Category Archives: Marriage

Walking in Forgiveness

Path to forgivenessOh friends how I miss this space at times.

I miss writing here, miss sharing my heart…my summer has been filled with fun and not-so-fun moments, and with preparations to send our oldest to college in 15 days, seriously where has the time gone?!

I am not sure that my heart is ready for the change.

And isn’t that the way with so many things? Life, reality, comes at us and we have to deal with it regardless if we are prepared or not.

And as a girl who doesn’t like change, or things out of her control…well this can be a bit of a tough road to go down!

I don’t know why God felt that 2015 needed to be the year of all the lessons. I mean really, one good one would have been plenty for this girl…but it has been chock full of learning and growing.

Most days I probably grumble more than I should.

Many days I focus on the pain of the stretching and not the beauty of new growth.

But every once and awhile I get it…it is a light bulb moment and change happens, and that is what I want to share with you today.

I have vaguely shared that for many years Dominic and I struggled in our marriage. I haven’t shared lots of details, but married life didn’t start out easy.

We jumped right in as young adults into a big world of expectations and we both got burned in the process.

On our wedding day, as my dad gave me away, he told us both to never, never, never give up.

It made me cry and I thought that it was beautiful.

And then I got angry at Dominic for something and wanted to run.

I am not sure where that all comes from really…I need some good therapy to figure it all out. But when things get hard and uncomfortable – I want out!

Very early on I established a pattern in our marriage. It was a damaging and awful path to be on and I walked in it for years. Divorce was a swear word and I used it with a vengeance.

Make me angry, I threaten you with everything that should be secure….family, home, our relationship. It didn’t matter if I really meant it or not. I got mad and opened my mouth and out spewed unmatched ugliness.

Can I just pause and say here that this is NOT where I thought I was headed with this post when I started writing it…that being said I am going to keep walking this out as I feel God is maybe giving me the words for someone who needs to hear them.

In my Hello Mornings study we have been reading through James and yikes can I say that it is a tough one to read when there are so many things that I can personally relate to.

So to lay it all out there…me mad = many people hurt by my actions/words.

I used my words as a weapon time and time again. And Dominic received the worst of it.

And I always felt justified. The conversation in my head always went something like this…

“Well if he wouldn’t have done/said xyz…then I wouldn’t have gotten angry.”

So in my mind it was never my fault. (I see the error in my thinking now, but this has been a struggle for YEARS and it caused so much hurt.)

I became an expert at the silent treatment. Even when forgiveness was asked, and I “granted” it (even though I should have been doing the asking) I would drag out my punishment for days being silent and cold.

Sounds like a wonderful, inviting home doesn’t it?!

We went around and around in this cycle for way too long.

Yes several years ago there was some significant restoration and healing…but bad behaviors are hard to break, especially for someone like me. And walking in true forgiveness wasn’t something that I had mastered.

I forgave with conditions.

I never let go, never took full responsibility for my part….I have been walking in chains and so desperately want freedom.

A few weeks ago Dominic and I had a really great conversation. It was one of those unplanned, deep talks that led to a frank discussion about forgiveness.

Dominic used himself as an example saying things like “at times I do this and say I forgive you, but I don’t really and I hold a grudge….” Everything that he said was something that I should and could say as well. We both do it and it isn’t healthy.

And then he said “We have got to say we forgive one another and then walk forward like we actually do.”

No more I forgive you but….

I forgive you but I am going to remain guarded and distant.

I forgive you but I am going to remember this for next time.

I forgive you but only after I have punished you for a time first.

We have walked that path for longer than we ever should have.

And so that night we committed to walking a new path.

A path of true forgiveness.

It has been a little silly around our house as a result.

Arguing and hurt feelings happen. We are flawed human beings…so now we say “I forgive you” immediately.

Forgiveness is flying around like crazy. I will admit it has become a bit of a joke (sometimes he forgives me for forgiving him), but we are practicing it every day. 🙂

There will be a time where one of us hurts the other. It is inevitable. And as a woman with all.the.feelings., well Dominic just has to look at me sideways on the wrong day and I could get all twisted up.

But if it happens, I will choose to walk in forgiveness.

I will say it and then act like I mean it.

I will not hold a grudge.

I will not threaten our marriage.

I will not give the silent treatment.

He deserves better than that and so do I!

We have a choice to walk in freedom on the path of forgiveness. (<====Click to Tweet)

There is a lightness in my step as a result.

I still have LOTS of issues that I need to deal with, my anger first and foremost at the front…but I have confidence that there will be freedom there as well.

As my dear friend Marlene told me “God has given me the key to freedom…I just need to choose to walk in that freedom.”

So I am marching ahead. Want to join me?!

Joining the beautiful writers over at Jennifer’s place #TellHisStory

Photo Credit: agnivohneb

When You Don’t Have a Romantic “Proposal Story”, and Why it is OK.

Proposal

Dominic was at a small group the other day with some men from church. At some point the leader asked everyone to go around the room and share their “proposal story.” These types of prompts can be difficult for us because the reality is we don’t have one.

I have shared here before a little about the path we started out on. It wasn’t easy. When we share our story our hope is that others will see how God used us, even in our sin, for His glory.

We were selfish and self-centered and made adult choices that had big consequences. We were in the camp of “that won’t ever happen to me”…so it was a complete shock when I found out I was pregnant my junior year of college.

The day I found out I called Dominic and we had a conversation. He told me that the best choice was that we get married and take care of our new responsibility.

That was it. No roses or romantic dinner out, no shopping for rings and no down-on-one-knee proposal. We had a conversation and based on our situation made a choice, made a commitment to one another.

But every girl dreams of that romantic proposal, don’t they?

I can’t say I feel cheated necessarily, but I do feel sad that because of our choices, we didn’t get to do it the “right” way. Even Dominic said that he wished that things could have been done differently.

Sin does that though, it robs us of what is best for us.  And while a lasting marriage isn’t contingent on the proposal, it is a fun story that is shared over and over.

And as a girl who loves a good story…well it is frustrating that I don’t have one to share in this area.

As I was thinking about it the other night though I recognized that I did have a proposal story. It isn’t what one typically shares at bridal showers, but it is beautiful and romantic in its own way. And it is a proposal that I continue to live out day after day.

Jesus said “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us…” 1 John 3:16

In one of the most amazing acts of courtship, Christ came to woo each of us to Him. (<====Click to Tweet)

He called us by name, He showed us what true, unconditional love looks like. And then instead of getting down on one knee, He stretched His arms out wide, bore nails in his wrists, and died for each and every sin that we would commit.

All He asks is that we believe in Him, put our faith in Him…and we are promised eternal life.

All too often I am looking at Dominic to be my Jesus.

I want him to fulfill every need that I have. Meet my unrealistic expectations and act perfectly. Things he can’t possibly do. None of us can.

If my happiness is based on Dominic meeting some impossible standard that I have set for him, then I will likely find myself bitter and resentful. The same could be said for him as well. We are human, we fail each other all the time!

God knew we couldn’t be perfect, we couldn’t do it all…and He knew I wasn’t capable of unconditional love.

So He sent a bridegroom that was.

Each and every day I am grateful for that proposal. His gift of grace allows me to live my life with grace for others. I don’t do it perfectly, ever. But I don’t have to.

There is freedom in that isn’t there?!

So while I won’t ever have the fairy-tale “worldly” proposal to share at bridal showers….I know that I am a part of a much bigger, romantic story. Written in the pages of the Bible. And for that I am truly grateful.

Photo Credit: mikecogh

The Song {And a Giveaway!} #awakenlove

The Song 2

I have shared before that Dominic and I spent way too many years struggling in our marriage. We just weren’t equipped to handle marriage well and we were far from God…it was not a good mix.

Unfortunately we built up a lot of bad habits during that time and learned how to fight well and love poorly. Today I am so grateful for the grace that has been poured out on our marriage and the restoration that we have seen take place.

It isn’t easy and it takes work and a lot of prayer – but God is faithful!

Today we work together and spend most of our days and nights together. There have been “interesting” moments for sure, but for the most part we both feel blessed that we have this opportunity now.

But the one thing we are the worst at is finding time for just the two of us.

Date night? What is that?! 🙂

In fact a few weekends ago we had some clients to visit in the afternoon and decided to get dinner out together afterwards and Dominic felt guilty that we were having a nice dinner and the kids were a home eating leftovers. (They survived if you can believe it!) 😉

Time together just the two of us, not doing work, is so important though. 

It is easy to get busy, make excuses and not participate in things because there is always something else that needs our attention.

Recently we started hosting a small group from church at our home every Sunday night. It has been so good to fellowship with other couples, even if all our kids are upstairs.

But even more than that I want us to learn more about each other, so when I was asked if I wanted a copy of THE SONG: Awaken Love Couple’s Devotional  to review, I was excited. I love having resources available that help encourage strengthening a marriage.

The Song 3

This devotional is based on the Song of Solomon in the Bible. It is a 6 week devotional with short lessons for 5 days of each week.

Short stories and some discussion questions to get the couple talking, this is an easy way to increase communication and look at how God’s Word views marriage.

The Awaken Love devotional is a great resource for any couple to have!

I would encourage you to check out this website. It has links to materials you can purchase as well as links to other free resources. These were my favorites. Rekindle your Marriage Resource and 10 Ways to Pray Protection over Your Marriage.

As a part of this post FlyBy is offering the devotional for free to one of my readers. So if you would like to win a copy please leave a comment below and I will pick a winner on Friday November 21st!

#seethesong

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

18 Years and Counting…

Anniversary

18 years ago, on June 1st, Dominic and I stood before a group of our family and friends and vowed to God and one another that we would keep the sacred bond of marriage. The picture above was always a favorite of mine because it was the first picture taken as we walked out of the church as husband and wife.

When my dad gave me away in the ceremony, he took both of our hands and said that he had just one piece of advice for us. “Never, never, never give up.”

It was beautiful and I was sure that we would do just that. Divorce wasn’t a word that had been spoken in our families, so it wasn’t a concern.

But if you would have asked me 10 years ago if we would be this close to celebrating a 20 year anniversary, I would have probably said that you were crazy. What started out as excitement, joy and a bit of nervousness turned quickly into high and often unmet expectations, frustration, bitterness and resentment for both of us.

Marriage is tough isn’t it?!

Marriage can be difficult even when you do things the “right” way…you know courtship, down-on-one-knee proposal, wedding and then kids. But when you enter into marriage in a more, ahem, unconventional way…pregnancy and then marriage – well let’s just say that it isn’t an easy way to start.

I have said before that we were ill-equipped to be parents much less husband and wife. We just had no idea how much grace and forgiveness, how much release of selfishness would be needed to make a marriage successful!

There were times that I was certain that even God couldn’t fix the hurt we had heaped onto one another. And while the idea to “never give up” seemed like the wise choice, I can say that I wanted to run at the first sign of trouble.

I didn’t know how to handle the conflict we faced and divorce became a common threat used in my vocabulary. Because threatening people with an ultimatum and not following through time and time again is a wonderful way to build trust and closeness isn’t it?!

Sigh…

For years we struggled. We didn’t communicate well and I became angry and bitter. Disrespectful is a mild description of the way and manner that I treated Dominic on most days. It really is a miracle that we are still married today…

But God

Oh how I love the stories that have a But God moment in them, don’t you?!

All those years that I thought God had abandoned us, He was right there. We were the ones that had turned from Him!

And about 8 years ago we both came to that breaking point. That place where one is finally willing to let go and let God work – to do whatever it would take to see change happen.

And God showed up in a BIG way.

Hearts softened, forgiveness was given and received, selfishness was put aside and things began to change. (<==== Click to Tweet)

This change was slow and painful at times. Someone once told me that it takes years to cause the damage and we can’t expect that just because we become willing to change, that our lives will be roses from that moment on.

And it is true!

But God was there in the smallest details. He put people in our lives to support and encourage us. We had people praying for us, others that would listen to us complain and justify and then gently help us see a Godly perspective of how marriage and relationship should be.

It was, and continues to be, hard work.

But I have found that it is in those difficult times that I am seeking God more, relying on Him for strength, and I desire to give Him the praise and the glory for any transformation that occurs.

On Sunday we had the amazing opportunity to share some of our story with our congregation at church. I couldn’t help thinking the entire time that it was all God. The reason we could even be up on that stage was His doing.

He made the change possible. God’s grace towards us is the reason that we have learned how to give grace to one another. His forgiveness of our sins the example we use to forgive each other.

Today we celebrate 18 years. While they haven’t always been “easy”…ok they haven’t ever been easy! 🙂  But we have grown and matured, we have found in the last 8 years a personal relationship with a God that has blessed us time and time again. And we are teaching our kids that God is God even when life isn’t perfect. And He is worthy to be praised!

I am so grateful for Dominic, for his patience and love on all of the days that I am not very lovable. I am thankful  that God has transformed our marriage, allowing us to work together and raise a family. We are blessed.

The Condition of My Heart

Pyrite

When settlers came to America and started traveling West looking for gold many people were “fooled” by this mineral. Pyrite looks a lot like real gold but it isn’t the actual thing and is basically worthless.  So it was named “fools gold”.

Sometimes, when things look all nice and shiny on the outside of my life, I start to get lazy in the things that are important.

One of those things is time in God’s Word.

I have been participating in the Hello Mornings challenge and we recently just finished a 13 week study.  The past few weeks have been really busy here as we prepared for our vacation away and while I was reading the verses I was only doing it half-heartedly.

While we were on vacation I didn’t do a lot of praying and I basically skipped 4 mornings and didn’t even do my readings at all. I justified it because things were going really well. Dominic and I were getting along and having fun. I had this thing right??

But the condition of my heart, while maybe looking like the “real thing”, was really dark inside.

When things feel good on the surface I get a little self-righteous. I start to feel like I don’t desperately need God like I have, I put my needs before God’s needs, I put down my armor because I feel like I have the enemy beat and I am safe.

Funny how this past week we read these verses in Ephesians. Sad that I read them, but didn’t apply them to my own life.

Ephesians 6: 10-18

10 Finally, brothers and sisters, draw your strength and might from God. 11 Put on the full armor of God to protect yourselves from the devil and his evil schemes. 12 We’re not waging war against enemies of flesh and blood alone. No, this fight is against tyrants, against authorities, against supernatural powers and demon princes that slither in the darkness of this world, and against wicked spiritual armies that lurk about in heavenly places.

13 And this is why you need to be head-to-toe in the full armor of God: so you can resist during these evil days and be fully prepared to hold your ground. 14 Yes, stand—truth banded around your waist, righteousness as your chest plate, 15 and feet protected in preparation to proclaim the good news of peace. 16 Don’t forget to raise the shield of faith above all else, so you will be able to extinguish flaming spears hurled at you from the wicked one. 17 Take also the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray always. Pray in the Spirit. Pray about everything in every way you know how! And keeping all this in mind, pray on behalf of God’s people. Keep on praying feverishly, and be on the lookout until evil has been stayed.

I believe in the presence of the enemy in this world. I have seen in my own life the times we have been under attack. When we are doing well, when we are making right choices and putting others needs before our own…we are a threat and the enemy will attack with full on vengeance.

And he attacks me at where he knows I am the most weak.

So here I am, after a week of fun with Dominic, and when we find ourselves back in the “reality” of work and family life, I start to let the little things annoy me.

We all have things that irritate us and most of the time I can let it go. When the condition of my heart is well, it is easy.

When I have stopped reading the Bible, stopped praying continuously, I start to hear those things that bother me louder and louder and my response to them changes.

So I found myself seeing only negative when my entire life is surrounded with the evidence of the positive.

And for a day I engaged in the enemy’s attack, allowing myself to behave in a self righteous way and I turned on Dominic. And in a way that is most damaging……with my words.  I said hurtful things to him because I was angry with myself and a mistake I had made. I wanted someone else to blame because I don’t own up to responsibility well. He was an easy target and he was the victim of my darts.

Words have a lasting impact.

I say things in “the moment” and don’t consider the long lasting impact or cost.

Have you found yourself there as well??

I messaged a few of my girlfriends and shared how ugly I had let myself be and that it hurt him….and now in a day of silence, because I wasn’t willing to own up to my part, we had gone from happy to hurting.

The disconect was real and it isn’t a fun place to be.

And I had caused it.

In my selfishness, I had placed a ugly strain on our marriage.

One of my girlfriends responded about having been there…and how these situations can reveal the condition of our hearts.

Yes that was it…..the condition of my heart was not that of gold. It isn’t easy to admit that I allowed myself to get to that point…again. But here I was.

I had not put on the full armor of God, not stayed alert and the enemy had attacked and I was an easy target. Oh me who has it all together who wants to look pretty on the outside, this Christian example! Ha!

So I do the only thing I know how to do….I run back to the Word. I place those truths in my heart and I pray. I ask for forgiveness and I pray for healing of the hurts I have caused with my words.

I don’t know where you find yourself this morning. Maybe you have hurt someone with your words, maybe you have felt the enemy’s attacks and have justified your behavior like I did.  There is One thing that will get the condition of your heart back into the right place.

That is Jesus.

Run to Him, read God’s Word and put on that armor because the attacks are real and they are many. Be fully prepared to stand your ground and know that if you are in the Word and praying – God IS with you.

I am standing with you there today friends….

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