More Ashes. More Beauty. Part I.

It was a little over four years ago when God promised me He was going to make a miracle out of my marriage. I believed Him then like I did when He saved me from Hell. And, in the four years that Papa Bear and I have been actively rebuilding our home, I’ve had very few moments of out-and-out desperation.

I’ve never written a post for the purpose of shock value, so even though this story might be a classic page-turner without the upfront inclusion of the ending, I am going to go ahead and let you in on a little secret: I’ve had a faithful husband for the entirety of these last four years.

Now, when Papa Bear and I make a mistake, it’s pretty much our norm that we cop to it. I’m not saying we’re perfect in this, but that we lost our painful grip on perfection, finally, somewhere around two years ago. We share our past almost as openly in person as we do from this blog. And we do this even though we know that most don’t really believe that people can change.

This winter, after passing what we thought was the big test and feeling a little overconfident as a result, Papa Bear took two jobs that placed him in a veritable den of temptation. When our lives flipped upside down and Satan was clearly gaining a foothold, Papa Bear not only recognized the sources of temptation, but he quickly quit both jobs. He confessed to me the ways he had allowed Satan entry into his life, and we sat out, once again, to heal.

Which is not something we’d be allowed to do without a fight.

Our feet hadn’t yet hit the ground when we were faced with a much more formidable hurdle. Rumors, which are often vicious and are very common in our small town (it’s a great place to visit but a hard place to live), began circulating that my husband, the precious and profoundly redeemed father of my children, was being anything but faithful.

When I first began to hear the rumors, I knew in my heart that they weren’t true. I only remember being confident because I wrote down my assuredness in my journal, knowing my first instinct would prove to be important someday. But, as the weeks wore on, the seed of doubt that had been planted began to flourish within my soul. Satan watered it and fed it in the beginning, but I took over for him after awhile. Until, almost three weeks ago, less than a week after Papa Bear and I led our church in prayer for marriages and families, all hell broke loose. We began hearing the rumors from people in our own circle of friends. And, what’s worse, they’d been given every reason to believe them.

I cried. I yelled. And I cried some more. I looked deep into my husband’s eyes and I begged through screams for him to tell me the truth, threatening that we could work past anything but lies. It was with so much sorrow and pain that he told me, softly and repeatedly, that he hadn’t sinned against me. But how could I ever believe him?! And, oh, how I wanted to believe him!!  I asked God to tell me the truth, but I wailed too loudly to even hope of hearing His answer.

I saw so much weakness in myself last week that the memories are physically painful. I was godless and faithless with nowhere to go for the truth. And, if you must know, I couldn’t stand the thought of everyone talking about us behind our backs: Papa Bear as the womanizing husband and Kingdom Mama as the naive and gullible wife. That’s not exactly the picture we paint for you here, is it? Had I been painting a lie?

Some of you found this blog because you or your spouse are struggling with sex addiction. Some of you don’t believe in sex addiction, and that’s fine too. Actually, I don’t really believe in it myself. I believe in demons and I believe in deliverance. But sometimes I simplify things by using the world’s terms of addiction and sobriety. At any rate, those of you who are familiar with sex addiction may also be familiar with Doug Weiss. I’ve mentioned him before because we received counseling at his center when we first began this journey back. Doug is not only extremely godly, but he is also highly respected and knowledgeable. In fact, he is the premier sex addiction counselor (at least in Christian circles) in the nation. Was it divine appointment that we fell to pieces (just over four years ago) just minutes from his office? Yes, we believe that it was.

At any rate, the thing that I have been avoiding telling you is that sex addiction counselors often recommend that the addict undergo a polygraph*. I think this is more common in Christian circles where we understand that freedom is only possible through the truth, and people who are bound by lies (addicts are usually compulsive liars) cannot even begin the journey toward freedom. We never underwent the polygraph four years ago because I was satisfied that the truth had already been revealed. Also, the test is expensive “Do you love your wife?” is a mandatory question, and I was terrified to know the answer.

*While untrained polygraph technicians have made somewhat of a joke of the science, a professionally administered polygraph, with a technician trained to recognize all signs of lying, is kind of like having the super power that I want.

After twenty-four hours of vomit and tears and running the full gamut of emotions like it was an Olympic event, I approached Papa Bear and said, “I really want to believe you, but I don’t know how. Would you be willing to take a polygraph?”

To which he replied, after swallowing the thought of the bill in a pile of things we simply cannot pay at the moment, “Yes, if that’s what you need, let’s do that.”

To be continued…

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I’m Scared of the Dark Too

Out of nowhere, I mean, no where, our kids are now scared of the dark. It’s like Noah’s Ark around here. “Bay Bit, go upstairs and get your toothbrush.”

“Lil Prince, come with me, it’s dark up there.”

I’ve been hard on them, to tell the truth. They know God, they talk to Jesus and they command “the bad guys” to leave in Jesus’ name. So, “Why be scared?!” I ask them. And then I run through the garage, grab the laundry out of the dryer and race up the stairs with a heebie jeebie chill skipping stupidly down my spine, because, I’m scared terrified of the dark too.

I started writing this post by the lone light of my laptop. Papa Bear was at a night softball game and I was enjoying the last few moments of LCD glow before the darkness engulfed me like a wave. The wind was howling and the electricity was out. And when the lights go out in the mountains, it’s dark, like before God said “Let there be light!” I started writing to calm myself down…to stop my heart from racing. Maybe I was going to write something about why human beings are scared of the dark, I can’t really remember. But I did think of a kinda funny story about being scared of the dark. I decided to tell that instead.

We had just moved back to Red River from Colorado. I think, sadly, that we have more stuff now that we did back then! I asked Papa Bear to stack all of the boxes in the living room of our little condo because I was going to “unpack tonight”. And I started in furiously, ripping through the boxes and putting things away in record breaking time. By the time the guys had reached the back of the van, I’d put almost half of our things away. The kids were sleeping and TLC was keeping me company, so Papa Bear took the moving van, with a few remaining items, to store them in a friend’s garage.

Almost as soon as he left, I sat down to examine my progress. Even with our knick knacks on the mantle and our books on the shelf, it still didn’t look like our home. The culprit appeared to be three horrible hotel room paintings that were screwed to the living room walls. I could have waited for Papa Bear to come home, find his tools and take them down for me. But once I get an idea in my head, it’s kinda hard for me to shake it. Plus, let’s face it, taking down ugly paintings would hardly have been a priority to my husband.

I had no idea where the screw drivers were, but I had already put the kitchenware away. And I’m a resourceful girl, I plunged my bathroom sink today when Drano wouldn’t work. So, I grabbed a knife. To be more specific, I grabbed a very large and very sharp carving knife, and I headed toward the ugliest painting first. As I raised my hand over my head to insert the knife into the head of the screw, the entire world went dark. At least, that’s how it felt to me.

I knew I was standing still, holding a knife above my head, but I couldn’t see the knife to save my life. I also couldn’t move for about five minutes. There wasn’t even a moon that night, I remember, because the only thing I can recall saying is, “Dear Jesus, there isn’t even a moon!” I don’t have to be brave with Him. No moon, no street lights, no car lights, and, of course, I hadn’t yet made it to the box with the flashlights and candles, which, hindsight being as fantastic as it is, should have been my very first priority.

As it turns out, the lights were only out on one end of town, so Papa Bear had no idea that I was sitting in the dark, anxiously awaiting his arrival. I didn’t get anything else done until he came back, about two weeks thirty minutes after the electricity went out. I was paralyzed, not like the time that someone accidentally turned off the lights in the doom room style bathroom of a Mexican orphanage, while I was in the last shower stall. Back then I just smelled and felt the difference between my shampoo and conditioner, and fearlessly finished my shower. OK, fine, I was terrified then too. But at least I wasn’t holding a knife.

What are you scared of that you really shouldn’t be scared of?

Oh, I’m also scared of giraffes.

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Meet Rodrigo

I’m still sorting through my deep thoughts, and I’m grasping for the especially funny or beautiful among the mundane to make itself known throughout the day. In other words, I probably shouldn’t have taken such a long break from blogging. I’ve lost my blogging legs; I even left home today without my camera! But then I thought, “Hey, I could introduce everyone to Rodrigo!” So tonight’s little blogging adventure is brought to you by, well, my heart.
Rodrigo is the little boy that I have sponsored on behalf on Kingdom Twindom +1 (he’s your sponsored child). In fact, every time you visit this blog it’s like throwing a penny into a pot that will meet up with a lot of other pennies and then make its way to Rodrigo (And, just so you know, the more readers we have the more children we will sponsor or money we will donate to disaster relief. We’ve committed one-third of this blog’s income to Compassion International).
Rodrigo lives in Nicaragua; he’s nine. My first instinct, when searching for a child, was Haiti, but it’s not possible to sponsor Haitian children at the moment. I chose Nicaragua because one of my sister-friends will be headed there, in July, to teach for the next three years. I have no idea of their proximity, but it is certainly my hope that they will meet someday!
When we first sat down to pick a child, I actually thought it would be easy. After all, I knew I couldn’t sponsor them all. I’d pick one, pray for the rest, and then leave them all in God’s loving and merciful hands. But when I clicked on the sponsorship page, I noticed something that brought me to tears.

See those hearts in the upper left-hand side of the pictures? Those are there to indicate that the child in the picture has been waiting for a sponsor for more than six months. And there are so many hearts…on every page! I can’t sponsor them all; neither can you. But I think, quite probably, we could all do more than we are doing.

We’re praying about what we can do. But, for now, I just wanted you to meet Rodrigo.

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Before You Were a Papa Bear, You Were My Knight,

**This won’t all make sense to the masses, but it will to Papa Bear. It’s just my little way of shouting my love from the mountain tops.

In fifty years, will I look back on this latest trial, especially these last few weeks, and laugh? I doubt it. The fact that you already do proves how incredibly mature you are. I’m thankful, though, for this fire. Only forty-eight hours ago, I thought I’d be burned alive. Now I’m standing on ashes so cold it is hard to imagine the heat was ever there. You laughed and said, “I told you so,” and your words, the very thing I need and have craved from you for four years, seemed to instantly transform to gold. Did you ever know, or dare to hope, that your words could be golden? Open your mouth, my love, it has been fashioned for truth and life.

If I could shout my love for you from the mountaintops, and have the whole world hear it, I would do that for you. My fear, the one of being loved less than I am loving, has finally been crushed. We can run away together and still stay right here, God is big enough to do that for us. Let the whole world forsake you, I will defend you. If I am ever again your wrongful accuser, may God quickly shut my mouth.

If it were not for the lions mouths, speaking lies and destruction into our home, I might never have known how much you love me. What Satan intended to be the final nail in our coffin, God has used to crush the coffin! Once again, He has brought forth life from the grave and has replaced fear with peace and trust. But if it were not for the digging, how would I have ever known that I have one of the most faithful husbands in town!?

As we near our seven year anniversary, I am overwhelmed with joy. We’ve been married happily, faithfully and peacefully for a full year longer than we were not. And every year, every day, every hour, every second, the past is pushed further and further behind us. It remains only to remind us of God’s redemption; to Him, to me, you are as clean as that first day you met Jesus. A newborn babe would envy the purity you’ve found through confession of your weakness before a willing Savior. You are a success, my love, and your story is one of victory.

I love you unshakably, and I’ll proclaim it fearlessly.  May I grow as much in the next four years as you have grown in the last.

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I’m Not Going Anywhere

I have a lot to say. Tons, if my words have any actual weight. But I’m just now breathing after one of the hardest (if not the hardest), most spiritually grueling, weakness revealing weeks of my entire life. And although I know I will tell the story, I’m seeking wisdom from the Lord about the when and how. One thing I can say, though, is that I’m not going anywhere. We’ve been under a very specific attack that I truly believe we could have avoided by not openly and honestly sharing our lives. And I’ve thought about packing up our blog and learning how to scrapbook. But I’m not going to do that! After spending the last few days actively seeking God about His desire (if He had one) to use my words, I’ve decided that He does. And that makes me smile.

I’ll be back this afternoon with a Kidterview Tuesday (of whomever I can catch), and then tonight with a much deserved open love letter (I’d post it now but I’m still working on it) to my wonderfully deserving husband.

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