I will never forget my first or my second

Hello everyone. I hope you had a great weekend! Can you believe it’s December? Twenty-two days until Christmas. It is unbelievable how fast the year went by. Are you looking forward to the new year? I am excited for the opportunity to start over. I am ready to accomplish the natural and spiritual goals I’ve set for myself. I am also looking forward to my 13th wedding anniversary. Lord, thank you.

As a ponder over the past twelve years, I am in awe of God’s grace. My husband and I have experienced extreme highs and unbelievable lows, but we did it and stayed together. My marriage was the first positive relationship in my life. Actually, my husband was my first in many ways.

Let me backtrack a bit. God was my first. He was the first person I learned loved me exactly the way I was. As a child, I never had anyone love me that way. Whenever I made a mistake I trembled with fear of harsh reprimand. When it came to God, I was also fearful because I thought if I messed up, he would turn his back on me. However, the day I came into the realization of God’s love for me, it changed my life. I finally understood there was nothing I could do to get God to stop loving me.

After walking with God for several years, I was very secure in his love for me, but I struggled with believing he could send me someone who could love me just the same. I never expressed those feelings to God, but I am so glad he knows the secrets and desires of our hearts.

Psalms 139: 1-2 “Lord, you have examined me and know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts before I think them.”

Years later, God answered my heart’s desire and sent me a physical example of unconditional love when he brought my husband into my life. I had been healed from so much pain, but there was still some unresolved trauma I was not aware of. It was not until after I married, that those issues resurfaced.  My husband loved me through it all.

The Lord was my first spiritual example of true love and my husband was my spiritual and physical example! Through all of my ups and downs, my husband loved me as Christ loved the church…unconditionally. Sure, we had other issues that had nothing to do with my trauma, but we learned to work through all of it, allowing God to be the third cord in our marriage.

Ecclesiastes 4:12A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (NLT).

The relationship with my husband taught me how to persevere, sacrifice, and endure; especially when things did not go my way. When you think about it, it is similar to the relationship we have with the Father. We endure trials, tests and hardship, but at the end of it all, we win.

James 2:12 – “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (ESV).

God was my first. He loved me, healed me and set me free. My husband was my second. The person God sent to aid in my remaining healing process.

Before dating and most certainly before we wed, it is important we are healed from past issues, otherwise, we will bring those issues into your relationship as I did. However, God is so merciful and full of wisdom that He knew who to send to aid in my healing process. That is His unconditional love. My FIRST love, before I knew that HE was.

God bless you.

 

Photo by Asaf R on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Marriage journey…again

Hello everyone,

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday filled with love, laughter and most of all thankfulness. I truly love this season. November is a time to be thankful. December is a time to celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. And my personal favorite, January, is a time to reflect and celebrate my upcoming wedding anniversary!

On January 14, 2019, I’ll be married for 13 years. YAY! For some people, this may not seem like much, but for me, it means a lot. There was a time I did not think we would make it, BUT God!

A few months back, I discussed the 12 lessons I learned in twelve years of marriage. I received a lot of positive feedback, and I pray my sharing was a blessing to those of you who are married and for those of you who desire to be.

However, as I reflect on my almost 13 years of marriage, I have learned another major lesson. The lesson I have learned is…

Lesson 13. – I am still a work in progress…

Philippians 1:6: …“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (NLT).

With all that God has allowed me to learn in my marriage, I still have a lot to learn. I still have areas that need changing. I still need to learn patience. Though I listen to the Holy Spirit, (most of the time), I still need to watch what I say.

A few years ago, knowing this would have made me feel defeated. But now, I feel grateful. I am not the person I was at the beginning of my marriage. I am excited to share in this journey with the man God blessed me with, and I am thankful I still have the opportunity to get it right. Glory to our God!

My husband and I, like all married couples, faced many difficult challenges. But I would not change any part of our journey. It is what makes us unique, and it is what makes us sensitive to other married couples.

When I finished my Marriage Lessons blog posts, I was happy to move on to the next subject. But the subject of marriage stayed on my heart. Therefore, if God sees fit to use me to speak on the subject, I will submit to his will and trust the process. It is not because I know everything, but because the lessons I have learned, in part, saved my marriage.

Marriage is the one relationship that is meant to mirror Christ, yet many marriages do not. My husband and I are much better than we were twelve years ago, but as I mentioned, each of us are a work in progress. It is my hope and prayer that by sharing my journey once again, you will begin to desire the type of marriage God intended.

As my anniversary approaches, I hope you don’t mind if I share my journey with you. The journey of my work in progress that will lead to our 13th wedding anniversary and beyond!

Blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello everyone! How are you on this Thanksgiving afternoon? 😊 I hope you are feeling blessed. I live in Georgia and the weather is beautiful today. The temperature will be about 60 and that is my husband’s favorite kind of weather. Later today, he will be outside on our deck grilling duck! Not my cup of tea, but it makes him happy.

I have been up since 6 am preparing for the day. A day of chopping, cooking, and cleaning; but most of all, giving thanks. As I cook, I am thankful for simply having food on my table with enough to feed my family and plenty of leftovers. Growing up, my Thanksgivings did not feel this way. The Thanksgivings I remember were filled with nervousness and anxiety because everything had to be perfect. Food cooked perfectly, the right outfit, and I had to be sure I said the right things.

Ephesians 5:20 – “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (NIV).

I am thankful that as I cook for my family, each of my children enjoys lending a hand in the kitchen. The oldest keeps it clean as I move from dish to dish. My little ones don’t ask for much because they understand the magnitude of what’s happening in the kitchen and that alone is helpful. Besides, they know the mac and cheese is coming…

I am thankful that my Thanksgiving is easy going. My children don’t have to worry about being dressed “properly” and doing and saying the right things. I am thankful that my home is full of God’s peace and joy.

My prayer as each of us prepares for Thanksgiving, is that we focus on what matters. It’s not the perfect turkey, the perfect meal or the perfect outfit. What matters is that you are here another year with the ability to give thanks to our God.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What’s the Secret…

To Forgiveness?

I have written on this subject before, but I believe as Christians it is a subject we need to discuss more often.

When I think back on all the pain I endured as a child, it is still horrifying. I am grateful to God that I have been healed. However, every now and then when I think about it, I am saddened by the childhood I lost. And I am saddened because it was lost by the hands of my mother; the person who was supposed to love me more than any person, the person who carried and birthed me, the one person you can never replace. She hurt me time and time again.

I can recall so clearly, the night my mother made me sleep outside. My mother, brother, and I were playing around. As she tickled me, she thought she heard me say she was nothing. She asked me to repeat what I said, and I said “nothing.” She said, “What did you say?” I said, “nothing.” She said, “So you’re calling me nothing?” I said, “No.” In a moment, things went from happy to sad to terrifying.

She told me to get out! I was bewildered because I did not understand what just happened. It was cold that night. I remember crying and asking God…why but, no answer. Sometime later, she came outside and said, “You can come in, but you have to sleep on the floor.” I was terrified to come in but grateful to get out of the cold. I reluctantly went upstairs and laid on the floor next to my brother’s bed. He held my hand that night. I thank God he held my hand. I don’t remember going to sleep, but I am sure I did.

Over 20 years later, my mother and I were speaking on the phone and she poured out her heart to me in repentance. As she spoke, I heard the deep ocean of her heart. Before she could finish her sentence, I stopped her and said, “Mom, I forgave you a long time ago.” There was silence.

When my mother passed away, my heart was so full. Sure, I was disappointed that I never had a chance to have the relationship I desired to have with her, but my heart was free because before she closed her eyes in death, I had already forgiven her; and she knew it.

The day she died, I stood next to her hospital bed and whispered in her ear, “I love you, I don’t hold anything against you.” I had forgiven her years before, but I felt the need to say it again. One hour after I left the hospital, I received the call from the doctors. My heart broke, and I cried, but deep down I had peace. And I still do.

So…what’s my secret to forgiveness? Just do it! Forgive. I know it seems easier said than done, but forgiveness is a decision. It’s for you, not for the other person. Ask yourself, have you gained anything by holding unforgiveness in your heart? Has your life improved? Do you feel better? I doubt it! As a child, I could not understand why certain things happened to me. But as a saved adult, I chose to simply forgive; to love her and let it go.

I know you are hurt, and I understand. Perhaps we don’t share the same reasons why, but pain is pain. And remember Jesus, died to deliver you from that pain. He desires that you be healed and free.

Be honest with God; tell him it’s hard to forgive but forgive anyway. Mark 11:25 says, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Unforgiveness causes distress of the soul, and that is not God’s will for our lives. Psalm, 118:5 says, “Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free.” Call on him, so he can set you free.

 

 

Photo credit by Alice NG on Unsplash

A Letter to my Dad…A Letter to My Father (very long post)

Hello all!

I pray you are well, and you enjoyed your weekend. Today’s blog post is a bit different from ones I have written previously. I wrote this in June, read it over and saved it. But three weeks ago, I opened it and felt led to make it a blog post. I did not want to, but I felt strongly that I should. So here goes…

If you are reading this post, I want you to know that God loves you. He hears your cries for healing and deliverance in whatever area you need it.  God is always near to us, even when he is silent. God desires you to be healed and whole. But we must follow His plan to obtain healing.

…“If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I AM the LORD, who heals you.” – Exodus 15:26

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Dear Dad,

It is your daughter Darlene. It has been several years since we last spoke. I want to talk to you, but since I do not know where you are, I decided to write. The first time we spoke was over the phone; it was in 1998. I was eighteen, so nervous, but excited. I am sure you do not remember, but the first thing you said to me was “Don’t get pregnant.” After you said it, I did not want to continue our conversation because I was already pregnant. I thought you would not accept me, so I never told you. We continued the conversation for a couple more minutes and you told me I had brothers and sisters, but I was your oldest daughter. I was excited to learn I had other siblings. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet them and that was the last time we spoke…twenty years ago.

I am now thirty-nine and a few months ago, I discovered how much I missed you. I miss what you didn’t give me. My childhood was not a good one and I often wondered where you were. I wondered if you thought about me sometimes. Did you care about what I was experiencing? I was so insecure growing up. At age twelve, I experienced my first heartbreak by a boy. I wanted to know where you were. I had so many questions to ask. I wanted to know what was wrong with boys. I thought I wasn’t pretty because the girl he dumped me for was much lighter than I was.

When I saw a picture of you for the first time, I was angry. I was angry because I realized where I got my dark complexion from. Of all the things you could have given me, you gave me the one thing I hated the most.

When I was fifteen, I started seeing a twenty-three-year-old man. I am grateful for the wisdom God placed in me at an early age. I knew I needed to get out of that situation or it would turn into something worse, so I did. When I was sixteen, I was violated by one of my mother’s boyfriends and it was a secret I held until I told my husband at age thirty-five. Later that year, I began dating the father of my firstborn son. Deep down, I knew I should not be with him, but he was light-skinned with green eyes and it made me feel special that I could attract someone who looked that way. At eighteen, I became pregnant and I was depressed. My light-skinned boyfriend with green eyes dumped me and my life was ruined, or so I thought. I told my mother, but she could not offer me any advice. I was on my own. In those moments, I mourned you most.

I remember the day I saw you for the first time.  I was nervous and excited and if it were not for my mother and husband, I would have opted out altogether. It had been six years since we first spoke. I was about twenty-six and by then I was married for six months. You met my husband that day and I could tell you liked him and surprisingly, he liked you too. When I saw you, I could tell you still had your own issues to deal with. I knew there was no way you were ready to be what I wanted. I said hello, shook your hand, smiled, and quietly walked away as I forgave you in my heart. As I walked away, I knew that day would begin my journey to healing from so many things.

When I was young, my mother told me how sad she was that you left her to raise me alone. She did not know how to handle that pain, so she inflicted it on me…I forgave her years ago. Did you know my mom passed away five years ago…Probably not?

Dad, I wrote this letter, not to make you feel sad or regretful, but to let you know, I love you and I am okay. I forgave you a long time ago. I respect you because you gave me life and I am grateful for it. I have absolutely no ill will against you. I want you to see God’s grace in my life because it is the only thing that has kept me all these years. I serve a GREAT God. I am hopeful and prayerful that the Lord would allow us to connect so I can learn who you really are, and you can learn who I really am. And I would love it if you could meet your ALL your grandchildren. Whatever God’s will for our relationship, I want you to know I love you. You were the best Dad that you could be to me at that time.

I love you with the same love Christ has shown me.
Your daughter,
Darlene
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Dear Heavenly Father,

You knew me before you formed me in my mother’s womb. When my mother and father forsook me, you took me up according to your word. You have been my comforter and my friend. You were the One I called on when I was being abused. You were the one I called on when I had to sleep outside on my front porch because my mother had an outburst. You have always been there for me. But Father, I realized I never had a conversation with you about my biological father. And this year, I realized it is time. I am so glad you were there for me when he wasn’t. I do not know what I would have done if it were not for you.

You have been my everything when I had absolutely nothing. You were the one who dried my tears when all I could do was cry. You were with me while I grew up in a halfway house with my mother and others, who had their own issues. You protected me when demons tried to kill me at night. You were the first man to tell me I was beautiful and fearfully and wonderfully made. You were the first man to love me unconditionally and forgave me when I made mistakes.

You loved me so much, that you sent me a wonderful husband; something that I did not expect. You sent me a man who loved me through the pain I did not know I was still carrying. He held me when I cried for no reason. He prayed over me at night while I slept, although he thought I was asleep. You sent me someone who told me I was beautiful. Thank you for giving me a husband with patience beyond anything I have known. You sent me a husband that loved on me and walked with me through my process. Most importantly, you sent me a man who loves me like Christ loves the Church.

Although the process was long, you healed me from my pain. You helped me to forgive so many people who broke my heart, especially as a young child. God, you allowed me to be a mother and raise all my children with ALL the love I did not receive. You were the only example of love that I knew. And I learned you were the only example of love I needed.

Father, I love you so much. Thank you for this journey that I would not trade for anything. It made me strong, wise, loving and softened my heart towards others who have experienced similar pain.

There are not enough words to express my gratitude. Thank you for loving me….now and FOREVER

Your daughter,
Darlene

Scriptures
Mark 11:35 – And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins

Psalm 27:10 – Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me

Psalm 139:14 – I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Ephesians 5:25-26 – Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her; to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word