2 Years Ago Today

 What is a date on the calendar really?  

All those little squares, empty and waiting for us to fill with our busy lives.

  A place to jot notes.

 Record and remember important events like birthdays, doctors appointments, school functions, and anniversaries, we can’t forget those…..

  My calendar today has a red circle around the number 10.   

Next to it, a heart with a jagged line running through it, and a year: 2011.

The day & year of Dale’s “Truth”.

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  Could it really only be 2 years ago today, that my world so drastically changed?  

It feels like a LIFETIME has gone by.

  Last year at this time, I bawled my way through the day.  Raw and having just told our story to the world, after keeping it quiet for nearly 9 months.  

  Interesting isn’t it, that just like the timeline of a newborn baby, our story took 9 months to grow and change, to prepare itself for the big reveal on April 30th, 2012.  

 You know, as I sit here and look down at my calendar, it doesn’t MEAN anything.  It doesn’t make my heart race, or skip a beat, no tears come to my eyes.  This year July 10th, is just a date on the calendar.  

  The timeline of the last two years has included brokeness, sharing, fearing our truth, then owning it loudly, obeying when it would’ve been easier to hide, loving, rebuilding, crying and laughing, good days and bad days, forgiveness and bitterness.

  But this date no longer owns me, and I am happy to tell you that today.

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 Because someone, somewhere, is laboring along the same path Dale and I did, raw and broken, barely making it at times. They needed to hear this today.   I am writing to you today, broken one, to give you hope.  

  Hope that even 2 years later, just 2 short years after your truth, you CAN have victory, love, laughter, joy and peace by the supernatural healing of Christ Jesus our Lord.  

IMG_1372 honey

  Most counselors will tell you, that average number of years to heal from infidelity are 5-7.  And that’s ok, you take all the time you need.  But just hear me, that if you allow the Lord to lead every single step in this healing process, in the forgiveness that has to happen, then peace and joy return quickly.  Even 2 years later, you can feel whole and happy again.

  You know, maybe, just maybe, when I transfer important events to my 2014 calendar, I will skip over this one.

July 10th, 2011

  Or, maybe not.

  After all, it is a huge turning point in the timeline of our lives.

 Not for the horror it caused, but for the good that came up out of the muck and mire.  The beauty that came from deep inside those ashes.  The way our love grew deeper and stronger than we EVER thought possible.

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

  July 10th, 2013 makes me proud of us, of how strongly we stand, united by tragedy turned triumph.  Thankful to the Lord for comforting us and carrying us after the fall.  

  Thankful that today is a glorious day, full of sunshine and joy, peace and hope………

  A date, is just a date.  

A calendar holds no meaning to our Lord, for His timeline is vastly different than our own.

I am glad for that.

~T

holding hands

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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!!!!

 

I Do: Part 2 {The Ceremony}

This day is forever etched in my mind……

Tears.

Laughter. 

Second chances at a beautiful love story.

A pivotal moment on the road to healing.

New promises.

New rings.

Beauty from the devastating Ashes.

  And so begins, our I Do: Part 2.

*A BIG thank you to my blog friend, Mary for making the 
AWESOME vintage banners that you see on the barn doors! 

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  When people first came up to the barn, we had a Blessing Table in lieu of a guest book. 

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 They took a piece of this cute paper my friend, Jamie cut out for me (I paid her in Strawberry pie by the way!) and wrote a blessing on it, then clothes pinned it to the fence. IMG_6080

We had so much fun reading through them later!

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My best friend, Kasey opened the ceremony with these beautiful words.

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Good Evening and Welcome! There is no greater way to start this evening than with prayer! Please bow with me as we invite the Holy Spirit in this place tonight.
525822_437492396275168_1965960705_n She asked our Heavenly Father to have His way and be present in the hearts and minds of our guests, as they surround us while we commit our love and lives in this evening of “I Do …Part 2”.  Then went on to say…….

 As a married women I have gained a greater understanding what it means to be here today.  On this day, you are here to gather around Dale and Tonya, to stand witness to the vows and recommitments that will be spoken, so that when satan attacks and the load looks too heavy to carry….you will walk along side them and remind them of their covenant.

I Cor. 13  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…………Love never fails. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Dale and Tonya choose love and forgiveness.  Today is a pivotal point in their journey to total healing.  What a blessing for Tonya to stay with Dale for all the wonderful things he has done right, instead of leaving him for the thing he did wrong.  I hope you too, can chose that path, because as it says in John 8:36  “Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”  Praise His name!

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Shelby sang me down the aisle to this song by Francesca Battistelli:

I originally got this CD because I LOVED her song “This Is The Stuff”.  I had been praying for the Lord to show me what song I should walk down the aisle to, and as soon as this one came on, I froze at the kitchen sink, mid-dish and began to cry.  I KNEW this was “The One”.

  “Love’s not easy, but its worth it.  Whatcha gonna do when the bottom falls out and your left with nothing but your fear and your doubt to hold you? Who will hold you? 

……..Love can heal you, if you let it inside.  Oh remember now, love’s not easy, but its worth it.”

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Then Dale’s long time friend, Tim spoke:

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  “Dale and Tonya had a fairy tale courtship and wedding. They asked the Author of Love Himself to script them a beautiful love story, and He did. Even in the recent tragedy, the pen never left His mighty hand, and He is still writing that story.
Dale and Tonya went through a violation of a sacred boundary in their marriage. But Hope is not lost—they experienced God’s wonderful gift of restoration, allowing Him to take them through a rebuilding season. They are still growing, learning, and rebuilding. They are letting Him refocus and re-establish the foundation of success at the core of their romantic relationship. Jesus washed them clean and gave them a fresh start. God is in the business of offering beautiful new beginnings, which you are witnessing here today.IMG_6964edit

    Dale, jealously protect every expression of physical intimacy as a sacred treasure for your lifetime love, Tonya. Guard your heart and mind from the devil’s sneaky attacks. Sharpen your sword daily by digging into God’s word. Cloak yourself in the full armor of God, in essence, JESUS, so that everything coming and going from you must first filter through HIM. Today, commit to give her the gift of faithfulness by guarding your heart, eyes, and mind from the temptations of this world.
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Tonya, lavishly love Dale with all you have. God wants to build lovers who love as He does—with abandon. They give everything, with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. They sacrifice and face the most challenging difficulties for the “joy set before them” (Hebrews 12:2). Remember forgiveness is a choice and choose it daily. Trust is hard to build and easy to break, but rely on Jesus to strengthen you and give you peace as you and Dale rebuild your house of trust together each and every day for the rest of your lives.

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A poetic love is rare these days, but it is not out of reach. It will cost you everything, but what you receive in return is worth more than everything you possess now and everything you could possess for a thousand lifetimes.
Remember, God doesn’t need to imitate our culture’s style of love and romance. God has His own version of love—a poetic love that far surpasses anything Hollywood could ever create.
A day like today, marked by poetic love, is a day that shows the nature of God Himself—the original Author of true and lasting love.”

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Next, our Counselor, Dan spoke, then did the Vow and ring ceremony with us:

“I have had a God-ordained privilege of coming to know and grow with Dale and Tonya Ferguson these past few months.  I met two broken hearts many months ago and have watched God continue to hold true to His word.  They came with a sincere desire to repair a shattered dream.  They have both walked through much pain and joy in the process, and I can say with all my heart, that any couple that puts their trust in God as these have, and continue to, they WILL taste success.  I have been encouraged by their commitment to God’s word and His restoration to their lives and marriage.”

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Here are the vows we wrote to each other.  We neither one knew what the other had planned to say:

Dale went first.

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Tonya,
C.S. Lewis once said “A true friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you forget the words.” 

  IMG_7015editTonya, I forgot the words to our song, I lost my way.  I made terrible mistakes and broke your trust and  your heart. But when I turned around, there you where singing my song, standing faithfully by my side just like you promised.

  There is a verse that says, he who is forgiven much, loves much.  Tonya, I have never loved you more than I do now.  Thank you for singing my song when I forgot the words, thank you for loving me at my best and my worst. I will be the man you have always wanted me to be, and I Promise to be faithfully yours, to never let satan sneak up on me again. It is my greatest desire to be faithful to you and to love you. Always seeking to meet your needs, desiring to help you in every way as you heal, listening to you when you want to talk, holding you when you want to cry, wiping away all your tears, encouraging you in your walk with Christ, and standing faithfully by your side from this day forward. IMG_6993edit

   I give you all of me today; a new man, forgiven by grace and made new by the blood of Jesus. You are my best friend, my first love, my soul mate, and you make my world complete. If you let me, I’d like to earn your trust again. Tonya, never stop singing our song.

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Dale,
Today I give you my love without any limits.  I promise to accept the things you believe in, and always try to understand you, to be near you whenever you need my presence, to trust in your love for me and pray it grows stronger every day. I promise to keep no record of wrong, and to remember that our love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures ALL things.
IMG_7025edit  I promise to stand faithfully by your side in this journey called life, to fill your days with sunshine, to comfort you and encourage you, to make you Custard Pie :), to be your best friend and to love you all my life with all my heart, not holding back anything in fear, but moving forward with total abandon, leaping again into the arms of love even though I’m scared at times.IMG_7046
Through this tragedy my love for you has only grown stronger. The Lord has given us a second chance at our beautiful love story, so I come today to give you my heart and my hope for our future together.  I love you more than I ever thought possible, and I promise to never forgot how Jesus gave us Beauty from the Ashes of our lives.
Dale, today I choose forgiveness. I choose you.  I choose us.  I don’t know how to be ME without YOU by my side.  What God has joined together, satan will never separate, because a true love story has no ending, and I’d choose real with you, over a “happily ever after” fairytale…every single time, because I love you!  ……I’m crazy about you.

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There were many tears shed during our vows to each other.  In the car, several days later, Avery pipes up: “I cwied during your wedding, Momma.”  Why, honey?  “I don’t know, but they were happy tears.”

  A few days later I got an email from a friend that said, “I don’t know if you were aware of this, but Destiny cried and cried during the ceremony. Swiping at tears that never stopped flowing.  She finally used the bottom of her dress to wipe her eyes.”

  I, of course, immediately went to her to make sure she was ok.  She said, “Yeah, mom, I am fine. I was just so happy that you guys weren’t getting a divorce and that God was healing your marriage.”

Precious.

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  And now for the ring ceremony:

   Dale and Tonya’s future is a circle unbroken, much like these rings, with which they renew their pledge to one another in an act of never-ending love, faithfulness and devotion to each other.

Do you, Dale, continue to take Tonya, as your loving wife? Will you continue to love her, honor her, comfort and treasure her, be faithful to her and honest with her, forsaking all others for as long as you both shall live?
{I Do}

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Then repeat after me:
Tonya, I give you this ring, as a token of our abiding love and re-commitment to each other. I promise when I look at this ring, to see a new covenant with Christ, and my pledge of faithfulness before God and these witnesses.

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  Do you, Tonya, continue to take Dale, as your loving husband?  Will you continue to love him, honor him, comfort and treasure him, forsaking all others for as long as you both shall live?
{I Do}

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Then repeat after me:
Dale, I give you this ring, as a token of our abiding love and recommitment to each other. I promise when I look at this ring, to see a new covenant with Christ and to remember Beauty from Ashes.

  Our lifetime friends, Lynn and Ann, whom I used to nanny for, came from Oklahoma to sing the duet that they sang at our wedding, “Pour My Love On You” by Phillips, Craig and Dean. 

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During this time, we re-signed our Marriage Covenant, lit our special shattered candle from Joy of Simply Bloom and had a foot washing ceremony.

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  I was so sad to have to take this down last summer, I am so blessed to have it once again grace the walls of our home.

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 IMG_7287edit This candle represents the Lords ability to shine through the shattered pieces of our marriage, creating a beautiful mosaic for HIS glory……

  I was wondering what we were going to do in place of a unity candle, since we were already one.  It was such a cool God-thing, that Joy sent us this just in time for the ceremony!

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  And then, the foot washing. 

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Jesus washed the disciples feet in an act of service to them, showing his servants heart despite their later betrayal of him.  While we washed each others feet, love letters played across the screen:

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Here is Dales letter to me:

Tonya,
Today, I wash your feet as a symbol of my desire to honor you, care for you and be true to you.  This is a symbol of my commitment to die to self as I seek to love you as Christ loved the church. Today, as you trust your heart to me yet again, I wash your feet as a sign of my desire to serve you, cherish you and remain faithfully yours all the days of our lives.

Love, Me

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  My dearest Dale,
I am washing your feet because true love forgives.  When Jesus forgave those closest to him, he served them.  He washed their feet.  This act illustrates to you how deeply I forgive you and how much I love you.
This act of servanthood is a token of my undying love for you and my desire to honor you as the head of our home.
I love you more than I thought possible….
~T

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After closing in prayer, Dan says:

Dale, you may kiss your bride……………

AGAIN.

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Dale got on the mike to thank everyone for coming, and for showing their loving support of us this past year.  Then the kids got to talk too.  🙂

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  Jamie Grace’s “I Love the Way You Hold Me” cued and down the aisle we went, arm in arm…with the kids walking ahead of us.

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  We were a family again, a whole unit before Christ, and all was as it should be.

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God is so good.

  The rest of evening was spent eating, laughing, hugging and talking to the amazing friends that came to show their support.

  I posted those in the next post, because this one is already LOOOONG! 🙂

More to come….

~T

After the I Do: Part 2 Vow Renewal

   Don’t be mad.

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

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

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

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

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

 

This hand written note says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the t-shirt scarves I made for gifts!

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

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

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

More soon!  Hugs, T

In Honor of Beauty from Ashes

 

Welcome to Tonya-land, Won’t You Let the Son Shine In?

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

Written in both April & May 2012

 We are now in month 9 of this path to healing.  And like the gestation of new life, this 9 month point, marks tremendous growth and healing in our lives.  We have joy, laughter, love and the butterflies of newlyweds.  Day by day, we overcome the attacks of satan and find Victory.  Praise Jesus! 

I have leapt once again into the arms of love.
I no longer hold back in fear of the “What If’s”. 

I choose Dale. 

I choose love. 

 I choose joy.

 I choose forgiveness. 

I choose to stand on my truth, rather than cower behind it. 

  The Lord speaks SO clearly in the midst of tragedy, doesn’t He?  He just gave us this verse the other night:

“I raised you up for this VERY purpose, that I might display my power to all the earth.” Romans 9:17

Wow.

Do you remember “Tonya-land”?

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Where the weather is mostly sunny, the birds are always singing, lemons most often come in the form of lemonade and we all throw our arms around each others shoulders and sing “Kumbaya” at that end of each day.

003   I told you back then, when I first posted this, that Tonya-land does have it’s bumpy roads, however, when you try to keep your glass half full, you usually can just keep on trucking, despite a pot-hole or two.

  Obviously, for OBVIOUS reasons if you have been reading my latest posts, you noticed that my journey through Life in Tonya-land had come to a screeching halt, as my glass Happily Ever After Cinderella Castle came crashing to the ground around me.  But, because this blog is supposed to be a peek into my world;  the good, the bad AND the ugly…….I let you in. 

No, I let the SON shine in………

Through me. 

Through the shards of my broken castle.

Through my tears. 

Through my tragedy, then my Triumph.

  My job on this earth is to shine for Jesus. To be the best wife I know to be to Dale; to uplift him, to love him with no strings attached, to be his cheerleader. To love my kids and teach them about Jesus. My job is to teach them that they need to obey me, not because I say so, but because God says so….that their obedience to me is directly connected to their obedience to God. My job is to seek to honor God in ALL I say and do, blogging and Facebook included. My job is to be His hands and feet, EVEN when I don’t understand my circumstances.  Even when I plead with Him to take this cup from me.

I have to choose this, because it is what HE chose for me……Period.

  I have a folder in my email account, jam-packed full of lovely, beautiful, uplifting things written by you who have been following this recent blog series on Surviving Infidelity. Thank you all so much for your loving support! Thank you for encouraging and not casting judgement, thank you for taking the time to comment and read the things I put out there, thank you for not faulting me for my choice to stand by my man, even when it might have seemed easier to walk away from him.

This blog is me. Tonya.

  Put out there for all to see, the good, the bad and the ugly. I chose this glass house when I said “Yes” to the Lord’s prompting to start this blog over a year ago.  I just never knew quite how ugly things were going to get, you know? 

   Do you know that the posts in this Infidelity series, were written totally out-of-order, in a jumbled mess? Did you know that just last month, like a puzzle, they all fell into place? Amazing. I never knew just how scary it would be to push “publish” that first day, yet what a rush of relief and peace came as I did. 

  We are wrapping up our Infidelity series. Phew, what an exhausting road we have traveled!  I know there are those of you reading right now, that shake your heads and scold me for “airing my dirty laundry” in the first place, deaming it innappropriate.  Do me a favor, go read II Samuel, go read about David’s dirty laundry, a man after God’s own heart. 

Let me say this……

You may not approve of my actions, but remember, I don’t answer to you.

I answer to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.  And so do you.   The End.

  I KNOW as sure as I know my name, that I have acted in obedience to a loving Heavenly Father, who prompted me to share this story. 

  Do you think this was fun for me?  Do you think I jumped up and down and clapped my hands, “YAY, I get to share the deepest darkest hurt I have ever experienced in my whole life.”   No, I begged God to just heal me and let me move on.  But you know when God is speaking, He makes Himself known.  So, I’ve been writing this series from just a few months after the truth came out until now, bit by tragic bit, piece by victorious piece, BEGGING Him to prepare your hearts for my truth. 

Revelation 12:11 says “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony….” 

Do you know what happened these past 16 posts? 

Do you know what happened, April 30th at 7 am, when I pushed publish?

  We overcame satan by our testimony.  We WON.

 I KNOW the Lord had me start this blog for such a time as this, so that He might be glorified in the midst of difficult circumstances.  So that others out there who quietly mourning the loss of their marriage as they knew it, may be encouraged that you CAN fight, you WILL win. 

Romans 8:35 & 37 says, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

  Don’t you see?!  The VICTORY has already been won for us, we just have to keep walking in HIS ways, in HIS light, and in HIS strength when we are too weary to stand. But don’t be scared when you are too weak to stand, let your knees buckle and just FALL, because when we fall……… 

We fall on JESUS.

Sometimes you run towards Christ,
Sometimes you can’t run, so you walk towards Him.
If you can’t walk, you stand, facing the right direction.
If you can’t stand, lean.
Lean on Him, for He IS the right direction.
And if you fall?
Fall on Jesus.
In Him there is hope, life, and the promise of a bright future.

Iced-cold-lemonade

Praise be to the God of restoration; TOTAL restoration. 

037Praise be to the God of new beginnings with the one whom my soul loves

Praise be to the God who makes BEAUTY from the midst of Ashes. JOY that is made from mourning, and PEACE that He traded me for my despair….

The story I share with you is no longer a tragedy, but it is a VICTORY!

It is no longer my story, IT IS HIS!

 And I’d chose REAL with Dale, rather than “Happily Ever After” with anyone else…..EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

  Next weekend, I will join my WHOLE heart; healed and brand new by the blood of Jesus, to the heart of my best friend….again, 10 years later.  Next weekend we close a book on one of the darkest, hardest times of our lives and put it on the shelf.  The past will no longer be written into the book of our future.  I will leave it there, on the shelf, because I chose Joy. Healing. Peace.  I choose to move forward, not looking over my shoulder, not running back to drag along the baggage we’ve been freed of.   

 I get to marry the love of my life all over again next weekend.  A brand new start.  Praise Jesus!

I have found the one whom my soul loves…….and I am not EVER letting him go.

  ~T

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