Bethany’s Story Part 6: Jesus is All I Need

In Parts 1-5 of Bethany’s story, we’ve learned about the relationships in her life and how they changed through divorce, loss and pain. Today, we’re going to examine and discover Bethany’s relationship with her Father…her heavenly Father, that is. Did you just decide this blog isn’t worth reading, not worth your time? I beg to differ with you, friend. It’s very interesting and just a little controversial. Trust me, you want to keep reading.

As we learned in Part 1 of Bethany’s Story, Bethany was brought up in a loving, Christian home. She loved Jesus with all her heart. But once her parents divorced, her life was completely turned upside down, inside out. Neither parent took her to church after the divorce and God was all but removed from her life. We know her story. She grew up, married and had three boys. Bethany always believed in God and would sometimes talk about Him to her husband. When John lost his job, Bethany reassured him that God would provide for them.

When Bethany’s oldest son, Ben, was ten, his friend from down the street invited him to church. Bethany allowed him to go and soon he had an encounter with Jesus and became born again. Being “born again,” is when you understand what Jesus Christ did for you by suffering, dying on the cross and raising from the dead…accepting what He did for YOU and knowing that nothing you have done or ever will do (good or bad) can save you from going to hell or get you into heaven. Believing in Jesus and deciding you will live your life for Him…that is being born again. God’s love will fill you and you will feel totally different. And that is just the first step of an awesome and wonderfully fulfilling life, here on earth and in eternity. If you’re not born again, also known as saved, you’re going to want to experience that ASAP.

Ben was going to church regularly with the neighbors and started begging his parents to go, too. Bethany and John weren’t too keen on the idea, but when Ben was persistent, they decided they should go. They began attending church on and off for a while. John wasn’t really “into it” and Bethany felt strange things when she was there.

“At first, I felt uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure if I liked what I was feeling.”

“There was a short period of time a few years before this when I had started to get serious about the Lord, where I had some real experiences.”

She knew this feeling she was having meant that God was working on the inside of her and wanted to change some things about her life. She was not ready to let go of certain things in her life…

“I began feeling God more strongly than before. I knew for sure that He was pulling me. I felt that way on Sundays and then would live my life like normal during the rest of the week.”

So, she was experiencing the love of God and His presence when she came to church on Sunday mornings. But then, during the week, she’d forget all about Him and live the way she wanted. Sound familiar to anyone? Yes, salvation or being born again is all about what Jesus has done for us. BUT, truly living for Jesus, surrendering your life completely to Him is what He wants for each of us. That doesn’t mean our lives will be boring or not full of fun, but on the contrary, our lives will be abundant. Abundant with God’s love and His blessings. There is nothing better than living your life knowing that you are walking in the plan that God has designed especially for you. That’s true fulfillment! And isn’t that what we all want? To be fulfilled? To be happy? To have peace? To be secure?

Okay, here comes that controversy I eluded to earlier..

“I had been smoking marijuana for a few years. I saw nothing wrong with it because it made me happy and less anxious.”

The marijuana helped Bethany deal with the stress in her marriage and her son who has Asperger’s. It was a coping mechanism for her and she felt like she needed it to make it through each day.

“At first, it was a fun thing to do on girls’ weekends. Then I realized that I liked it way too much. But it made my life easy.”

Everything was better through the high of marijuana. Her kids were adorable and funny. Her husband was great. Everything was awesome after smoking a little weed.

“It got to the point where I made excuses to do it more. It helped me sleep, my kids were hilarious. I had no stress when I smoked.”

“I depended on the marijuana to deal with my stress-husband, kids, money. I would turn to it and it would make everything okay.”

After a while, John started to get concerned with the frequency and amount of marijuana that Bethany was using. She was spending a lot of money, too. She admits that it got to the point that she was smoking all day, every day. John told her, “I don’t know you any other way” (other than high).

Bethany was still smoking when she rededicated her life back to God. She didn’t see a problem with it and wasn’t eager to give it up.

“I was afraid to let it go. Marijuana was my friend. I felt there was no reason to quit.”

Soon though, Bethany began feeling like she shouldn’t be doing it anymore. That’s what happens when you start to draw close to God. He slowly refines you like gold in a fire.

Bethany searched the Bible for scriptures that said she shouldn’t be smoking marijuana. She could only find those pertaining to drunkenness. She reasoned that she had already given up alcohol, so that didn’t apply to her. She couldn’t find anything that said it was wrong or not wrong.

“I had a moment standing in front of my dresser one day. I was ready to light up again. I clearly heard God say to me, ‘You put this before me. It’s the first thing you think about in the morning, in the afternoon and before you go to bed. It’s taking the place of me.’ I put it down and said aloud, ‘Okay, I’m done. It’s all about you. I will never do it again. I will completely lean on You.’ I haven’t touched it since.”

You see, God wants us to completely rely on Him. For our stress, our worries, our sadness, our pain, our guilt, our regrets…for everything. Why? Because He is capable of handling it all. Way more capable than we are. That is why we don’t ever need to rely on drugs, alcohol, sex or other coping mechanisms to deal with life.

Since that day in her bedroom, Bethany has been free. This act of surrender and obedience to God opened up doors in her life. It set into motion many good things for her husband and her entire family.

John was saved and baptized. Her younger boys were saved and baptized. Her mom and stepdad started coming back to church and have grown closer to God. Her brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their kids got saved. And that is just the tip of the iceberg of God’s goodness and favor in Bethany’s life.

Bethany experiences true and powerful moments with God.

“There are times when it is very obvious that He is here with me, like He’s standing right in front of me. Sometimes in worship services, I have a hard time physically standing. I feel completely undone. At times, it’s hard to breathe.”

“Being in the presence of God – it’s like nothing else is even happening around me. I forget where I am. It’s just me and Him. It’s the best feeling ever! That’s how you know that God is real.”

One moment with Jesus, that’s all it takes to convince even the biggest skeptic.

“That’s God showing you He is real. When you experience these moments. I mean, you don’t go to church and just make up those feelings. It’s real. He’s real.”

Some friendships of Bethany’s were lost when she became a Christian. But, God has replaced or restored those friendships one hundred fold. Friendship is so important to Bethany. The Bible talks about how you may lose friends when you follow Jesus. When her friends began to reject her, she clung to God’s promises.

“I trust you. All I need is you.”

Bethany says she never even thought to pray for friends, but alas! God knows the desires of our hearts. He knows what we need and desire before we even ask. God gave Bethany a wonderful church family who love her to pieces.

“I have so many people in my life that I never thought I would have relationships with. When I’m at church, I feel like I’m home.”

Because Bethany has totally surrendered her life to God, she and her family are blessed in so many ways. Yes, salvation is ultimately about not going to hell, but it is about so much more. We don’t have to wait to get to heaven to experience God’s goodness and favor. We can have heaven on Earth. If you have ever prayed the Lord’s Prayer, that’s what it is talking about. “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” That’s exactly what Bethany has been seeing in her life. A little bit of heaven on Earth.

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Bethany’s Story Part 5: Asperger’s Does Not Define My Child

Bethany loved being a mommy. Her first son was perfect in every way. He was smart, well-behaved and brilliant! She and John decided they wanted to have another child. This time it wasn’t as easy. After four years of infertility, two rounds of IVF and fertility drugs, Bethany finally became pregnant. She gave birth to another healthy, adorable baby boy. Although her relationship with John was strained, Bethany was happy. Motherhood gave her joy and a purpose in life. Fast forward two years later, baby boy #3 arrives. We’ll call him Johnny.

Bethany knew something was different about Johnny from the beginning. He was not a content baby like her older boys. He cried, or, more like screamed, A LOT. A lot, as in ALL.THE.TIME. Bethany, afraid something was really wrong, took him to the doctor frequently. They switched his formula several times. Nothing worked. He always seemed gassy and in pain. Bethany hadn’t slept a full night since he was born. Finally, at 14 months, she took matters into her own hands and figured out he had a dairy allergy. She removed all dairy from his diet and he seemed a little better. He finally began to sleep at night! What a relief!

Johnny was a VERY active toddler. Bethany could never take her eyes off of him, even for a second. Extremely busy and hyperactive, he was the most difficult child in the family.

“If I’d had him first, I wouldn’t have had any more kids.”

When Johnny was a toddler, Bethany began taking her kids to church. She wanted her children to know about Jesus like she did. A couple of people asked her if she ever had Johnny checked for ADD and behavioral issues.

“I would just get mad. I never thought it was anything serious. I just thought he was a very active boy.”

Bethany stopped taking her boys to that church when little Johnny went missing. No one could find him anywhere. Bethany had taken her eyes off of him for one second and he disappeared. They finally found him, but Bethany decided she had enough. It was several years before she took them to church again.

When Johnny was just a toddler, Bethany made major life changes for her family. She had been studying about the benefits of eating organically and living a natural lifestyle. Changing the eating habits of her family seemed to help Johnny’s behavior. She cut out all preservatives and food dyes, as well as anything genetically modified or synthetically produced.8418884

Johnny started preschool. Bethany says, “He was really bad there.” But the teachers assured him he was just immature and would be okay in kindergarten.

“In the back of mind, I knew there was something different about him. I kept telling myself that he was just an active boy.”

But she admits, there were signs… for instance:

He was obsessed with Transformers. He would line them up neatly, obsessively.

He was obsessed with cars and blocks, incessantly lining them up and stacking them.

Bethany recalls one time when she was “helping” him stack his colored blocks. He freaked out when she stacked the wrong color in the wrong order. He started screaming, became furious and threw the block across the room. She recognized this behavior as sure signs of OCD.

“I always asked the preschool teachers if they thought he was okay. They reassured me that he was fine and was ready for kindergarten.”

Johnny was an extremely affectionate little boy. He loved to give and get hugs and sit on grownups laps, etc. A sure sign that he liked someone was if he wanted to sit right up next to you and hold your hand. When he started kindergarten, he had a wonderful teacher who would allow him to hug her each day. This was helpful, but he didn’t do well with the instruction given in class. He needed to repeat kindergarten. Unfortunately, the school refused to give him the same teacher for his second year of kindergarten. This was when the real problems began for Johnny.

The new teacher’s exact words were, “We just don’t get along.” It was blatantly obvious that she just didn’t like Johnny. She insisted he get an aide to sit with him in class. All the testing had to be done in order for this to happen. His teacher was so sure he had a learning disability. Much to her surprise, he did not. The issue was behavioral.

“I had to sit in these meetings by myself and they were so mean to me.”

In order for him to get the aide in the classroom and further help, Bethany had to take him to a doctor to get an official diagnosis. After a 15 minute appointment, Bethany walked out with a diagnosis for her baby boy.

Asperger’s and ADHD.

“Every day I dropped him off at school, I cried thinking about leaving my baby there.”

One day at school, something unbelievable happened to Johnny. Remember how Johnny liked to give hugs? Well, his principal had a problem with that. She thought it was weird and decided to do something to “help” him with it. She put a weighted jacket on Johnny, saying that she thought the compression of the jacket would help him since he wanted hugs all the time. She said she didn’t want the other kids to think he was weird (wanting to give hugs), yet she put this jacket on him in front of everyone. First of all, these types of jackets are only designed for the most severe cases AND are only allowed to be used by law with the signed permission of the parents. When Johnny came home and told Bethany what happened, she was out-of-her-mind enraged. He told her, “Mommy, I’m such a loser.” My heart breaks for Johnny!  I can only imagine what Bethany was feeling!!!

Bethany prayed about it and decided to visit a local Christian school. She took her husband and Johnny with her. When they left, Johnny said, “I think this is where I need to be.”af7c630824111cc8521b517c9ad4dcee

Bethany pulled Johnny out of the public school system the next day and has never taken him back. In the Christian school, he received everything he needed socially and got the love and attention he craved. Paying for private school was a financial strain for the family, but it was worth it. Johnny was able to feel the love of Jesus there. He was able to express his love for Jesus and others openly, without fear of being punished or ridiculed.

“Whenever he was having a bad day, they never focused on him being the problem. They never made him feel like he was a bad person.”

Johnny’s personal relationship with Jesus grew while he attended Christian school. Teachers would comment to Bethany that during Chapel, they could see the presence of God all over Johnny. His worship to God was so open and innocent. At night, Bethany would catch him staring out his window, blinds wide open, head stacked high on all his pillows, talking to Jesus. People with Asperger’s are usually very affectionate and sensitive, making it easy to connect with God. This is the case with Johnny.

As time has gone on, Johnny has grown in many ways. Before, he could not make friends. He was unable to make a connection with his peers. Now, at 11 years old, he has three very close friends. That’s a huge accomplishment!

Recently at a church service, Bethany observed her baby boy during worship. He was on his knees, hands raised, praying in tongues, unashamed. When it comes to his time with Jesus, he doesn’t care who is around!

About 3 years ago, Bethany further modified Johnny’s diet, cutting out all gluten. The difference in his behavior is like night and day. Literally, over night, he became a different child once the gluten was out of his system. Now, if he eats anything containing gluten, he gets a migraine and becomes violently ill. He also can’t control his anger after he’s eaten gluten. It really is remarkable what impact gluten can have on a person!

Bethany is now homeschooling Johnny. Christian school was great for him socially, but he still struggled academically. Not wanting him to get too far behind, she decided to take his education into her own hands. His reading is improving, as is his spelling skills. He has an awesome imagination and writes fantastic stories. His memory is unbelievable and he excels in math. He has straight As!

Johnny’s teachers at church have commented recently about his behavior. They told Bethany that they are impressed with Johnny and his level of maturity he has been demonstrating lately. Hearing these things about her baby boy is so good for Bethany’s heart! After years of hearing how terrible he is, what a relief!

Not that Johnny is perfect, of course, no child is. He still struggles with certain impulsive behaviors like stealing. He just can’t help himself. He takes candy and gum from his mom’s purse. He is not good at hiding the evidence and always gets caught. He is always remorseful, but this is an area they are still working on.

When Johnny was little, Bethany was always afraid to take him out in public. He was so fast and would run off and get lost. Now, Bethany doesn’t worry about that. Johnny stays right with her. If you saw Johnny in the store with his mom, you would never guess he was different than any other kid.

Has your child received a diagnosis like Johnny? Does the situation seem hopeless? I assure it is not. Your child is not defined by a diagnosis. Your child is special and unique. Embrace the uniqueness as a positive thing!  Be encouraged by Bethany and Johnny’s story.

*I would like to add this little note. Bethany has NEVER put Johnny on any type of medication. She has controlled his behavior through diet, natural supplements and changes in his daily routine. If you would like to know more about what she has done or is doing, I can get you in contact with her.

Lastly, here is a passage of Scripture from Psalm 134 to speak over your child. Life and death are in the words we speak to our children!

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.
 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!

If you’ve been touched by this story or if you can say, “Me too! Me too!” let your voice also be heard. It matters to the women who are being so brave in sharing their precious lives with you. YOU matter to Bethany. She wants you to find hope and healing through her story. So please, leave a comment or contact me at the email address below. All correspondences are confidential.

themystoryseries@gmail.com

Bethany’s Story Part 3: Porn Kills

Marriage is hard. I don’t believe many people, especially when they are really young, truly understand the weightiness of the marriage vows. In sickness and in health, in good times and bad, in richer and poorer, til death do us part. There are so many issues that arise that are unforeseeable. You can’t live on love only. A happy, lasting marriage takes a lot of work and A LOT of forgiveness. Bethany had significant marriage problems, but when she rededicated her to life to God, her life drastically changed. Her husband came to know Jesus in time and He became the center of their life. That’s when everything changed. Her story continues where we left off…

When Bethany moved in with her dad, she was dating a guy named Eddie. They had been together for a long time and planned to marry. Eddie graduated two years ahead of Bethany and moved to another state to work. The plan was that when Bethany finished high school, she would move there with him and they’d get married and she’d go to college.

“I really thought he was the one.”

Remember John? The guy friend who Bethany had been hanging out with? That sweet friend who witnessed her getting kicked out of her house? Yes, him. Well, he was there for Bethany through her parents’ divorce. They became inseparable, the best of friends. Bethany didn’t intend on falling in love with John, but she did. He always wanted to be with her and knowing what Bethany was going through made him want to be with her more. He was such a good friend.

“I felt abandoned by everyone who was supposed to love me.”

But John was there. He was a rock to her in her unstable existence. The time came to choose between John and Eddie. Bethany was very torn. She loved them both. She remembers having a conversation with her dad about it. “You know what you want to do,” he said. She did know, but she was really, really scared. Eddie was a sure thing in her life, but John was a risk. Would he hurt her? Would he leave her? Eddie was safe, John was a gamble.

“If I screwed up, then I would have nobody!”

Bethany came clean with Eddie. It was over. He told her, “If I ever see you anywhere, ever, I will turn around and walk away.” Ouch. That hurts.

“I was so sad that it was over, but by the time I got out of the car, I couldn’t wait to tell John, ‘I choose you!'”

Bethany moved in with John and his family for a while. John’s mother made her life difficult and she decided that she needed to get out of there. Her father allowed both of them to move back in with him. Needless to say, Bethany’s mother did not approve.

Bethany and John got engaged and were married one year later. Bethany was just nineteen years old when she found out she was pregnant, four days before the wedding.

“I just wanted to be married to him. I was never like ‘Oh my gosh,’ it’s my wedding. We had been living wrong for so long, I just wanted it to be right. I was excited to be pregnant.”

During the wedding, John got really drunk. “I had to drive to the hotel. I kept slamming on my brakes so he’d wake up at every red light. I thought it was funny.”

Nice start to a marriage, huh?

About nine months later, their first baby boy arrived. Life was all about the baby. That first year was wonderful for Bethany. She was so happy! This life that she was living was all that she wanted. Then they got a home computer…This is the point in Bethany’s story where I, myself, begin having flashbacks. This is the point in Bethany’s story where I can say, “Me too, me too.”

“That’s when I started finding the porn.”

“He never wanted to go to the strip clubs with the guys from work. I thought he was different. His mom always told me I was the only girl he ever brought home. He thought being with lots of women was just wrong.”

The next few paragraphs of Bethany’s story can be summed up in one word…SHOCKED. While interviewing her for her story, she said the word “shocked” more times than I can count. I have experienced this “shock” in my life too. Have you ever been shocked by an electrical outlet? A little jolt of electricity travels up your arm and makes your whole body feel weird and out of sorts. Then afterward, you’re like, “What just happened?”

My husband tells me a story of when he was in the Navy aboard a submarine. As a machinist, he was responsible for maintaining and repairing things. One day, he went to make an adjustment with a knob that had direct electric current flowing through it. The knob was covered in rubber so that when it was turned, it would not shock the person turning it. As he turned the knob, someone came up behind him and slapped him on his shoulder as hard as they could. All the muscles in his arm and upper back violently contracted and he jumped back a few feet. He turned to see who had slapped him. There was no one there. Then he noticed a slit in the rubber knob that had left him unprotected from the electrical current. He had been shocked. Because of the supposed protection of the rubber on the knob, he was not expecting to come into contact with a live electrical current. It was a complete surprise! That’s a sensation he remembers vividly to this day, even after twenty some years.

In a marriage, the vows we recite, the devotion we pledge to one another, the commitment we make, the covenant we enter together is the “rubber” on the knob. When that rubber gets a crack, we are left unprotected. The “shock” can come from many sources…pornography, affairs, drug addictions, abuse, etc. The effects of the initial shock is often emotionally violent and creates a huge gulf in the marriage. There is a breach in the “protection” of the marriage and trust is lost. This is the shock Bethany experienced…

One day, Bethany ran to the local gas station one day to buy cigarettes. She took John’s car. His briefcase was sitting on the passenger’s seat.

“Something told me to look in his briefcase. I was shocked by what I found.”

A magazine with naked women. This is just the beginning…

“When I found the porn on the computer, I was shocked. I honestly never thought that was the kind of person John was. I thought he was the exact opposite.”

When Bethany found the porn on the computer, she wasn’t looking or suspecting her husband. She was simply typing in the search bar for an unrelated subject. The porn sites just came up in the search bar as she typed. She called AOL and they taught her how to search the history.

“I looked back as far as I could. Every site, every picture he looked at. I printed out every single one. I used up all the ink in the printer. I had it all lain out on the kitchen table, waiting for him to come home from work.”

Bethany’s heart was absolutely broken. She was disgusted and felt sick to her stomach. The more porn she found on the computer, the more angry she got.

“I even remember some of the people he was looking at. Like naked pictures of Alyssa Milano…why would he want to look at that?”

When John walked through the door that day, Bethany was ready. The look on John’s face was like a child who is caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Bethany erupted like a volcano.

“If you want them, take them. You’re not getting me!”

She began asking questions. Remember, this was about a year after she gave birth to their baby. Can you understand where her mind was going?

“If I looked better, would you be more attracted to me?”

He said yes. What the? I’m sorry. He was an idiot. What kind of person says yes to a question like that from the twenty year old mother of YOUR ONE YEAR OLD BABY?!?!?!?!?

Can you also understand how Bethany STILL struggles with her body image to this day? No matter how many times her husband tells her she’s beautiful, sexy, perfect or desirable, her confidence, her security, her view of herself changed…forever.

“I thought I was happy. I married John, had my baby…everything. My friends were all in college and here I was already married with a baby. But, it’s what I had always wanted. I thought my life was set, then this happened. I was afraid my marriage was over. I regretted my decision to be with John. What was I going to do?”

More questions were asked. Promises were made. Apologies were given. Their marriage did not end this day. Life continued…

“For years after that, I remember crying myself to sleep, just wanting him to touch me. We hardly ever had sex. I wanted to be loved and I never felt like I was. It was because of the porn.”2-300x198

Bethany did not have much faith in John or his love. His actions towards her proved her feelings correct. For instance…

“One of our mutual friends, a guy, starting hitting on me. He begged me to meet him. He told me no one would ever have to know. He kept asking me over and over. This went on for a while. When we went away for one of our anniversaries, I told John everything. He didn’t say much. We continued being friends with the guy and hanging out with him. It always bothered me that he never said anything to our friend about it. He never got even a little jealous. He just didn’t care.”

If some guy was doing that to me and I told my husband about it, he would be serving time for murder or at least assault. Just sayin.’

Bethany wanted another baby. She struggled with infertility for four years. After IVF two times and fertility drugs, she finally became pregnant. Another baby boy. Then another boy came a few years after that. Three boys! The third boy was quite a challenge and I will be devoting an entire blog on just him soon. He is different than the other two. She immersed herself in motherhood, caring for her three precious gifts.

Bethany says that “Life was fine,” during these years, but it wasn’t really. A family friend would frequently come over their house to fix their computer. It was always loaded with porn. John tried blaming their oldest son. Bethany knew better.

Bethany’s insecurities screamed at her mercilessly, “You’re not good enough.” But she tried to be the best wife she could be.

Bethany recalls their ten year anniversary trip. She was so excited to spend time with her husband. Her expectations of a joy-filled weekend of connecting with John were met with huge disappointment. She tells me of the ring he bought her. How he was completely disconnected. How hard she tried to get him to talk and open up to her. No response.

“He was just off. I didn’t want to push the issue because I didn’t want him to be mad.”

I ask her, “Do you think it was the porn or an affair that was causing him to be disconnected to you?”

“Those are things I don’t even want to know now because that’s not who he is anymore.”

John became a born-again Christian a few years later. He has surrendered his life to God and is a new man. He is 100% devoted to Bethany and their boys. I have witnessed the love and adoration he has for his wife and for his Lord. People have actually commented to them that they seem like newlyweds. That is the restoring power and grace of God right there. If you are at a place in your marriage where you think there is no hope, be encouraged. Placing God at the center of your marriage is the key. Nothing is impossible with Him. He is all about restoration and redemption. The how and why of Bethany and John’s relationship with God will be discussed in a later post. It is quite a story in itself!

How many of you have experienced what Bethany has experienced? I will raise my hand first. Pornography and sexual perversion are what destroyed my first marriage. I’ll never forget the first time I found porn on our home computer. Shocking. Painful. Degrading. Insecurity. Disbelief.

From my own personal experience and from what I know of many other women, this is what porn does to a woman:

You love this man. He loves you. You feel like you’re the only one for him and he’s the only one for you. You feel so close and connected to him. He makes you feel beautiful, sexy, smart and funny. You have no doubt that these things are true…because he says so. There is safety and security in your relationship. You think, “This is how marriage is supposed to be.” You’re best friends, lovers, confidantes, soul mates, you complete one another.

Then you find porn or a playboy or a text message or an email…all of a sudden, everything that you thought was true is gone. Like a mirror shattered into a million pieces. Like a basket of neatly folded laundry strewn all over the room. Like a brand new car that has been mangled in a violent crash. Pieces of your life, your self-confidence, the truth of your reality, your self perception, everything that you thought to be true and good…all strewn about in chaos. You can’t ever measure up to the women on the computer screen…and you don’t want to be like her. I remember saying to my ex-husband, “I’ll never look like that, ever. If that’s what you want, then you’re going to have to find someone else.” Though I try to be as appealing as possible, I will never look like a pornstar. It’s just not physically possible.

Porn kills our self esteem, our confidence, our security, our peace. Like Bethany, I struggle to this day with my self confidence. I never feel like I’m good enough. Even though I have a wonderful husband who dotes on me excessively, I still struggle. And I know that many of you do, as well. Perhaps you excuse your husband’s behavior by saying that men will be men. But, still, deep down inside, it hurts.

Let me paint a picture for you of how your Creator sees you.princess_zpsa561d5ae You are God’s masterpiece! You are His beloved! You are the apple of His eye! You are fearfully and wonderfully made! His love for you goes on and on and on! You are His princess! He loves you, no matter what you’ve done or said or thought! Nothing can separate you from His love! You are perfect and cherished by Him! Believe and accept His love today!

Read the Bible to find out more on God’s love for you. The Bible is God’s love letter to you! bible

 

 

 

 

I also recommend the book, “His Princess: Love Letters from Your King.” It’s a book of love letters written to you from God’s perspective. When I read it, I just cry. It is THAT good! 9781590523315_p0_v1_s260x420I’ve included the link where you can purchase it online.

http://www.amazon.com/His-Princess-Love-Letters-Your/dp/1590523318/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423674250&sr=1-1&keywords=his+princess+love+letters+from+your+king

Or, here is a free sneak peak:

http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/pdf/SneakPeek_HisPrincess.pdf

I’ve included links to resources for women dealing with husbands who have issues with pornography. These resources have been a great help to me personally. Check them out:

http://xxxchurch.com/connect/podcast/porn-kills

http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/life-issues/challenges/addiction/common-questions-about-a-husbands-sexual-addiction#.VNuPRp3F_ZM

http://www.pureintimacy.org/e/emilys-story/

http://www.covenanteyes.com/2014/07/21/signs-of-porn-addiction/

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/divorce-and-infidelity/dealing-with-pornography/should-i-confront-my-spouse

https://www.journeytohealingandjoy.com/helping-resources/books/living-with-your-husbands-secret-wars

If you’ve been touched by this story or if you can say, “Me too! Me too!” let your voice also be heard. It matters to the women who are being so brave in sharing their precious lives with you. YOU matter to Bethany. She wants you to find hope and healing through her story. So please, leave a comment or contact me at the email address below. All correspondences are confidential.

themystoryseries@gmail.com

Bethany’s Story Part 1: All-American Family

Today we begin story #2 in the My Story Series with Bethany’s story. Like Chelsea, Bethany has endured difficult and trying times in her life. Bethany is a daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend whose tender heart has been wounded and repaired many times over. I know that many of you will identify with her story. Please honor her courage to share her story by reading her story throughout the next few posts. Like me, her motive for sharing is to let YOU know that YOU are not alone in the struggles of this life. Be blessed as you read…

Bethany grew up in an affectionate, loving, God-filled home. Her parents were high school sweethearts. “It was obvious that Mom and Dad were very much in love,” she remembers. They were always kissing in front of the kids and totally grossing them out. Her brother is three years younger than Bethany. They were very loving towards one another and were the best playmates.  Her mom was a stay-at-home mother who was very hands on. Both parents were loving and affectionate towards their kids. The whole family attended church together. Her dad played the role of Jesus in the church Easter play and her mother sang in the choir and taught in children’s church. Overall, this was a wholesome, all-American family. Life was good!

Bethany was a good little girl who did all she was supposed to do. She aimed to please her mother (which at times was hard because her mom was a perfectionist when it came to chores, cleaning, etc.). She was also Daddy’s little girl. She has very fond memories of her childhood. And of course, she loved Jesus with all her heart. She first decided to give her heart to Jesus when she was just 8 or 9 years old in children’s church.me and jesus

“When I was a little girl, I loved Jesus so much. I would talk to Him like He was my friend.

She would go in her room and listen to her music on her purple, double-decker boombox. Her favorites were Psalty the Singing Songbook,psalty Sandi Patty and Amy Grant. Her favorite song was “Jehovah” by Amy Grant. She still remembers every word. Anybody else having flashbacks of the 80s? I sure am! I still remember every Psalty song ever recorded!Sandi_Patty_-_Love_Overflowing

 

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I want to pause in the story for a moment and talk to all of you who are pouring your lives into little children. YOU are making a difference! The things that were taught to me in Sunday School, children’s church and by my parents are STILL ingrained in my mind and heart. The music that my parents exposed me to and the songs we sang in church are still in there. The messages that were conveyed to me are still speaking to me. So, weary Sunday School teacher, worn-out Children’s Church worker, exhausted mommy…don’t ever think that what you are doing is insignificant or useless.

Little eyes are seeing,

little ears are hearing,

little minds are absorbing,

little hearts are hiding those words deep inside.

Like the Proverbs 22:6 says,  “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

As you continue reading Bethany’s story in the days ahead, you will hear how she strayed from the right path when her life became unstable. But the truths and love of God that she was taught when she was young always rang true in her heart. What was instilled in her as a child is what ultimately brought her back to the loving arms of her Savior.

So this post is dedicated to all you teachers and parents. You are not talking to yourself or the wall…it IS sinking in! Keep up the good work and don’t get weary in doing good!

Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” 

That’s all for today’s post. Tomorrow we will find out how Bethany’s life gets turned upside down. The calm, stable life she enjoyed as a child quickly becomes one filled with turmoil and hate. Be sure to watch for Bethany’s Story Part 2!

If you’ve been touched by this story or if you can say, “Me too! Me too!” let your voice also be heard. It matters to the women who are being so brave in sharing their precious lives with you. YOU matter to Bethany. She wants you to find hope and healing through her story. So please, leave a comment or contact me at the email address below. All correspondences are confidential.

themystoryseries@gmail.com

Chelsea’s Story Part 5: Cry Out to Jesus

The conclusion of Chelsea’s story…

Chelsea’s mother fell into a deep depression, deeper than ever before. And, of course, Chelsea was the one to care for her. She felt torn. She desperately did not want to leave her mother alone, but she and Trevor needed their own space. After all, the baby was coming. They finally moved out of her parent’s house, but it took her months to unpack fully. Every day, Chelsea would wake up and run over to her mother’s house to make sure she was eating and taking care of herself.

“After months of darkness, she brought light!”

“The happiest day of my life.”

Chelsea’s baby girl, Katie, was born! How she loved her sweet baby girl! Trevor worked all day, then he’d come home and go hunting or fishing in the evening. He never wanted to be at home. So, it was just Chelsea and Katie all day, every day. They baptized her in a Lutheran church and Chelsea started taking her to church on Sundays. baby-girl-clip-art-9Chelsea would talk to her mom about what she was reading in the Bible, but she would mock her and warn her about becoming a religious freak. So, Chelsea stopped going to church and she stopped talking about it. How sad. Thankfully, God had special plans for Chelsea and her girl years down the road.

When Katie was one year old, Chelsea decided it was time to find a job. They needed extra money, now that they had a baby to take care of. She found a job working just a few days a week, just what she needed! Chelsea also started losing weight and getting the attention she so craved.

“I was sick of being fat all my life. The more weight I lost, the more attention I got. I was starving for attention. My husband gave me none. I lost a total of 85 pounds and not once did he say anything nice to me.”

Have you ever felt ignored or simply “not noticed” by your husband? I think we all have at one time or another. Be careful during this time of self-absorption. Because that’s what this is. A pity party. A “He doesn’t know how lucky he is to have a woman like me” party. A “Someone else would appreciate me more” party. Anyone ever experience a party like this before? Here’s how the story usually goes…It always begins with “There was this guy…”

There was this guy at her job who did notice Chelsea and her weight loss. He was so nice to her, giving her attention, affection, and compliments. She confided in him about Trevor and his lack of attention. Kevin sympathized with her. Of course.They would talk and joke around all night. A man that could talk! Wow! Let me pause for a moment and explain something. What you have read in the last few sentences is how most, if not all, affairs begin. So beware, ladies. Beware.

Chelsea was definitely attracted to Kevin. She began thinking of him often. He called her one day and asked her to meet him for lunch. She had to refuse because of Katie, but that one bold call took their relationship to a whole new level. Kevin called Chelsea daily. They talked for hours. Kevin made her feel alive and wanted. The physical aspect of the affair began. Chelsea’s conscious screamed that it was wrong, but her loneliness justified her actions. He was the man who she had been craving all these years.

Chelsea left Trevor a few months later and she and Kevin moved in together. When the divorce was finalized, Chelsea struggled with a contortion of emotions. She did love Trevor. She had given up so much for him and it devastated her that he didn’t fight for her. I admit that I have struggled with these same emotions myself. Shouldn’t a person fight for something that they love and want?

“Through that time, I turned to alcohol instead of food. Kevin and I would go to the bar at least three times a week and spend hundreds of dollars on alcohol. We would fight like crazy. Sometimes it got physical. The more my guilt consumed me, the more I drank. I would get mad at Trevor if he was late to get Katie because that cut into my drinking time.”

At this point in her life, Chelsea’s story goes from bad to worse. On a chilly day in November, she found out she was pregnant. A few months into her pregnancy, Kevin went out and got drunk. When he came home, they had a fight. It became physical. He threw Chelsea on the couch. The next day, she started bleeding. February 18, 2007, three years to the day after her father died, Chelsea had a miscarriage. She and Kevin were devastated. If you’ve lost a baby, you know how they were feeling. It was time to sober up. The drinking finally stopped. Chelsea and Kevin, together, began attending church and they both gave their lives to Jesus. Tragedy will do that. It will bring you to your knees and cause you to look to the only person who can help you. Jesus Christ. And not only is He our Savior, but He is our Restorer. If I had to chose one word that sums up Chelsea’s story it would be restoration.

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Restoration is the act of returning something to a former owner, place or condition. 

Chelsea gave birth to a healthy baby boy the following year. With Victor, they made a happy family of four! Katie was a great big sister! Kevin adored having a son and things were finally right with Chelsea’s life! But wait, we’re not done with this story yet…

Kevin lost his job shortly before Victor was born. For two years, they struggled to make ends meet. Chelsea was still happy though. They had food to eat, a warm home. She knew she was blessed. But, if you’ve ever experienced a husband out of work, you know how hard it can be on the man. Kevin became depressed. When he finally found a job, he seemed happy. But after a few months, he started to change. He was angry all the time. He hid his cell phone from Chelsea and kept a passcode on it so no one could use it.

Are you getting that sick, dreading feeling in the pit of your stomach? You have an idea of what’s coming next…

“I watched him put the code in one day and memorized it. While he was sleeping, I took his phone and looked. He had been texting someone he found on Craigslist for sexual favors. I don’t know if he ever went through with it. He says he didn’t, but that was the last straw for me. After all the fighting and boozing, I couldn’t take it anymore. He either got help or I was gone.”

Kevin started going to counseling with one of the pastors from their church. He truly became a changed man.

“Our marriage is near perfect. He loves Jesus, I love Jesus and our kids are being brought up in His presence.”

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Kevin found a new job working away from home. It was very hard for Chelsea at first. Besides her trust issues, she is raising two kids on her own. Slowly, she has adjusted to life without her husband around each day. Finally (!), here’s her happy ending…at least until she gets to heaven…

“I finally feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. As I grow older, I find more purpose and trust God more. If not for Him, I don’t know where I’d be right now. I have no doubt He was right alongside me my whole life, even though I never really felt Him. He brought me up out of the trenches and for that, I will forever be grateful. There were so many days I just wanted to give up on life. I’m so thankful that God never gave up on me.”tumblr_ldlgwkphlK1qeepnao1_500

What about her mother, you may be asking? We’ve heard how Chelsea felt manipulated and controlled by her mother, always having to take care of her, holding Chelsea back from discovering herself. She has finally come to a place in her life where she has learned to place healthy boundaries between she and her mother. I’ve witnessed this in her life and it is definitely hard for Chelsea. She still struggles with maintaining the appropriate distance from her mother, but she admits that things a much better between them now.

Chelsea’s story is so dear to my heart, paralleling my own life at certain times. My desire is that as you have read her story, you’ve seen the power and restoration that can be found through a relationship with God. Just like Chelsea, He loves you so much and will never stop pursuing you. Maybe you are in a place in your life where you feel abused, lost, lonely, worn out and used. Your Creator is lovingly waiting for you to turn to Him and allow Him to be all that you need. Parents let us down, husbands betray us, friends disappoint us, children leave us, it’s true. But Jesus will always be with you. The Bible says that He will never leave you. He will restore your life, redeem your life and make all things new. He loves you so much. Invite Him into your life today.

Once more, in Chelsea’s own words,

“God is so awesome and amazing. I’m overwhelmed by the amount of love He has for me. I couldn’t ask to be in a better place in my life right now. All the glory goes to Him.”

If you’ve been touched by this story, please tell me. It matters to the women who are being so brave in sharing their precious lives with you. YOU matter to Chelsea. She wants you to find hope and healing through her story. So please, contact me at the email address below. All correspondences are confidential.

themystoryseries@gmail.com