewhere along the journey, they decided God needed their help to make this “Father of a great nation thing” happen, and he got his servant Haggar pregnant.  What a dumb move! 

  Did this ruin what God had planned for him?  No.  God gave Abraham and Sarah a son in their old age, and YES he did become the Father of a great nation after all!

   Let’s talk about Joseph again, he had a vision that he would be a great leader and that many would bow down to him.  This kind of talk, added in with his father’s favoritism of him, lead his brothers to hate him and plot his murder.  (Dysfunctional anyone?) 

   In fact, they beat him up, took his beautiful coat (a gift from their father) and threw him in a pit while they decided what to do with him.  The sat down to lunch like nothing was wrong, and decided they should just sell him into slavery and cover his coat in blood so that father would think he had been eaten by wild animals.

  As Joseph, tired and sore, from most likely being beaten by his own brothers, was led away into captivity, sold as a slave, don’t you think he doubted his Vision from the Lord? 

   Don’t you think later, as he was thrown in prison after Potifer’s wife lied and said he attacked her, that he cried out to God wondering where he was in all this mess?!  How in the world could he be the leader of a great nation from this dark, damp prison cell?  Where was God as he rotted away in jail for years?   I bet things felt more than hopeless.  Then, God allowed Joseph to interpret the dreams of the butler and baker.  {Who promptly forgot about him as soon as they were freed.  Ugh! How frustrating that must have been!}  But wait, one day the king needs a dream interpreted and Joseph is just the man for the job.  Not only is he freed from  prison, but his dreams are fulfilled, and he goes on to RULE the land.   But WAIT, there is more! The VERY brothers who hurt him and sold him into slavery end up BOWING to him as King, when they come to beg for food during famine.

The Original vision is fulfilled, Supernaturally, by the hand of God.

  So, what am I to learn from all this?

  That my “dark place” is not a stagnant one.  I am not losing a battle by lying here in this pit.  I am lying in the arms of Jesus as He strengthens me for the journey to come, and one day…praise His name, my original visions of Happily Ever After will be returned to me, better than I ever thought possible.  My job now is to have Patience in waiting on God’s timing, to have Faith, in knowing what He will do, and Self-control in not running ahead of the Lord to “fix” this, but to just trust in His perfect plan for me.

  I am already catching glimpses of what is to come, as I have never been treated better by Dale, I have never been loved so freely by him, I have never felt more cherished.  For He who is forgiven much, loves much….{Taken from Luke 7}

  Funny, I thought we were so good before, so full of love for each other, having NO idea just how wonderful things COULD be once we were made new.  

  Satan is putting in over time right now.  He seeks to destroy God’s work and wants to deceive us, prompting us to try in our own energy and wisdom to “fix this”.  To work on our own strength to get back our “happily ever after” in a quick manner.  He sends spirits of darkness, to make us feel hopeless.  But we are never without hope, it is a gift of God and He NEVER removes His gifts from us.  We are never HOPELESS in Christ.  Never.  There is always hope and a future.  My Lord and Savior NEVER wastes a hurt.  He doesn’t.  He just loves us too much to keep us as we are.

  And like a grain of wheat must die into the ground before a Harvest can spring up the next season, I am in a constant process of dying to self.  Dying to MY plans, MY hopes, MY little girl dreams, MY thoughts on what should or should not have occurred, so that everything can be made new.

~T

“The Reedemer” by Sanctus Real

I don’t have every answer in life
But I’m trusting You one day at a time
Cuz You can make a weak heart stay alive
Forever
And this is where heaven and earth collide
I lift my hands, I give my life
This is how my weary heart stays alive
Oh, I’m still a dreamer
Still a believer
And You are the answer
The Redeemer
Cuz You can make anything new
Yeah, You can make anything new”

Listen here:

He makes everything new…..


 

Choosing to Forgive

Just tuning in? Please start at post 1 of this Series “Surviving Infidelity”: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises.

October 16th, 2011 

The Lord has been speaking to me about Forgiveness for months now, telling me the day will come when I will have to actually say the words to Dale, not just show him by my actions that I am forgiving him.

  It all started to come to a head at Woman’s Encounter.  EVERYONE needs to go to one of these weekends, E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E!  Encounter is not your typical church retreat, it is a “tear down the walls, cry it out at the foot of the cross, build you back up before we send you home, I am free in Christ” kind of weekend with INCREDIBLE surprises at every twist and turn.  It truly changed my life!

  Over this Encounter Weekend, I traded beauty for ashes, peace for my despair, and gladness was given in exchange for my mourning. 

Praise be to my Heavenly Father, who so lavishly poured out His love on His daughter this weekend.

  Yesterday, I stood up in church to share what Christ had done in my heart and life this weekend and here is what I said:

  “I encountered Christ at the cross this weekend and cried buckets of tears.  Buckets.   The 2 ton weights I wore on each shoulder are gone, the chains of brokeness and unforgiveness no longer hold me captive. They were nailed to the cross and left there.   I have been set free!”  

BIG PAUSE here as I said battled with the Lord: 

No Lord please don’t make me say it publicly.”  Yes, Tonya, share for my glory.  “No Lord, I can’t!” YES TONYA! “Ok, here goes……”

DEEP BREATH: 

“And to my husband…….{sobbing} 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.

     It was so silent in that church, you could’ve heard a pin drop!  Most sat with mouths agape, letting tears flow unchecked, some turned to see where Dale was…..

  Next thing I know, he is running up to the stage bawling and embraces me. 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! So FREE!”

   It was the most beautiful moment in my life!  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 learned this weekend that my forgiveness is so I can see Dale through God’s eyes.

That forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, or acceptance of the offence as Ok or right.

Forgiveness isn’t denying something bad happened to me, it just prevents further damage of me.

Time will not heal my broken heart, GOD WILL.

Forgiveness is not immediate trust restored, that will come with time.

Forgiveness is required of me, Christ instructs it.  It is the very foundation on which we stand, saved by grace!

Forgiveness is NON negotiable, when I forgive I am given the gift of FREEDOM!

Me not forgiving Dale is like saying what Jesus did on the cross was not enough. 

I need Christ to simply flow HIS forgiveness through me to Dale. My job is to merely be open to this, I don’t have to be healed, or “in a good place emotionally” for this to occur.

  What is visible before is now forgotten, what was scarlet before is white as snow. Forgiveness is a choice, and I choose it, but I need Christ’s help to accomplish this daily.  It is impossible without Him in me.  My forgiveness of Dale may be a lifelong journey and choice for me, but it is important to the Lord, and I choose forgiveness!  There is nothing like the tears of joy and the release we experience, when we come to that place of complete forgiveness before the Lord.  It’s life-giving because it renews our entire being.

PRAISE BE TO GOD!  The God of RESTORATION!!!! The God of BEAUTY from ASHES!

I am FREE from the chains that have held me captive since July!

I am FREE,  thank you Jesus!

~T

A Marriage With a Limp

This is all part of a series on “Surviving Infidelity”. Please start at the beginning: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises.

leg_in_castWritten late November 2011

  Let’s say a man hurts his leg BADLY, like it will never function as it once did….

  He can sit in his hospital bed and dream of a million and one ways to get his regular, fully functioning leg back, but the truth of the matter is, he can’t. No matter what he dreams up, he can’t get it back to how it used to be.  Now, he has a choice:

~Sit there in his bed and rot, while he wishes he could turn back time.

OR

~Get up off that bed, participate in some very difficult therapy, and learn to function normally, this time with a hurt leg.

To walk, with a limp. To do stairs, with a limp. To ride bike, with a limp. He can achieve the things he used to, it’s just not quite the same.

This is my new reality.

  I am feeling a quiet acceptance today, as I realize this “limp” is here to stay. That instead of hiding my limp, or trying to find a way to get rid of it, I am accepting it. Planning life from here forward WITH it. I feel sad today, almost a sense of loss as I say goodbye to my dreams of what marriage would be, how I would be treated etc., yet at peace somehow. The kind of peace that comes from the arms of Jesus……

Instead of day dreaming all day long in “The Land of If Only”…..

IF ONLY Dale had said no, IF ONLY I could’ve called and stopped him, IF ONLY someone could’ve been there that day, IF ONLY I could’ve seen this coming……

I chose to live in today.

To lean on God TODAY, to get through moment by limping moment.

  Sometimes I fall, I do.  I am not used to my limp, but my Father in Heaven picks me up again, the Faithful Teacher, instructing me on how to walk all over again with my new limp.

Can God heal my limp? Sure.

Will He? I am not sure He needs to.

Remember Jacob in the Bible? He wrestled with God and walked with a limp the rest of his life as a reminder of that day he wrestled God and demanded a blessing.  Maybe Dale and I NEED the limp, so others can ask what happened and hear the good news of Christ in our lives.  Maybe our limp is the very reason glory will be given to God. 

Here is a devotional on this very subject a family member shared with us, that spoke volumes and came at the perfect time….

(Don’t they always?! Love it!)

jesus_shepherd

He Breaks Us to Make Us

Read: Genesis 32:22-32

“There is a good reason God calls his people sheep. Sometimes they act  bad and wander away from the paths he has mapped out for them. A good shepherd will relentlessly search for a wayward sheep.  Sometimes, if the sheep refuses to follow his master, the shepherd  takes drastic action. He breaks the sheep’s leg, places it upon his shoulders and carries the sheep until it learns total dependence. This is tough love – the shepherd breaks the sheep to make sure the sheep always follows the shepherd.

Jacob had always been a wanderer. He fled his home in Beersheba to escape his brother’s wrath and find a wife in Haran. On his journey, he encountered God at a place called Bethel and saw a stairway leading to heaven. Years later, Jacob left Haran along with his wives, children and property. One night he found himself at Jabbok, utterly  alone. At this solitary place God, in the form of “a man,” sought out  Jacob. God wanted to make Jacob into a different person, so he took drastic action. He initiated a wrestling match that lasted from dusk  till dawn. Jacob’s wilfulness would not allow him to give up. So the  man “broke” Jacob, touching his hip so that he walked with a limp for  the rest of his life.

  Many people might become bitter and turn away from God for breaking them. But Jacob had just the opposite response.  He clung to God saying, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” We may think that a God of love would never allow his children to feel any pain. But sometimes God breaks us to make us better. He may break our hearts so we will make room for him there. He may break our will so we can discover his will for us. He may break our physical strength so we discover that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). Like Jacob, the best response to God’s tough love is to cling to him and earnestly pray, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

  If you’ve been acting like a bad sheep and have wandered off the path, climb up on the shepherd’s shoulders and let him carry you home to healing.”

sheep

  The interesting thing is, which I had forgotten happened to Jacob, was the fact that God actually “broke” him physically, so that his limp would remind him for the rest of his life that he is dependent upon God!

  This “marriage limp” will always remind us that we need to depend on God to carry us through our most difficult moments. It can become a symbol of a battle fought and won! Our limp can be living proof that God can do amazing things in our lives if we are just willing to let Him!

  The glue that holds our marriage together, isn’t found in our own strength, it’s in the powerful BLOOD of Jesus!!!!  Thank God, that marriage isn’t just between a man and a woman, but that the Lord is the third-party, the third strand woven into the covenant; a strand that won’t break.  In fact, when tugged, the strands of a rope just pull tighter, closer together.  Praise Jesus!

~T 

Tomorrow is Weekend Potluck, then tune in next week for the final 4 posts of our series on: “Surviving Infidelity: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises”.

Dear Child,
If you never felt pain, then how would you know that I am a Healer?
If you never had to pray, how would you know that I am a Deliverer?
If you never had a trial, how could you call yourself an overcomer?
If you never felt sadness, how would you know that I am a Comforter?
If you never made a mistake, how would you know that I am a forgiver?
If you knew all, how would you know that I will answer your questions?
If you never were in trouble, how would you know that I will come to your rescue?
If you never were broken, then how would you know that I can make you whole?
If you never had a problem, how would you know that I can solve them?
If you never had any suffering, Then how would you know what I went through?
If you never went through the fire, Then how would you become pure?
If I gave you all things, how would you appreciate them?
If I never corrected you, how would you know that I love you?
If you had all power, Then how would you learn to depend on me?
If your life was perfect, Then what would you need me for?

Love,
Jesus

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The Trap of Pornography

Just tuning in? Please start at post 1 of this Series “Surviving Infidelity”: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises.

It’s Dale, back again.  This time to talk to you about pornography, the “taboo” subject in the Christian realm. 

Not anymore.

  I was exposed to my first porn at age 9, in the form of magazines my older brothers had around.  I looked on and off through high school, even though I knew it was displeasing to God.  I don’t think I really “got it”: 

If you sin in your eyes or heart, it’s just as bad as the act itself.  Matthew 5:28 “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

  I married the love of my life and assumed the porn would stop, as I had every desire fulfilled.  It didn’t, and twice, early on in our marriage, Tonya caught me on the computer looking at or about to click on porn sites.  It was a total of 3 times I looked or tried to look, and I was actually thankful she was open enough to the Holy Spirit to feel the nudge to check on me each & EVERY time.  I agreed to do whatever it took to break this sin cycle in my life, and walked in freedom from it for 5 years.

  Fast forward to 5 years later, and you will see I made one of two of the biggest mistakes of my life:

   I came into a position of management and had my own office.  I used my time alone in the morning, 2 days a week, to look at porn.  Click after click I went, being sucked deeper into the porn world without even knowing it.  My pride keeping me from telling Tonya I was failing, my stubbornness kept me from knowing I was falling.  I kept telling myself, “I am not addicted, I could quit any time I want.”  But then, the next week, I’d click and click again, disgusted at myself, yet unable to leave the screen until others came in to the office for the day. 

  4 short months after I began to look at porn again, I acted on the images I had seen, and betrayed my wife of nearly 10 years for a woman I was not even attracted to.  It was not premeditated, it was simply an opportunity that arose after a day of inappropriate talk in the car while running appointments with her.

  The words Stupid, Selfish and Foolish come to mind.  My blood boils with rage as I think of my own stupidity, my own BLINDESS to what was occurring!  I was happy in my marriage, more than content in my marriage bed, but I had an ugly lust that needed fed, and it was fed that day as I betrayed my wife for a single act. Here is the crazy part, my actions that day had NOTHING to do with needing sex, or being attracted to this other woman, it was literally to feed the lust that grew inside me daily; the need to be needed, the excitement of being needed by someone other than my wife.

In 1 Corinthians 6:18, Paul says, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”

   I was disgusted with myself, yet I didn’t walk away.  I chose that day to feed the lust and lose everything I had with Tonya.  This is the sentence that makes me shake my head, I am so angry at myself, what a stupid mistake!  Why would I do this to my family? My wife?  My God?  Satan had me blind, he set a trap for me that day and like an idiot, I walked right into it.  I weighed the cost that day and lust won. 

I hurt my Heavenly Father, I hurt my wife, I hurt my family, because I was full of sin and the need to please “self”.  I was self-seeking that day in every way.  Tonya has gone through many a tearful counseling sessions trying to find a place to lay blame in her own life…..

GUESS WHAT?! It had nothing to do with her.  Nothing. 

  There was nothing lacking in our marriage. Tonya is my best friend, my soul mate, my number one cheerleader.  Yet, that day I betrayed her and everything she had so lovingly given me…..all of her.  A precious gift, and I broke it! Cast it aside for a few moments of lust.  The Dale that looked at porn had an ugly need to fulfill because porn is DEADLY.  It’s a trap from Lucifer himself.

  Run from porn.  FLEE.  It has no place in your life.  Don’t even dip your toe in the water, for you will be at the bottom drowning before you know it.

Tonya warned me, when I looked at porn early in our marriage:  Lust of the Eyes leads to Lust of the Heart leads to Lust of the Flesh . 

   I had no idea just how true that statement was.  I never once thought my first click would lead to an actual sexual act, EVER, or I wouldn’t have looked.  The cost is too great.  If you had told me I’d one day cheat on Tonya, I would’ve laughed at you…..Cheat on Tonya? Why? She is everything to me!  Porn seemed harmless in that sense, because why would I seek sex when I was being fulfilled at home?  It was just something to look at…….How bad could it be to just look?

  Boy, was I wrong and my mistake almost cost me my family and the love of my life.

   Don’t ever go there.  Ever.  It’s just not worth it.

  The draw of the flesh and the devils plans are a lot stronger than we’d like to think.  In a moment of weakness, something that is possible for all of us, we can end up doing something we NEVER thought we would.  ONLY the power of God, through prayer, can make a difference.

John 8:36  “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”  Thank you God, for that promise!

I Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

  Did you catch that?  These temptations we endure are common to man, as in all people, but let’s focus on guys for now.  Let’s take it as meaning, other men struggle with this, too.  We need to speak of it, ask for each others help!  This secret sin can be a secret NO LONGER!

  Men who struggle with Pornography aren’t drooling, knuckle-dragging cave men, or “dirty old men.” They are the men who sit in the row ahead of you every Sunday, serve on the Board at your church, teach Sunday School or volunteer at Youth Group, lead worship and praise, take up the offering, attend mens’ retreats, preach from your pulpit, and work hard to provide for their families. 

  We are doing a study in Sunday School that is changing our lives.  Have you seen the movie Courageous?  You need to.  We are doing the follow up books, “The Resolution for Men” and “The Resolution for Women” as a class, dividing up each week to discuss our chapters.  Here is an excerpt from the book, it describes what happened to Tonya & I exactly:

Taken from “The Resolution for Men”, page 95.

  “Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul.  Wounds and dishonor he will get….” Proverbs 6:32.

 “Let’s face it.  Most men who fall into adultery do not originally set out to do so.  They don’t lose their marriages in a day.  It starts off innocently, with small compromises that eventually become tolerated over time.  A man gets too busy and isn’t spending time with God in His word. He gets worn out at work…..and before he knows it, he has baby stepped his way into an addiction or an adulterous pit, unintentionally devastating his marriage, his spiritual walk and the respect of his kids.  He looks up one day to see a fool in the mirror and wonders how he got there.” 

  It goes on to list 10 Actions to Stay Faithful to Your Wife.  You need to go get these books right now, read and study, make sure your armor is strong, because satan is out to destroy marriages.  Ours was going so well, that we thought we were safe.  Instead, we had a large target on our heads that just screamed to the devil, “Attack & Destroy!!!!”, and he nearly succeeded because I was blinded to the truth. 

    It goes on in Appendix 8 of the book “The Resolution for Men” to say:

“Pornography…strips sexual fulfillment of all its purposes.  It disconnects sexual arousal from its foundation of love, marriage and lifelong commitment, and re-attaches it to lust, vanity, irresponsibility, and the perverted thrills of sin and shock imagery.  Instead of sexual enjoyment being a reward from God, it becomes an undeserved, unearned, unholy, illegitimate pleasure with no purpose.  It is like sexual cocaine that lures a man into a trap and then rapes his mind and conscience, leaving him addicted, numb and demoralized.  He begins caring less about the people he loves.  He quits rejoicing over good things and grieving sin.  He feels guilty, dark and dirty, spiritually distant from God and emotionally disconnected from his wife.  Not only that, but he gives satan a foothold and permission to torment him now with condemnation, lies and accusations.  He’s much worse off than when he started.”

 This is truth.  Believe it.  Own it.  Get help for it.  Seriously, before it destroys you, because it will.

 I have some statistics for you before I go…..

  • The average age of a child exposed to porn, is 8.
  • 87% of young men believe using pornography is acceptable because it’s a “safe” alternative to fornication. 
  • 3 out of 4 men that share your church pew, have or are struggling with an addiction to porn.
  • 72 million visitors go to porn sites each month.
  • 47% of families said that pornography is a problem in their home. (These were largely Christian families responding to the poll.)
  • 67% of young men and 49% of young women 18-26 years of age consider
    viewing pornography as acceptable behavior.

Read more about this here !  

  I hurt the person I love most because of porn.  Before you click to enter that pornography site on your computer, let the images of those you love run through your mind:   

How would you like to lose them forever? 

Because if you click, you could one day lose everything dear to you…….. 

Trust me.

Dale

Click here for 10 Steps to Freedom from Pornography

{Statistics credit: here & here.}

Confessions of A Heart Broken Housewife

Just tuning in? Please start at post 1 of this Series “Surviving Infidelity”: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises.

Written October 7th, 2011

So, why did I chose to share this horribly embarrassing, deeply saddening story with the world, you ask? 

  Well, THAT is the very question I asked the Lord, when He spoke to me:

You will be asked to share and it will be a celebration of my faithfulness to you…..in my ability to make beauty from ashes.” 

This fact was confirmed when two other people, who do not know each other, both told us the same week

“The Lord is showing me that you will be sharing this with a large amount of people…that it will be a testament of His hand in your lives.”

Then, a few weeks later, an entire Sunday School lesson on Saul and his ministry.  How the Lord used his embarrassing story to bring others to Christ.  Remember his HORRIBLE treatment of Christians? He went from town to town persecuting them, seeking them out just to mock and kill them.  I bet he felt pretty foolish after his conversion! Here he was the VERY THING that he used to kill people for.  His eyes were opened, he was willing and the Lord used his testimony to bring others to Christ.  So it will be with this tragedy, that is now a victory.

  Months after that, as I was reading my friend Kristin’s blog over at Sweet Country Life, I experienced head to toe chills and tears streaming down my face as I read her blog post.  She was seeking a “Word of the Year”.  She felt the Lord was showing her the word was to be:

 TRANSPARENCY. 

It was then I had NO doubt what I was being asked to do. She goes on in her post to define Transparency as “A picture made visible by a Light behind it.” 

  I know the Lord wants to use this story for His glory.  I know that in a dark world full of a divorce, He wants to shine a light, HIS Light, behind the shattered pieces of our lives in order to showcase a BEAUTIFUL mosaic for His glory.  He wants to use our story as an encouragement to other couples living this same tragedy, to use it as proof that ALL things are possible through Christ.

  Soon after He asked this of me, He showed me this verse, which helped me to understand the purpose behind all this:

II Corinthians 1:3-7  “All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us  You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.  So when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your benefit and salvation! For when God comforts us, it is so that we, in turn, can be an encouragement to you.  Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.  We are confident that as you share in suffering, you will also share God’s comfort.”

  “So, now what?” you ask. Now that its out there, how does life look for you, Tonya? How do you get out of bed each day?  How do you not cry all day long?  How can you share a bed with the very man that betrayed you?  How do you show your face at school or church and face the sympathetic glances and well-meaning words of people who don’t get it?”

  I have an answer for you:

It is by the grace of God.  Nothing less than His strength flowing through me to get through those times. 

  That, and these sweet faces that give me 4 really great reasons to fight for my marriage, even when it might seem easier to walk away.  To hold tight to my truth, even when I feel I have nothing left to give to the watching world.  Even when I am too ashamed to lift my head as I imagine the rumor mill spinning new tales, each worse than the last, of poor Tonya and her unfaithful husband.

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  Here is the crazy part, the part that makes me scratch my head in confusion:

IN THIS MOMENT IN TIME, IN THIS UGLY TRAGEDY…..

I LOVE DALE MORE THAN EVER. 

This tragedy has brought me closer to him, and closer to my God.

  Never have I felt more in tune with the Lord’s voice, never has my love felt so real and deep for Dale.  This tragedy made us stronger.  He still makes my heart pitter patter, you know?  The very man that broke my heart, makes it skip a beat.

Do you know how CONFUSING that is? 

  To have the love and hate, joy and anger, clash in my head and heart day after day, night after night. 

  Do you know how impossible it is for my mind to wrap around the fact, that this man that I am one with, that I love desperately with my whole heart, the one I cling to when I sob, the one I call when I am scared ….is the VERY one who caused this crushing, gasping pain. 

  Do you remember my blog post entitled “Broken”?  I am sure it makes more sense to you now.  How about “Fall on Jesus”?  Both were written in a raw moment, as I contemplated quitting the blog, quitting my marriage, quitting it all.  We had no money, our marriage was ruined….why not just throw my hands up and quit. Everything was falling to pieces.  My axe had no blade, I could make no difference to the world in this state of mind, could I? It seemed impossible.

Never have I experienced this kind of pain.  The kind that makes you gasp, unable to catch your breath, the kind that actually ACHES on the outside, right in the middle of your chest, from the broken heart on the inside.  The kind of pain that makes you want to curl up in a ball and sob and sob, but I don’t do that very often.

  I can’t. 

I just can’t let myself go there, ESPECIALLY during they day…….during the day I have my “Mommy Hat” on.  I am too busy meeting the needs of my family to let myself be sad or mourn the loss of something so beautiful.  I am too busy wrapping my arms around those precious little ones, going on with our daily routine, smiling rather than crying, because I NEED their world to feel normal.  And from the outside, it is.  You could sit in my house all day long and observe, and never know that this summer, I died inside, I lost something of beauty, something I valued and held dear to me.  Now, many long, hard months after, I am slowly being brought to life by my Heavenly Father, who is moving Supernaturally to restore us.

So what is life like?

 Well, I miss Dale when he is at work, I love my little family, I love being at home, I still love to cook and try new recipes, I feel so very loved and safe when Dale wraps his arms around me and pulls me close, I find I can smile more, and it sometimes it even reaches my eyes and they sparkle a bit again, as I laugh with Dale at something one of the kids did or said.  Then, the stab of pain in my heart almost doubles me over.  We do so well for so many days in a row, that I almost, ALMOST, can forget the heartache, asking myself for a millisecond, “Hmm, What is wrong?  Why does something feel off, even in my joy?”

Then, instantly, before the thought even finishes, I remember why.

Oh yeah, everything is different now, I’ve been betrayed. Our vows, broken. Something beautiful, lost forever.”

3 months after that fateful day of truth-telling, not every day is hard, praise God, not even every other day any more. We can go entire weeks of being so good, so happy, but then, a down day, which was today for some reason. I never know what will cause it to come; a comment, a wedding photo, a phone call.

  Today was the kind of day that my chest ached, and my eyes welled up, as I stood in the laundry room this evening, folding laundry, and weeping bitter tears.  4 pm is the worst time of day for me. The children and I have gotten Destiny from school, all the kids are off playing so nicely in celebration that big sis is finally home, I am busy doing housework and supper prep, all the while lovingly anticipating the homecoming of my best friend, my soul mate, my lover, my husband, the father of my kids, who will RUN to the door with shouts of “DADDY! DADDY!”

  What KILLS me more than anything else, what makes me sob even as I write these words to you, is that at this very moment…….at this very moment in my day, he was well on his way to betraying our covenant, our vows, our unity. He would piss it away for a single act, a few moments of pleasure. Weighing the cost and choosing us as the losers. Discarding our beautiful life as worthless. Selfishly choosing lust. Sex. The moment of pleasure outweighing our future.

A life of secrets and sin come at a high price.

  After a miserable year and a half of self loathing, of not forgiving himself, of beating himself up over and over for his foolishness and his lack of integrity, of watching his words, lest he slip, Dale is scared when I have sad days. He worries that I’ve given up the fight, that I’m choosing to walk away, that he’s losing “The best thing that God ever gave him….”

Good.

The angry side of me is glad he stews, glad he has tears. He owes me that much.

Sad.

The sad, loving part of me, hates the ugly side of the Tonya that finds joy in her husbands discomfort, in his fear.  I am a sunshine person by nature, this ugliness so foreign. This bitterness festers inside of me like an oozing wound.

But, what Dale doesn’t realize, even as I tell him over and over again, is that if I was going to leave him, I would’ve done it already. Right away, that very first weekend. I said I Do, I promised for better AND for worse, and I meant it.

I Corinthians 7:39 “A wife is married to her husband as long as he lives.”

I am learning a lot about myself through all this. I had a sister friend tell me something that changed my world today:

Don’t feel punished! This isn’t about you, this is about Dale. He is now loving you as you deserve to be loved. He is now tender and soft to you, letting that final wall that he kept between you come tumbling down. He IS going to be the man you’ve prayed for since age 13, he is!!!!! It just took this breaking down for the process to start. You’ve asked the Lord for years, YEARS! to make Dale the spiritual leader of your home. You prayed for YEARS as a teen, for the man of your dreams……He IS becoming that man. You are getting your answer: Dale is now stepping up into that roll! He will be that man who you’ve desired all along! And it’s all for God’s glory, Tonya!”

  I never imagined my years of praying for Dale to be softened, wishing he was the kind of guy to be romantic and sweet, to cherish me and whisper sweet nothings as he stroked my face, would ever come to pass. I just figured it wasn’t his way, and I was totally ok with that!!! He loved me the best he could. I loved what we had. I was so so very happy living in my Happily Ever After Castle with my dashing husband and my precious kids.

  Interestingly enough, as hard as this time of our lives is, I’ve never been treated better as I am being treated now. I’ve never felt such love pour out from Dale’s heart and flow freely from his lips. I have never seen his eyes swim with tears as he speaks words of love and affirmation to me.  He is now the man I prayed for, the sweet, tender one I secretly wished he would be to me all along.

  Do you know why?  The Bible has the answer, doesn’t it always? 

“He that is forgiven much, loves much.”  {from Luke 7:47} 

  Dale has died to self, been forgiven of his sins and is no longer holding back his love for me.  He used to have to hold back a little bit of his love, or the truth would’ve flowed out with it.  In that day of truth, walls were shattered, and we moved into a closeness I’ve never known before. 

What doesn’t break you, DOES make you stronger.

  I didn’t realize how far he had withdrawn from me over the weary years of parenthood and miscarriages, until he came back. As soon as he was mine again, I felt the change. I was saddened that we had gotten lazy in our love, in our relationship with Christ as a couple, that what I chalked up to “exhausted life with kids”, was actually a deep ugly hidden secret. How could I not see it? How could I not feel the slow demise of our very existence?

  Well, its out now. The truth is out.  The forgiveness and tears are flowing. True friends stepping forward. God moving and healing, even when I can’t feel Him.

  I know we can move forward in such a positive way. I KNOW we will be better than before, I KNOW the Lord promises to make beauty rise up out of the ashes, I KNOW one day, I will fully embrace the new Dale, will learn to trust him again. But for now, it seems impossible, it’s all still too raw, too fresh. The glass house of trust, hard to build but easy to break, lies in the ruins along side of my Happily Ever After Castle.  But I serve a mighty God, and He promises ALL things are possible.  Praise His Name!

I am SO ready to walk in freedom from this ugly circumstance…..

I am READY Lord, please rain down on me. Gently gather me up in your hands and work your precious blood into the cracks of this broken vessel, making me whole again, Father. I am weary of these trials by fire. Give me a cool drink, a break from the heat, please Lord, please. I have nothing left to give. Take this cup from me, please. Heal me and use this for your glory, here is my broken heart, I give you all the pieces. Trade me beauty for these ashes, strength for all my fears, gladness for mourning and peace for my despair……

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May it be so and done for His glory, and may His strength be made perfect in my weakness…….

~T

Tune in tomorrow for another post by Dale…

Seeking Help

Just tuning in? Please start at the Original post of this Series on “Surviving Infidelity”: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises.

  For those of you all caught up, this is post 2 for today, please go back to post 1 and read in order, starting with: “Florida Healing”.

  It is strength, not weakness, to acknowledge the need for help.
Proverbs 15:22 says, Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.” 

We had already committed our shattered relationship to the Lord, but we also knew we needed to seek help to put the pieces of our marriage back together. We first turned to a couple who had walked the same road we did, they had wonderful insight and answered our many questions.  They also reminded us to be on our guard, as good friends can give bad advice with great intentions!!!  Next, we turned to our long time friend and mentor, he too came and “poured clean water over us”, allowing God to flow healing, refreshing words through his lips.

We knew the next step would be from outside help: a Professional Christian Counselor.  The man we went to first had all kinds of letters behind his name and came on a recommendation from a dear friend, so he must be good, right? 

  Beware of these titles, because they are not a guarantee that you are getting someone who believes what Gods Word says. Our first red flag, was that this Dr. did not open in prayer, shouldn’t we seek the Great Healer FIRST?!  Not only that, but he did not even make mention of the Lord, or His Word. He was too busy listing off his accomplishments and telling us about how he is one of 2 “real” psychologists in town.

We told him our story, weeping as we did.  Offering him our broken pieces, asking him to help fan the tiny flicker left of a flame of hope that burned underneath the rubble.  He did not feed our flame to a burning glow.  He did not help carry our burden to the feet of Jesus.  He was too busy speaking doom and gloom over us.

Our 9 1/2 years long marriage has been a waste.  It was dead. Unsalvageable.

And as he blew his hot air, he began to blow out the tiny flicker of hope we longed to keep burning.

He said we may be able to rebuild, but it will be SO SO SO hard. And it will never be the same again, it COULD be great. Maybe, but probably not.

Ouch.

He told us he would NEVER forgive his ex-son in-laws whom he had been through this same situation with.  He turned to Dale and told him his in-laws would NEVER forgive him either. In fact, if he were us, he wouldn’t tell them AT ALL!  Little did this man know, Dale had already begged forgiveness of my family, my best friend, his mom, our pastor….many a tearful apologies had already occurred.  And, just like Jesus asks us to, they all forgave him.  They all embraced him, loved him, encouraged him and commended him for telling the truth.

When we walked in to this man, we were holding hands and feeling so positive, so hopeful that our combined light would glow strong again one day, our tiny flicker of hope would grow into a bright flame, shinging brightly. Mid-way through this session, we were leaning away from each other and no longer holding hands. By the time we left, we had this huge wall between us, a heavy dark curtain on top of us, and our small flickering flame called hope, totally snuffed out.  We both felt hopeless…..

Helpless.

Lost.

  On the way to the car I said to Dale “I don’t ever want to go back again.” He about collapsed in relief. He began to cry and held me in his shaking arms. We both had this horrible, sick, heavy feeling, as real as having a cloak draped over our shoulders, so we started praying and rebuking it out loud in Jesus name.
 
  The joy we had felt and the hope in the Lord was crushed during this meeting and it took the rest of the evening for us to move past this yuck that covered us.  We feel the Lord has given us so many nuggets of truth from friends, and so much hope for the Complete RESTORATION of our marriage. He was moving and moving big in our lives the past 3 days! The 9 years were NOT a total loss. The Lord CAN RESTORE what the locust have eaten, despite what we were told tonight. Our families can, have and will forgive Dale!
 
  We didn’t give up in our quest to seek Godly counsel, and we found it at Freedom Ministries.  This method of counseling is like nothing we’ve ever experienced!  Dan and his wife, Rosalie, team counsel.  Dan has his PhD, but our experience was much different from the other Dr.  He wants to be called Dan, not Dr. anything, and he is humble and kind. He opens with a word of prayer and invites the Holy Spirit into our sessions.  We love how the entire session is peppered with scripture.
Eph 3:16-20 “Do I know how much God loves me?”
II Chron. 1:3-5  “We serve a God of restoration.”
 
  He prays in the Spirit and ask God to use him to speak to the couple they are counseling, stopping even mid story to say, “You know, I feel as if the Lord wants me to say something to you about this…….” the words coming from his mouth next usually make my jaw drop to the floor.  These words speak to the quiet secret hurts in my heart, and I know without a doubt they come straight from my Abba Father, my Daddy in Heaven.
 
  We so appreciated the way this couple opens and closes a session in prayer. The Bible is present and used, a lot of it from memory! Their style of counseling….like nothing you have ever experienced.  They don’t do anything by the text-book, but by God’s Book. You will go clear back to the moment in your childhood the hurt occurred. The one waaaaay back that lead up to this EXACT moment in time. And it is revisited. This counseling method shines God’s light on the darkness, and the devil has to flee. He HAS to!  Then they start the rebuilding and healing process from that moment on.
And so we began our journey, on the road to recovery, propelled into an immediate start of the healing process.   Our job is to remember that, a lull doesn’t mean something is wrong, or that something bad happened. It is our job to rely on what is un seen rather than what is seen.

Isaiah 43:25: The Lord blots out our transgressions for His own sake….because He desires us in Heaven with him.

What a great thought!

During prayer time, Dan asked me to go back to the moment I found out the truth and tell him once I got there, praying God would reveal to me what He wanted to about this moment:
Instantly I was in the laundry room, note in hand. Everything blurred except Dale’s haunted, wide eyes.  I could put myself exactly where I was to the right of the sink, our 4 little ones lined up between us ready to wash hands after an evening at church. In my heart, I already knew what he would later confess to….I knew the story of the couple mentioned in the note I held with shaking hands.  I knew what they had dealt with; the lies, the affairs.

   In my mind’s eye, I saw & felt my heart break, dropping down into my stomach then falling out, shattering on the laundry room floor. Instantly, in my mind, the Lord was there, asking me to give Him all the pieces as He stooped to help me clean up. He began to put my heart back together, carefully cradling it in His hands, He took His blood and worked them into the cracks until it looked new again. He offered it to me, but I wouldn’t take it back.

   We opened our eyes then and discussed what this could mean. I realized I was scared to take the heart back because it meant forgiving Dale. Forgiving means giving up hurt, or so I thought. It also means being strong, and being strong means Dale doesn’t need to be sweet and tender to me anymore.
This obviously is not the case, but it’s what I have thought all along. I know now the truth of the matter and I know that I need to trust the changes I see in Dale and trust the process of forgiveness as the Lord gives us new hearts to love each other with.

  Jesus’ very presence is an intercession, a reminder to God of the atonement of our sins. Jesus goes to God on our behalf. He is not finished with Dale’s issue of the fear of rejection, it seems to stem back to his parents divorce at age 12. He feared being left suddenly and for “no reason”, so he became a pleaser. When he was with church friends, he was a good little church boy, when he was with his party friends, he was the best party animal out there, when he dated a girl, he molded himself to whatever “type” she liked, when he married me, he felt it necessary to be the “Godly man” I expected him to be to match up to my standards. So when I asked him about temptations in the past….

No, of COURSE he wasn’t tempted by porn, of course he didn’t deal with wandering eyes. He wasn’t like other guys. Those things weren’t issues for him. He didn’t want to disappoint me, so he kept the problem inside, hoping to deal with it on his own.

Later, after “the fall”, He was too scared to tell me the truth and disappoint me even more. Satan really had him so blinded that he thought he could look at porn and never fall. But lust of the mind, leads to lust of the heart, leads to lust of the flesh EVERY STINKIN’ TIME!
 This secret and the lies to cover it, led to separation from God, which allowed satan to get in and plant the spirit of pride and self-sufficiency, leaning on himself rather than the Lord. Satan used this to ultimately destroy our marriage. Dale’s soul has been trapped in the cell of rejection and has been deceived to believe no one could love the “real” him all along.

It is so hard to look back over the past year and see the unravelling of my Dale, first leaving his management position, then our year of financial discipline…all part of a slow process of the breaking down of the walls Dale had around himself.  After Mens Encounter, as the walls came tumbling down, it exposed the hurt, it exposed the lies.   It’s been such a painful difficult year in the Refiners Fire, but look around, beauty is already emerging from the hideous ashes! Praise HIS name! 

Revelation 3:8  “You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me……because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come….” 

  Dan spoke to Dale that healing is not just for me, Godly sorrow leads to repentance and the Lord wants Dale to recover and be healed too. 

 Our counselors are so thankful for the sincerity they see in Dale and the remorse they see in his eyes, uncommon and refreshing. They encouraged us to ask the Lord to raise up intercessors all over the world to pray for us, that even now God was nudging them to pray for a struggling couple. The Lord wants me to work on finding my worth in HIM, not Dale, because I am worth far more than rubies to Him……

Sometimes, that is hard to remember.

~T

Christian Marriage counseling

By CSAHM

 Christian marriage is a wonderful and sacred union between a man and a woman. Both participants are confident that the Lord brought them together and their marriage will be long-lasting and successful. 

Sometimes though, life gets in the way and they hit a period of rough times. Because of their true love and devotion for each other and the Lord, rather than throwing in the towel they decide to seek out Christian Marriage Counseling.  It is wonderful that they have made the decision to seek help.

Exactly where does a Christian couple go to be counseled correctly?

  One option and probably the most obvious would be to seek counseling from the great counselor, the Lord. Turn towards him during this tough time. Speak to him together, call out to him together, and cry with him together.  He is more than aware of the difficulties you are experiencing and He is just waiting for you to ask Him for help.

If you both open your hearts up to Him completely and pray that He will guide you closer to each other and to Him, He will do just that no questions asked. When two individuals who are already strongly faith-based come together and ask the Lord for guidance and help, miracles have and will occur. Just make sure that both of you truly believe that He is in control of the situation and has the power and the love to help you both.

Something else that you may want to consider to incorporate with the Lord’s love and counseling is to seek out Christian counseling as well. This is where you and your spouse can sit down with an unbiased third-party that you can talk to and air out your differences. Please make sure you seek out Christian counseling and not just traditional counseling.

You may want to see if your church has a program in place (which many usually do) or ask a Christian friend or Pastor for advice. Reason being is that because your marriage is faith and devotion based it is important to have a counselor who understands the importance of the Lord in both of your lives and in your marriage as well. This will make all the difference.

A Christian Marriage is a lifelong commitment. During the rough times if the need to seek out counseling arises please obey. Whether it is through prayer counseling with the Lord or through a Christian counselor it can only strengthen your marriage and bring you, your spouse and the Lord closer together.

Florida Healing

Just tuning in? Please start at post 1 of this Series “Surviving Infidelity”: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises.

July 20th, 2011: 10 days after “The Truth”:

  We just got back from an AMAAAZING 2 weeks in Florida. Talk about the Lords PERFECT timing! A concentrated time with no phone, no interruptions, no “real life”: Just rebuilding our broken marriage.

  How incredible that we were supposed to go in May, yet had to reschedule for July. We were so disappointed to move our vacation around  back when it occurred, but God knew in His infinite wisdom, that we needed the trip at the EXACT moment we rescheduled it for…..a mere 10 days after the truth came out.

  We were reeling!  We were hiding from the world, because surely they could see the pain and raw emotion on our faces. Our world had collapsed around us, and our Heavenly Father knew we needed time to heal. Right away, Dale called my dad and Drea, tearfully telling them what had occurred. He begged their forgiveness and told them he understood if they didn’t want him to come visit. They sobbed, naturally, then went on to encourage Dale to still come, they’d welcome him with open arms and thanked him for being upfront with them.

I shared a series of Florida posts from this summer…..

A beautiful wedding for my baby brother & his lovely bride, fun at the beach, Disney land, birthday parties and dinner cruises.

Picnik collage Florida 2011

  It was the best Florida trip we have ever had, the timing was incredible!  The healing it brought, more than I could ever explain!

  I LOVE that the Lord orchestrates things as He does, knowing far better than we do what we need and WHEN.

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The night before my 30th birthday, Dad and Drea offered to babysit, so we could walk on the beach and watch the sunset. Remember how I told you that I gave Dale my wedding rings back, and told him he’d one day put them back on my finger, because our marriage was worth fighting for?

  Well, at this point, it was literally only 3 weeks that I had been ring-less. But I tell you what, it is HARD to not wear it after you are used to it. I felt robbed of the privilege, ashamed it was gone and did my best to try to hide that fact at church, and then on our Florida trip, pleading with the Lord to keep anyone from asking me where my rings were. They were, at the moment, safely back in Kansas, waiting for “someday”…..or so I thought.

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We walk the beach, hand in hand, crying and talking, then finally, returning to our picnic blanket just in time to watch the sun sink lower and lower in the sky, until it appears to melt into the ocean.232323232fp53259_nu=3235_74__5_9_WSNRCG=34754_5757327nu0mrj

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RIGHT at sunset, Dale pulled out my wedding rings! He spoke beautiful promises to me of our future together, and asked me if I’d wear his rings again as a sign of my willingness to remain in our marriage. My heart leapt for joy at the site of those rings, but I accepted the engagement ring only.

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Not the wedding band, I just couldn’t do it. To me it’s as broken as the vows, my goal and desire is to melt both of our old bands to form new one day. Beauty from ashes so to speak.

  I was SO thankful to have it back on my finger. He said every time I look at it to remember we are in a fight for our marriage, that it represents my choice to stay even when it’d be easier to give up.  

This is one sunset, I will NEVER forget…….232323232fp53274_nu=3235_74__5_9_WSNRCG=34754_5766327nu0mrj232323232fp53267_nu=3235_74__5_9_WSNRCG=34754_5765327nu0mrj

Written August 2nd, 2011 

-BACK HOME-

  Dealing with “real life” after 2 weeks in Florida was a bit difficult to say the least. Reality has quickly set in, and with it, a Tonya who is acting “normal” doing normal day-to-day things, yet inside is a totally different person. It is such a weird feeling to be “walking in her shoes,” yet not be her anymore. Everything has changed.  Everything is different. That happy person died and with it, all her hopes and dreams.

   We are home just in time to jump back into the daily grind of life with work, a new school year starting up again and ALL the busy meetings and supply shopping that entails.  I feel as if this is the part after the “Plane Crash” of life as we knew it, where the deep pain of bruising from the accident is setting in. Maybe no longer open gushing wounds, but deep, painful bruising to say the least.

  We are returning to a life that didn’t know the world stopped for us July 10th.  A world that doesn’t have room for outbursts, tears and sorrow.  A world that needs us to be ready to smile, give of ourselves, and “be normal”, whatever that is.  I am scared that people will take one look at my face and know sometime is terribly wrong, and I don’t want to talk about it.  I can’t, not yet.

  We knew we needed some tools in our tool belt, some outside guidance to put back together the pieces of our shattered marriage, so now that we are home from Florida, we will begin counseling.

  Picking the right Marriage Counselor can make it or break it for a hurting couple!

More on that next,

~T

Tangy Mini Meatloaf with Savory Sauce

  I have sat at my computer and been moved to tears many many times this week.  I will never be able to eloquently describe to you, the fear I battled, we battled, in our decision to obey the Lord’s calling to post our story, turned HIS.  Our tragedy, turned triumph.  I feared your rejection.  I feared your comments, but guess what?  Fear doesn’t come from God.  My fear was unfounded.  There has not been one negative comment on the blog, NOT ONE!  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

  I know this has been a tough week for all of us.  Reading has been heavy, but I thank you for sticking with me, and hope you will continue to do so for the duration of this series.  Today, you get a break from it and can enjoy Weekend Potluck instead!   Surviving Infidelity: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises, will continue Monday-Thursday next week.

  Love you all,

 ~T
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My family is not a big fan of Meatloaf!   I never liked it either as a kid.  In fact,  the word Meatloaf still kinda gives me the heebie-jeebies!

Apparently, Paxton agrees with Momma. Poor kid, really didn’t care for these at first! Check out the watery eyes….and yes, he still had to eat it and soon realized he DID like it!

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Anyhow, make Meatloaf into a Mini version, smother it in Nana’s Special Savory Sauce, and they’ll be gone in seconds!!!!!  YUMMO!  The whole family (well, except Pax) kept going “MMmmmm!” with every bite.  That always makes me happy! 🙂  I say the sauce is what takes this dish over the top!

Tangy Mini Meatloaf with Savory Sauce

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FOR THE MINI MEAT LOAVES:

  • 2 cups Fresh Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs (or More To Get The Texture You Desire)
  • 2 pounds Ground Beef
  • ¾ cups Carrot Shreds
  • 1 whole Red Pepper
  • ½ whole Large White Onion
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons Yellow Mustard
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ teaspoons Pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons BBQ Sauce
  • 4 whole Garlic Cloves, Pressed
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire

FOR THE SAVORY SAUCE:

  • 11 ounces, fluid Can Of Tomato Soup
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
  • ¾ cups Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cups White Vinegar

Preparation Instructions

1. Make sauce by combining all listed ingredients. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 375*. Spray 2, 12 count muffin tins with non-stick spray. Use a food processor to pulse wheat bread for 2+ cups fresh bread crumbs. Pour into a large bowl along with raw meat.

3. Place carrots, onion and red pepper in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add to large bowl along with bread crumbs and meat.

4. Add egg, ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper, BBQ sauce, and garlic. Use hands to combine thoroughly, adding more bread crumbs as necessary. You are wanting the mix mixture to stay formed when you shape it in your hands.

5. Divide mixture into 24 balls. Dip each ball into sauce, coating all sides, and place in sprayed muffin tin. Press to form to muffin tin shape.

6. Wash hands and scrape any remaining sauce onto tops of mini meatloaves. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 160*.

Serve with Cheesy Ranch Potatoes and your favorite veggie!

Enjoy!