Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dear Aunt Alberta,

I want to thank you today. God has placed you on my heart lately and I decided it was way overdue to tell you what an amazing influence you have been in my life.

Although we haven't spent a lot of time together, the times that I have spent with you have been some that I will remember always.

First is the Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cookbook that you got me when I was a young child. The inscription just says, "To Deana, With Love, Uncle Mase, Aunt Alberta, Brian, Linda, Sharon and Jeremy." Simple words, yet so much deeper meaning. It is with God's love that you all loved me. A little girl, mostly known to you through pictures and simple stories about my life, yet you still loved me as if you saw me everyday. As a young girl, I paged through this cookbook over and over, imagining the things I could cook and what they would taste like. Several times I was allowed to actually make one of the recipes for my family and bless them with something yummy I had cooked. Not only did I make "Creamy Hot Cocoa," but other things like, "Stuffed Eggs," "French Toast," and "Creamy Fudge." This book also taught me how to properly set a table, cooking terms, how to measure, and what things not to do at a dinner table. The basics, if you will. These "basics" fostered a life-time love of cooking for others. Today it gives me great joy to bless others with a meal or a homemade dessert. I have even passed down this tradition with my children. They love to help me in the kitchen, always wanting to help out in some way. Chopping, creating, mixing or setting the table. It doesn't matter to them. They love it all and just want to be in the kitchen with me. Just this week we made special cupcakes for my son's homeroom and friends. He was very involved in the process. That time that we spent together was not only precious, but the result of it blessed more than 30 children at his school. For no other reason to let them know that they are special to us and to God, each of these 8th graders were blessed with a sweet treat. I got many personal thank yous and notes from moms whose children ran home to tell them about the treat they received in homeroom. However, it wasn’t the thanks that mattered to me, it was the fact that they felt blessed….even if they hadn't had a good day. Even if they rode to school worrying about a test. Even if they had a fight with their best friend. Each one of those children were able to have a moment where they felt personally special. Special to us and to God.

See how your simple gift, from years ago, has blossomed and grown into something only God could create. Not only did you bless me by giving me a simple book, but you blessed 30 kids in my son's school by passing on the love of God.

Next, is an inscription you wrote in my Autograph Book in 1978. It reads, "Deana, we are glad that you are our niece. You are very sweet and we praise the Lord for you. God Bless you. Love, Aunt Alberta. PS. Thank you for the daisies." And Uncle Mase wrote, "Deana, The things of this world will molder and rot away. Place your hopes on higher thoughts. God loves you and I do too. Uncle Mase."

How could you have known that a little girl who felt bad about herself, needed to hear those words so desperately? It was through God's lens that you saw what I needed and gave me a glimpse of His love. How could you have known, that almost 40 years later, I would lean on those words to remind me that even I, a young girl who grew up without God's word in my daily life, am special and loved by the one true King? How could you have known that your written words would be a tipping point for positive change in my life? It is only though Him. He is all-knowing, Father God, who reminded me that these words in this autograph book even existed. He sent me straight to my little book, hidden safely in a box in my basement. I opened up, without hesitation, to Uncle Mase's page. "God loves you," it says. That is right, He has loved me all along and even though at times I didn't know he was there, he still was.

It was the family picnics, the Christmas cards and the letters, that reminded me of God's never-ending love. You always greeted me with a hug and a smile. No matter if I was grumpy or happy. And our time together always ended with another hug and the words, "God bless you." Again, simple words with so much deeper meaning and influence in my life. Influence that will be passed down for generations in my own family.

Because of your love for me and God's grace to let it grown in my heart, I dedicated my life to Him at the age of 8. Although, it took many more years to see that I had walked away from His love, He was still always there. I wasn't praising Him or even reading His words, yet He was there for me in some of the most important times of my life. During the sad, He helped me believe in my heart that I was worth more than what I was seeing happen in the real world. During the happy, He witnessed my vows, helped me birth two beautiful children, and taught me how to have His heart and pray for others.

On this very day I stand here and witness that, I have survived a tumultuous childhood, a sexual assault, many years of depression, and a year long separation in my marriage because He loved me that much. Because YOU loved me that much. Because no matter what…. Jesus has the best things planned for me. He always has.

I wanted to thank you today, because I wasn't sure you ever knew how much influence your love has had on my life. Aunt Alberta, you have lived your life, not ONLY dedicated to God, but walking this earth exemplifying the love of Jesus  to everyone you meet. For that, I am deeply thankful and I rejoice in knowing that God is telling you, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

I love you to the heavens and back,
Your niece,

Deana 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Crazy Mode Be Gone

I know that in the past I have shared about my eating disorder (here's a sample), but there was one post in particular that got a lot of comments and I deleted it. It was me describing my obsession with my scale. People looked at me in person and wondered why in the heck I still wanted to lose weight. At the time, I was not at my goal weight and even though I had lost around 30 lbs, some people didn't understand why I wanted to lose more. Losing more was ALWAYS my goal. In fact, I think if I had gotten to my goal weight I would have probably made an even lower goal.

Some people claimed to not understand my obsession with my scale, but I think they really DID understand, but  just wanted to show concern for me wanting to be too thin. In Made to Crave, by Lysa TerKerurst DEFINITELY would have understood my obsession with my scale. In fact, in Chapter 2 of the book Lysa writes....(pg. 27)

           "I roll over and look at the clock. Another day. Beyond all reason and rationality, I slide out of bed and strip off everything that might weigh even the slightest ounce as I head to the scale. May today will be the day the scale will be my friend and not reveal my secrets. Maybe somehow overnight the molecular structure of my body shifted and today I will magically weigh less."

Lysa and I CAN'T be the only ones who share this obsession. At the time I was a slave to the scale. Good number means good day. Bad number means bad day. Most times my goal for myself was to at least lose a pound a day. Pretty aggressive and probably unattainable.

I remember at one point, that I limited myself to under 500 calories per day. Counting every calorie made me nuts. I constantly felt deprived. And my battle with my will continued as I denied myself everyday things like a homemade chocolate chip cookie or even more than a few drops of sour cream.

But as I said in the last post, God was not in this previous battle. It was me.....the scale....and the enemy. I never allowed God to tell me what HE wanted me to eat. Every calorie, every loss, every gain, every step on the scale was a huge battle that could not be won without Him.

So, now that I am back up to my 50 pound gain and the Lord has assured me that with Him all things are possible (Matthew 19:26) I am ready to let Him in. Let Him lead. Let Him show me the way. Because really, who better to do it? God is right.........if I had faith in him to heal my marriage........why do I find it hard for myself to trust Him in this matter. Nothing is too difficult for Him (Jeremiah 32:26-27). He is the God that parted the Red Sea. He is the God that gave Abraham and Sarah a child in their golden years. He is the God that saved Daniel in the Lion's Den. He is the God that allowed David to bring down a giant with a tiny stone. What makes me think my problem is bigger?

........my battle is not bigger. It is just the fact that God loves me that allows Him to show me the path to a brighter, healthier future.

During Advent I was completely angry with God. As Lysa described, I would get on the scale and not see any movement. One day, after taking a shower, I completely lost it in my closet trying to pick out something to wear. I have a big closet full of clothes that don't fit. What does fit? My sweat pants, my leggings and a few shirts. I fell to the floor and just cried. I cried the cry that I once did when I felt so helpless when my husband was gone. Not weeping....heaving.

I picked myself off the floor, got dressed again, in the same old sweats and made my way back to the bathroom.  I heard God say......"just be patient."

Un-Coincidentally, I happened to be doing an Advent Bible Study, with my friend and former classmate, Jenn Taylor, of Taylor Made Wellness. She and I were talking one day and she shared her battle with the diet demons. Jenn is an almost 20 year veteran in the Health and Wellness industry (see here). All I could think was, if Jenn is battling the diet demons, this issue must be bigger than I realize.

Several weeks later Jenn announced that she was going to be doing the Proverbs 31 online Bible study of Made to Crave. She invited people from her Facebook page to join her. I had seen Made to Crave in the Christian book store but had never picked it up. Jenn also announced that she would do an additional conference call for those of us wanting to do the study with her. I was ALL in!!!!

God was working. Setting the path......like he always does.

I signed up on the Proverbs 31 website, bought the book, and prepared to end this crazy mode forever. We are now three weeks into the study and I have lost 5 pounds, but let me tell you they are the BEST five pounds I have ever lost.

These pounds were lost with God's grace, God's love and God's mercy. Getting to know him better everyday he has rewarded me......not with the lost pounds, but with a closer relationship to Him. Everyday I look forward to figuring this whole thing out. The obsession. The scale. The weight. I KNOW at the end of this journey they will all be gone. I am trusting in my Lord Jesus to show me what he has in store........






Wednesday, January 29, 2014

You Are Invited........To Crave God

I am keenly aware that this is a momentous occasion for me from God. That's why I'm writing. Long have I battled with eating disorders, weight gain/loss, thyroid disease, and just plain lack of motivation to exercise. Most of it probably sounds familiar, right?

Well, it's no secret that after having my first child fourteen years ago, I gained a TON of weight. At first, I left the hospital and returned the next day with my pre-pregnancy jeans, not only fitting, but slightly loose. I was there to check on Jackson who was in the NICU for some breathing issues. I remember that the nurses looked at me and said, "Is this your baby?" (I responded yes) "Didn't you just have him yesterday?" (again, yes). I felt excited by their comments because at this point what others said about me shaped the way I saw myself. I was proud to be in those jeans. I was proud that I didn't look like I just had a baby.

(me at about 8 mos pregnant, 1999)

But, as is nothing that doesn't come from God, my pride and excitement didn't last long.

A few days later when we brought Jackson home, the enormity of feeling inadequate set in. Breastfeeding wasn't going well. Jackson was pretty fussy most of the time and we ended up holding him most of the day. Of course, being first time parents didn't help either. Neither my husband or I felt confident about what we could give Jackson that would make him feel better. We tried EVERYTHING, and I do mean, everything. Breast milk from a bottle, soy formula, regular formula, holding him, rocking him, holding him upright, laying him down, and much, much more. Finally we found something that at least seemed to work for awhile. Gold plated formula, you know that kind that NO ONE buys. The kind that only comes in ready to feed and costs more that a nice dinner out with your hubby? That just happened to be our "go to." In addition, our little cuddler, LOVED to be held, especially if you were laying down, with him curled up on your chest.

Hours turned into days, days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months of me (and my husband) laying on the couch with Jackson on our chests. We wanted to give that little guy everything he needed and because it seemed as if this was the only thing that made him happy. We took turns and put our needs aside.

That meant, fast easy meals, mostly ordered in and some through the drive thru at the closest fast food joint. That also meant little or no personal time. Forget exercising. All of our free moments were spent just surviving. Taking a hot shower. Eating a quick meal or taking a quick nap. At this time, my committed husband even drove 1.5 hours one way to work everyday.

Quickly I became depressed and eventually overweight. At my highest, I was 180 lbs. Normal, consistent weight for me was around 130. At first I mentally resisted, but quickly realized that this was my new normal.


(me at my smallest, just over 100 lbs. 1992)


(me at my largest, 180 lbs. 2003)

In 2007, eight years after having my son, I decided I couldn't take my weight gain any longer. I signed up for Jenny Craig and quickly lost 20 lbs. But I hated the food and I forced myself to eat it. I didn't think there was any other way to lose weight that would work for me, especially since I had a husband and now 2 children to feed. So after the 20 lb loss, I gave up Jenny and decided to give it a go on my own.

Quickly I went through plan after plan. Slim-Fast, Medi-Fast, South Beach, Zero Calorie Diet, Juicing, Sonoma Diet, Skinny Girl Diet, and Fit for Life. I also tried Bistro MD, eDiets, and Weight Watchers online. But just wait………...there's more. , Alli, Green Tea, Zantrex, Slim Quick, Xenadrine, Ph Drops, and more recently……. Raspberry Ketones, Garcinia Cambogia, Liporidex, Evoxin, Signa Lean and Saffron Extract. My favorite method by far, was laxatives, and at one point my body was completely addicted to them.

Let me just pause and say two things……..ALL of these methods
  1. Rely completely on me to do the work AND
  1. Underestimate or completely ignore the existence of spiritual warfare and the ALMIGHTY GOD!!!!

THIS is why I have not been successful. Certainly not because I didn't try. And up until a year ago, I had lost a total of about 50 lbs.

 (me after losing 50 lbs. normal weight 130, 2012)
So that brings us to today.

After my 50 lb. loss, came my marriage restoration. Once again, I felt it was ok to just eat. I stopped counting calories, stopped weighing myself and occasionally indulged in the things I loved to eat. My husband's reassurance that he loved me and wanted our family back together brought me to an emotional high. It is what I had prayed more than a year for. I once again felt loved and wanted.

The winter of 2013 came and, as I do most winters, I spent most of my time in leggings, long shirts and sweaters. Either I didn't notice it or the weight gain was just easier hidden by clothes that stretched easily.

Everything came to a head when I went to shop for dresses for our marriage vow renewal in July. NOTHING I had fit. I tried different things and eventually decided on a white beachy long sundress. And because I didn't have any smart casual clothes to wear to the conference, I purchased a few other things. What really floored me was when I went to try on my size 7 jean shorts from the previous summer and I couldn't even get my leg in. I had NO IDEA it had been THIS much weight. The happy emotions of the vow renewal combined with the depressing emotions of the weight gain sent me over the edge. The worst was when I looked at the pictures of our vow renewal and was mixed with shock and horror. I REALLY looked fat.


 (vow renewal, Summer 2013)
What could have and should have been the most amazing moment in my life was overshadowed by the doubt and anxiety, only the enemy could bring. Every time my husband proudly showed our friends and family the pictures of the event, I secretly cringed at what they might (and I already did) think of my weight gain. In those pictures, all I still see is fat. My eyes are blinded by the devil's mask of doubt. I don't see the love and joy of God's amazing work, like I should. I know it's there, I just can't see it……….yet.

It is my desire to someday be able to look at those pictures and see the real me. The real beautiful heart that God gave me. The real amazing love that He blessed my husband and I with. The real love of the people surrounding us who didn't care how much I weighed. Me, in the white sundress, loving God and my husband more than I thought was ever possible.


  (vow renewal, Summer 2013)

For the past 6 months I have prayed, cried, avoided the mirror and had many words with God about my weight.

Every time He calmed my anxieties and told me to wait. Somehow waiting didn't seem fair. I waited a year for my marriage to be restored and now all I wanted was to be happy in my body. Why couldn't God just give me a miracle like He did with my marriage? I've been mad, really mad lately. Mostly mad a myself for letting it get this far, but a little mad at God for not buying into my timing.

That's when I heard "Dear daughter, you trusted me to heal your marriage, why can't you trust me to handle this?"

Tears.

Tears.

And more tears.


He's right. I KNOW it.

So friends, now it's time to stop craving everything else and CRAVE GOD!!!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Coming Soon........

Today it became very clear that my husband and I are NOW to tell our story of our marriage restoration. If you don't know the back story, feel free to read my posts from when we were separated. For those of you who have been waiting to hear the ending.......the beautiful work that God has done in us........it's now clear that it is His timing.

So coming soon.........our love story continues.........



Here's just a sneak peek of our vow renewal in July 2013.

In the meantime, I will be doing some blog posts on my ongoing weight loss journey. God is still working on us........in many, many ways! Thank you so much for your interest in this Covenant Journey!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What's Love?

It occurred to me today (go figure!) that eventually my little corner of the blog world might make it's way into the hands of anyone who has less than admirable intentions for reading this. I've seen it happen to other blogger friends, so I want to preface this post by saying a few things.

  1. I love my husband. I want nothing more than for us to be reconciled and happy together again. My intentions are NOT say anything bad about him. He is a wonderful human being who has faults, just like the rest of us, me included. I am not here to expose, criticize, or harm him in anyway.
  2. I realize that because of the nature of the subject it is easy to take sides. You are hearing only one side here (obvi).
  3. I am going to speak about myself here on this blog. What I say will certainly involve my interactions with my husband. I will not use his name.
  4. Speaking the Truth is sometimes hard. Even though I haven't yet, I can imagine that I will encounter people who might be upset at me for telling my story. That's OK. I forgive you ahead of time. I am 100% positive that God is prompting me to tell my story of hope, healing and reconciliation.
  5. I was approached by one of the Co-Directors of the ministry I am involved with to write an article for our worldwide newsletter. This blog is my way of working out the kinks before I submit my words for global printing.
Whew! Now that that's over..........

I sincerely appreciate ALL of the comments, emails and phone calls I have gotten as a result of sharing my story. What an outpouring of love, encouragement, and hope! THAT is what this is about!!! People sharing wisdom, hope, encouragement, and love.

So today my husband and I had a discussion about LOVE. What is love? How do we need to be shown love? Is it still love if you express it and it is not received the way it was intended? How do we learn to be more loving and accepting of one another? Is love a choice?

My feeling, although I am not entirely sure, is that love IS a choice. It's not something we fall into haphazardly or don't have a say in. We make choices. Everyday. Love is one of them.

Today I learned that I am not loving my husband the way he needs to be loved. What I feel I have  done for the past 20 years in loving him is not how he wanted me to show him love. Pretty earth-shattering, right?

Well, here's just a sprinkle of the things that are in my library.....
I share this because, all this time, I thought that reading some certain book, going to some seminar on marriage, and inventorying other people would give me the rules for being a perfect wife. My intentions are there, my delivery, not so much apparently.

What I learned in this, is that all this time, I was forgetting God, specifically Jesus. Yes, we were married in faith, went to church, and professed to know God. BUT, I never once, in all of these years, until recently, asked God how to love my husband.

I am fairly certain that God would not have told me to read the above list of books. He would not have said, "Deana, just go to this one last seminar and you'll be made!"

He would have told me, had I listened years ago, to look at His Son.

Someone told me recently, that until a Christian truly understands what Jesus did for them on the cross, they won't be able to really understand what love is. Until we take it PERSONAL, that Jesus died for US, and every little sin we've ever committed, we can't possibly understand the enormity of love.

So I hear you questioning......."Jesus died for me, ____________ (fill in the name blank)?" Yes, YOU, and me and my husband and my mother and my father and even that guy down the street that you really don't like. He (God) didn't judge us, or our sins, BEFORE he asked his Son to die for us. He knew we were ALREADY worthy of his love and forgiveness. What does THAT say about love?

So, I have come to the conclusion that I have not been loving my husband with the love of God. Yes, I feel pretty good about what I tried to do on my own. What I didn't try, was asking God how to love him.

I won't go into the details now, but when I DID ask God, how to love my husband, this is what He said........."Pour out the love."

Now, that might not really seem like an answer if I don't truly know what love is, so I asked, "God, what does that look like for me and my marriage?" Now we're getting somewhere, Deana.

And I didn't just stop there. I continue, periodically, to ask the same question, followed by, "God, am I doing this right? Please show me if I am not."

What I DO KNOW, is that if I keep continuing on this path, I will someday experience the love from my husband that I truly desire. (Believe me, I'm stubborn) What I ALSO know, is that becasuse I asked those questions, God has enabled me to FEEL love.....the love of the Father, the love that knows no boundaries, the love that keeps giving even when I can't. THAT'S LOVE, folks.

REAL.
TRUE.
AMAZING.

Love you all! :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

More Crushing News......

So we've told the children, told my parents, and my husband is spending a week in a hotel room. NOTHING. I mean, NOTHING, seems right about this. Part of me wants to run to him and be held in his arms and part of me wants to let my heart harden. Neither of those seem appropriate. For days I had absolutely no idea what to do with myself. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't clean or do chores. I barely took a shower, threw my hair up in a bun and plopped myself back on the couch. On one of those first days my husband decided to take the kids sledding. Watching the three of them walk out the door without me was my first shock at realizing that I was going to be spending some time alone and I better get used to it. Again, nothing seemed right about it. I should be going with them. I should be laughing and sledding and having fun. BUT my mighty Lord had other plans for me......

Within a week, I got the news that my husband had found a permanent place to live. A year long lease. Yes. A. YEAR. LONG. LEASE. I was crushed beyond belief. A large part of me truly hoped that I would wake up and this would all be some terrible dream. No dream, Deana. No, dream.

On February 4, 2012, my husband showed up at our front door, rang the doorbell and prepared his things to move out. But IN MOVES GOD!!! As he took each box out of the house, each piece of furniture, each sweatshirt, each toothbrush, each part of my heart broke a little more. I panicked for a second, ran up to the closet and grabbed the last thing he had worn. A dress shirt from the week past he had worn at work. It smelled just like him. And because I wasn't ready to give up my fight, I sealed it in a ziploc bag and hid it in one of my drawers. At that moment, the prospect of never smelling his skin again or laying next to him in bed was too overwhelming for me.

I can't remember exactly how it happened but in a God-planned moment I was on the phone with my best friend in NY. A friend who had been there for me four years previous when I had FIRST gotten the news that my marriage was breaking down. Back then she was right around the corner and I spent many moments in her kitchen crying as she hugged me, listened to me and prayed for me and my husband. Now she was many miles away, but as we were on the phone this day....the move-out day....God was calling the shots.

She began to pray for me as I sat defiantly on the one piece of furniture my husband hadn't take out of the basement. Sobbing in a way I never have, we took turns reading from the Bible. First it was Psalms 131-150 and then it was the book of James.

Psalm 132:11-12 reads....."The Lord swore an oath to David with a promise he will never take back: I will place one of your descendants on your throne. If your descendants obey the terms of my covenant and the laws I teach them, then your royal line will continue forever and ever."

Remember that word "covenant." This amazing word comes strongly into my story later on.

Psalm 136 repeats over and over......"His faithful love endures forever."

It was all starting to sink in as we took turns reading. I am fairly certain that my neighbor, who was helping my husband move out, thought I was completely insane. At first I read quietly with my head down, tears rolling down my cheeks. And then, with each word........"promise".........."covenant"........"faithful"......."forever".....I gained strength, and with it, loudness, confidence and hope.

In the book of James we read Chapter 1:12......"God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."

Verses 19-21 say........."you must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls."

Even though God's words have such power, it wasn't in His plan to have my husband hear those Scriptures, stop what he was doing and repent. That was MY plan.

As he drove away, my friend, still on the phone, said, "Deana, God is giving me some words for you. I think you need to write them down and proclaim them in each of the rooms of your house."

READY FOR THIS?

As she told me what to write down, I digested the words and obeyed. For some reason I remembered that I had purchased dried sage some years ago, for who knows what purpose. I ran to get the sage, lit it on fire and blew it out so that it would smoke. In each of my rooms, with my sage burning, I read the following.....

"Satan I rebuke you for attempting to destroy my marriage. I rebuke all of your evil ways. This battle has already been won and fought by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This victory is MINE not yours."

Pretty strong, huh, for someone whose former churches never spoke about the Devil?

BUT, it didn't make me uncomfortable. I knew I was doing the right thing. In accordance with the above verses from James, I decided to take some of it LITERALLY, especially the part about "getting rid of all of the filth and evil in your lives." I'm not especially proud of what I did next, but if I'm truthful, it felt like the right thing at the time.

Let me preface this by saying that I DO NOT believe that my husband is evil. I DO believe that he had been under the false truth that Satan had so readily provided him.

Sooooooo, I started in the upstairs and got every piece of everything that my husband left behind. Mugs, pictures, a razor, dirty laundry, hair gel.......all nicely placed out on the lawn for him to pick up upon his return. Much to many who would like to believe otherwise, this was NOT an angry rant made to make my husband look foolish. At the time, it felt like the right thing to do. Rid my home anything that might still be in Satan's grip.

This, however,
was me playing dirty. Disobeying the rules. NOT listening to God's word about forgiveness or love or faith. It was me, being human, leaving a Bible and my dress from our vow renewal on the front lawn. I am not perfect.

In my journal on this day I wrote "The #2 Worst/Best Day of my Life."

#2 because "D-day" was the worst day.

Worst because I can't imagine many things more gut wrenching than watching your husband physically leave your relationship.

And Best because........
  1. God thought enough of me to appear on this day and guide me through it, with the help of a loving friend.
  2. God had given me words to stand on.......promise.....covenant....faithful....forever.
  3. God allowed me to be angry, within reason, and be totally human.
  4. God put his mark on my life and my marriage.
  5. I started an amazing journey.......one which will have a happy ending.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Journey......

Dear God,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalms 19:14)

It is with both sadness and hope that I write this blog post.

But it is time, time to share my story....my journey.....and even my Christmas wish for you.

Ten months ago, three days before my 40th birthday, my husband of 15 years and partner for over 20 years left our marriage. The days leading up to this were some of the worst in my life. My husband has traveled for work since before we even got married and on this week, he happened to be in Herndon, VA, where the headquarters for his work is. The week started with fighting over the phone, tears, angry hang ups and ultimately a phone call to a lawyer.

When he returned on Friday night, there were no kisses, no hugs, and barely even a hello. As I fought back tears of hurt and anger, my six-year old daughter caught a glimpse of my glassy eyes. "What's wrong Mommy?" she asked. My response was, "Honey, I just want Daddy to hug me too." WRONG. THING. TO SAY.

Immediately she came to my protection and confronted her Dad. "Why won't you hug Mommy, Daddy?" (No answer) "Daddy, Mommy wants a hug, will you please hug her?" The response she got went something like this....."I can't right now, Sweetie."

The rest is a whirlwind. Next thing I knew I was calling my parents to come get the kids so that my husband and I could talk.

They arrived, took the kids and left me and my husband alone at our house. I don't think my heart has ever beat faster, louder or more defiant in my life. As we sat, across the room from one another I asked the question no one wants to hear the answer to......"Do you still want to be married to me?" (No answer). Let me re-phrase that......"Do you want a d---orce?" (Still no answer). Knowing that one of us had sought the council of an attorney in the days before, I knew I had to get the answer to my question.

AND BOY DID I GET IT! Five times I got the answer NO ONE wants to hear. Five times it took to settle in my heart that I had just lost the only man I have ever loved. Five times it took for me to wrap my arms around the idea of being single again for the first time in 20 years. Five times it took for me to swallow the bulge in my throat and ask the question again. Five times I got the same answer.

ONE TIME, God gave me HIS answer....

"Deana, this isn't the end. Just pray and be still. Be still and know that I am with you."

So I was still AND calm AND amazingly I felt safe. Safer than I have EVER felt in my life.

As we gave the news to the kids my complete horror returned for just a moment. They screamed in disbelief and begged us not to say it was true. I held them both on my lap and let my husband talk. I held them tighter and stronger that I have ever held them in my life. I held on to them with the arms of God strengthening and calming them, knowing that although this would be hard, it would not be the end. I prayed for the peace that passes all understanding to envelope them and give them hope. I prayed that this news wouldn't crush them beyond repair. I prayed that God had them in His hands, although I was certain that He did.

I have to stop my story now. What I thought I could write in a few paragraphs, I  now realize needs more time, more words, more detail. This is me. Raw. Vulnerable. Sad, but with a HOPE and knowledge that I pray will touch many, many lives.

THIS IS A STORY OF RECONCILIATION AND HOPE. Make no bones about it. God is in control here. Not me, not my husband. Not our friends, not our families. JUST GOD.

And for now I leave you with....

Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Thank you my friends for letting me share my story.

To be continued..........