Love. Wins.

Love. Wins.

The lines under her eyes tell a story…….

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They speak of Weariness. 

Loss.  DSC_0030

Strength. 

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A great War, Waged and Won.

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The strength of his stance speaks of great Courage, DSC_0282

The shine in his eyes a testament of Hope.DSC_0275

A man who has faced his demons head on,DSC_0227

A man who has Victory.DSC_0112

These Pictures weave a story of a Love,

Shattered & Lost, DSC_0036

Found & Reclaimed,DSC_0032

Reborn & Renewed.  DSC_0108

These pictures may not shout of the tragedy, tears, broken hearts, or broken dreams……DSC_0056

Instead, they whisper…..

that in the rubble of a broken marriage,

In the mess and sorrow of it all,DSC_0138-2

Hope was born.

Just a glimmer at first.

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  Too fragile to even move towards touching it, lest it be snuffed out……

But it grew.

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It grew stronger and brighter until it was grasped with two hands,

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Two hearts crying out for healing. 

Crying out for Wholeness.DSC_0028

Reaching for a Love, Deeper than ever before.DSC_0133

Brokeness made into Strength.

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Tears turned into Courage.

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Hope springing into Laughter

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and Love,

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The kind that goes down deep with its roots.  DSC_0278

For it has weathered a ferocious storm,DSC_0193

And strong it stands, DSC_0185

On Promises anew.DSC_0195

2 circles unbroken.DSC_0204

Promises of forever.DSC_0174

Whispers under the covers,DSC_0157

Water fights in the kitchen,DSC_0175

A hug at the end of a long day.DSC_0196

Freedom.DSC_0262

Fidelity.
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And Hope.
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Always Hope.DSC_0242

Even in the midst of utter Despair.DSC_0250

In the angry moments of WHY?DSC_0150

In the sad moments of quiet acceptance of a “Truth” I don’t want,DSC_0176

In the heart swelling moments of a Love

So deep…..

So great, that it brings tears to your eyes.DSC_0038

In the moments I forget to Forgive,DSC_0198

In the moments I don’t.DSC_0159

Hope is there, DSC_0225

Underneath it all.

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Hope in Jesus.

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In a new Creation….

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In Brokeness made Whole.

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For behold, He makes all things NEW.

  Happy 11th Anniversary {tomorrow} to the LOVE of my life……

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I know we are weary.

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I know the road to total healing is a long one. 

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I know we are still working out the kinks of this new life of ours. 

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But, never, ever forget, that…..

I. Choose. Us.  DSC_0065

Now,DSC_0113

Always,DSC_0025

I give you all of me….DSC_0238

From now until forever. 

DSC_0255Because Love Wins.

Do you hear that?

Love. Wins.

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~T

Story starts here: https://4littlefergusons.wordpress.com/surviving-infidelity/

Photos by the talented Melissa. Check out her blog, Voice, for more of her amazing work!!!!

 

Once Upon A Time: Part 1/4

  I can hardly believe it, but today is Dale & my 9th Anniversary!  Time flies when you are having babies, I mean fun!

  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 9th 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 the 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 GOSH, 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.

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  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….. Smile

~T

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