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.

  232323232fp53256_nu=3235_74__5_9_WSNRCG=34754_575;327nu0mrj232323232fp53252_nu=3235_74__5_9_WSNRCG=34754_37_2327nu0mrj 

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

From Dale

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

Written September, 2011.

  Hi, it’s Dale. I am here today because I feel I owe you an explanation and an apology. As you guys come here to read about my family every day, you are investing your time and your heart in to our family.

I know I’ve disappointed you. I hate what I have done to Tonya, to our family and our beautiful life. If you’d give me the chance, I’d like to take this opportunity to say I am sorry to you as well. I made a foolish decision that day, but God is a God of grace and forgiveness. And Tonya, amazingly strong Tonya, has allowed me to stay and win back her heart and re-earn her trust.  She is the most Christ-like example I have ever known, giving me grace and love when I deserved none.

I went to the 1st Men’s Encounter  because I knew Tonya wanted me to go. (Click that link, and read the challenge she gave, not knowing what was coming!)  I am so glad I did, because it forever changed my life. God used Encounter to break down walls I’ve had built up around me since I was just a kid and to bring forward my ugly secret. I knew it needed to come out, it was eating me alive. But it was worth keeping the poison in me, because I was so sure it was better hidden than hurting Tonya, if that makes any sense.

This article written by Rebekah Lyons, says it better than I could:

“We become slaves to our secrets.

The thing is, Satan DWELLS in the secret, in the haunting, hidden brokeness. The longer we keep that secret, the more power he has to speak lies into our own identity. We have a crisis of faith; we don’t truly believe that God will hear and lavish us with his love upon our confession. We don’t REALLY believe that we will be made new. So we keep it and hide it and cover it and die from it.

A friend told me recently that she kept her secret of infidelity from her husband for 3 years. Another woman told me recently, she held her secret for 5 years. Another discovered her husband’s secret after 10 years. And yet, another after 18. Overtime, life becomes more about keeping the secret than saving the soul.

The secret often wins.

Perhaps a new day is dawning. Perhaps walls are coming down. Tears are streaming and confessions are starting to pour out like hope reborn. Do you know the main catalyst for this revolution of the heart?

You guessed it. Someone shared their secret.

Someone gave voice to their secret and in doing so, gave permission for another person to share theirs. Naming the one thing that held them captive for years rendered the secret powerless. All at once, the church at large is beginning to echo the chorus of confession. We all begin to bear witness to the bondage that is breaking by secret-sharing. The naming is bringing healing, and healing is bringing freedom. A freedom many of us are experiencing for the very first time. This secret-telling is what’s actually saving us. And this new normal is exactly what will keep us in the light.”

  As I have come out of the darkness, and into the light, the Lord is doing a work in my heart. One of the big things He is working on now, is helping me find my true worth.
My parents divorced when I was 12. I didn’t let it get me down, but I never did understand why my mom left my dad for what to me felt like no apparent reason. What I didn’t know, until recently when the Lord revealed it to me, was that it was going to create a need in me for the rest of my life.

A need to please. A need to fit in. A need to be whatever I needed to be to be accepted, so I wouldn’t be “left”:

If I was with my church friends, I was a good Church boy.
If I was with my party friends, I could drink with the best of them.
If I was with a girl I liked, I became whoever she thought I was, whoever she needed me to be
.

What I didn’t know, was I was going to take that into my marriage too. That this need to be accepted, was going to one day be what brought me to my knees before God and my wife, begging for understanding and forgiveness.

Remember that dream Tonya shared with you about the horses?

I loved the line where our mentor said:

A lot of times, when we think of Broken, we think… broken in a bad way.
In the world of horses, if you’re not broken, your value is less. Brokeness is a precious word to the Lord. He desires our brokeness.

I come to you, Broken. Broke from addiction, broke from a shroud of secrecy, broke from lies, broke from infidelity, broke from pride, broke from financial security and self-sufficiency. This entire year has been a breaking down process of ME.

I needed to become a broken vessel before the Lord, so I could admit I needed Him now more than ever in every aspect of my life.

I had to learn the hard way, that my worth cannot be determined by my paycheck.
My worth cannot be determined by what car I drive.
My worth cannot be determined by who I think I am or who I strive to be.
My worth is found in the Lord Jesus Christ….and the blood He shed for ME, a filthy sinner. He would die for ME if I was the only one in the world to save, because I am so very valuable to Him. I am His and He calls me by name.

It kills me that I hurt Tonya in my selfishness. It breaks my heart to see her with tears streaming down her cheeks and knowing that I caused her this unbearable pain. Tonya is a strong, Godly woman. She is God’s gift to me and I blew it. She has been nothing but faithful to me from her first purity pledge at age 13 on….I don’t deserve her, I know this. But she has trusted me with her heart again, and I swear, I will NEVER take that responsibility lightly.

I didn’t even REALIZE that the devil was drawing me away from first my Lord, then my wife, but when we don’t chose God every moment of every day, we automatically default to satan.

Think about that for a moment.

   First I was separated from them by my shame that I looked at porn again.  Then, my pride kept me from seeking help.  Next, came my need to provide for our family with my own 2 hands, not leaning on the Lord at all and then….it happened. The devil got between me, my Lord and my wife, so much that when he laid a trap of lust for me, just 4 short months after I began to look at pornography again, I WALKED right into it.

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

Do you know how angry that makes me? Do you know how STUPID I feel? The Lord has removed the scales from my eyes, put there by the devil himself to blind me. I now clearly see the path of destruction I was on and I THANK THE LORD that He saw fit to discipline me, so I would see the error of my ways before things got even worse.

Listen up, porn is a real temptation. 90% of all men look at porn and struggle with lust. This is real…..this stastistic includes Christian men, we are not exempt. I lied to Tonya and told her it didn’t happen to me because I was a good Christian man, right? It doesn’t happen to family men that go to church.

Guess what, it did. It DOES, all the time. This statistic means 3 out of 4 men in your church pew have a dark ugly secret that needs to be brought into the light.

Do you know that porn latches on to you, even when you walk away from the computer? The jaws of lust keeping you captive without you even realizing it. Even if I didn’t mean for it to occur, even if I wasn’t seeking it out, if a woman with a lustful spirit walked by, my lust spirit attached to her and I followed her with my eyes. Even if I didn’t think sexual thoughts of her, I still turned. I realize now, this is a very real thing that occurs between genders.

Watch a woman sometime, you know the one: She walks by a group of guys in a crowd, waiting for them to roam over her with their eyes before she walks on. She likes it, she feeds off of it. What you see occur is her lust spirit attaching to theirs and vice versa, and once you are aware of it you can actually see and feel it occur. Disgusting.

Praise God after I repented He took the spirit of lust from me!  When a woman walks by, a clanging bell goes off in my head so fast I don’t even have to glance her way. I am thankful my “radar” has been reset, my focus back on my Heavenly Father and my beautiful bride.  My eyes are set to “bouncing” mode, so if a woman comes into my line of sight, I quickly look away.  Men, you may not be responsible for the first look, as media bombards us with images, but it’s the second and third lingering looks that are the problem. When your eyes are set to bounce, you see and look away almost in a split second.  Your trigger finger on the remote gets faster and better as you quickly flip away from images on the screen. This is our call, to be PURE in all things, what better place to start then our eyes.

Wives, pray for your men to be attracted to holiness and purity like a magnet, so that when anything entices us that isn’t holy or pure, we detect the pull immediately and are made uncomfortable enough to completely reject it.

“For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.” I Thessalonians 4:7

The draw of the flesh and the devil’s plans are a lot stronger than we’d like to think. In a moment of weakness, we can end up doing something we NEVER thought possible. Only the power of God, through prayers, can make a difference. Don’t say it can’t happen to you, Tonya and I said the same thing. Satan loves to use this against us as he sneakily gets between us.

One day when we were going to counseling, we found this plaque at a Christian book store. It went along exactly with what I was learning at Men’s Encounter, and I knew I needed it to reside in my home:

001

What can you do with a dull sword? NOTHING.

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This plaque resides on my dresser so I never forget again that I need to daily sharpen my sword in Gods word, so that when the devil attacks, and he will, I AM READY.

Psalms 34:17-19 “Yes, the Lord hears the good man when he calls to Him for help, and saves him out of his troubles.  The Lord is close to those whose heart is breaking.  He rescues those who are humbly sorry for their sins.  The good man does not escape troubles – he has them, too.  But the Lord helps him in each and every one.”

I am proud to tell you that, after last year, I no longer get on the computer to feed that ugly addiction, and I am seeking counsel to make sure this problem doesn’t return. I am putting on the armor and this new purity ring, DAILY. As I leave our home, there it is, on my right index finger.  A constant reminder of my pledge, my 2nd chance at a life of integrity.  It has a cross wrapping around it, and THE ARMOR OF GOD, Ephesians 6:10-15.

4 little Ferguson readers, I stand before you today, broken.

Broken before Christ.

He had to break me to let me see the truth, to look back over my life and have my eyes opened to the lies I was living. He had to break me so I could feel His tender mercies on me, which are new every single morning.

So, don‘t look at “broke” in a bad way, because it’s not:

Broke in Christ is a good thing….to become BROKEN is actually to become WHOLE.

The Lord used Men’s Encounter to break me, to clean my temple, my “house“ if you will…..He stripped me of all the junk I had in there, and filled it up again, with HIM.  He made order of the chaos that reigned there and took control of my life.  I write you today to give Him praise.

I know I don’t deserve Tonya. I know you all think I am a jerk, or worse now, but please, hear my heart on this. Know that if you could see me, you’d see the sorrow written on my face. I was so foolish and so wrong. I knew better, I did and I was stupid. I was stupid enough to think I could play with fire and not get burned.

It’s hard for me to see Tonya hurting, struggling, crying. I have to face what I did to her each and every moment of every day, and it kills me. She is so strong, and I have never loved and respected her more. She is taking the steps of forgiving me, by fighting for our marriage each and every difficult day.

So now I ask you, please, forgive me?

Dale

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36

188 (2)

The Dream

Just tuning in? Please start at the Original Post that begins this Series on “Surviving Infidelity”.  It will all make a lot more sense if you do: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises. 

For those of you all caught up, this is post 2 for today, please go back and read the first post, “Hearing from the Lord”.

 I’d like to share a dream our mentor had.  He has been praying for us faithfully during his late night prayer time.  I am telling you, this man has been invaluable to our healing process, sharing things he hears during that time that are straight from the Lord, meant to soothe our broken hearts.  Personal things that would only make sense to us.  Man, I love that!

This was sent to us via email on July 15th, 5 short days after the secret comes out:

THE DREAM

horses

So, I’m not really a ‘horse’ person, but this dream was about horses. I walked into a huge barn, a really clean barn with stalls on both sides for horses… wood on bottom and bars on top… like you see in the movies.. or my dreams.. haha.

  Stapled on the wood of each door was a picture of the horse, his lineage, all the important info, and a PRICE. And going in, the lowest priced horses were first, up to the highest priced ones at the end. So I’m looking at the horses, trying to figure out how they know how to price them. The first ones are way old, sway-backed, ribs showing, bad teeth……and are for sale for a few hundred dollars.

swayback old horse

Then the horses got really pretty, and I was admiring them and how HIGH the prices were getting. I got to the next to the last horse, and it was a BEAUTIFUL purebred American quarter horse… (like I know what that is) with this gorgeous white star on its forehead. It was four years old, and didn’t have a blemish on it. The price tag, $25,000.00. I was walking along with the owner of the horses and I remarked to him that I had no idea a horse could be worth that much.

horse-photo-mac

He said, wait till you see the next horse.

So, next stall. It was a really nice looking horse, but not nearly as beautiful as the one right before it, and it was 10 years old. It had a couple deep scars from home-2wounds, I guessed from running into a barbed wire fence or brush, maybe while it was out working cattle. And it had a brand… which I’m not sure if they brand the really good horses, but I’m guessing not. So it wasn’t the best looking horse.

Price tag, $175,000.00 I gasped and asked the old owner what in the WORLD made that last horse so high-priced.

He looked at me like I should have known and said, “Oh, this one’s broke”.

That’s where he ended.  Totally left us hanging!!!!

On Jul 15, 2011, at 11:21 PM, Tonya Ferguson wrote:

Does your dream come with an interpreter? 🙂 Are you calling me a horse? Is saving my marriage like the pricey old horse? Worth far more than a brand new one? Good night, sweet dreams! T

Our mentor wrote:

I thought I’d let you chew on it tonight (I would never call you a horse, nay). I’ll tell you how I interpreted it tomorrow, although I’m sure the dream was from God, I want to be sure my interpretation is from Him too.

July 16th: A Dream Interpreted

The owner of the horses was God.  The last two horses were pictures of your marriage.  The thing that prompted me that this dream was about you was the word you used in your initial email to me… “worth”… something like, “I guess I wasn’t worth it then, and I’m not worth it now”…  I think God is wanting to show you the value or the worth of you and your marriage.

So… value… In the dream, I was ‘pricing’ the horses.  I stared at the pretty $25k horse, admiring its sleek lines… haven’t people admired your marriage from the sidelines?  And the next horse, although not as young, or PRETTY, was valued at $175k…. which is, not coincidentally, SEVEN times the value of the unbroken horse.  I don’t put a lot of emphasis on numbers, but seven is the number of perfection.  I truly believe that tomorrow your marriage will have seven times the value it did yesterday.  Seven speaks of completion.  Omega.  It’s not completed yet, but Alpha is past.  Omega is coming.

Didn’t your first counselor use the words ‘broken’ describing your marriage? As … broken in a bad way?  Sometimes we think broken has a negative connotation.  In the world of horses, if you’re not broken, your value is less.  Brokeness is a precious word to the Lord.  He desires our brokeness.  I don’t see your marriage as ‘broke’ not like Humpty Dumpty was broke, but broke from a shroud of secrecy, broke from lies, broke from infidelity, broke from pride, broke from financial security, broke from the horrible monster of secrecy, a broken vessel before the Lord, needing him now more than ever in every aspect of your lives.

The scars, battle wounds from being in service.  Dale just received a deep scar, and so did you.  They mark you as someone who has been through the fire and has come out on the other side.  I saw two scars in the dream.  I don’t know what that means.  If I were to guess, it would be a scar on each of your hearts.  The valuable horse was a 10-year-old.  How old is your marriage again?

  Unknown to him, our marriage was 9 1/2 years at the time of the dream.  We will celebrate 10 years this May.

  Dale and I had no doubt this dream came direct from the Father Himself, so we clung to it like a lifeline.  Drawing encouragement from the fact that the Lord desires our brokeness. 

Good, because at this moment, we had nothing else to give Him.

~T

Tune in tomorrow, for a post from Dale…

art

Hearing From the Lord

 Please start at post 1 of this Series “Surviving Infidelity”: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises. Everything will make a lot more sense if you do!

Written July 12th, 2011 

  Dale has been staying home with me each day as we cling to each other to draw strength in this ugly time. He did need to go to the office today to do a bit of paperwork before we leave on vacation.  Don’t worry, it’s a different office then the one in which the indiscretion happened, those days are behind us, but it was hard being apart, just 2 short days after the big “truth reveal”.  God is so good to always know what we need. 

Cool story:

Dale went up to his mom’s restaurant today after the office. He is standing there, talking to his mom, when Aunt Lucy walks by.

 “Do you always wear your wedding ring?” she asks.

Dale: “Yes, everyday for 9 years.”

Aunt Lucy: Shrugs shoulders, “Huh.  Well, it just seems to show more today I guess.”

  OH MY WORD, she knows nothing!  The Lord knew I needed to hear that, to have that nugget to cling to.  He knew I needed to know that when satan’s scales fell of Dale’s eyes, his claws let go of Dale’s heart and the ugly veil that had been cast over that wedding ring he wore on his ring finger, HAD BEEN LIFTED as well. 

Praise His name!

July 14th 

I went to my friend Nikki’s site, at Nikki Loves Mike, and the song she had posted made me first gasp, like how did she know? Then BAWL my EYES out, as I listened.

DANCING IN THE MINE FIELDS.

  This song is SO very beautiful and spoke to my heart in a mighty way!  I listened to it no less than 100 times over the past few months!

We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storms
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

Well “I do” are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard is a good place to begin
‘Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price for the life that we have found

So when I lose my way, find me
When I lose loves chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith to the end of all my days
when I forget my name, remind me

‘Cause we bear the light of the Son of man
So there’s nothing left to fear
So I’ll walk with you in the shadow lands
Till the shadows disappear

‘Cause He promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of this chaos baby,
I can dance with you

So let’s go dancing in the minefields
Lets go sailing in the storms

Oh, this is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for
That’s what the promise is for……

—————————————–

Written September 9th, 2011

Remember this post, “With Cherries On Top”?  Things were just going AWFUL! My marriage was falling apart, we had NO money, everything at our house was breaking, but look at God’s provision through that!  Beauty from Ashes, EVERY TIME!

  This is also close to the time I wrote “Broken” because I felt if I didn’t shed some light on what I was going through, it was as if I was deceiving you.  I knew my blog posts were not my best work, I was trying to maintain “normal” unsuccessfully because of my shattered heart, and after I was prompted to post a version of the truth in Broken, I had peace once again.

  Then, amazing things began to happen……

  Instead of judgment from you, sweet, encouraging comments began pouring in.  Thank you!

  Our counselor told us the Lord would rise up prayer warriors for us, people we didn’t know all over the world would be prompted to pray for us.  And wouldn’t you know, that same week I got 3 emails from 3 girls I either don’t know, or hardly know saying things like this:

Hi Tonya – I am praying for you! I dreamed about you Thursday night and woke up suddenly with a desire to pray. In my dream, huge ants were stealing all kinds of stuff from your house, they had overtaken everything and you were powerless against them. I barely know you, but we are sisters in Christ. I just now skimmed through your “Broken” blog entry, and felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to tell you God is even waking up people that barely know you to pray specifically for you.

  Little did she know, that Satan’s “ants” were destroying my home, both physically as one after another item broke, but emotionally to as he tried to destroy what remained of my marriage.  What love we felt from our Heavenly Father as He brought us “God Thing” after “God Thing”: Things that are too crazy and too perfectly timed to be anything but the His mighty hand at work!

  Every time I opened the Bible, verses were flying out at me left and right, grabbing my soul and giving me strength:

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

II Corinthians 12:9,10. “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

This one is by far my favorite, and our “Anthem Verse” for this marriage we are fighting so hard for. He gave us this passage back in July, and we have gone back to it constantly, personalizing it and taking promises from it. I LOVE when the Lord speaks through His word and a passage becomes SO personal. 

I know it’s long, but well worth the read:

Isaiah 61: parts of 1-11 {Blue is My interpretation}

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. {This is why we are to share our story!}
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
3 To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. {His promise to us} In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. {A great oak withstands many a storm because its roots go down deep}
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations. {Our marriage WILL be rebuilt even though satan tried to destroy is years ago!}
7 Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. {We can hold our heads proud as we share our story, no robes on shame need to be worn…} You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.
8 “For I, the Lord, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be recognized and honored among the nations. {Our kids will NOT take on the sins of their father, they will walk in freedom from this sin!} Everyone will realize that they are a people the Lord has blessed.” {Christ will be seen through this story}
 10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. {I will not always wear the rags of Brokeness and the chains of Unforgiveness}
I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels. {We WILL renew our vows one day, and make a new covenant before God, family & friends!}
11 The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere.” {New growth and new life in Christ is ours!}

I love when the Lord speaks so audibly!  And He hasn’t stopped, even when He was silent to us, He sent us a messenger who said:

 “Even when you can’t feel Him, remember God is moving behind the scenes to prepare you for the next chapter, He will NEVER leave you.”

  It seems during difficult times, the Lord’s voice is more clear than ever.  Probably because I am curled up in HIS arms and HE can whisper in my ear. 

  He began to minister to Dale and I immediately after the truth came out, putting a soothing balm on our open wounds, as He spoke to us via our Daily Devotion book, whose dates matched PERFECTLY with JUST what we needed to hear that day, radio ministries, songs and emails from friends.  All along, asking us to trust Him, to seek Him to let Him have the broken pieces of our lives and marriage……

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

Yes, Lord.  I am still before my God, broken and wanting these pieces of my life to be used for HIS glory…..

~T

The Other Woman

This post will make no sense to you if you don’t go back and read yesterdays first……..

Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises

  When I left you yesterday, I had decided my marriage was worth fighting for, and divorce was NOT an option.

  So now what?! 

Remember, this all was written 9 months ago.  God has been working in our hearts and lives ever since, praise His name!  

  This was written 7/11/2011, less than 24 hours after “The Truth”:

  Dale is letting me decide where we go from here. His desire is to rebuild, start again, with Jesus in the center.  Funny, I thought He was in the center the first go around?! 

  Yes, Dale is still here, sleeping on the couch per his insistence. I told him I didn’t give a rip where he slept, we’d shared a bed of lies for the last 1 1/2 years, might as well share it again tonight, just don’t you dare touch me, I said.  I want to keep up appearances for the children, who come in at 6:15 often.  Destiny was already very tearful tonight, picking up on daddy’s tears. 

  Sleep evades me, my mind returning to the scene he described to me with a woman I don’t know, but HATE, pinching myself to make sure this isn’t a nightmare.  All I want to do is go to bed, curl up next to my loving, faithful husband and fall into a peaceful slumber, but those days are gone.  I have no desire for Dale to touch me in any way, yet that’s all I want, is to be loved on, kissed and cuddled….told that I am good enough, that I am pretty enough, that I am worth being faithful to.

  Questions of that fateful day and the events that took place, bombard my thoughts constantly, until I think I will go insane.  Dale, being the non-detailed person he is, just kinda summed it up and thought this should be enough for me.

It wasn’t.

I needed to fill in the blanks so to speak.  I needed answers to quiet these questions in my head.  I desperately wanted to stop imagining that day of betrayal OVER and OVER and OVER in my head.

  I know what I need to do.  I need to talk to the “Other Woman”.  She owed me that much.  So I ask Dale to find her for me on Facebook.  He was very hesitant, but agreed to try to find her, having no idea if she even had an account.  He has to call the office to “check on a case” to even remember her last name. 

Sick.  

Is our marriage worth so little that he was willing to throw it all away for a nameless one time fling?

  With a few clicks, he found her on my Facebook account since he doesn’t have one, and quickly pushes out the office chair to leave the room, saying he was going to vomit.  Calling over his shoulder for me to PLEASE be careful that I didn’t make things worse for us by doing this.

   My hands are shaking as I sit down at the computer and peering closely at the tiny profile picture to see the woman who I “lost” to.  To see if she was prettier, if she had a better body……seeking answers I would not find in her photo.

  Handing shaking, vomit in my throat, I take my mouse and hover over “Message” and I click.  The words that poured from me are not pretty.   I knew I should seek the Lord about the words I wrote, so I too, pushed out the office chair and walked away, pleading with Him to let me have this. 

Let me push send.  Please.

  After an hour and a few edits to erase some of the ugly, I did it, I pushed send.

Here is what I wrote her:

Hi xxxxxxx, This is Tonya Ferguson. I am sure you recognize my last name, seeing how you screwed my husband last October. Dale Ferguson from ##### ring a bell?  How dare you, Home Wrecker. Guess what? You don’t win. Satan doesn’t win. I do. My marriage does. How does it feel to be used? To have my husband turn his face away from you?  You deserve more. I deserve more. You disrespected me, you disrespected yourself, you disrespected my husband and my 9 year marriage. Did he happen to mention we have 4 kids? 8, 4, 2, and 10 months. How does it feel to have torn our family apart? I don’t know how you look at yourself in the mirror each day. When you see a ring on a man’s finger, BACK OFF. All the wives in America will thank me for writing you this, girls like you, make wives like us SICK. I deserve to hear from you what happened between you and my husband. I want to hear it. I NEED to hear it to move on. Please. Tonya

  She wrote back that very night, begging for a chance to talk on the phone with me, saying she had been waiting a long time to get this off her chest.  I kept feeling like I was going to vomit, but after an hour or so of thinking about it and processing, I decided that I wanted to hear it.  She owed me an explanation.  Plus, I wanted to hear her side of the story to make sure Dale told me the truth.

I talked to her for nearly an hour.

AN HOUR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Below is what I wrote in my journal:

  You are never ever going to believe this, but she is a really nice girl. Crazy, but true. I could hear her talking to her little boy in the background, and she was very patient, pushing for manners and obedience from him. As much as I didn’t want to, my heart went out to her and I connected with her: mom to mom.  I actually complimented her, telling her she was very kind and a good momma. Then we got down to business……

I told her that she ruined my marriage and then, I asked for her to tell me her version of what happened that day.

She told nearly the same story as Dale, there were a few details he had forgotten, but close none the less. She apologized profusely the entire time we talked. Saying she was coming out of a dark time of abuse from her ex-husband and was looking for affection.

  We talked further about respect and how she should respect herself enough to say no to cheap propositions. We talked about motherhood and finding Jesus. I told her she should hold out for her hero, rather than to try to find her worth in men or sex. She was so open, so gentle, so hungry for truth.  

  She said that she had started going to her Grandma’s church after what happened with Dale, that it pushed her towards a Savior she needed all along.  She had quit her job soon after it happened, because she just couldn’t stand the hurt and pain any longer, of seeing Dale and knowing what she had done. Towards the end of the hour conversation, I started feeling prompted to offer her my forgiveness.

Seriously, Lord? ALREADY?!  It’s been like what, 24 hours?

I didn’t know if I could do it, but when the Lord gave me the second nudge a few minutes later, I tearfully, obeyed:

“xxxxx, I want to offer my forgiveness to you. I really do. This is what the Lord is asking of me, to forgive as He forgave me.  I think this is a key step in moving forward with Dale and saving our marriage.  Talking to you has made you real, not some evil home wrecker. You are a nice girl who had bad things happen…….and well, I forgive you. I really do.”

She began to BAWL.  Seriously sobbing into the phone, barely able to say the following:

“Tonya, I can’t even begin to tell you….thank you so much.  I am soooo sorry for what occurred, and I can’t tell you how much your forgiveness means to me. I will do anything I can to help you heal from this. Anything! I sound so selfish, but this is so healing for me. You are such a strong woman. I don’t deserve this!” 

  After this, Dale got on the phone, and with tears in his eyes, apologized to her for his part in this. She in return apologized for her part and said she took full responsibility for what happened. He said, no, we both were at fault. She bawled and thanked us for being so gracious to her and kind to her.

  Oh my goodness, a million pound weight has been lifted from my shoulders. This is HUGE in the process. The sick feeling that comes with thinking of her has lessened by a ton…that hatred I felt for this “slut” that ruined marriages, is gone. Having her be a real person, hearing her be a single momma to her sweet polite boy, opened my eyes to the hurt “little girl” she was, just having left her abusive husband. How sad that she was looking for affection after a horrible relationship. Dale seemed safe to her, so she acted…they acted.  

July 12th, 32 hours after “The Truth”

  Despite all the emotion and tears, God is already beginning a work in us. I can feel it.  A mentor of Dale’s from Men’s Encounter called to check on us, and he went crazy and said he couldn’t believe that we had gone from talking divorce to fighting for our marriage in 24 hours! He said that’s like 2 months of marriage counseling already. Then after I told him about the above conversation with “The Other Woman”, he laughed and praised the Lord. He says 6 months of marriage counseling has already been achieved. It was good to hear his praise, and I am thankful.  

But this morning, July 12th, just 32 short hours after my world changed forever, I am struggling with different thoughts:

  Instead of imagining him with this aggressive marriage wrecker, and seething with rage…….I am imaging a different kind of girl.

  Although I am thankful that the venom and churning stomach from my hatred of her are gone, but that wall of anger?  Well, it was offering me protection.  Now, my heart has broken all over again at the thought of them together.  Taking away the anger, left me to feel just how raw my heart is now.  The anger was masking it.   

Now, my chest aches as if there is a knife there, stabbing with every pulse of my heart. 

 Tears flowing with ever breath I take. 

  The part that hurts the worst, the part that makes me sob as I write this, my tears blurring these words, is that she felt it necessary to prove she could be needed by a “Good man”. 

  She said Dale was so kind and respectful in the office to everyone, that if she could “get” someone like him, surely she was of worth, surely she could find value in a man like Dale. It hurts more than I can say, to know that MY ‘Good man’ didn’t turn her down;  he had an opportunity to be Jesus to her, yet allowed satan to blind him so severely, that he didn’t even see the potential of being a light to this hurting woman.

  I wanted MY good man, to say NO to her advances.  I wanted to be the victor that day.  

  Sadly, my “Good Man” stumbled, then fell.  Blinded to the truth, and desensitized to the clanging warning bells by a hidden 23 year long on and off again pornography habit.  He silenced those bells that day and chose LUST.  The Bible is so clear on having pure eyes, the path of choosing otherwise, will always lead to destruction.  Always. Even if you are a “good” Christian man.  You are not immune. It only makes you a bigger target for the devil.

  And so here I stand, feeling as if I have lost everything I held so dear.  Robbed of the covenant of marriage, the sanctity of the marriage bed, and my self-worth.

I am so very broken.  How in the world does someone move on from this?

Oh Jesus, how I need you.

More Tomorrow…

 ~T

Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises

The voices in her head are taunting.

Cruel, hateful words come from their lips…

Stupid.

Foolish.

Blind.

So very Trusting.

So Naïve.

The sky is green and the grass is blue today, Tonya!”

She responds, “Oh really?! How lovely that must be!”

She is Stupid.

How could she be SO incredibly blind?

How could she not feel her in the bedroom with them?

Who is HER you ask?

Why, the other woman of course.

  The day I was told the truth, my heart fell down. Down, down, down, until it fell out.

I felt it.

I heard it fall to the floor and shatter.

  Or maybe that was the sound of the glass Cinderella Happily Ever After Castle I had lived in for nearly 10 wonderful years. As it came crashing to the ground, millions of tiny shards of glass pierced my body. My chest felt as if an elephant was sitting on it, my breath coming in short gasps, my stomach churned and I feared I would vomit.

All this as I stood in the laundry room, staring over the heads of our 4 children, to a man with haunted, sorrowful eyes. Our 4 precious ones were between us, lined up to wash hands for supper, after returning home from an evening at church.

Desperately trying to keep the smile pasted to my face, I cheerfully say: “Let’s wash hands and then eat some supper!“

Anything to protect them from what I knew was coming.

Let’s back up a bit:

It was July 10th, 2011. We had gone to pick up Dale from a weekend away at Men’s Encounter. A Spiritual “tear you down and build you up again, lay it all before the cross” kind of weekend. He said we’d talk after the kids were in bed about all the Lord showed him. I was excited, anticipating our quiet time! Anticipating the changes I knew I’d see in him, hoping he’d be ready to kick things up a notch in our home, to really step into the position of the Spiritual leader.

As I was sorting Dale’s laundry, just moments after we arrived home, I found a note, written on a yellow piece of paper. I had already read another stack of yellow notes, encouraging words from roommates from Encounter, so I figured this one was one he had missed.

There was a reason this one was isolated. This one was alone because it housed a dark, ugly secret. No, this one HINTED at a dark ugly secret, but I knew, instantly I knew. The sweet letter to Dale from a leader, suggested another couple to “help us through this difficult time”. As soon as I saw the couples name he suggested we speak with, I knew. I knew their story; the lies, the women, the betrayal. I knew, and it was all I could do to keep it together for the 2 hours until bedtime. I am still not sure how I stood to make supper, my body in such a state of shock.

As Dale tucked the children in, I walked to the laundry room, I’m still not sure why. Maybe to see if I could find my heart? Maybe to re-live what occurred only moments before, or was it hours by now? It all was a blur, I was moving in a cloud, no, my worst nightmare. Unable to stand another moment, I sunk to the floor, back against the cold dryer and wrapped my arms around my knees, burying my face in them. Pressing my forehead down HARD on them. Shaking from head to toe, wanting to bawl, yet nothing. Not one single tear came. Is it possible to be too hurt to cry?!

Yes.

I heard, rather than saw, Dale enter the laundry room once the kids were settled. The familiar pop-pop of his knees as he sunk to the floor, was another stab to the heart. Everything I knew was a lie, the familiar and strangely comforting sounds, yet another painful reminder of all that was lost. This man I loved and adored now represented hurt, betrayal, & indescribable heartache.

 Head still on my knees, I hear a whispered, tearful, broken….

”I’m so sorry, Tonya. So, so very sorry.”

I cannot write the words that spewed from my mouth, the vomit in word form that came. They are too awful. I am too ashamed that those words were in me. But they were, and they spewed forward like hot lava.

“Who was she and how many times?”

I spoke through clenched teeth. Hate pouring through every pore of my being, pulsing with every beat of my broken heart.

If looks could’ve killed, Dale would’ve been dead in an instant, joining the cold, lifeless “Old Tonya“ on the floor. She died the moment she heard the news, you know. She died, along with all of her childhood hopes and dreams of one day having her own happily ever after.

I could only look at him a split second at a time before looking up, down, re-burying my head in my knees, ANYTHING except looking at my betrayer.

I couldn’t.

This- this disgusting thing across from me, was my HUSBAND.

MY LOVER.

MY SOUL MATE.

MY BEST FRIEND.

The man I loved most. The man I SAVED myself for. The man I gave EVERYTHING to. How could I feel so much hate for someone I loved so dearly?

LoveD so dearly? Past tense? In that moment I didn’t know what I felt. It was so jumbled I couldn’t make sense of it.

So I just poured putrid, hateful words from my lips, calling him every bad name I had ever heard.

And do you know what?

He just wept and took it.

“I know,” he said, “I know. You aren’t calling me anything I haven’t called myself 1000 times.”

Dale came across the laundry room and wrapped his arms around me, the tenderness finally provoking tears, and I cried into the chest of the man who caused this pain. Loving him and hating him so fiercely I didn’t know which way was up. Sobbing, pounding his chest with my fist calling him names, yet clinging to his neck like a life line. He is all I know. My heart and body so inner-twined with this man that I feared I would never be just “me” again. I shove away from him, no longer able to tolerate his touch.

For 6 hours, we were in separate rooms of the house. 6 long hours I was locked in hell, being kept captive by my ugly thoughts, by the imagining of horrible details far worse than the truth I was told later.

Dale kindly asked if I’d like him to move out?

I spewed from my mouth:

NO. You deserve to stay here and see what you pissed away. What you lost for 15 minutes on your office floor. You deserve to see those kids faces and imagine your life “Every Other Weekend.”

He made a bed on the couch that night.

Bastard.  Served him right.

I sent an email to a trusted mentor of mine, who had helped us through some of the hurdles before our courtship:

“I sent Dale to a Men’s Encounter weekend, well, what a weekend it was. My marriage is over.
Who’d have thought that me sending Dale, hoping he’d come back ready to be the leader of our home, would unleash a year-long secret. A secret of ultimate betrayal. Every moment of every day for the past year, my husband has lied to me with his silence. Has held me in his arms and made love to me, promising me the world, telling me how good we were together, how much he loved our life…..lies. I want to puke.

Did I tell you my dad cheated on my mom? That it rocked my world at age 17 when we found out? I remember my mom sitting on the front porch, sobbing.
I didn’t speak to the Lord or my dad for a year. My earthly father had broken my heart, what did I have to say to my Heavenly Father?

Nothing.

Fathers couldn’t be trusted.

  Now? I am living my very own hell on earth. I have been so fearful of this from the get go. I begged Dale to be true to me. I checked Dale’s phone often for weird numbers, asked questions about what I thought were lip stick stains on his shirt etc. I’ve spent our entire marriage, begging him to be truthful, I constantly asked him about temptation and porn.

He told me he wasn’t like other guys, that he didn’t have wandering eyes since I was the only girl for him.

LIES!

  My trust and questions got me nowhere. And look at me now. Naive and stupidly trusting, blinded to the truth. Thinking we were happy when we obviously weren’t. Thinking I was all Dale needed, when that was not the case.
I am a happily ever after kinda girl. I just wrote out our whole love story on my blog in May, prompted by the Lord to share, so others could see how the Lord had taken a man who had made some big mistakes, healed him, and used him to teach me about forgiveness. To share how He brought us together, scripting us a beautiful love story, healed my heart and allowed us to become one.  4 beautiful children later, I am living my very own dream come true. How could things be going so WRONG!?
I saved everything for Dale. I prayed for him every day from age 13 on. I wrote him love letters each and every birthday, promising him I was still praying for him, waiting for him, anticipating the day the Lord brought him into my life. When I turned 19 I was able to finally replace “Dear Future Husband” at the beginning of the letter with “My Dearest Dale”. What a moment! What a thrill it gave my heart to finally have a name at the top of these letters!

He didn’t save himself for marriage like I did, but I forgave him, trusting him to change. Guess I wasn’t worth waiting for then or now.

Married to my first love at 20, having our first child at 21. 8 pregnancy’s in 8 years did a number on us.

He stole my everything.

My kisses, my love, my purity, my heart.

I have been robbed. Robbed by a slut named xxxxxxx, an agent he was running appointments with, who took it upon herself to reach across the car and feel him up. Dale’s ring didn’t stop her from trying. Worst of all, DALE didn’t stop her from trying. No wonder we’ve gone through 10 of our hardest months financially. The Lord spewed us from His mouth. No wonder He removed His hand of blessing on us. We all suffered because of Dale’s stupid mistake.
I am so angry right now I could puke. Scream. Sob.

  So there you are. One ugly spewing email. I am scared to tell anyone of this. Scared because I already get flack for my life being too sunshine-y. Too happy. But I really meant it. Every stinkin’ word. I really was THAT happy. I thought he was too.
I have an 8-year-old, a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 10 month old. What in the world am I going to do?

Please don’t tell anyone.

I am so ashamed. ~T

I pushed send, no longer caring if someone found out my ugly secret, I needed counsel, I needed to be told how to breathe, how to live with this pain. After I pushed send, I crawled to bed, alone.

So alone, faith shaken.

Someone pinch me. This can’t be my new life. This can’t be real.

I crawl to bed and roll over. My hand naturally falls to Dale’s side of the bed, as is my habit of nearly 10 years. Except this time, it finds no warm body to draw comfort from. Instead, it rests in the dip of the mattress where Dale used to be found. My heart aches with the emptiness of my new life, my new reality.

Then, the tears came…..

Wracking sobs; the ugly kind of cry where you scream, choke and do the ooh-ooh-ooh between sobs, trying to catch your breath. I kept thinking I was going to vomit. Maybe I would’ve felt better had I been able to.

Sleep evades me that night, my mind returning to the scene he described to me….its ugly beginnings in the car, then on the floor of his office with a woman I don’t know, but HATE. HATE!

Literally pinching myself to make sure this isn’t a nightmare. All I want to do, is go to bed, curl up next to my loving, faithful husband and fall into a peaceful slumber………

But, those days are gone.

I cried all night in my lonely bed; hurting, imagining, despising. Dividing up our home, our furniture; trying to decide where I would live, how I could support 4 young children, how I could take Dale for all he had, how I could make him as hurt and miserable as he made me. Thinking of the “D” word we swore we’d never speak:

DIVORCE.

Well, all other promises had been broken, why not this one too?

Little did I know, that Dale was out on the couch, weeping along with me and praying his heart out. He knew he didn’t dare come offer me comfort. He said it about killed him, he’d never felt so helpless. So hopeless.

All this as I sobbed myself into an exhausted slumber, the last thing I recall is the clock reading 3:12 am.

5 am comes and I wake suddenly and sit up all in the same moment. What a bad dream!

I glance behind me and see an empty spot in the bed. Dear God. It wasn’t a dream, but my new ugly reality. Instantly the tears were back and I WAILED at the injustice of it all. WAILED.

Instantly, Dale came from the living room to my side, offering his arms, wanting so badly to bring me comfort. Repulsed by his touch, I shoved him away. I needed to clear my head, so I left out the front door, sitting at the end of the sidewalk crying out to God, crying:

WHY? WHY? OH GOD WHY? in to the still, silent morning. Birds just starting to stir and sing their cheerful song, the sun turning the sky a lovely pink color as another day dawned.

How could life go on as if nothing had changed?

Hadn’t the World stopped turning last night at 6 pm?

I‘ll never forget that sunrise as long as I live. It was beautiful; pinks, oranges and purple.

As I cried out to the Lord out there at the end of the sidewalk, watching the dawn of a new day, something inside of me broke. I felt it occur. In the same instance, I knew as sure as I know my name, that He spoke something over me.

“Divorce is NOT the answer.”

{Sigh}

“Yes, Lord. I know.”

I had known it all along, but was trying to justify it.

Just like that, peace that surpasses understanding washed me from head to toe. Instantly, my churning, sick gut silenced. In the next second, a thought flitted across my mind, and I was on my feet before the thought even finished:

Our marriage is worth fighting for.

Our marriage IS worth fighting for.

OUR MARRIAGE IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR!

Yes, Lord, yes! It is!

I marched back inside, thankful it was still early and the kids were sleeping through this, and I walked past the couch where Dale was sitting. Just sitting there, head hung, lonely and broken in the darkened office. I went to my jewelry box and got out my wedding rings, placed them in a velvet box and walked back out to the office. I slide them across the desk to him, looked him in the eye for the first time since he told me his truth, and said that we had 4 very good reasons to stay together; that I still loved him inside all the hate, that the love was still there. I went on to say:

“Our marriage IS worth fighting for. And one day you will be able to slide these rings back on my finger and make me yours again because I. Choose. Us.”

He wept. Just held the ring box and wept.

“I don’t deserve you.” he whispered.

No, you don’t!” I spouted, “But I love you and I said I do until death do us part, and unlike you, I meant my vows when I said them. You know the crazy part? I don‘t know HOW to be Tonya without Dale. You are all I know, and I am too entwined in you to remove myself. I‘d never be a whole again. There’d always be jagged edges from where I unwound my life from yours. I love you too much to give up on us.”

Less than 12 hours after the lovely Castle I lived in came crashing around me, I had made my peace that Divorce was not an option.

So, now what?

Little did I know, the Lord was already beginning a work in us.

A Supernatural one.

More tomorrow…..

Listen, before I go and before you begin to comment and send me messages, I ask you this:

Remember that I choose to stay with Dale. That I love him, and that I am rebuilding a life with him. That you just now, got put emotionally where I was in July. We have been fighting tooth and nail for our marriage the 9 months since then, so please, temper your words accordingly.

Also, please pray for us to be protected from the attacks of satan. We know we may lose “friends” over this. We know the rumor mill will fly and in the days to come, we will have to answer lots of questions and may have to defend ourselves and our decision to stay together, as even good friends can give bad advice.

Please pray that our words would be seasoned with salt, that we would be able to show the Love of Christ to all we share about this matter in the days to come. That this ugly could be used for HIS glory. That beauty could come from these ashes we call our marriage.

God is a God of restoration, of total healing…….

Trust me, I’m experiencing it with each and every breath I take.

~T

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Unveiled Wife

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

A Holy Experience  

My Very Own Happily Ever After: Part 4/4

Just tuning in?  I’m sharing Dale and my story with you this week, in honor of our 9th Anniversary! 

Get caught up here…..

Part 1: Once Upon A Time

Part 2:  Summer Love

Part 3:  When God Writes Your Love Story

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

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

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  I wanted to involve all 7 of my nanny kids, whom I loved and adored, as well as those who I babysat for for years.  Scan_Pic0048

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  The wedding was at 7 pm, and it was everything I hoped for.  The church was dark, the stage accented only by soft lights and twinkling candles.  Scan_Pic0102

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

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

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

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

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WOO-HOO!  He’s finally MINE! 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

I leave you with 2 thoughts:

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

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

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

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

~T