Beauty from Ashes…

Short, sweet and to the point…….

A few months ago I was asked to share my testimony at the Angie Smith conference the SBCV just had. I initially was going to say no as I was honestly a bit ‘scared.’ It was a seemingly daunting thought to stand up in front of 800+ women and ‘speak’ this testimony of mine… speak it is much much different than simply writing it. However, I came to the decision that how dare I squash an opportunity to point to the hope and unfailing love of our Savior. So, I did it. And can I tell you that when you are obedient to the Lord and do something that solely honors and glorifies Him, He will indeed give you an unexplainable peace in the midst of what could be an overwhelming moment. He will give you an opportunity that seems so undeserved.
IMG_6424This was a moment where I completely stepped aside and allowed the Lord to use me and speak through me. #lifechanging My hearts prayer in this opportunity was no one would see me or hear my story but instead hear a love story of Jesus Christ.
I share this to say, if you are in the midst of something that seems unbearable…hold fast my friend. He is there. He is faithful.
A time will come in your journey that causes you to realize that when you wept uncontrollably, when it didn’t seem light was at the end of the tunnel, when all else seemed to fail: The One you know remained, He did indeed remain. Because He is faithful and He does redeem and He does in fact use you for His glory. Even when you think it’s impossible, hope peeks thru.
Don’t give up friend, no matter where you are in the storm; you are loved and thought of…even in that moment you don’t think you can breathe….He is there. He is there waiting to breathe new life into the place that looks like it is beyond repair.
He loves you. He will mend you. He will make you whole. He is a good God. He is a faithful God.
He is a Redeemer, a Rescuer, a Mighty Fortress.
He is our God.

If you’d like to hear my testimony here is the video:

Walking through Restoration

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Sarah Vanderford Photography

This is for the ones who are in the pit and aren’t quite sure they’ll make it out.  Maybe you had an affair, maybe you had an abortion, whatever bad choice it is….just know, hope is not lost.   Rest assured that this sin you have struggled with, its already been overcome by the blood of Jesus Christ.  There is forgiveness and freedom offered through His redeeming love.

Last Wednesday, for the first time in over two years, I began teaching a bible study again.  It was a brand new feeling for me and a joyous one at that.  Friends, this is part of my story of restoration lived out.  This is part of the story that I share to give hope to those feeling defeated or completely broken right now.  You may be in the darkest moments, questioning if the Lord will ever use you again.  He can and He will.  However, this requires hard work and obedience from you.  This is no easy process but one filled with victory when you pursue it.  This is a process that requires true repentance, surrender, hard work and obedience.

Repentance – This is not only confessing sin with your mouth but also with your heart.  We can all say “God forgive me for what I’ve done,” but until you have confessed it in your heart and become completely broken over the depravity and awfulness of your sin, you cannot move forward.  I had to come to a point where I saw Jesus hanging on the cross for my sin and it finally wrecked me.  I wanted nothing of it and fell to my knees.

Surrender – I surrendered every single piece of me to the Lord.  I gave Him the ability to do whatever He needed to do with me to heal me.  He removed me from everything I was involved in.  I knew that in order for healing to take place in every aspect of my life, it was imperative to retreat and focus solely on restoration.

Hard Work and Obedience – Heed wise counsel.  The Lord blessed me with an incredible Christian counselor whom I saw weekly (sometimes more!) for over a year.  {Just a little “soapbox” moment here:  when you are seeing a counselor – get your money’s worth.  What I mean is:  if you are going to spend the money and time to get counseling – actually go in there and be honest with them and yourself.  Otherwise, it’s a waste of your time and your money!}   In seeing her, she spoke Truth to me, redirected my thinking when that was appropriate and gave me biblically based tools to equip me.  In addition to seeing a ‘professional’ counselor, I surrounded myself with wise counsel through friendships.  I kept a small circle of woman close that not only encouraged me but they too would speak Truth to me and corrected me when necessary.  This is all under “hard work and obedience” because when you are given wise counsel, sometimes the pill is hard to swallow in what you are instructed to do.  But, you have to be obedient and do it.  These people are who the Lord has given you to walk this part of your journey out.  Listen and Do.  It is hard.  Some of is it really hard.   It’s got to be because at least for me, I was coming out  something awful.  Really really awful. So, I needed the hard, the really really hard.

Through this entire process, the key is staying in God’s Word, filling your heart and mind with God’s Word and living out God’s Word.  Truth – always Truth.  Through this process, my heart was gutted.  I know, that sounds so terrible but it’s the only way to describe it.  There was so much yuck and filth in there, it needed to be gutted.  The Word of God has been the foundation in which my heart was restored.  It is now filled full of His Promises and His Truth.  Psalm 51 was one I read many many days.  It has beautiful truths and promises throughout.  I want to share a few verses from it:

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. Psalm 51:12-15

  1. I prayed daily for the Lord to give me a pure heart.(v12)  He did.
  2. I asked Him to restore me.(v12) He has and now I am excited to “teach His ways!”(v13)
  3. I asked Him to forgive me.(v14) He has and now I joyfully sing of His righteousness!(v14)

My lips are open now and declaring His love and faithfulness!  He graciously accepts us and forgives us when we come to Him humble, honest and willing.  He loves you friend and He will use you.

I wanted to share the hard part of this because I never want to fill this blog with ‘fluff.’  I don’t ever want to mislead anyone into thinking this journey is easy.  It’s hard work but so very worth it.  And don’t think for a second that the enemy will take a break on you.  He is waiting for you to give up.  He is waiting for you to become defeated.  Don’t sweet friend.  Our Lord has so much more for you.  And just like me, as He renews and restores you, He will give you opportunities to use the gifts He created you with.

As I stood in the classroom last week before the study began, the enemy was steadily trying to get in my head and my heart as he had many times over the last several weeks.  “No one is coming Dawn.”  “They know you are teaching and people don’t want to hear from you Dawn.”  “People think you’re a liar Dawn.”  “You are a scam Dawn.”  And in that moment I said, “you are a liar Satan” and I once again prayed for the Lord to calm my heart and use me for His glory.  He did.  Woman after woman came in that classroom until we couldn’t put anyone else in there.  And in that moment, the Lord spoke to me and said, “here it is Dawn, now let me use you.”

I now have the privilege of teaching His Word again to several beautiful women.  And I now understand what a privilege it is to be part of ministry.  One that I will never again take for granted.  (Yes, I said never!)  I understand that it is not me that’s great, it is Him that works in and through me that is.  Pride has no part in the Lord’s work.  Humility does.

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

I don’t know how He will use you and your story sweet friend but He will.   Stay with it, even in the tough stuff because victory is on the other side.

Two Years Later…


img_4884Sometimes I wonder how I even made it through that week.  I knew for a week’s time that I was going to have to confess to Jeremy.  I just had to wait for him to get home from a trip to tell him.  One night that week found me laying on the bathroom floor trying to get even a minutes sleep in between waiting for the heaves over the toilet to subside.  My entire being was distraught thinking about the fact that I may be days away from losing my husband, my children, basically my life as I knew it because of my choices.  Sin destroys you spiritually, mentally and sometimes even physically.  Confession and surrender redeems you entirely.

Today marks two years.  Two years of a journey that has gone from the greatest depths of heartache, betrayal and brokenness one could imagine to victory and hope.  You might wonder why I even ‘remember’ these specific days.  Maybe you are saying, “why don’t you just forget it and move on.”  Well, I’ve definitely moved on but let me tell you this:  trauma changes you – whether it be trauma you brought on yourself or trauma from a tragic accident, whatever trauma it is, it changes you.  That is why I remember.  I never want to sweep it under the rug, not talk about it or pretend it didn’t happen.  It’s my story, it changed me and I don’t ever want to forget it.

 I remember it for Grace:  I never quite understood what grace truly was until that is all that I could truly accept.  Grace upon grace upon grace.  My heart didn’t extend grace to others because I didn’t understand how much I needed it myself.  Yet, when it was extended to me from my God, my husband and many of those around me – it became clear what it was.   And so I remember this day so that I won’t forget how to truly extend grace to those around me.

I remember it for Hope:  Outside of grace the word I have clung to for these last two years is hope.  Hoping for different things at different times but always hope.  About a year before my world crumbled, I had bought a brand new devotional book by Beth Moore called Whispers of Hope. It was a devotional on prayer.  Yet, I never opened it.  You see, my heart was somewhere else, and I had a hard time praying.  How was I supposed to ‘pray’ when I was doing something so awful?  I felt like I couldn’t.  If I prayed, I would have to confess this thing and I just couldn’t do that.  So in those moments, because of myself, my lifeline to the Lord was quiet and that book remained unopened.  That is until everything was exposed; I was exposed and nothing was left to hide.  It was then that I came upon this book on my shelf and dared to open it.  When I bought that book, the Lord knew exactly when I’d open it. This book guided me on the days I was so lost for words, I didn’t know what to pray.  This book, which is also a journal, has written in it some of my most desperate heart cries and gut-wrenching thoughts from those first days and months.  Friend, I haven’t been able to open this book since I finished it.  I can’t bring myself to read the words I wrote.  I’m not sure I ever will.  But, what I know is that even in the midst of writing the agonizing thoughts and brokenness, I would still write out words of hope.  Just little bits of hope. “You are faithful Lord.”  “I trust you God.” Those words weren’t hard to write but at times they were hard to believe.  Yet, He was faithful.  And so, as I continue to walk this journey, I remain hopeful yet for many things.  But, I can say without any hesitation that the Lord has truly healed me, my husband and our marriage.  For that, I am eternally grateful. There are things I have hoped for over the last two years that I have yet to see happen.   When they don’t happen, I simply trust.  I trust that the Lord is working and in His time, I will see those things materialize.  I will not give up hope.

Through this journey I have learned to rely wholly on the Lord. I have learned to extend grace where before I would have rolled my eyes, judged in my heart and turned away.   I have learned that being obedient means completely surrendering yourself and doing what the Lord asks without doubt, hesitation or half-hearted effort.  So because of all I learned, I remember, I reflect and I continue to hope.

One final reason that I remember:  When I find myself hearing about someone in those same shoes, I can walk beside them in the depths of their darkness and say, “I understand.”  I can help them to know the hope of a Savior and the healing of surrender.  And before I start to judge, instead will be grace.  Always grace.


Two years and Hope later, I will continue.




Just a note….


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Sarah Vanderford Photography

I know so many of my blogs have been so heavy with emotion and I just felt compelled to write one with a heart full of joy.  I share with you an experience from this week:

I had a little traveling to do this week and one night found me in a hotel room in Winston-Salem.  I had about a four-hour drive there and I have to say, I love long car rides… ALONE!  On those car rides, I am doing one of two things:  listening to music and singing at the top of my lungs OR just talking to the Lord and reflecting. (This is why I love the new “Bluetooth” thing in cars now because people will think you are just talking on the phone not to yourself when they drive by….ha!)  So, I had this time to really just talk to the Lord, reflect over ‘life’ and just praise Him for all He has done and is doing.  And while I don’t think that we have words adequate enough to praise Him for who He is, I use the words He has given me and I love to just be able to speak out loud praises to the Lord…”You are amazing God”, “thank you Lord for all you have done”, “I am overwhelmed by You God” and so on.  Yes, those may sound like song lyrics because it may just be the song I just listened to…ha!  So, after my car ride sitting in my hotel room tears overtook me.  These weren’t sad tears though.  These were tears of happiness, tears of joy, tears of a heart that’s just exploding with gratitude for what the Lord is doing and has done over the last almost two years.  I hadn’t really just sat and reflected on it in quite awhile.  So as I sat in the quietness of a hotel room, it simply overwhelmed me.  For many reasons it did:  One, just simply for all He has done but also something else that was just neat:  —I was reviewing some reports from my blog that are sent to me.  My measly little blog that the Lord put a stirring in me to do just over a year ago.  I really wasn’t sure about this blog thing, never thought I’d be a blogger and certainly had no idea where it would take me…..{The Lord is doing BIG things in my heart and in my life!  These things will unfold as time goes on and I will be excited to share them with you!}  But on this report it told me that over the last year my blog has reached over 8,000 people.   Maybe that’s not significant in your mind or not a big number to you but to me, it flat out BLOWS. MY. MIND.  Please don’t misunderstand me – I am not trying to sing my own praises AT ALL.  Yes, it’s so neat to think that many people have read my blog.  But what I am excited about is the fact that over 8,000 people have been exposed to the redeeming love of an incredible Savior.   Over 8,000 people have been exposed to the hope of a Savior, the grace of a Savior the LOVE of a Savior.  My heart is soaring for that.  And I can tell you this:  because of this very thing – I am thankful the Lord took me through what He did.  I am thankful to have experienced what I did.  Some will never understand that but I would not be who I am today should I not have walked through what I did and if even one person runs into the arms of my God and can experience new life through Him, it was all worth it.

He has restored my soul, renewed my mind, redeemed my being.  I stand amazed in the presence of Christ.

Thank you sweet friends for standing beside, loving and encouraging me through it all.  I am humbled.





View More: was recently asked to write a series of blogs for the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia(SBCV) Women’s Ministry Leadership Blog.   I was asked to write with the focus on Helping Hurting Women.  I am excited to say that my first blog is posted!  This is truly an honor for me.  I am humbled and beyond grateful for this privilege.  Grateful that the Lord is taking something the enemy meant for destruction and using it for HIS GLORY!  Please check it out by clicking here.

Gifted with Words……

A title I was labeled with back in high school and it stuck.   “Gifted with words” was a title I carried proudly.  I owned it.   But not anymore.  That’s changed.  You see, I was given that title because I could ‘tell someone off’ in a second.  I don’t want to own that title anymore.  My temper is quick, my words can be brutal…….but that’s me.  ‘Me’ doesn’t live anymore.  Of the many things I’ve laid down at the cross over this last 15 months, my words is one of them.  Make no mistake, it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle and give way to my flesh sometimes but what it does mean is I am sure to be convicted if I do or say something that is not honoring to Him.  It means I will be uncomfortable if I find myself in a moment of harsh words or gossip.

I’ve been the topic of ‘gossip’ for awhile now.  Actually, the last several weeks it has come to my attention that a few people have been relentless in their attack on me as a person, my character and my integrity.  I thought that had stopped.  I thought the personal attacks were over regarding what I had done….apparently not.  Lies have been told, stories have been twisted and an all out character assassination has taken place…….again.  While it disturbs me and breaks my heart that people choose to continue to talk about me and others choose to believe it instead of coming to me seeking truth, it has been a big eye opener.  The Lord has taken me through ‘stages’ over the last 15 months.  Working on different things over time. Well, the last few months I have been working on my ‘words.’  How I speak to people, do I talk about people, what should I keep to myself and so on.  In the midst of my working through this was when it was brought to my attention the rumors and hateful things being said about me again.(Funny how that works!)  Yet, this time it was different for me. Six months ago, a year ago, two years ago it would have wrecked me:  I would have first been extremely hurt, balled my eyes out and wondered what was wrong with me – then I would have taken the defense and gone on a mission to shut it down, defend myself and give a piece of my mind.  I choose NOT to do that now and here is why:

  1. It isn’t my battle.  You see, I have realized that as long as I am right with the Lord, I am ok.  With a “people pleasing personality” this is a tough place to get to.  Just a few months ago I would have wanted to make sure everyone was happy with me.  I worried what people thought.(that is until you messed with me or my friends and then I’d chew you out)  I worried who was talking about me and took everything that was said to heart.  However, for the first time in my entire life I can say – It’s ok.  While it hurts and is heartbreaking to hear the things people are saying about me, it’s ok.  It isn’t my battle, it’s theirs.  More than that, it’s Satans.  And I choose NOT to engage with Satan.  Been there, done that – do not want to go back.  We battle against Satan not people.  The enemy is Satan, not people.  But Satan does a TREMENDOUS job at deceiving us into believing it is people.  ESPECIALLY in the body of Christ.  Friends we are devouring each other.  Satan is sitting back smiling as we gossip about and tear down the body of Christ.  It’s sad.
  2. A quote from one of my favorite authors, Lysa Teurkurst, says it perfectly:  “What comes out of someone else’s mouth is a reflection of their heart, not yours!”  Truth.  You want to know how I know it’s truth?  Because of ME!  I had a sick sick heart.  The affair I had was simply a symptom of a much deeper issue.  My heart was ugly… heart craved attention, acceptance, power and so on.  As I have said before, I had allowed evil to set up camp and from their I tried to fill the void where the Lord should have been with other things.  But in that sick heart of mine I chose to speak poorly about many many people, including those close to me. I chose to criticize on a daily basis and I chose to share things with people that I shouldn’t have.  All reflections of the person I was, not of the people I was speaking to or about.  Therefore, what I have recently heard being spoken about me, is a reflection of others hearts, not mine.  My heart has changed.  My heart is redeemed.  My heart was made new by an incredible heavenly Father that forgave me, cleansed me and made me new.  Because of that, the things being said haven’t destroyed me.   That is because I am confident in who I am in Christ.

So maybe in me saying all that you are still thinking, “do you think you are perfect now Dawn?”  “Are you saying you don’t ever speak negatively or lose your temper or gossip?”  Nope, I’m not saying that.  I am human and I screw up.  I get caught up in a ‘juicy conversation’ from time to time.  I snap from my temper on occasion.  But what I will tell you is my pride has been checked at the door and the Lord makes me miserable if I find myself in these scenarios.  Two examples – well three sordove.  One and two go hand and hand.  First, I have written more letters and met face to face to apologize and ask forgiveness from more people in the last 15 months than I have my entire life.  Some I wrestled with for MONTHS before sending and some I haven’t even sent yet because the Lord is still working in my heart on them.  Some were received with great acceptance and some were received with anger and bitterness and some I haven’t even heard back from.  But that’s ok.  Because again, I have settled in my heart that when the Lord directs me to do something, I do it in obedience.  He handles the rest.

Second, in meeting with people face to face –  I have had to do things I never thought I would/could do.  But really, I’M NOT DOING IT, the Lord is!  Just a month ago I went to someone that I have had ‘issues’ with for TWO YEARS!  It was someone that said something I didn’t like the first time I met her and from that point on – I shut her off, I spoke negatively about her and never gave her another chance.  To be honest with you, I have no idea what it even was that she said two years ago that ticked me off…..sad but true…and that reveals how SICK my heart was!  The Lord impressed upon my heart a few months back to go to her.  I fought it and I was miserable.  Well, a month ago, after wrestling with it – I went to her.  I told her flat out – “I didn’t like you, I talked negatively about you and that was so wrong of me.”  I apologized to her, asked her forgiveness and she accepted.  We ended up hugging and crying together.  Today I can tell you she is a friend.  I see her through the eyes of the Lord now and I value her in my life.  The Lord is amazing!  It is only through Him that happened.  While it was hard to go to her, share with her and apologize, it also gave me freedom in the end and I grew from it.  When you harbor hurt, bitterness or anger in your heart for someone – the Lord doesn’t work.  You cannot serve Him with that inside of you.  You can’t.  You can try and you can think you are (been there done that) but He doesn’t honor that.  He won’t.

The other example: (man I am being transparent……ha!)  A few weeks ago we had some car issues and our car ended up in the shop for the umpteenth time.  On one of the many calls regarding the car this precious girl was the unlucky one.  It had been a rough day, several other things were going on and her phone call landed at just the ‘wrong’ time.  I laid into her.  I gave her a ‘piece of my mind.’   After hanging up the phone, I didn’t feel good.  Used to, I would’ve hung that phone up with great satisfaction.  Instead, it was a pit in my stomach.  I was disgusted with myself.  You know what I did? I drove up to that Land Rover dealership and I asked for this girl and I apologized face to face.  I told her I completely disrespected her, that it was not honoring to my God for me to do that and I asked her for forgiveness.  I think she was completely baffled that I came and apologized but she thanked me and that was that.  I don’t know, she may think I am crazy but what I do know is that the Lord told me to do that and in obedience I went and I apologized.

It is our duty as followers of Christ to uplift and encourage instead of teardown and destroy.  When we teardown and destroy, we are filled with shame and regret and guilt.  Its a yucky feeling that if we aren’t careful becomes a ‘normal’ and doesn’t even phase us anymore.  I was there.   Today it is my hearts desire to uplift, encourage, invest and breathe life into my brothers and sisters in Christ and those that do not yet know Him.  My hearts desire is to see unity in the body of Christ not division.   In Ephesians 4 Paul urges us as believers to be humble, be gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love.  He tells us to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”   The only way we can do that is through Jesus Christ.  He grants us an incomprehensible love that is reflected when we extend grace where it doesn’t fit, when we are patient when our limits have been pushed, when we encourage and uplift instead of criticize and teardown and when we make every effort to love when someone just doesn’t seem to be lovable.

Friends, today I am a different person.  Some have even told me they feel my personality has been squashed with what I went through because I’m not as ‘spunky” as I once was.  Well, if that’s the case, it’s ok.  “Gifted with words” has taken on new meaning in my life.  It is no longer negative but instead it means breathing the Word of God into the lives of those around me.  I want to be an approachable person, one with a gentle grace-filled spirit that reflects Christ in all I do.

It is my hearts desire to make peace with the ones who still choose to speak negatively about me. It is my hearts prayer that those who still feel hurt by me or are still angry at me will come to me and share that with me instead of others so that hearts can mend.  So that Satan doesn’t win this battle.  (While he won’t win the ultimate battle, he can get the upper hand in our hearts sometimes…and when we allow bitterness, anger or hurt to fester, he’s winning)  I will never cease in praying for that reconciliation.

My hearts prayer is that if you feel defeated right now by gossip or harsh words, you will realize that you are a precious child of the King.  It matters not what others say to you or about you.  When you repent, when you ask for forgiveness, when you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and are living a life according to His will and His promises for you, that is what matters.  And that is it.

Dear one – You are chosen.  You are forgiven.  You are free.  You are loved.  Rest in those words today.

More later….

One year ago today………

One year ago today it all crashed.  All the plates I had spinning, the balls I was juggling….crashed.  Everything crumbled.  Betrayal, anger, hurt and heartbreak took over.  Hearts were shattered…..many many hearts were broken.  The feeling of desperation and hopelessness was overwhelming for a time.  It is a feeling of being lost and not sure how you are going to make it through until you finally grasp the depravity of the situation and realize the one and only thing you can and should cling to is the hope you find in a Savior.  That Savior is Jesus Christ.

This day has been looming the last few weeks.  I have a frighteningly good memory as far as specific dates go.  That is a blessing and a curse as you often remember things you really don’t want to remember.  Walking through these last few weeks knowing this day was coming, I have talked to my closest friends and encouragers in addition to talking it through with Jeremy.  Everyone has asked “how are you doing?”  “How are you feeling about it…”  Well friends, I can say I walk into it with freedom and peace.  Yes, a tiny bit stings thinking back on it because it was a horrible and tragic day.  However, looking back and reflecting and then evaluating today, I have nothing to hide.  Absolutely nothing.  Zero, zilch, nada.  I walk in a freedom today that only comes from total and complete surrender to the Lord.  What a beautiful feeling that is.  Today Jeremy and I walk hand and hand – nothing standing between us.  Jeremy and I both say we are grateful to have walked this path over the last year.  I am sure you are saying “WHAT?”  Yes friends, we are grateful.  The Lord has created such a beautiful place for us now in our walk with Him, in our marriage and in our everyday lives.  We have learned A LOT that I am excited to share with you in the coming days.  We walk in a peace and contentment that can’t be matched.   Our faith was certainly put to the test – we overcame a great obstacle.  It is only by the grace given to us through Jesus Christ that He has cleansed me and made me new and also made our marriage new.

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I have chosen obedience.  Jeremy has chosen obedience.  The Lord is still working and we are still learning.  Our journey is only getting better.  Through obedience you are blessed with reward.  Do you know what my reward is right now?  A clear conscience. Praise Jesus for that.

I’m excited to share more over the next weeks and months about what the Lord has done and is continuing to do.  Also, what His word says about many things that have transformed my heart over the last year.

Above all – above anything I have said over the last several months remember this:

The greatest reward is to live in God’s presence and enjoy His glory.  Do you know Him?  Let me tell you friends, He is hope.  He is peace.  He is joy.  The ONLY….the ONLY way Jeremy and I have made it this far is through Jesus Christ.  If you don’t know Him today, all it takes is asking Him to come in to your life.  Surrender all to Him and acknowledge He is Lord over your life.  It will be the best decision you have ever made and ever will.


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.