I still haven't decided if I'm using one of these, but I hope that you might be able to! I love the fun of Valentine's Day. As soon as I get my mantle put together, I'll have pictures up ASAP!
My Christmas mantle came down with my Christmas decorations. Since then, it's been a sad sight. I left a few of the candles up because I wasn't sure if I was going to use them or not with the next mantle. The Christmas picture never got changed because well, I haven't done anything. Then it became a shelf for stacked DVD cases. I decided that I would just skip over a "winter" mantle and just go straight to a Valentine's Day mantle. I've had a little trouble brainstorming up a few ideas, but I have decided that I wanted to go in a totally different direction than I did with last years Valentine's Day Mantle. I'm still playing around with a few ideas, but I wanted to share a few of the printables I've made as possible options for this year's mantle. They are all free for download, just click on the picture or title.
You Are My Sunshine Conversation Heart Print_
Ombre Bushel & A Peck Printable_
I still haven't decided if I'm using one of these, but I hope that you might be able to! I love the fun of Valentine's Day. As soon as I get my mantle put together, I'll have pictures up ASAP!
It's Monday again! After an extended Christmas break due to weather, I had a hard time getting my head back into the school game. I've been so used to waking up with no agenda for the day. It didn't dawn on me until late yesterday and I needed clothes and lunch ready for Emmy. She's excited to see her friends and teacher again though. And I'm ready for routine!
Last week my menu had dinners that were all at least 80% "clean". Moving to a more clean/whole diet is something I've wanted to do for a while, but it seemed overwhelming. I came across a 2 week menu on Pinterest and it was very doable looking. So, I planned our dinners around some of the recipes I saw on the plan. I did the same thing this week. The meals are at least 80% clean, as some of them don't include all organic ingredients. I planned through Thursday. My grocery shopping day is Friday and my menu usually starts over then.
Monday- Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and spinach and cranberry salad.
Tuesday- Chicken stir-fry and brown rice.
Wednesday- Nachos/ Taco Salad
Thursday- Chicken and cheese quesadillas, steamed mixed veggies.
It's all pretty simple. I'll be using ground turkey for the Meatloaf and the Nachos/Taco Salad. It felt good last week to cook things from scratch. It left me feeling very satisfied with the meals I was preparing. And it felt good giving my family good healthy food. I'm going to try and continue to integrate healthy changes into our diet.
Verse of the Week
Aaron and I had the opportunity to head out to lunch today. It was a good time for us to be able to spend some time together and laugh and talk. We had a good opportunity to talk about the areas in our lives and in our marriage we need to trust God more. The area's that we've realized we're not being totally faithful to him. I love being able to have open honest relationships like that with the postman. But, in light of that conversation, I've chosen Psalm 9:10 as the verse of the week.
Aaron and I are in a very unsure place. I feel like we're living in a fluid situation. We're just waiting for the Lord to say go, and we'll pick and go wherever that might be. But until then, we are trying to make sure we're doing the most we can do to continue being faithful to become more like him. I know that the Lord will never abandon us, He's promised us a hope and a future. But, I do believe that if we search for Him earnestly, we will never question his presence in the waiting.
Remember today that the more you search for him, the more you will find him. God does not hide from us. He does not play games. If you seek you will find. If you trust, he will catch. He will catch even if you don't truth. Because that's who he is. And that's how much he loves you.
We've left the house once in almost 7 days. Between snow and frozen weather, it was just best to stay inside. And I'm not going to lie, it was H-A-R-D.
It was hard because my girls can handle it for about 2 days without wanting to crawl up the walls.
It was hard because if I don't interact with other people for a few days, I feel tired and drained.
It was hard because I was stressed out about Aaron out delivering mail in -40 degree weather.
It was just plain hard.
We played, we danced, we sang, we playdo'd, we painted, we made stuff, we played games. We made a snowman on the 1 day it wasn't too cold to even step foot outside.
And I was cranky. And mean. And tired. And lazy. And ashamed. And regretful.
Why can't I just be nice to my kids? Why can't I just keep my house clean? We're not doing anything to distract me from it. Why can't I just wake up? I feel like such a slob. Life is so terrible. God, what are you doing?!
I battled all day today. We went out for a little while this afternoon and it was nice to get out, but it didn't fix things like I'd hoped it would. Then I realized something...
Satan loves isolation.
When we are alone, feeling run down, and beaten down, and negative, he's going to be right there, willing to hold our hands and skip straight down that ugly path. And I've let him do it for 5 days. He knows my weakness. He knows that if one little lie gets planted, I'll grow it into a grandmother willow tree all by myself. He knows that about me. He knows exactly how to use 10 days of isolation. He wanted me to come out of this feeling beat down, shamed, and worthless. He wanted me to feel defeated as a mom and as a wife. He handed me his fiddle and I played it.
And ya know what? There wasn't a whole lot I could do about being stuck in the house. I wasn't taking my girls out into the arctic weather. Nobody was coming here. But it got me thinking that a lot of times there are ways we isolate ourselves when it is in our control.
We isolate ourselves when we don't attend church. I will NEVER tell anyone to not go to church or find a church to get involved in. Not every church is for everyone, it may take a while to find the right church. And being involved in a church body means you've gotta just deal with folks. There's always good and bad because we're human. But if you're going to grow spiritually, you've gotta be in a Church community with other Christians.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25
We isolate ourselves to hide sin. When I was trying to hide my affair, I avoided my friends. I avoided church activities. I avoided the people who loved me and knew me well. I didn't want them to see that I was hiding something. When we are alone, sinning is easy. And when we want to continue sinning, we hide. But we can not hide forever. Eventually, our sin will be brought to light.
But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23
We isolate ourselves out of fear. If we were honest with ourselves and sat down to make a list of the things we were afraid of, especially regarding community with other christians, I think the list would be extensive. I've got a handful of extremely close Godly friends and I still get worried about what they think of me as a person, as a mom, as a Christian. And the truth is this- we have nothing to fear. The more we cut ourselves off from others the more afraid of them we become! And that's just silly. God knows every single thing about us. Every single thing. There's nothing we can hide from him. There's nothing that we don't share with him. And he loves us anyways.
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 1 John 4:18
So now what? We've talked about a few ways we isolate ourselves which can allow sin to grow, but what now?
Open your Bible. The more light you shine into your life the less darkness there will be. The more you know Jesus, the sooner you'll recognize those lies that satan tries to feed us. The more you know of God's character the more you'll understand just an ounce of his immeasurable love. I have to admit, I was really bad about doing this the last few days. The first problem that led to my Snowmageddon downfall.
Memorize scripture. There will be times that you won't be able to run to your Bible and flip it open and read some verses. Memorize it. Know it well. That way you can easily recall it when you need it in those times. The Bible isn't called the Sword of the Spirit for nothing. It's powerful. It's truth is powerful.
Get to know some folks. If you don't go to church, stop making excuses and find one. Yes, you feel like God is anywhere and you can commune with Him in nature. Good, do it after church. God NEVER intended for us to do this alone. We see that in the first few chapters of the Bible. He created Eve for Adam so he wouldn't be alone. He found 12 disciples to teach and serve with so he wasn't alone. DON'T BE ALONE!!
Like I said, there are circumstances when you're going to be alone. For 5 days. With just your children. Watching it snow. Circumstances like this are unavoidable. But that's why it's important to equip yourself properly. I didn't, and I paid for it. Don't hide. Don't be afraid. Don't isolate yourself. Don't let Satan write the narrative for your day, your week, your month, years- whatever.
Happy Friday! Sweet snow freedom!
Well, we're living in a winter wonderland! Went to bed at about midnight last night with not a flake of snow on the ground and here we are 15 hours later with like 5 or 6 inches. Snow everywhere. And it just keeps snowing! So, since we're stuck inside today and I've got some free time, I decided to do a post with one of the printables I've made for around my house. Feel free download it for your use! They picture is linked for download. Just click on it.
This is one of my most favorites. It's hanging in our upstairs bathroom, matted with striped wrapping paper, and in a bright yellow frame. It's so fun. I figured it was an appropriate verse for our bathroom. Plus, I think it's appropriate for the current weather conditions!
Enjoy the printable and stay warm if you're getting loads of snow!
2014! What the what?! Man, that happened fast. Seriously, it seems like just yesterday was 2000. All the Y2K drama. I guess my point is that time flies!
2013 was a year of anticipation for me. Aaron and I entered the year running head on into fixing our marriage, a brand new job for the Post Man, and excitement that finally we'd be debt free, healthy, and happy. I knew that we had no where to go but up, and I knew that God would show us his love and faithfulness in new ways. God led me to Ephesians 3:20-21 as my theme verse for 2013.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
All I can say is that God proved those verses to us over and over again. He provided for us- physically, mentally, emotionally, financially. Over and over again. And yet, the last few days as I've been seriously thinking about putting down my new goals and theme verse(s) on paper, all I can think about is where I've failed this last year. The goals I set for myself that I did not meet. I started getting discouraged that I, not only didn't lose weight, but I gained. I can't say my house has stayed any cleaner in 2013 than all the years before. We became debt free early in 2013 and then accrued debt again. All these failures have clouded my vision and created so much white noise I was having a hard time concentrating on getting new goals down for this year. All I was hearing was "why make goals when you don't reach them"?
I mentioned it briefly on Facebook and a friend suggested I use the word "focus" as a theme this year. I'd already been praying about Philippians 1:10 as theme verse and as soon as I read what she mentioned, it was like a light bulb went on. So... in 2014 my them word is-
And my theme verse is Philippians 1:10 (NLT)-
For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.
Last year was about change. It was about moving forward, it was about God's love, grace, and redemption. 2014 is going to be about focusing my eyes on the cross. It's going to be about seeking out and asking God to show me what really matters. To shed the things that are holding me back from living more like Jesus every day. I want nothing more than to be able to live a pure and blameless life before God. I know that means starting out the year not focusing on the failures of last year, but on the fact that God has given me another day to work towards the new goals I'll set. Through his strength.
Once I have my list of goals completed, maybe I'll get them up so you can see them. I'm still praying about the place this blog has in my life right now. It was quickly becoming something it shouldn't have been- a time consuming point of comparison to the rest of the blogosphere out there. It was stressing me out and stealing my joy. When (or if) God gives me the correct focus and direction for the blog again (and I can carve out the time) I'll be back.
Happy New Year!
It's finally done!
We hosted our Christmas celebration for my Mom and Dad and sister and her family this last weekend. I had a nice long laundry list of things I wanted to get done to have my house presentable for the weekend, but the Lord dealt with me strongly last week and reminded me that what I have is perfect and I need to be content with it. My family isn't judging me by the contents of my house. And I know that's true.
I wanted to make sure my Christmas Mantle was done before everyone got here. I was looking for the last thing to make it what I was picturing, and I found it at Meijer of all places. I went into the seasons wanting to do a silver and gold mantle. That's way out of my normal realm of decorating comfort, but I was seeing a lot of things I really like and I thought I'd give it a try. Once I started brainstorming, I hit a wall. I had the mantle set totally different and hated it. So, I decided to venture out and see if I could get some cheap pieces to complete it the way I wanted. I knew I wanted our main nativity on the mantle because I want it to be the focus, and I feel like I was able to do that. Alright, here we go...
Alright, let's start with my trustly white candle holders. I think they've made an appearance on every mantle I've set in the last year. But I love them. The big white one is from Target. The tall white one was a donation from my mother years ago. The short gold pillar candle I got from Home Goods, and the shimmery tree I got at Meijer. That three was the last piece that pulled everything together. I searched and searched and finally found it when I wasn't even looking for it!
So, this is my Willow Tree nativity. I don't even have the complete set, but I love it. I know it's very traditional and very popular, but I love the simplicity of it. The star tree behind it I picked up at Dollar Tree about 5 years ago. The print in the frame I made because I couldn't find anything I like. It's free to download here.
I LOVE love love the cable knit candle holder. I snatched it up fast from Home Goods for a mere $5.99. They had a similar one that was a bit taller and was a different knit pattern for the same price. I put it back but I'm planning on going back to see if I can get that one for a steal as well! Oh, and it's ceramic, not actual knit. The tree star I got with the other from Dollar Tree and the glass jar I got from Home Goods as well. (Can you tell I hit jackpot at Home Goods? Love that store!) I picked up the small gold ornaments from Meijer and I used the leftover silver bulbs I had from our tree.
All in all I really like the way this mantle came together. It wasn't what I had originally picture, but I'm glad that I somewhat pulled off a silver and gold mantle. I'm including the print from the frame and it is linked for download.
It's Christmas time! It's my favorite time of year. Most of the time. This year I've had a really hard time getting into the "Christmas Spirit". Growing up, my Christmas season was all about church programs and parties. I come from a pretty large family and we had set traditions. I just knew how it was going to be. I could count on pretty cool gifts under the Christmas tree and nacho dip at the family party. We had movies we watched on certain days at certain times. Christmas was Christmas. It was the same, and I loved it.
I'm normally the type of person who's got our Christmas tree up pretty early in November. I listen to Christmas music before Halloween. I'm even ok with snow until the day after Christmas. But this year, I just couldn't seem to get my heart into it.
Then I realized something.
My Christmas season wasn't about me. It's not about the traditions I create with my own family.
It's about Jesus. It's about sacrifice. It's about showing up.
I think sometimes we get so caught up in the cuteness of the nativity story. Who doesn't love a newborn baby? And maybe not everyone thinks about this (but I'm a hopeless romantic, so I do) but seriously, the love story between Mary and Joseph. Maybe not that they were pining for each other and gazing lovingly into each others eyes, but that they chose each other. They chose to model love to each other. Love that they hadn't even really seen yet. Man, that's good stuff.
When Jesus came into our world, he came knowing he had a death sentence. He lived for 33 years knowing what was going to happen, and still he chose us. He chose to come. He chose his situation and circumstance. He chose to be part of a low, struggling, broken people. He chose sacrifice- sacrificing himself, ultimately (and thankfully not permanently) sacrificing his relationship with his father.
Thinking of all that, it kind of makes my Christmas traditions seem silly. Yeah, Christmas caroling and nacho dip are great, but what's the point? Is the point of Christmas to create new traditions with my kids that involve Church programs and family parties and gives me the warm fuzzies? No. It's not. Those things are great and our family and our church are both gifts God has given us. But I suppose THAT'S the point.
God gave us a gift. Not a gift we open and shove in a drawer to keep forever, but, a gift that we have to keep giving.
This Christmas I'm choosing sacrifice. I'm choosing to show up in the lives of others. I want to teach my kids that Christmas isn't about gifts, or traditions, or parties. It's about loving others so deeply that we are willing to give the gift of Jesus. I want my kids to say, yeah, we had parties and nacho dip, but man did we give. And love. And give. And love. We showed up to be Jesus, and to gift love when people needed it most.
Thankfully, the Lord revealed all of this to me at the beginning of our Christmas season. As I sit down and organize our holiday calendar, I have the opportunity to make it look a little different this year. And I'm honestly so excited! THIS is what's Christmas spirit is!
Would you consider doing it with us? Consider how you can show up in someone elses life this Christmas and give the gift of Jesus.
I made this to hang up by our front door to remind us everytime we leave the house that our goal is to give the gift of Jesus. It's free to download here.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
Come, Thou Fount has quickly become my favorite songs. Mainly, because of that verse right there. If I could write so eloquently, that would be my heart captured in those 8 lines. If there is one thing I've realized over the last year it is that I am a debtor. I am empty. I am broken. I've tried time and time again to fill the brokenness with people, things, places, positions. Nothing satisfies. Nothing besides God. And yet, I forget that so easily. So easily I wander. So easily I walk away from the promises God has given me.
A month or so ago, I was working on a bible study we were doing with the women's group at church and there was a question that asked- where is one place you were surprised to find God? I had to sit and think about my answer because I didn't want it to sound "churchy". So, I wrote down my honest answer- In the middle of my sin.
I spent 12 weeks purposely walking away from God. I didn't want him there because I didn't want him to know what I was doing. (How ridiculous is that?) I hid from him. And yet he pursued me. Every day he made himself known to me, even when I didn't want him to. When I made the choice to turn back to him, he didn't beat me with shame or punishment. He drew me to him with His love.
For 5 months I begged God to open his wrath on me. To pour it out on me so I could know the weight of my sin. So I could feel the shame and the sorrow. But God doesn't further smash the pieces of our broken hearts, he spreads his love on them like a healing balm. Instead of chastising me for the choices I'd made, He revealed himself to me in ways he never has before. He showed me that his love for me only grows deeper and my actions, my sin, my fear, my shame, my running- it doesn't change that. It doesn't change how he feels about me. God doesn't look at me and see my sin. He can't. When I chose to accept his salvation, I was covered with the blood that he shed on the cross. When he looks at me, he doesn't see who I was, the bad choices I've made, the fight. He sees his child, broken, needing love. Needing healing. He sees the child he loves. This changed things for me. It changed how I saw myself. No longer was I an unfaithful wife, a broken person, a product of my sin. I was a deeply loved child of God who was forgiven.
There are battles I will always fight. Always. I am an emotional person. In fact, emotions have always ruled my life. I've lived a life tossed about because I always followed the directions my emotions took me. I've learned the necessity of standing on God's truth. There are so many days when I have to take a minute and just say- God, I need your truth because all I can see is how I feel. If there is one piece of advice I can give, it's this- saturate yourself with scripture. Know the Bible. It's the truth I have to stand on. And God is always faithful. If I'm feeling particularly emotional about something and ask for God's truth, he always gives me a verse to stand on.
There is self righteousness so deeply rooted in my life that I think God will be weeding this garden till the day I die. I feel entitled to my dreams. I deserve my dream house, I deserve having that land, I deserve the perfect husband and kids. I deserve. I deserve. I deserve. But the truth is that what I really deserve is to live a life labeled by my sin and shame. I deserve God opening up that wrath on me. I deserve death. But because of that love I was talking about earlier, God will give me the best. And the best is his plans for me, not what I dream for myself. I've learned that daily I have to submit my dreams to God and to ask him to complete his will for my life, not the plans I have. Now, does this mean I live a life free of entitlement? Absolutely not. There are more days than not when I get mad at God and throw an "It's not fair" temper tantrum because I'm not getting what I want. But, God is working on me. Slowly, through His love.
And I've learned about love. Love is not a feeling. Love is a choice. Every day I can roll over in the morning and decide that today I'm not going to love Aaron, that I want to be done with him again. That I'm over the life I have with him. Because in truth, not every person is going to deserve love every day. There are days that Aaron drives me up the wall. I get so mad I want to just scream. But that's when I have to choose to do the hard stuff. I have to make the choice to extend him the grace I've been given. Those are the days I have to love him like God loves me. And every day has gotten easier. I can honestly say that there is a deeper love between Aaron and I now than there has ever been. God has honored our desire for a better marriage and he's helping us every day to become more like Him- ourselves and in our marriage. We are far from having the perfect marriage, that's for sure. But God has revealed himself to us through our healing process and restoring broken trust.
Don't ever follow your heart. Your heart will tell you all the things it's told me for so long- you deserve to be happy. Do what makes you happy. WRONG WRONG WRONG. I've learned that I have to do what makes me more holy, not what makes me more happy. Because in the end, God's not going to say- Where you happy? He's going to say where you holy.
Marriage is hard. Next to being a parent, it's the hardest thing I've ever done because it's exposed so much of my sinful self. But God has been faithful to me. And Aaron. And I know that he's not done with us yet. We've been praying about where God is leading us in our ministry, and we covet your prayers and we wait for God's leading in this area. God hasn't changed our calling to full time ministry. Walking the path we have in the last year only confirmed that for us. Does this path make us more hesitant? Absolutely, it does. Because not everyone is going to respond positively to our story. Not everyone understands God's redeeming love. We know that there may be more closed doors then open doors. But, God is still faithful. Regardless of what our past has looked like, we know he wastes nothing and He will use all things for his good.
I know this post has been kind of long, and I know that maybe you're tired of hearing about all this, but I can't feel like I've done our story justice if I don't say these things-
1. When you feel emotional, broken, beaten, angry, bitter- don't run to someone or something else to fix that or fill you up. Run to Jesus.
2. Never give up. Never give up on your marriage. Never give up on your spouse. And certainly never give up on God. We are living proof that nothing is beyond hope.
3. If you've walked a road similar to mine and you've dealt with shame, know this- God does not shame us. Satan does. You are NOT your sin. You are a loved child of God. I urge you to reach out to someone that you trust and share your heart with them. Send me a message, I don't care, just don't continue claiming this. Decide today that you won't walk around with that defining you anymore.
4. GUARD YOUR HEART. Stay away from situations that open a door for sin. If you are questioning if what you're doing is wrong, it probably is. Just don't do it. Sit down with your spouse, discuss what makes them feel uncomfortable, and agree on boundaries in your relationship. Like I said, I didn't wake up one morning and decide to have an affair. It started with a lot of rationalization over a long period of time. A lot of little things can lead to a big thing. I did a lot of little things I knew Aaron (and God) wouldn't like before I ever approached a full blown affair.
5. Never ever forget you are loved. God loves you more deeply than you can ever ever imagine. I'm just starting to scratch the surface of knowing God's love for me and it blows me away daily. He feels the same way about you. I promise. And he promises, too.
Thank you for sticking with me through this series. I can honestly say this has been one of the hardest things to put out there, but I'm so thankful that God has given me the right words. We thank you for your love, encouragement, and support.
We finally have a slow week. I'm planning 6 meals this week. Wednesday is the only day something might interfere with dinner, so I left it open and I can make sandwiches or we can grab something. I'm going to try and limit our eating out to once this week. I've fallen off the no fast food horse for sure and it's time to hop back on. Saturday we have a church thing, so we'll be eating dinner there. Anyways, this menu was planned with a little help from Aaron. I had him make dinner suggestions. So, this menu is brought to you courtesy of the postman.
Monday- BBQ Country Ribs
Tuesday- Sloppy Joes
Wednesday- Sandwiches or Eating Out
Saturday- Pizza at church
Verse of the Week
I'm continuing with the Verse of the Week's that are Thanksgiving themed. I LOVE this verse. How can you not? This is one of those verse that is black and white.
Be thankful in all circumstances. No matter what. That's God's will.
If you have a question about that, apparently you can't read. Pardon my frankness, but that's just plain truth. Be thankful. That's it. No open endings, no not so sure about that, no I wonder what that means. There are so many times when I wonder if I'm missing what God's will is for my life. I question where God is leading us, what his plans are for us. I believe this verse is the answer to those questions. We may not have exact answers, a for sure direction on where he's leading us, but even if we don't have those answers, it's ok. All we need to do is be thankful. Because, right now, wherever we're at, even if we don't have all the answers (or any answers) this is all we need.
So, let's try and keep that in mind this week. When we can't find answers, just be thankful. Because that's God's will for you right now. No matter what.
At some point in our first weeks of counseling, our marriage counselor listened to my words, and hearing the emotions they were laced with and the struggle I was experiencing, explained to me that for women, an emotional affair is similar to a pornography addiction in men. It fulfills a woman's emotional need for love while pornography fulfills a man's sexual desires. But they are equally an entrapment. He said medical tests have shown that the chemicals released in the brain during an affair are similar to that of a cocaine addict during a binge. And there is a similar detox time for your brain and your body. 30-45 days. You physically cannot think/feel/act free of the effects of those chemicals for up to 45 days.
Now, I'm not putting this out there to excuse my decisions or behaviors. But to say that this is no joke. It's a dangerous thing. It's an addiction. Being emotionally fulfilled was my drug. Just because it's not something I drink, smoke, or shoot up doesn't mean it's not equally as powerful. And in truth, it is something Satan will use the rest of my life. I'll explain a little bit more about some of the realizations I had about this in Part 3, but right now I'll pick back up where I left off.
The month of November was hard for me. I lived in a torn state. I wasn't ready to give up on the affair because I had put so much of myself into it. I craved the attention and the emotional high of it. But, I didn't want to give up on my marriage because I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do. I knew that I needed to surround myself with a select few people who l knew would love me but be honest with me. I needed accountability. But, it didn't take long before I was back into the regular habits and patterns of hiding and lying to most of them.
On December 4th of last year, Aaron came home in a rage. He had found out again that I'd been lying about the situation and had finally had enough. He told me that he loved me and he wanted to make our marriage work, but my choices were making it impossible to do that. He went upstairs, packed himself a bag, and packed a bag for our girls and told me it was time to make a choice. I was either going to continue down the path I was on or I was going to choose to do what I knew was right. If I chose my current path, he was taking the girls and leaving. At first I was totally enraged. And indignant. In fact, I left. I got in the van and I drove to a CVS parking lot down the street and sat there and cried for over an hour. I knew it was time. I was at a fork in a road and the choice I made would determine what direction my life would take. But, ultimately, my decision to go home was 100% for my girls. It really had nothing to do with Aaron. I came home, sat down with Aaron and let him set ground rules for how our relationship would proceed. I cut off all forms of communication with the other guy. Then I went to bed.
I woke up the next morning and I felt a physical relief. It literally felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. But I still felt like a shell of myself. A rock hard shell. Yes, I cried. Yes, I hurt. Yes, I felt things. But I was so used to experiencing God in such a deep emotional way that I couldn't make sense of the fact that I felt almost nothing regarding the choices I'd made. I felt almost nothing towards to state of my marriage. And most of all, I just agreed to stay married to a man that I felt nothing for.
It was a few days later when I got some advice from one of those trusted people that really changed my life. The words themselves didn't change my life, the carrying out of the words changed my life.
It's not about how you feel. It's about what's right. And the right thing is doing the things you don't feel like doing sometimes.
Aaron and I decided from that point on we were going to do the hard things. The things we'd been avoiding, the things we didn't want to do, because we knew it was what we needed to do. God intervened in our life and relationship in so many ways during that time it's almost laughable now. During this time, Aaron was in the process of transitioning jobs from his old job to the post office. It ended up, because of the holiday's and his training schedule, he was home with us for almost the whole month of December. It gave us the opportunity to spend almost every minute together. It was like God dropped us into the middle of relationship boot camp. God led me to a bible study I did with a friend, and later with our women's group from church, and it addressed almost each and every issue I went into the affair with.
And still I prayed.
I prayed that I could understand my sin. I could understand my consequences. That I could grasp the chain reaction for potential generations that was put in motion by the decision I'd made. I wanted to feel guilt. I needed to feel shame. I wanted to feel anything really. I expected self loathing. Any self respecting person should right? I mean, I'm a christian- a Pastor's wife for crying out loud. I should be wearing sack cloth and rubbing ashes on my face. I wanted to wear around a Scarlet A. And in many ways I felt like I was. I'd walk through the grocery store and think... "man, if that person only knew what was going on in my life and what I've done". I sometimes felt like there was a sign hanging above my head. A flashing neon sign that labeled me. I expected everyone to judge me harshly. I knew that's what I deserved.
Mid January I learned an old word. A word that I'd thrown around for years but never understood. That word was grace. And grace changes everything.
To be continued...