Me7First – I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the response I received from my first blog post.  What an encouragement so many are!  So humbled and so grateful.  In addition, the Lord has already used those words for His glory.  And to that I say:  Praise Him – mission accomplished.

After such a huge story of what we have been through, I thought I’d follow up with how life is today as it has been 9 months since all came crashing down.

I received many text messages and emails after my previous post saying, “oh I’m so sad for you”  or “oh my heart hurts for you.”  I understand that completely and appreciate the compassion.  However, my response to all of that is; don’t be sad.  Rejoice with me.  Be sad for what I did, how it hurt people and the hurt that I brought to myself and my family, but rejoice with where life is taking us now and how the Lord is already using Jeremy and I through our testimony.  Rejoice with me at how the Lord takes these awful horrible things that Satan tries to destroy with and instead creates something NEW and something BEAUTIFUL from them.  Don’t get me wrong: some days life just flat out stinks.  Anxiety and sorrow overwhelm me and I don’t want to get out of bed.  It’s a fight.  Some days Jeremy is sad, or has a question pop in his head or longs for a friendship he no longer has.  BUT and that is a BIG “but” (whoops that sounds funny doesn’t it)…. BUT, in those moments is when we remember grace, we remember that the Lord has even better days ahead.  We stand boldly and firmly in our faith.  We continue to move confidently forward living out our testimony.  It is then that you see God work.  When you sit and stir in sorrow, anger, bitterness, jealousy, secrets – whatever it is – nothing will change.  You will not see His blessings, you will not see Him honored.  That is why daily Jeremy and I both choose to put one foot in front of the other, we choose to glorify Him by each morning asking Him – “how can you use ME today?”

We have been asked or rather questioned on how we could possibly be where we are today.  We have heard:  “there is no way they could be ‘happy’ just 9 months after all this has happened.” Let me be very transparent here for a minute and tell you that this was one of those things that I did myself.  Going back to that “judging” thing I talked about last time.  I too would say – “how can that woman hold that mans hand after what he did to her?”  “how could they possibly have ‘healed’ so quickly.”  “They are definitely faking it!”  and so on…..    Well I found out a little secret:  there is no timeline for these things.  There is no ‘manual’ on what happens when you are in these situations.  Not one person has ever handed us a book that says “on Day 52 you will be angry with each other.  On Day 77 you will cry and wonder.  On day 173 everything will be better!”    The one manual that has led us every step of the way is the Word of God.  {And by the way:  this manual isn’t a “pick and choose” thing.  It’s not whatever verse applies.  It is a “live by every single word it says” thing!  We don’t just choose what we feel is “easiest” or what “we think applies to us.”  Nope…it is an “all or nothing” kind of thing!}  Through seeking His word it has reminded us that God’s timing is NOT ours.  A lot of times we struggle with not seeing things happen in the timing we want to see it happen.  However, on the flip side – when something seems like it is going to take FOREVER to get through sometimes He surprises us and carries us through WAY quicker than we ever anticipated.  I believe the very reason this has happened with Jeremy and I is because of our faithfulness and obedience.  I wouldn’t have believed we would be here.  {Side note – we aren’t perfect, we do still have hurdles to jump and I am still living out some consequences for my actions} Every person, every couple is different.  However, no matter who you are, should you follow every bit of what scripture tells you – healing will come.  One of the things I was told at the very beginning of this was to be completely honest and empty myself of every single thing.  The person said, “It is better to be honest now than to stay in ‘self preservation mode’.  The entire truth will come out.  Better for him to hear it from you than someone else because he WILL hear it!”  So for three days after the fall out we laid awake at night for hours upon hours with me just telling Jeremy every single thing that was said, that was done, anything and everything.  While it was obviously VERY hard for him to hear – it broke down a wall.  It began the healing process.  He saw me broken, he saw me emptying myself.  The fact that truth was spoken from the very beginning – healing could begin.  And it did.  I surrendered everything.  You know who else surrendered?  Jeremy.  Jeremy surrendered his hurt, he surrendered his anger, he surrendered his questions.  That my friends, was amazing.  Can I just brag on my incredible husband for a minute?  To do what he did was a total and complete picture of the love and grace that our Father in heaven has for us.  This man looked past my betrayal, expressed his love for me and told me “I forgive you because The Lord forgave me”.  It wasn’t just words.  He did just that.  He forgave me and hasn’t ever thrown it back in my face.  He is the absolute picture of a Godly man.  I cannot even begin to express to you how incredibly blessed I am by this man.  Don’t get me wrong…..we have tough days.  We have struggles.  The Enemy still creeps in.  But, we are moving forward.  The Lord is daily healing us and has renewed the love and passion we have for each other.  It is all from surrender and obedience…no question.  We are a living testimony!

The other thing we have heard is “I’m sorry you lost friends. That is so sad.”  Yes, it is sad.  Our hearts mourn the loss of friends we had.  But, I also want to quickly say – we have incredible friends that have loved us through this.  They have encouraged us as a couple and stood wholeheartedly not moving beside us!  Even those we knew as acquaintances have become very dear precious friends that I believe we will have for a lifetime.  I also have several girlfriends that have overwhelmed me with love.  It is truly heart-warming to hear someone say to you, “I love you in spite of what you did.  My love for you as a friend has not wavered. We ALL make mistakes and yours is no different than mine.”  AGH!  Amazing isn’t it?  I am so grateful for the unwavering, nonjudgmental and encouraging friendships the Lord has so graciously put in my life!  In addition to all of this, we have an incredible church family that has completely wrapped their arms around us and loved us unconditionally through this.  We could not ask for a more beautiful group of people to share life with.

So, while life and our choices sometimes brings loss, hurt and heartache, the Lord renews and fills that in other ways.  Ways we don’t even deserve.

While this all is more or less a followup, I felt it necessary to share where we are today to not only “fill in the gap” but also to show that beauty does come from ashes.  Our bad choices can turn into great lessons.   Through truth, obedience and hard work – the Lord can and will restore.  He redeems and restores the broken chapters in our lives in ways we cannot even grasp or dare to imagine!

I am truly excited about what our Great King has in store in the next chapters.  Being free in Him and void of secrets, life knows no bounds.  Bumps in the road will come, heartache and sadness still take hold sometimes but He will prevail.  He has already won the victory and for that I cheer, shout and sing praise!  I am putting my seatbelt on, holding on tight to the Almighty and saying “what’s next?”    Join me on the journey…..

More later…..

My heart has spoken…..

11807658_10205904253620330_2892730518433644417_oApril, 2015

This is a story about a girl.  A girl who did an unthinkable thing.  A girl who had an affair with one of her best friend’s husband. That girl was me.  It’s a story of a life, a beautiful life interrupted with bad choices, consequences and a redeeming love.  If even one person can find hope in this or if one maybe finds themselves in the situation I was, prayerfully this could help them think through, ponder and maybe stop before they do something that will change the course of life….forever.  My heart’s prayer is to reach even just one.

When you hear of things like this it is so easy to judge and even hate the person.  I say that because I did that.  I have been in several situations through life where someone close to me or someone I have known has had an affair.  And you know what I said:  “How does someone do that?”  “How could she do that to her friend?”  “He obviously has no heart” “She has no morals” “I want nothing to do with that person” and so on.  I judged.  And I judged harshly.  Never thinking I would put myself in that situation and be ‘that girl’.  But I will tell you what it all boils down to….sin. Sin is ugly, sin is yucky, sin is hurtful, sin is hateful, sin destroys.   But sin “looks pretty”, sin “feels good” and sin “justifies”.  When we allow the enemy in, he goes on a rampage. He is on a mission: Steal.  Kill.  Destroy. (See John 10:10)  And boy, he did just that – He stole, he killed and he destroyed.  But praise God my story doesn’t end there.  We serve an incredible God, a merciful God; a beautiful Savior.  And He is our victory!  Nevertheless, there are consequences.  Here is a bit of my story:

It was a beautiful friendship.  This was one we truly believed that the Lord had orchestrated and blessed.  You see, we met each other in another state.  In fact, our husbands met first and became fast friends and then we met.  We had just moved to this state and ended up living just barely a mile away from her and she became a dear friend who was my saving grace in a place where I knew no one.  We began to spend many nights together: cooking dinners, watching movies, playing games and so on.  The 4 of us just had a blast together.  You don’t often come across friends like this.  Several months later something really neat happened:  We ended up moving here to VA at the very same time.  Our stuff literally came up on the very same moving truck.  I mean, how cool is that?  Our friendship continued here, again living barely a mile from each other.  We rarely ever went a day without some kind of communication.  This was someone who I truly treasured in life.  She was loyal, thoughtful, she was an encourager, she challenged me, held me accountable spiritually……goodness, I could go on.   We spent birthdays together, holidays together, vacationed together, I was even there the moment she had her precious baby girl.  We just did life together.  It was truly a blessing.  Then, just 2 short years after this beautiful friendship began, in one summer day, things began to slip.   From one simple conversation that turned into a 3 hour-long conversation late into the night between her husband and I, something changed.  In an instant it changed.  For many months nothing else really happened other than a few inappropriate text messages but all the while my heart became vulnerable.  It was just a slippery slope to bigger things.  The enemy got the toehold: an inappropriate conversation. Two people, close friends….what’s the big deal?  No one needs to know.  Nothing would ever come of it. The occasional glance, occasional text… means nothing right? Wrong.  The second…….the very second you let the littlest thing creep in and you don’t do anything about it, you justify it and Satan sees “go”.  Eight months later,  I crossed a line.  I crossed a line I never imagined in my life I would.  That toehold turned into a foothold.  One text turns into five, which turns into phone conversations, which turns into long chats at Starbucks over a french press.  Justification for everything begins to set in.   A foothold becomes a stronghold.  You start to reason all your actions out so it makes it ok in your mind.  Then you completely let your guard down and any voice of reason goes out the window.  Things you never thought you’d do, you’re doing.  Places you never thought you’d go, you are going.  And somehow in that deceived mind of yours, everything is ok.  Somehow it’s all going to turn out alright.  It feels good and right, so you make it all ok.  This happens when you turn your focus from ‘Him’(God) to ‘me’.  What a scary place to be.  Before you know it, you are telling someone who isn’t your spouse and is in fact one of your best friend’s husband, that you love each other.  You are planning a life together that looks so grand.  We even had a song we claimed was “our song”.   We were convincing each other that somehow the Lord would work this out.  We were “meant to be together” so God would work it out.  WHAT?  I know, from the outside looking in, that rationale seems so absolutely insane.  I know.  But friend, when you are in it, you don’t see straight and it “feels so right.”  Frightening how the enemy is that good at deceiving.

I have an incredible husband.  We had what I thought was a wonderful marriage.  He is an incredible man that treasures me, takes care of me and most important is a solid, strong godly man….a girl could not ask for a more amazing man than what I have.  Yet, I went somewhere else.  I thought something else was better.  It was exciting, new, dangerous and enticing, all wrapped up with a bow on top.  Something I didn’t set out to find, and certainly didn’t set out to get.  Who would purposely think:  “I want my best friend’s husband.  Let me work on that.”  You know?  I promise you friends, I have so many days that I look back and think…what in the world?  You look in the mirror and think:  How did I get here?  How does this happen?

Let me be clear on this:  When little things, even the littlest, are compromised; they become big things.  I promise you.  And then before you know it, your heart is somewhere you never, ever thought it would be and you are entangled in something you never thought you would do.  When you are so deep in sin, you begin to justify everything and somehow in your heart and mind make what you are doing “ok.”

For many months I spoke out of both sides of my mouth.  In the process, I hurt many people.  I said some pretty yucky things about that precious friend I had.  I even spoke of things that were told to me in confidence hoping that I would “throw people off.”  Hoping that by telling them these things they would never think that he and I were “having an affair.”  Oh, the great lengths we go to cover up our sin.  Have you ever heard the saying:  “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”   It is true.  100% no question, no exceptions…true.   The damage I did, the hurt that I caused still takes my breath away.  It’s disturbing.  I totally understand how anyone looking in, seeing what I did, hearing the things I said could think I’m a horrible person, because I would think the same!  But let me say:  I beg you, in this moment to realize:  people mess up.  We are human.  When we allow sin in, it penetrates into the depths of our heart and mind and brings out the ugliest of uglys.  The holes we dig in sin are deep.

This is just the beginning of a story of heartbreak, hope, redemption and victory.  I am still living this story out and want to regularly share my heart — the hope, the struggle, the everything.   But right now, here are some thoughts on my realities of now:

*In the midst of such a horrific situation, there is hope. There is a hope of a Savior.  There is a hope of an incredible God who breathes life into broken-hearted people.  He is our redemption.  The last 8 months I have retreated.  I have stepped away from every responsibility but what was most important.  First and foremost, my relationship with my God.  Second, my relationship with my husband and third, my children.  I had lost that.  I lost all of my priorities for a bit.  So, in order for me to regain that, I had to shut down everything around it and focus wholeheartedly on it.  Friend, I can tell you my relationship with the Lord has never been more real and more present than it has become in the last 8 months.  My relationship with my husband has been restored and where I thought we had a great marriage prior, the Lord has shown me what an incredible marriage can be.  My focus on my sweet boys had been lost and for a while — they didn’t have a “present” Momma.  That has changed.  God can restore.  God will restore.  You have to allow Him.  He can restore ANYTHING — I believe that with all my heart.

*You cannot ever comprehend the destruction your sin causes.  If we don’t listen to the Lord, He will eventually let us go our own way.  When you toy with sin, you are blatantly disrespecting and defying Jesus Christ.  He will try to stop you.  However, if you continue to push on, there comes a time when He will eventually let you choose your own path.  And when that happens, only one ending will happen: disaster and someone (in my case many someones) will get hurt.  For example,  just after this all came out I found myself laying on the bathroom floor with my husband as he wept uncontrollably, looking at me saying “how could you do this?”  “you have broken my heart!”  “What did I do to you to make you want to do this?”  It was the most awful moment of my entire life.  To hear the sobs and look into the eyes of a man who loves you so much and realize that you have hurt him to the core of his being to where he couldn’t physically stand up is the most horrific, heart-wrenching moment I have ever felt.  And I can tell you, I never ever EVER want to go back there.  Another example:  to lose a friend at the hand of your actions that you thought you would have for a lifetime is completely heartbreaking.  To hurt that person so much, they can’t bear the thought of even looking at or talking to me, is agonizing.

*Each time we disregard His Word, we are opening ourselves up to the traps of Satan.  If your actions, your thoughts or your words do not align with God’s word…it’s not good.  If you have to justify it….it’s not good. This principle is SO simple — but when you are in the midst of that moment, we try to make it complicated!    I mean come on, I learned it in Sunday School at age 2:  “Sin is bad. Don’t do it.”  Then we grow up and life happens.  That is why it is SO vital to seek God’s Word EVERYDAY, stay in His Word EVERYDAY!  The enemy takes hold fast.  We are all just one choice, one decision away from that toehold.  I urge you to stay on guard.  Stay in His Word.  Make the Word of God real in your life!  No one grows spiritually simply by knowing facts.  So again, make His Word real.  Obey and apply what you read on a daily basis.  Don’t ever deceive yourself into thinking “it won’t happen to me.”   I swore I’d never have an affair.  I had seen its effects on people.  But, I did it.  Friend, my heart’s prayer for you is that it won’t happen to you.  So, seek Him and stand guard.  Always.

*For someone who has what my counselor calls a “wooing” personality – life is tough right now.  By “wooing” I mean, I am someone who likes to please people, I like to ‘do’ for people, I like to make people smile.  On the flip side, I hate when I feel I have disappointed people, I hate when I think people think negatively of me and I hate when I think people don’t like me.  I want to make everything right and everyone happy.  So, when you do something like what I did: your “wooing” personality is shaken.  We have lost a few friends through this, I have obviously lost many people’s trust and some folks won’t even acknowledge my existence.  It stings.  And every. single. thing. you have ever done is called into question.  The things you have done with the best intentions are twisted into negative things.  Things you have said are manipulated into awful things.  Sadly, some have even made up things about me.  All the while, all I want to do is scream out, “I made a very bad choice!  I promise I am a good person!  I promise the Lord has transformed me!”  But, I can’t.  I have to live this out.  I won’t “fight” for friends.  I can’t try to prove myself.  It’s really not important.  My God is the only standard I have to live up to.  So, I simply pray every single day that by honoring Him, people will see that I am broken.  I am humbled.  That the Lord has done a mighty work in my life through the past 8 months and still is.  He tells us in His Word:  Be still. Trust in Him.  So every day I surrender the day to Him.  Daily surrender.  Some days it works better than others.  And that is why I am SO thankful for new mercies every single morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

In saying all of that, I want to ask something.  I ask you that in the instance you find yourself hearing about something someone has done, sweet friend, please don’t judge, insult or gossip in that moment.  I beg you.  As awful as it is, please don’t criticize.  But instead, let your heart break for them and pray for them.  And if the moment allows, encourage them.  But I plead with you — don’t turn away, don’t judge.  You have no idea what got that person to that point, and how they feel right now.  Let me tell you, when you wake up from the slumber of sin, it is a drowning, deafening, heartbreaking, lonely feeling.