‘Lead Me’

I first heard this song in 2010. I was in a marriage that left me broken and used. The song convicted me, because I wanted so much for my husband to be a godly partner and father, to be someone who I could freely love and worship God with. I prayed for this for 17 years. It didn’t happen. After years of threats, battering, and manipulation, that marriage finally fell apart in 2011. My worst fear came true and I lost my children, but  God knew what would happen, even when no one else did, and like the ever-watchful Guardian, He’s been there since the beginning.

Two years ago, after my failed marriage, when my world was completely turned upside down, God saved me when I was drowning in sorrow.  He reunited me with my childhood friend Adam.  Adam helped my soul heal.  He didn’t know it, but he was God’s instrument.

Instrument…. that has more than one meaning to Adam.  Adam is a lifetime musician.  Since he was old enough to hold an instrument, he’s played…whatever he can get his hands on. You leave him alone with it for ten minutes and he figures it out. Well, God has left me alone with him for two years  🙂  Over 24 months I’ve seen him grow from out of his own shell, and release emotional pain that has manifested physically.  I’ve watched him survive a stroke and rebuild himself slowly, and have been extremely blessed to watch as he accepted Christ and became a baptized believer, with the conviction of a knight.  My heart was renewed that day.

The Bible says in 1st Peter 3:1, Wife, be subject to your own husband, so that even if he does not obey the word, he may be won without a word by your conduct.  My grandmother told me that verse when I was in my mid-20′s. I was newly married at the time to my (now ex) husband, and I had asked her what to do, a little bit desperate, because my husband was not Christian.  We didn’t share the same beliefs about God.  Very clearly, the Bible gave instruction. I prayed every day during our marriage (which lasted from 1995-2011), for him to be baptized, for him to share time with me reading the Bible at home everyday.  He was jealous of my relationship with God. At first, he scoffed at me for seeking out a church home,and then belittled me when I taught Sunday school, and then he came to accept my doing this, but he never condoned it.

Deep down inside, I knew that my ex-husband and I would divorce someday, not knowing the how or the when or the why, so in faith I continued to serve my husband, and love him. Sometimes that required work. I had to force myself to love him. He was cold and insensitive, and constantly spewed ugliness out of his mouth, sometimes breaking me down, which made me feel worthless.  Sometimes we even fought physically, because I would constantly fail in my husband eyes.

Faith was my strength. In God and in the verses like that one in 1st Peter.  I leaned on God.  I lived in a constant state of prayer. I believed that God was watching and protecting me and my children, even as I was attacked by my spouse, as I lost various freedoms over the years due to his jealousy of my relationships with family and friends.  And when he threw me out in 2011, when he bribed my children to stay with him instead of going with me, I still prayed and leaned on God’s understanding – which is greater than my understanding.

During this time, I’ve been surviving…. and I wanted to do more than just survive, I wanted life.  I longed for the closeness that God, and no one else, gives me.  So I grieved the loss of my children. I grieved the loss of security and self, and let it go. That was a very hard transition.  During this time, God has been building me up to prepare me for discipleship.  I do this with a humble heart.

Even though Adam and I have been a couple now for 2 years, I feel as if we are at the beginning of something beautiful, because we are now both Christians who both love God, and we want to share that with others, in celebration for all that God has done, is doing, and will do. I feel like God rewarded me for my faith all those years, for putting my trust in Him, for giving the life that was out of my control over to Him.

It’s true…my children are still living with my ex-husband. My heart still aches for them. But my heart is healing. Adams heart is healing. What a difference it makes in your life, when you just let Jesus in! Watching Adam be baptized renewed my soul. Sharing bible time together as we both grow in Christ and allow ourselves to be molded, and praying together, is such a gift! It’s such a peaceful foundation to root and grow a relationship.

Thank you God, for everything. For convicting my heart back then, for protecting my children through all that has changed, and for convicting Adam to become a godly partner, molded by You, just for me. You are the Great Physician, and truly the Miracle Worker.

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The Other Side of My Cardboard

God has really worked on me today…this morning I woke up so unable to celebrate the Easter holiday, apathetic and still buried in sorrow from the loss of my children…

My heart is broken. That hasn’t changed. But, I have so many reasons to celebrate Easter. I know that Jesus is my Savior. I love God, but God loves me a lot more.

If I can add to this cardboard testimony….

cardboardlost

cardboardfound

One Soul’s Evolution

When

The

Words

finally break through the walls of fear, and turn on the powers of Love

that a lifetime in guilt, lies, and shame have hidden from you, then the

silence

becomes

music.

You’re

free

to let

Faith

Hope

and

Love

infect

your

soul.

This was written for the Trifecta Week Sixty-Nine writing challenge.

(rules below)

INFECT
1: to contaminate with a disease-producing substance or agent (as bacteria)
2a : to communicate a pathogen or a disease to
b : of a pathogenic organism : to invade (an individual or organ) usually by penetration
c : of a computer virus : to become transmitted and copied to (as a computer)
3a : contaminate, corrupt <the inflated writing that infects such stories>  
b : to work upon or seize upon so as to induce sympathy, belief, or support <trying to infect their salespeople with their enthusiasm>

Please remember:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • If you know your post does not meet the requirements of the challenge, please leave your link in the comments section, not in the linkz.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone.  Please join us.
This week’s challenge is community-judged.
  • For the 12 hours following the close of the challenge, voting will be enabled on links.
  • In order to vote, return to this post where stars will appear next to each link.  To vote, simply click the star that corresponds with your favorite post.
  • You can vote for your top three favorite posts.
  • Voting is open to everyone. Encourage your friends to vote for you, if you wish, but please don’t tell them to vote on a number.  The numbering of the posts changes regularly, as authors have the ability to delete their own links at any time.
  • You have 12 hours to vote.  It’s not much time, so be diligent! We’ll send out reminders on Twitter and Facebook.

This week’s word is infect.

Her Final Gift

gransmafunny

Grandma, circa 1945

On a humid Alabama day in July of 2010, my 87 year old grandmother had a severe stroke.  She had been suffering for the last few months with lung cancer, having never smoked a day in her life. I remember thinking that her lung cancer was unfair, especially since she was already a 40 year survivor of breast cancer. I also remember praying that her end would be merciful. Her father had “stroked out” in the same manner she did, only he lived 2 years afterwards, and his long wait for freedom was agonizing. As it turned out, God was gracious enough to take my grandmother in 17 days.

 She didn’t know it, but during that time, she gave the family by her side a priceless treasure.  There was a unique family reunion in what was by then, her death room. My aunt and I took shifts, watching over her as she transitioned with one foot in this world and the other already in the next.  She would occasionally come to, and want to see or speak to certain members of the family. She had important things to say to all of us. The most special moments to me were when she called on family members who were already with her on the other side.

granspa

Me and Grandpa right before his sudden death

 The majority of my deceased family had passed on some 30 years before, before I was a teenager. It had been a long time since I had been in their company.  Some had passed on when I was an adult, but I didn’t get to know them the way she did. None of them got to know my own children, so it made the reunions that much more special.

Most of these ascended conversations would take place for a few minutes right before sunrise. I remember the air would somehow change right as the sun would crest outside the window, and on more than one occasion her talks wouldn’t be finished, and she would call out to that person, as if suddenly they were gone. I would smile through silent tears and say, “It’s OK, Grandma. He’ll be back.” She spoke to her husband, her brother, friends, in-laws, a nephew…the one person she didn’t seem to get to speak to for some reason, that she asked for repeatedly, was her own mother.

ggma

My great-grandparents

My father told me that as soon she gave her last breath, the front screen door opened and shut. My aunt tells me she had a look of peace. She was surrounded by love, in her own home. I can’t think of a more peaceful way to go…

I like to think that when her spirit walked out the front door, that her mother, who she so longed to be with,  was walking her out and taking her to meet Jesus, who she loved her whole life.

My relationship with God

ImageI’m a Christian.  Yeah, shocker.  I was saved and baptized when I was 14 – ten years before I met and married the ex-husband that destroyed me.  He wasn’t my first ex-husband, but he sure was my last.  My two previous ex-husbands, who I shared life with for a very short time each, agreed that when we split up, neither of us would try to take from the other. We went our ways peacefully. I had no idea that divorce was any other way. Ex #3 taught me a big lesson after 17 years of marriage to him: Not every human being who appears to have the capacity for morals and family values really has what it takes when the chips are down, and when that someone doesn’t have those things inside of them, it’s easy to see that individual as “not a human being”.

When I was married to my third husband, what I think of as my first “real” marriage, I searched deeper into my spirituality – something much more real to me than Christianity preached into my soul from childhood.  I loved the relationship I came to have with God. Around my third year of marriage, I became a Sunday school teacher in the church we attended. It was a military church, far from home. My husband was stationed in Ft Bliss, Texas so we lived there at the time. Out in the desert it was easy to be comfortable in your own skin. No one seemed to judge you the way they did in the South (yes, it’s capitalized. If you’re from around there, you understand why). My husband wasn’t baptized, but he eventually came to accept my involvement in the church. He saw it as a good thing for his career.  I didn’t care why he accepted it. I was happy to be able to attend. I loved my relationship with God. It evolved into me becoming a home school teacher for my children, and then later on for children in the church. Then I dove even deeper and taught Vacation Bible School for three years.   I loved being a teacher. I started having pipe dreams about becoming a teacher.

When my husband was discharged due to a medical issue in 2004, we went home to Alabama and tried to continue life there. The children started public school, because his parents (who lived next door) were against me teaching their grandchildren.  That left a scar.  We found a a small country church nearby and started attending it. The feeling wasn’t the same, but the congregation was nice. The place and the people made you feel welcome.  For the next few years, that was the new normal.  My husband even gave me permission to go to college to become a teacher.  He knew the school superintendent. He was going to get me a job at the school our children attended.  Then, the divorce happened.

In 2011, I was told I had to leave. The house was in his name. Everything was just in his name. His parents had made sure of that from the day we married in 1995. My children all wanted to stay with him, even my oldest child from a previous relationship. I can only assume he bribed them all with money and freedoms that up until that moment, he never allowed anyone to have.  And he had money. His whole family did.  I left, assuming it would be temporary, that I would find a job and get a home and get my kids back.  I had grown up with divorced parents and saw my mother struggle to feed and clothe me. I knew how hard it was, but I never complained about it. I naturally thought my children would love me just as much as I loved my mother and would want to be with me, no matter how hard we had to struggle. That didn’t happen. They saw how I was struggling, and wanted to stay where they were. They also stayed with our church. My kids asked me to stop going, because it made them feel awkward. So, not only did I lose my family, my home, my job future, and my dignity, I also lost my church home.

I was back to just having a private relationship with God.  That was probably the best thing for me, because I spent a lot of time on my knees crying so much I couldn’t see.  I guess I went through every stage of grieving, as if my family had died, in a sense.  Except they weren’t dead. They just chose not to speak to me. My (now) ex-husband, being from an Islamic background, turned to his roots and became a tyrant, forcing my children to cut up my photographs, not speak to me on the phone or online, and any mail I sent them was opened, scanned and filed, and read through before being given to them.  He sent an email under an anonymous name to every school district in the state. It was a defamation of character. If I could prove it was him, I would  sue him for it, but like a coward, he did it anonymously.

Life has been Hell since the day he told me I had to leave.  I’ve survived freezing cold weather in a friends car. I’ve lived in some trashy places, in a tiny RV.  I’ve taken jobs I never imagined I would have to do in order to just eat.  I’ve seen people with addictions that I never knew existed, suffering worse than myself. I’ve survived the flash flood of a river where I had to swim for my life in the middle of the night, when the RV was almost washed away.  I’ve moved 250 miles from my family, thinking it was the best thing for me to do since my ex-husband ruined my career at home. I only get to see my children for 8 hours a month anyway.

It’s worth the drive to see their faces and hear their laughter, touch their hair, make them a meal at my father’s house, or just take them somewhere.  I never expected to be a divorced mother who pays child support.  I don’t know what God was thinking when He planned this.  Where’s the good in it?  In the big picture, not right now.  I don’t see any right in it. Since the divorce, my kids tell me he got baptized. Ironic for an Islamic man. He probably did it to wash away the sin of being married to me.

Lately I’ve been reminded of the Book of Job.  Job went through Hell on earth, losing everything. His family. His home. Eventually his health. He never lost his faith in God through it all. I’m a lot like Job. People think I’m crazy, because after everything, I’ve never lost faith that God loves me.  It’s never even crossed my mind. On the contrary, I think God always protects me, provides for me, and guides me.  But then, I don’t just read the Bible to find messages from God. I get them from nature, from music, from book passages. Those are some old habits from years ago, when I was first diving deeper into my spirituality – where I found that meaningful relationship that I couldn’t find as a child in church. It’s because God isn’t in a church building.  God is with you, where ever you go.  If you happen to gather and mingle in a building, then great. If you don’t, that doesn’t mean you’re abandoned.

Losing everything made me feel so afraid. Maybe you’ve lost everything too. Fear can make you feel abandoned, but you have to keep picking yourself up and look with better eyes than that. God’s bigger than all my fears. He’s even bigger than my ex-husbands pride. He’s bigger than my inability to find a job, or pay child support.  I’m gladly giving all that to the One who knew me before I was even in the womb.