An “Even If” FAITH

An even if faith

Hebrews 11:1

  “What is faith?  It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen.  It is the evidence of things we cannot see yet.” 

  I cannot count how many emails and comments I get from men and women who have a wayward spouse that is not at all remorseful, or ready to change.  I honestly don’t know what to say when they write back at times. 

  If you have read our story, you know that thankfully, I had a spouse who:

A) confessed, instead of was caught in the indiscretion
B) was totally forthcoming with the facts of the incident, after said confession
C) was so sorry and ready to do whatever it took to reconcile our relationship

  I have been praying and asking God what to tell these broken people. My heart aches as I write to them, because I know that stab of pain all too well.  I usually just sit here praying and wishing I could fix it for them, but I can’t. All I can do, is point them to Jesus and to God’s Word. 

  I send them go read the blog post “The Prodigal Spouse, Because God Is Bigger Than Your Divorce Papers” because I believe that God is still in the Restoration business.  I’ve walked that treacherous road, and lived to tell about it.  You better believe it seemed easier to just walk away from it all, hoping one day I could learn to love again.

  I believe with time, even wayward spouses who seem totally uninterested, can be brought back to Him and then, to you, in total restoration of that original Marriage Covenant! I believe mountains still move at the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

  In a world that pushes Divorce and what we “deserve,” it’s hard to change that mindset to dying to self, to lay down the desire to get revenge, or move on, and just accept your circumstances for the moment, never ceasing to ask God to work a miracle, but being satisfied in the meantime.

 But what if the wayward spouse isn’t interested in coming back?

Let’s look at the story of 3 men who had faith in the face of adversity.

  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, had an “Even If” faith.  We can read their story in Daniel 3.   

  It all begins with a declaration that all must worship the giant image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, when the music started playing….Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the one true God, refuse.  They know no matter what their society is telling them to do to keep the peace, that they should NOT bow to worship this idol.

13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But EVEN IF he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

  Now, we know this story has a happy ending, with 3 very alive men walking around in a furnace 7 times hotter than normal, with a “mysterious” 4th figure in there.  Let’s think about this is real terms….these men had NO IDEA if God was going to spare their lives.  They literally were about to be burned to death in a furnace so hot, that it killed the guards standing outside of it. 

  But God is in the miracle business.  He allows these circumstances that seem IMPOSSIBLE, so you can remember with Him? ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!

  Where you end, HE begins.

  I want to encourage you today, to keep waiting and watching for your wayward spouse to come home.  To not bow to the World and it’s demands for revenge, and a better life after divorce. 

  Remain faithful as you wait for your love to come back to you.  Seek God with your whole heart, and let Him fulfill you in the meantime.  He is the lover of your soul, and wants to minister to you, to teach you, during this time of separation and of sorrow.  Don’t stop believing and asking for that miracle, do not stop asking for Him to break the heart of your spouse and make it new.  Even if you have to walk away for months, or years in the meantime. Even if, in the end, you walk away entirely.

  Don’t stop praying, that one day, your spouse will see what he had with you, find Jesus, and come back changed. Be Jesus when you speak to them during your time of separation, using the verbage that comes from your heart, always planting seeds of hope and a future: “Someday, when we are back together again, I want to…”
Send a text now and then, “You are on my heart today, missing you and praying for you always.”

You CAN be Jesus to your wayward spouse, we are to be Jesus to the spouse who is lost, because we just might be the only Jesus they see.

1 Peter 3:1-2
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

1 Corinthians 7:10-11
“To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife…..”  

Our Father’s heart hurts to see His children feel the consequences of divorce.

However, the Word also says in 1 Corinthians 7:15-16:

  “But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?”

  I know these verses sound opposing, but we should view this, per unique situation, as a matter of prayer.  Of what God is calling YOU to do, which will be different than others.

  In the end, you are not responsible for the actions of your husband or wife, who are living in sin.  They answer to God for that, not you.  At the end of your life here on Earth, you will give an account of what you did for Christ, and be blessed for your faithfulness in the midst of sorrow, in your diligent prayers for redemption.

 And you know what?

  EVEN IF restoration doesn’t happen for you,

  EVEN IF that spouse keeps hardening his heart, or plugging her ears, to the Lord’s nudges for redemption, reconciliation and restoration for the rest of their lives here on Earth,

  EVEN IF the world scoffs at you for not just divorcing the jerk and moving on, you will be blessed for your obedience beyond your wildest dreams and expectations….

                  It’s time we have an “Even If” faith like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did.

Our prayer should be as follows:

  I will obey you, Father, EVEN IF I never get to see the fruits of this harvest of obedience blessings until Kingdom come.

  I will trust you, Lord, EVEN IF all I see is the mess of strings from the back of a beautiful tapestry I know you are weaving with my life.

   Because even if you don’t answer my prayers just the way I had hoped, I know I can rest easy knowing that you have plans for me to bring you glory, and to bring me hope and a wonderful future…

  Thank you, Jesus! Amen.

 ~T

 

 

 

The Thing About Train Wrecks…

  I had someone tell me a few months ago, that my life was an “amusing train wreck.”  Well, that someone had a lot to say about things in my life, the way we are raising our kids, but that one stuck out the most. Needless to say, my jaw dropped, my heart sunk, and tears came to my eyes.

  How could someone speak so flippantly, so HURTFULLY over the death of my marriage and life as I knew it?

  I thought and prayed about it for several weeks before I was able to let it go, and make my peace with it.  Then, in my quiet time, a blog post came to me.  This one.  

  The purpose of this post is NOT to throw this person under the bus, or shame them in any way…..the purpose of this post is a bigger one.  

  How many times do WE, believers, stand back and sum up another persons life, or tragedy in a one sentence blurb, all from the outside looking in?  All without taking account that these are REAL people with real life hurts and heartaches?

  Train Wrecks happen.  It’s a sad reality, but part of the fallen world we live in.  Even Christians have Train Wrecks.  We are not immune to them…..  

Too bad, right!?

  The difference, is how we are called to deal with them.  How we are called to help others deal with theirs.

Cairns_Station_Platform_and_Track_c1920

  Imagine a train station, bustling with people, trains coming and going, each train representing a family, a group of lives, when suddenly…

SCCREEEECH…………KABLAM!

  A train wrecks as it comes into the station, spilling the family inside, and rubble, all over the tracks down below the platform. 

  They are broken, sobbing, lying in a heap amidst the pieces of their beautiful life, forever changed. The people on the platform, gasp in shock, then began to murmur at the horror of it all.

As they talk about this tragedy, they began to separate into groups:

  Group 1 giggles behind cupped hands and points, gossiping about the poor, poor family on the tracks.  What a mess they are!  Surely they deserved this fate for such and such a reason.

Group 2 stands and calls down to the family, “We will pray for you….” but decide it’s safer to stay up on the platform.

Group 3 is different, they view others lives with empathy; they jump right down there on the train tracks, and began to wipe bleeding knees, and bruised elbows.  Helping to dig through the rubble to find the pieces that remain, hugging and praying with the family members, offering comfort.

Have you noticed, that once you have endured a certain tragedy in your life, you are given opportunities to connect to others going through the same or similar circumstances?IMG_7192

  When I was going through our season of miscarriages, I was given the opportunity to pray with many mothers going through the same heartache, to share a verse near and dear to my heart, or provide a shoulder to cry on. 

  When we finally made it through our year of financial discipline, we were able to help several other families walking that path, by simply offering some groceries, or a bill paid.  We offered it, because we had been through it, we KNEW how they felt! 

  It occurs all the time now that we have Survived Infidelity, in fact a dear friend told me the other day, we should say that we are THRIVING in spite of Infidelity. 

I liked that…..Thriving. 

  We won against all odds, because we fell on Jesus.  Now, we are called to help those going through similar crisis.  God never wastes a hurt, and there is not a week that goes by, that I don’t have an inbox full of tearful husbands and wives thanking us for being transparent for the world to see.  They found comfort and similarities in our stories of heartache.  They found HOPE in the God who makes all things new. 

  You may think my dirty laundry stinks, but they find it a breath of fresh air……..

  

“Thank you, thank you. Your heart-wrenching “Surviving Infidelity” posts couldn’t have been more of a godsend for me, a rope of grace thrown down in our pit.
The honesty you trusted utter strangers with is amazing . . . the raw, real beautiful mess . . . your tender testimony is a gift. God be glorified. Many of your words literally seemed to be lifted from my heart and taken from my own mouth. Yet, you also offered words of forgiveness and restoration that speak of a promised land we are looking to with hope.
Thank you for being so transparent and letting God speak through your brokenness. May He continue to hold you both as you walk forward, choosing to fall together and not apart.”  ~A blog reader

  We serve a God who makes Himself known even in the darkest, most terrifying moments of our lives.  We should SHOUT to the world about Hope Reborn!  About the process of dying to the old, and being born anew.

  Dale gets a daily email from an Encounter Mentor, and it goes perfectly with this line of thought:

  God promises to bring something good out of even our darkest moments.

James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

One key way this takes place is when we share the comfort He offered us with those who are now going through trials.

As Paul points out in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, we are comforted by a Savior who knows our suffering, and we honor Him when we pass His comfort on to still others.

Look how many times comfort is mentioned…..

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”

  9 times in 4 short verses!

God comforts us so that we can comfort others. 

  May we never leave someone to suffer alone. If we know and recognize the difficult path another is on, God will help us to guide that person to His presence—the surest comfort of all.

  Go read Isaiah 61, we took the whole chapter as “ours” during our rough patch, talking about new life, roots going down deep, even bride references.  Listen to how it starts….

”….the Lord has appointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to announce that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.  He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come….he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair.  For the Lord has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.”

  Simple enough, Dale and my calling in life, is to comfort those going through similar trials, whether it’s through a speaking engagement, a controversial blog series, or meeting with broken couples in our living room after the kids go to bed.

   Amusing train wreck or no, our calling is clear!  Our job is to share the comfort God HIMSELF gave us through our fiery trial.  What purpose that gives our hurt……what a mission to have in life! 

A ministry opportunity. A marriage saving one, too. 

  It always makes tears flow down my cheeks, and drip on to the keyboard when people send me pictures of their beautiful families, all those sweet, happy faces looking into the lens, having no idea mommy & daddy’s world just fell apart:

“Your story helped save my family.  Thank you. I ripped up divorce papers tonight after reading your blog, and we are moving forward into a new in Christ marriage.”

  Do you see what is happening here?

  My hurt; my horrible, ugly, gut wrenching, life shattering tragedy….HAS A PURPOSE.  Praise be to God! He NEVER EVER wastes a hurt!

Ann Volskamp always has the most beautiful, God-given words, she says:

“It’s the hurting and wounded who are always the ones called to be medics — to administer lavish grace, to cast the messy in the best, merciful light.

The best way to tend to your open wounds is to open your arms.

Let the broken choose it: When you’re most wounded by words, run to the only Word that always brings healing.

Let the broken see it: When you’re wounded and need dressing, look in the mirror, touch your face, and see how He clothes you in righteousness, wraps you in promises, swathes you in a Saviorwho saves.

When you have Jesus on the inside, you’re never on the outside.

Let the broken say it: When you’re bruised by lies, believe truth and whisper it louder: I am my Beloved’s.

When Love’s got hold of you, there isn’t a lie in the universe that can pull you apart.

Let the broken trust it: Giving the benefit of the doubt — is what benefits the people of the Faith.

Doesn’t love always believe the best, not the worst?

And may that wind the brokenhearted daughter faces, may it fly her hair like a glory flag,

And may the hills that rise before her be but an exhilaration,

And may all her trials be but a trail, all the stones on the way be but grace stairs to God.

In the name of Jesus who broke His heart to heal ours…”

My train wreck isn’t mine, it’s HIS.  Thank you, Jesus.

~T

 

The Prodigal Spouse: Because God is BIGGER Than Your Divorce Papers

Luke 15:11-32 New Living Translation (NLT) Parable of the Lost Son 11 …A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to … Continue reading

{Part 2} Sex After Infidelity: 8 Steps To Success

This is post 2 for today, head back to post 1: Returning to Intimacy After Betrayal

Sex after Infidelity

8 Steps For Intimacy After Infidelity

1) Choose to focus on the good in your spouse and the love that runs so deeply in your veins.  It’s easy to forget the reasons you fell in love.  Write, speak and say positive things, and watch the bountiful harvest of your kind words grow and bloom in your marriage as you fall in love all over again.

2) Never forget your battle is NOT against flesh and blood, aka your spouse. Imagine Satan standing beside your bed, tossing seeds of doubt, negativity and heartache, just hoping they will take root and ruin your love-making.  He hates you and he hates your marriage, which means he reallyreally hates sex and the unity that comes after. There is no better way to stick it to the devil, who tried to destroy your marriage, then to make love to your spouse!  It is an act of Worship to your Heavenly Father.

3) Remember the power of Forgiveness.  My spouse, broken before Christ, had asked the Lord and Savior to wash away his sins.  He was white as snow again.  It was ME, who was bringing along the filthy rags right into our intimate time.  Forgiveness means letting your heart love again during Love Making and letting go of the past for good. 

4) Love with all your heart.  To fully connect to your spouse, your heart needs to be into it.  Be ALL there with your spouse and enjoy every moment together. I know its scary, but be present as your heart and bodies, join as one.  Talk to your spouse about your fears, so they can help you know by their sweet and assuring words, that you are their one and only love. 

5) Break Old Ties.  Out loud, bind those connections in the name of Jesus and break them off.  There is a reason the Lord talks about 2 becoming 1 flesh, in the Spirit World, it happens.  Cutting those ties will help you move into a closer intimacy with your spouse and get satan out of the picture! 

6) Guard your mind from the devil’s attacks.   It blessed me so much when Dale would lead us in prayer before being intimate, asking the Lord to bless our union, and binding satan in the name of Jesus.  He HAS to flee when he hears that precious name of our Lord, he HATES it. This helped me to stay there with Dale and not let my mind go to the past.

7) Let your love-making be a healing balm for your wounded soul. I found comfort and healing in Dale’s arms, his tears and mine. Don’t let satan lie to you and tell you making love will make things worse.  He only wants to cause you further pain. 

8) Remember that Sex is a gift from God.  You can hurt your Heavenly Fathers just as much by failing to use a beautiful gift He gave you, as MISusing it all together. 

  God bless you on your road to healing. Satan’s attacks WILL come, so be alert, be unified; body, soul and spirit, as you fight him for your marriage.  

And don’t EVER forget, that Victory is yours, bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus.

  Take that, satan.

~T

Shared with To Love, Honor & Vacuum

2 Years Ago Today

 What is a date on the calendar really?  

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

  A place to jot notes.

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

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

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

The day & year of Dale’s “Truth”.

d & t

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

It feels like a LIFETIME has gone by.

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

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

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

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

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

d and t

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

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

IMG_1372 honey

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

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

July 10th, 2011

  Or, maybe not.

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

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

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

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

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

  A date, is just a date.  

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

I am glad for that.

~T

holding hands

2013 Word of the Year

  I had this post planned for Thursday, but I think it’s more fitting to post it New Years Day, don’t you?!  

Each year, I hear families praying about a “Word of the Year”.  I have never done this, but looking back, I think we have had several:

2010: Discipline

  Our year of financial discipline was difficult to say the least. You can read some of the amazing things God did during this time here, the first of a three part series.  I see now, looking back, that this was all a breaking down of Dale, so the truth could come in the summer of 2011.  There was a bigger picture at work, one we could not yet see.  It served a big purpose in my own life, to re-evaluate the important things, to re-define our former comfortable lifestyle, and to let go of the “American Dream” in my head of what our lives should look like.

2011: Broken 

   There is no doubt the word for 2011 was Broken.  Broken hearts, broken dreams, broken marriage vows.  In the end, we learned God desires our brokenness.  And we will never ever forget, that to become broken, is actually to become whole. 

2012: Transparency

  This was a HUGE part of 2012, I kept thinking “Healing” might be our word of the year, but I keep going back to the TRANSPARENCY that had to occur for Dale and I to move forward in our tragedy for God’s glory, and share it both on the world wide web, but also speaking at church events, Encounters, and sitting down with other couples.  Owning our truth was hard, and there were those that judged us harshly for it, but God is so faithful.  Obedience brings blessing!

  I am excited to say, I feel like the Lord is showing me what the 2013 word could be, when I received the SAME word, for the third time in a 2 month period:

RESTORATION.

   I was not praying for a word of the year, but I have been meditating on this verse for the past few months:

“Restore to me the joy of my salvation and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalms 51:12

  I WANT this.  I was asking God for this to happen this year. I feel like after an amazing mountain top high, I am in a Spiritual Valley.  I feel as if my prayers do not reach above the ceiling, and I no longer feel the Lord’s presence constantly, as I did in crisis mode.  I am asking Him to breathe new life into me, I miss the mountain top.  I suppose if we didn’t walk through a Valley, we never would understand the blessing of the view from the top, would we?

   In the midst of this, I was asked to speak at a Women’s event coming up this month, and the key word for the evening was Restoration

Hmm, see a pattern here? 

Then weeks later, I see the words:

RESTORATION 2013. 

My heart jumped as only it can when you are nudged by the Holy Spirit!

RESTORATION! Yes, Lord, yes!

“You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.“  Psalms 65:11

I pray our time of famine has passed, and it is my prayer for 2013, that He will abundantly lavish us with restoration of joy, restoration of our financial storehouses full and overflowing with a bountiful harvest, and a year full of blessings.  I cannot WAIT to see what He has in store. 

For He will restore what the locusts have eaten…. {Taken from Joel 2:25}

  So, I shared a little bit of this post on New Years Eve, on the 4 little Ferguson’s facebook page, and you will not BELIEVE the message I got:

Jessica Devine: I just wanted to let you know that my pastor received a Word from God for 2013….the word was RESTORATION!!! I am believing this!!! Amen!
 WHAT?!  Yet, another confirmation!  Praise God and Hallelujah!  She had chills when she read my status update, I had chills when I read her message.
   Listen up, we serve a God who can make beauty from the ashes of our lives, every single time, if only we let Him.  And like the back of a tapestry, we may only see a mess of strings, but He sees a beautiful big picture.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.”
Isaiah 55:8-13

What is your word for 2013?  Want to join me in asking our Heavenly Father for RESTORATION?

Restoration for Marriages. Restoration of a quieter, less busy lifestyle. Restoration of the family unit as it is meant to be. Restoration for the lost.  Restoration for the broken.  Restoration of our Great Nation.  Restoration of the Church, so that is no longer a Museum for the good, but rather a Hospital for the Broken.  

 We cannot even begin to imagine the great things He has in store!

Hugs, T

Restoration

 

Shared with Mercy Ink: Heart Home Link Up

Not Enough

 NOT ENOUGH.

I have heard these words more lately than I care to.  Most of them in my own head, but also echoing through cyber space, as women write me of their sorrows of unfaithful husbands and broken happily ever after’s, shattered hearts and destroyed self images.

  Why couldn’t I be enough?  I gave my all, my best…..and it simply wasn’t enough to stop him from betraying me.  Maybe if I was sexier, skinnier…..

These thoughts lead no where good.  Dale tells me over and over, “What I did was about something lacking in ME, not something lacking in you. Please don’t make this about you.”

It’s hard, isn’t it? Being betrayed in such an intimate, personal way.  It strips you to your very core, the place where that raw, aching emotion pulses and throbs with every beat of your broken heart.

We are not the only ones that hear this, it is not just ours. 

Not just women surviving infidelity hear that phrase, “Not Enough”.

All women do, at one time or another, as we look at our reflection in the mirror with judgmental eyes….

Not skinny enough.

Not curvy enough.

Not sexy enough.

Not tall enough.

Not full enough.

Not straight enough.

Not thick enough.

Not curly enough. 

Not good enough.

Not smart enough.

Not talented enough.

Not pretty enough.

Just NOT enough.

When we look in the mirror, stare at our image and size it up, comparing ourselves to the air brushed world we live in, we lose.

Every. Blasted. Time.

We lose because we are unaware that over the shoulder of our scrutiny, are the sharp claws of the devil.  The thoughts we have, being whispered in our ear by the devil HIMSELF.  We are mere puppets in those moments.

WHY?  Why do we let him whisper those lies? Why do we BELIEVE them?

We have the power to stop him, to make him leave, shrieking at the sound of the name of Jesus.

  ENOUGH, Satan.  We bind you in the name of Jesus. BE GONE.  We will listen to you NO MORE.

I am a child of God and Daughter of the King of Kings.

I am His Beloved and He has called me BY NAME.

He knit me in my mother’s womb. He hand-picked my eye color, hair color, demeanor, talents, and quirks, placed every freckle and planned every detail of me.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Even the hairs on my head are numbered.

He bottles up all my tears in heaven.

He knows my thoughts before I think them.

I am made in HIS image

I am chosen, holy and blameless before God.

I break His heart when I tell Him that I don’t like what I see.

I sin when I make Dale’s fall about me.  When I roll in the filth of the ashes and drape myself in sack cloth of mourning.  I choose to STOP the path of destruction.

When you look in the mirror you should see one thing:

JESUS.

If you don’t, then its time to ask Him for new eyes.  Ones that see the beauty in which He has created you, your precious life, in His image.

It’s time to ask Him to give you new thoughts, thinking on what is good, and pure and noble and right.  (Philippians 4:8)

It’s time we throw off “self” and our self-seeking ways, our vain strategies to look younger, be thinner, look prettier.

When you look in the mirror, you should see JESUS shining back through a beautiful YOU.

 Because you take your Creators breath away……

~T

He Makes Beautiful Things

A Walk in My Shoes

  I am still sorting through the rubble.


The ruined pieces of our marriage.

Pictures, dates, someone’s careless words, a joke about cheating….

All can take my breath away. Can make tears roll down my face in an INSTANT, despite my best efforts to stop them.

I live in a world that wants me to move on

Get over it.  Stop talking about it.

    I say to you,

Please, just let me catch my breath.

Let me work through the rubble piece by piece.

Let me do whatever it takes to heal in a complete, whole and healthy way, even if you don’t think it’s fast enough.

Let me go on 2 overnight trips with my husband in one summer, without judgement, because we are desperate for US time. Because the hardest part about this road we are on, is maintaining normal life with 4 kids.

 I need to be allowed to work through the layers of my hurt and healing. Stuffing down tears and hurts, only means I will have to deal with them later.

  I said to our counselors from our very first session on. I have a gaping, open wound. It is a pain I have never experienced before. I want it healed, but I want EVERY single corner cleaned out.

  I want NOTHING remaining in it, so that when it heals over completely, and it will, that I NEVER, EVER have to re-open this wound because a speck of dirt remained.  A speck of dirt, that over time, turns into a festering puss pocket of hurt or anger or fear that didn’t get scraped out.

  Scraping out all corners of the wound has been a slow and painful process, but a necessary step for the health of our relationship.

  I have pleaded with the Lord from the beginning, “Father, Don’t waste this hurt. Don’t let it be in vain. Let our tragedy be used for your glory.”

Don’t EVER mistake me talking about what we went through, our struggles as a couple trying to rebuild, as me not forgiving.

“Forgiving means forgetting” is the biggest lie out there.

  Forgiving doesn’t mean you have to forget, it doesn’t mean we are to live as people without a history. No. God USES those hurts to then help others get through. When I talk about what happened between Dale and I, it is not to “throw him under the bus”.  It is not to roll around in the muck and mire, or live it all over again.

No. I love Dale. We are ONE.

To “throw him under the bus” is to lie under there MYSELF.

   I share our story, in story form, because I am a story-teller by nature. It’s my passion. We are being asked to share with a hurting world, and we said YES, Father. We are being asked to help shine light on the secret, dark places, so satan can rule no more.

Here me loud and clear:

I WILL keep sharing our story turned HIS.

  Because, to be broken is to be made WHOLE.

 And as my mentor said, “We never know when a ‘Doubting Thomas’ will believe by touching our scars. {John 20:24-29}  Never regret or curse the very things that God will use to show His love through us. Bruised, proven and precious.”

You have not walked one step in my shoes. Not one.

Don’t judge me, please. You don’t have the right.

 Please understand, I have Dale’s full support to speak of what we went through.

   We wrote the blog series on Surviving Infidelity, together. Every time one of us is asked to speak or share at Encounter, we write those teachings and testimonies TOGETHER.

  In fact, we are speaking at a Marriage Matters night at a local church this weekend, together. Telling of our journey to healing, together.  I am terrified. I don’t like to speak in public, I’d rather hide behind my computer screen and blog, but I guess that is the whole “God’s power is made perfect in weakness” thing.

 Doing the “right” hard thing, is just that….

Hard. 

 

   Please don’t mistake the fact that I am again speaking about this moment that changed our marriage, as sign that I am a man-hater, or against Dale in any way.  We are a team. We are in this together.  We fought for our marriage, because we love each other enough to work HARD to stay together.  God is asking us to share in all kinds of ways, including taking us out of our comfort zones.

  You may sit in your cushy office chair and judge me for sharing our story, turned His. 

Maybe you roll your eyes because I am talking about this, again. 

  Try to understand, my life radically changed last summer…… I am not the same Tonya I used to be.  I am trying to figure it all out, this new life of mine.  In some ways, I am stronger.  I am braver.  I have faced my WORST NIGHTMARE and survived.  I am proud of that fact.  Empowered by it.  But I am also more exhausted, more sad, more weary than I have ever been in my life.  I work hard each day to choose forgiveness.  I work even harder, to choose joy.  A joy that used to pour out on its own, with no effort…I miss that. 

  I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t miss the sunshiny life I found wonderful.   My self-worth in my marriage.  A Tonya that oozed happy, that bubbled joy. 

And although weeping may endure the night, joy WILL come in the morning……..Psalms 30:5

Don’t you see?  

 I chose this. Willingly. Because obedience brings blessing.  I chose this when I told Dale I’d stay and fight for our marriage, rather than divorce him.
Because sometimes the right “hard thing”, is the hardest “right thing” to do.
I chose this because I am lost without him.  I don’t know how to be ME, without him by my side.
Because I pledged my life to his, for better or worse.
Because we are one.
Because this is what the Lord asked me to do.

Don’t judge my actions.

Please.

I don’t answer to you.

 I am taking direction from a God, who heard my plea to not waste this hurt.
A Father who is in the process of making a beautiful mosaic from the shattered pieces of my broken marriage.
A Holy Spirit who moves me to write and share from the heart with words that I sometimes can’t even believe I typed.

Let Him work.
Let Him use Dale and I how HE sees fit.

I answer to one, THE One.

The healer of my soul……

Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

~T

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I Do: Part 2 {The Ceremony}

This day is forever etched in my mind……

Tears.

Laughter. 

Second chances at a beautiful love story.

A pivotal moment on the road to healing.

New promises.

New rings.

Beauty from the devastating Ashes.

  And so begins, our I Do: Part 2.

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

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

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

We had so much fun reading through them later!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Then Dale’s long time friend, Tim spoke:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dale went first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Precious.

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  And now for the ring ceremony:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  And then, the foot washing. 

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

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Here is Dales letter to me:

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

Love, Me

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

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After closing in prayer, Dan says:

Dale, you may kiss your bride……………

AGAIN.

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

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

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

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God is so good.

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

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

More to come….

~T

I Do: Part 2 {Photo Session}

   It’s HERE!!!!!! Time for me to share the Vow Renewal with you!  Lots of posts coming your way about our I Do: Part 2 Beauty from Ashes Ceremony, from beginning to end!  I am so so excited to share our special day with you later this week, and want to thank you all again for your loving support during a really tough time of sharing and healing, laughing and learning.  Praise be to God!

   My precious friend Joy, from Joy L Baker Photography  gave us a beautiful gift in honor of our I Do: Part 2 Beauty from Ashes Ceremony……

A couples photo session, a second “engagement” so to speak.

WE LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT.

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Thanks Joy, for the perfect gift!

Hugs, T

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Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand.
“I just wanted to be sure of you.”

― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

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