{Love}

{Love} Romantic Love

Written By: Hannah Kittle

L is for the way you look at me
O is for the only one I see
V is very, very extraordinary
E is even more than anyone that you adore can

Nat King Cole “L-O-V-E”

Romantic love is the kind of love that we most often think about and hear about in this world.  We see it in movies, TV shows, songs, books, magazines, apparel, and everything in-between. We imagine love as a cute guy handing us a bundle of roses, box of chocolates, and a hundred dollars of worth of gift cards, apparel, and shoes.  Nat King Coles’ song describes each letter of love as a different quality like a person’s physical appearance and how someone views that person and appreciates that quality about them.  While it is true that love does look like that, love also looks like loving a guy enough to let him go because you know it’s best not to be together.  Love looks like apologizing to your spouse first even when your pride doesn’t want too.  Love looks like waiting and trusting God that He does have a better plan for you than that cute guy who isn’t texting you back.

Sweet sister reading this, I’m not sure what stage of life you’re in.  You may be like me and single with absolutely no prospects on the horizon or you may be entering a relationship, in the middle of it, transitioning into an engagement, already engaged, or in whatever stage of marriage.  Whatever stage you’re in, know that while being in a relationship is an incredibly wonderful thing it often means living out tough love all the time.  Love doesn’t always mean that it’s a bed of roses, sometimes it simply means biting the bullet, swallowing our pride, and doing what God wants us to do.  Romantic love has clouded our definition of what love should really be.

Matthew 7:12 says, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them…” How does this apply to love? Sometimes loving someone means that we need to do what we know is best for them.  Sometimes that means breaking up with the guy that we think we love, but we know deep down that it isn’t right or best for both of us.  Sometimes that means saying “no” to that guy who asked you out because you know that, as wonderful as he is, he’s not the one that God has for you.  Other times it means loving your future husband enough to say “no” to the pressure of dating someone else now, of going out to “just have fun”, or to that friend who says she knows a guy she’s sure is right for you.

Romans 13:10 says, “Love does no harm to a neighbor.  Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.” To add to that, the famous passage about love that says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a) Wow.  Reading these two passages together is really, really powerful, sobering, and moving.  Not only does love seek to do the best thing for others it also exhibits patience, kindness, humility, honesty, and forgiveness.

How does this apply to romantic relationships? It may seem especially inapplicable if you’re single like me.  However, let’s unpack this.  As a single young woman, for me that means that I’m showing my love for my future husband right now by praying for him and resisting the temptation to simply give up because it’s too hard to wait.  It means that I’m honest with myself that it isn’t God’s timing or will for me to get into a relationship right now and honest with others that I’m not looking for a guy and thus not lead a guy on and give him false hope. It also means that from the beginning of our relationship, we will agree to have God as the first love of our lives and the foundation of our relationship and will challenge each other to keep that commitment.  We will also agree that our love for each other will come second to our love to God.

Is staying faithful to that commitment easy?  No. But in my life I know I’m loved by God Who gave everything for me, therefore I can love my future husband enough to make that commitment now and begin living it out now in this season of singleness.  Being faithful in any situation, single or in a relationship, is so hard. If we can trust that God will bless us for our love, then may God give us the right love for our guy so that we can truly love him as he deserves.  May God give us hearts filled with love and also wisdom so that we can “discern the times for the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16) and listen to the those who God has placed in our lives to give us honest counsel (making sure it is in agreement with scripture) about things we may not see and need to evaluate.  May God give us the love to love all people He places in our lives as we ought too, no matter the circumstances.

IMPORTANT NOTE: By saying that we need to love our guy even when it seems like he may have been unfaithful, I am by no means advocating that you sit back passively.  By all means, if you suspect this, please pray about this and talk to the appropriate people in your life to sort this issue out. I pray for each of you that you never have to experience this, but while you love this guy, you do need to do what is best for you and your relationship with God.

5-15-16-011Hannah Kittle is best described as a sinner saved by grace.  She currently is a high school senior taking dual-enrollment classes at two different colleges and is headed to nursing. She has a heart for the unsaved, seeks to serve God by serving others, and desires to shine as a light to others to draw them closer to God.  Her two life Bible verses are Joshua 1:9 and Jeremiah 29:11-14a

Hannah loves reading, shopping, and being with people whether it be young or old people. She has a calling upon her heart to serve others and to love others even when it’s tough. She believes that God is calling her into nursing or the medical field in general to best accomplish this purpose. She is waiting and praying for the man that God has for her and her heart’s prayer for her life is that others would see Christ through her, her words, and her actions.

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{Love}

{Love} But What About…?

Written By: Hannah Kittle

Love.  Such a simple, small, seemingly insignificant word.  Four letters that express many, many emotions.  We see love as something that is rosy, red, enjoyable, and easy to do.  While that is true many times, there are other times where we’re in situations or with people that we struggle loving.  The Bible talks about how we need to love people and “turn the other cheek.”  But what about that guy who says he’s gay or that girl who says she’s bisexual or that girl who’s not actually a girl or that Christian who’s living a double life?  How do we address those situations?  Furthermore, how do we address those people in love?  Dear friend, I know that when these situations happen, your first reaction is probably not, “Oh, I need to love this person despite their sin and let my life and words be a witness to them.”  I know that’s certainly not my reaction.  Mine is more along the lines of, “Oh my word, this can’t be happening, I can’t have anything to do with this person much less love them.”  Do you know what though?  The same Christ Jesus who hung on the cross for six hours of agony for my sins of lies, impure thoughts, hate, anger, and a multitude of other things is the same Christ who died to save those people as well.

What does God say about loving these people? It’s a really difficult line to walk between loving the sinner and hating the sin.  God calls us to love people, but not accept the choices that are against God and His Word.  That raises the question, “how do I differentiate between the person and their sin? They claim this sin as them and their lifestyle with no seemingly no distinction.”  Sweet sister, as I type these words, I know the pain, frustration, anger, and bitterness you experience when you go through those experiences.  It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to go through.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways. (Isaiah 55:8)” God’s thoughts are far beyond what we can ever comprehend.  The way that He thinks about love and the definition He gives to it is far more broad, longsuffering, and forgiving than we can ever show to people.

Does loving these types of people seem impossible? Y.E.S! But is there anything such as mission impossible for God?  “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Philippians 4:13) Yes, it’s hard.  Yes, you’re going to have moments when you hear them talk about their sinful lifestyle and it causes your heart to bleed, your stomach to hurt, your throat to develop an unswallowable lump, and cry during or after.  But with God we can do it.  We can love these people and know that even though they’re living a life of sin God still loves them and thus gives us the love to be able to love them in return.  Love doesn’t mean that we say that their sin is okay and we simply accept them as being “born this way.” Instead we love them enough to tell them the truth and live out how God wants us to live our lives.  Sometimes, love means being tough and telling people the blunt honest truth even though it’s uncomfortable and painful and threatens to ruin our relationship with the person.

In God’s eyes, our sin is all the same.  He didn’t create a system of sacrifices that atoned for various sins like in the Old Testament. Instead he created a once for all system.  A system that once we accept Christ as the Savior of our lives all our sins, past, present, and future are covered for forevermore.  FOREVERMORE! No more will sin have dominion over us.  “IT IS FINISHED! Loud He cried, oh what love for me He died.  In my stead He bled on Calvary.”  (It is Finished) The love that was exhibited on Calvary was the ultimate show that allows us to love others and see them as sinners who need God.  We need to seek to look behind the curtain.  We need to see these people as sinners who need God just as much as we do.  Jesus’ blood covers all of these sins and demonstrates to us the ultimate love that seems impossible.  Love isn’t just a feeling, it’s an action.  Loving is hard, yes, but never impossible.  Let’s seek to look behind the curtain and see these people as fellow sinners who need Christ just as much as we do.  Let’s pray that God will move our hearts to have compassion and grace and patience with these people.  Pray that God will help us to live a life that honors Him and that through that example others would find Him.

5-15-16-011Hannah Kittle is best described as a sinner saved by grace.  She currently is a high school senior taking dual-enrollment classes at two different colleges and is headed to nursing. She has a heart for the unsaved, seeks to serve God by serving others, and desires to shine as a light to others to draw them closer to God.  Her two life Bible verses are Joshua 1:9 and Jeremiah 29:11-14a

Hannah loves reading, shopping, and being with people whether it be young or old people. She has a calling upon her heart to serve others and to love others even when it’s tough. She believes that God is calling her into nursing or the medical field in general to best accomplish this purpose. She is waiting and praying for the man that God has for her and her heart’s prayer for her life is that others would see Christ through her, her words, and her actions.

{Love}

{Love} How Do We Do It?

Written By: Hannah Kittle

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  “Treat others like you want to be treated.” It’s some of the most iconic verses in the Bible and among the most quoted.  It seems like common sense that we treat others like we want to be treated, right?  But what about that girl who backstabbed us and told others what we told them in private or that guy who dumped you over a text and now is dating someone a week later?  Do we have to treat them like we treat our family, best friends, friends, co-workers, and people in general?  Do we still have to respect them and go the extra mile and show them love?  Dear friend, I know the pain, I know the struggle, I know the hurdles, but I can tell you from experience that the answer is yes.  We are called to love those who back stabbed us, lied about or to us, cheated on us, broke up with us, and hurt us.  Why?  Because the same God that calls us to love others even though they hurt us is the same God that died to save us despite the immense hurt we caused to Him.

So how do we love someone, anyone, even including those who have hurt us?  The absolute best example we have is in the Bible.  The example is that of Jesus the night He was betrayed and the way He treated Judas.  Since He is God, He knew ahead of time, before time in fact, that Judas would betray Him.  Yet, that night He still loved Judas and showed him that love by giving him the piece of bread dipped in sop that is usually given to the honored friend.  He even washed his feet when they first entered the room for the Last Supper.  Then, in the garden He didn’t fight, accuse, or lash out at anyone, much less Judas who had obviously been the one who betrayed Him.  Instead He looked at Him and said, “Will you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”  That is the kind of love that caused Jesus to go to the cross willingly and suffer the abuse of His tormentors.  He did this out of ultimate love.

There’s a passage of Scripture that says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) and also “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) We will not have to carry the burden and task alone of having to love the unlovable without help.  We are promised divine help by the Holy Spirit to do the impossible.  The temptation is to give up and say that it’s no use and it isn’t worth it.

To love isn’t meant to be a burden, even though our feelings may tell us otherwise.  Many times when we’re confronted with this situation, we allow our feelings to dictate the situation.  Our feelings are often good things as they help us to empathize with others which allows us to understand people even better.  Sometimes though our feelings aren’t good things to have involved when we’re having to love those who hurt our feelings.  Our feelings tend to be reactive rather than responding.  A very true phrase is, “react rather than respond.”  Sometimes we have to take our feelings and put them aside in order to truly love a person.  Sometimes truly loving a person means that we have to care about them, pray for them, and be kind to them even though our hearts are breaking and bleeding.

It often feels like a burden to love someone when we’re broken and hurting, but we’re promised help by the Holy Spirit.  1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.”  It may often seem like we can’t bear the heartache and pain.  What if I told you that you’re right? What if I told you that outside of divine help you cannot love someone the way that you are called too?  God promises us and shows us by example that we will have trials in life.  But with every example of a struggle, He shows us the beauty, sustainment, grace, encouragement and love He showers upon us that we are to show others.  He will help us in every situation where it feels like it’s mission impossible.  “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Philippians 4:13) Saying that a task is impossible with God is akin to saying, “God, I believe that I’m better than You.  I believe that I should be God and be ruler of my life and guiding myself.”  Without God, everything is impossible, especially loving the unlovable.

When we trust God and rely on Him to help us love people, we will be able to love the unlovable.  Mission Impossible?  No, instead becomes Mission Possible.  Reliance upon God means that we surrender everything to Him and trust that through Him and His strength, wisdom, patience, and love we will be able to be witnesses before the world.  Through Him alone we will be able to love those who have hurt us and broken our hearts.  He is the Lover of our souls.  Not only can He help us love the unlovable, He can love us and give us the ability to love others again.  He can take our bruised, bleeding, broken, shattered hearts and not only fix them, but completely restore us and give us a bigger heart to love others.

Sweet friend, I know the pain and struggled of having to love even when It feels like you’re totally shattered and no longer can trust anyone.  However, let me tell you that through Him alone, my heart has been restored.  The pain isn’t gone yet, but the sting, bitterness, anger, and heartache is being replaced by love and eyes of mercy and grace.  My heart has been expanded by my heartache and pain and been given much more love and wisdom to care for others in the way that God wants me too.  He can do the same for you too.  Go to Him and ask Him to take your pain, bitterness, anger, confusion, heartache, and whatever other negative things are in your heart.  He will be able to take those things and exchange the ashes for something beautiful.  Trust Him with your heart! He will not fail you!

 

5-15-16-011Hannah Kittle is best described as a sinner saved by grace.  She currently is a high school senior taking dual-enrollment classes at two different colleges and is headed to nursing. She has a heart for the unsaved, seeks to serve God by serving others, and desires to shine as a light to others to draw them closer to God.  Her two life Bible verses are Joshua 1:9 and Jeremiah 29:11-14a

Hannah loves reading, shopping, and being with people whether it be young or old people. She has a calling upon her heart to serve others and to love others even when it’s tough. She believes that God is calling her into nursing or the medical field in general to best accomplish this purpose. She is waiting and praying for the man that God has for her and her heart’s prayer for her life is that others would see Christ through her, her words, and her actions.

 

{Love}

{Love} Love: Why Should I Do It?

Written By: Hannah Kittle

When I ask you the question, “Why should you love someone?” does that seem like a strange question?  It seems like it would be common sense to love people, right?  But what if I told you that that commandment also reaches out to loving those in our lives whom we would call unlovable for whatever reason.  Maybe it’s that girl who said something that hurt us, that friend who talked about us behind our back, that guy who broke up with us for no apparent reason, that friend that we believed we had an honest, good relationship and it turned out to not be who we thought, that classmate who stole our work, that person we looked up to who we regarded as perfect and found out they weren’t.  When I was challenged by listening to messages about love, I realized how far from loving I really truly was.

In English, when we say “love” we generally use it as a verb.  So when we say verb, what do we mean?  Verbs usually mean some kind of action is being taken.  Merriam Webster says, “a word (such as jump, think, happen, or exist) that is usually one of the main parts of a sentence and that expresses an action, an occurrence, or a state of being.”  An action, occurrence, state of being.  Those are all things that we do.  Those are all actions we perform.  Those are the attitudes we have to each other.  We have to love people by showing them kindness, patience, grace and mercy in the same way we’ve been given.  When do we do this?  We do this ALL the time.  100%, every second, minute, hour, day, week, and year.

Is loving easy?  NO.  But why?  If it were easy, then we wouldn’t have to ask twice why we love people, even the difficult ones.  So if loving is difficult why do we do it?  Why do we keep going on even when it’s hard, painful, and discouraging?    Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  We show love by forgiving others, standing up for the lost, defending the orphan and widow, and still loving others even when they hurt us.  Loving isn’t just something that we need to do.  Loving is something we’re called and ordered to do.  Right in Ephesians it says that we are following the example of the Lord by walking in love towards one another.  We walk in love toward one another by forgiving people.

How is loving people shown by forgiving them?  Going back to Ephesians, it says that Christ loved us and gave His life for us.  That’s cause and effect.  His love caused Him to give His life for us.  While the sacrifice we make isn’t as drastic as Christ’s, let’s think about some of the sacrifices we make when we love people.  We sacrifice our time, energy, money, emotions, and hearts as we invest in relationships.  As we invest in people and in relationships with them, we find out about their joys, strengths, pains, problems, worries, weaknesses, and personalities.  As we grow closer to people we find that we are often the ones they lean on to help unravel the messes and we have to practice tough love as helping them through their struggles.  Helping someone through their struggles is anything but clean, easy, and fun.  Instead, it’s painful, messy, heart breaking, gut-wrenching, and just plain awful sometimes.  So does that give us the license to simply shut down and never love anyone?

There’s a famous quote by C.S. Lewis that says, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”  Whoa, gut-punch, heart-stopping, earth-shattering moment right there.  Did he just admit fully and warn us about being vulnerable and loving?  Yes, he did.  If anyone knew what it was like to love vulnerably, it was C.S. Lewis.  He lost his mother at a young age and then his beloved wife to cancer at a young age.  If anyone knows about heartbreak and wanting to never love again, it would be him.  He was faced with the ultimate decision: either shut his heart down and never love anyone or anything again or use his pain and let it turn his love into something more beautiful and let it help so many others.

How does this quote apply to us?  It gives us a powerful warning that yes, loving is hard.  It is INCREDIBLY hard.  BUT if we take a look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 this is what we read, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”  These verses talk about how love is all of these incredible qualities yet we’re warned by C.S. Lewis that these things will be thrown back in our faces and trampled in the dust.  How encouraging is that, right?

God says in the Bible, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”  (1 Corinthians 10:13) God will put us into situations where we are required to love people that absolutely break our hearts by their words and actions.  However, as promised by the verses He will not put us into positions that we cannot handle without His help.  We were never meant to try and handle situations that are meant to be handled by God.  He alone has a heart that is big enough to love unconditionally through it all.

You may be thinking and saying to yourself, “Hannah, this is all well and good, but you don’t know what I’ve gone through.”  Sweet sister, you’re right.  I don’t know the specifics, but I know your pain.  Over the last year I’ve lost good friends, one who I thought would help me transition into college.  I’ve had to learn to love and forgive those classmates who have tried to cheat off my homework.  This semester, I’ve been faced more than ever before with those who profess Christ as their Lord and Savior and live a life in opposition to Him.  Is it hard to love those people? Y.E.S.  Do I struggle with regularly? Y.E.S. Why do I keep loving them and showing that by reaching out to them?  Because, the same love that was extended to me by the God who personifies love is the same God Who loved enough to die for me and empower others to love me.  As Christians we reflect love, God’s love, in a way that astounds the world.  I pray that God will help us become loving women of God who make a difference by the way people see us love.

 

{Love}

{Love} Love. What is it?

Written By: Hannah Kittle

Love.  It’s one of the most common words in the English language.  We use the word to say that we like everything from that special person to that blouse that girl was wearing.  We tend to think of love as something as shown by pictures on social media and movies.  Big red hearts, chocolate, gifts, and whatever else people receive for Valentine’s Day.  But what if I described love to you as something hard, painful, and something that takes a whole lot of work?  What if I told you that love is better described by the words, unconditional and tough? What if I told you that sometimes loving somebody isn’t having that warm fuzzy feeling about someone?  Instead it feels you’re using every single ounce of self-control to not yell at that person or shake some common sense into them.  Often times we say things like, “I just can’t love so-and-so because of this thing they did to me or because of what they said about me or told about me.”  May I make a confession?  Those statements come out of my mouth way too much.  I really struggle with loving people like Christ has loved me and commanded me to do.  I say in the morning before I go to college, “Lord, help me to love my friends, classmates, teachers, and whoever else I come in contact with.” Then I get to school and get into class with them and it takes all my self-control not to speak my mind or shake them.  As soon as I think those thoughts though, I feel my conscience prick me.  I realize that I’m not loving them the way that Christ has asked me too.

How does God ask me to love?  Is there a difference between love as described by the dictionary and the love that God asks me to display? Let’s take a look.  Love as defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary is, “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person; the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship; a person you love in a romantic way.”  Man’s definition is basically boiled down to feelings.  Love is a feeling that we have when we care about someone and is something that can be traded for hate just as easily as we change our clothes. To the world, love is something arbitrary and when the happy, fuzzy feelings wear away we simply call it quits and walk away.  It’s not worth fighting for.  Like most things in our society, it’s easily exchanged and replaced by another feeling or another thing that allows us to repeat the cycle all over again.

So what is God’s definition?  In the Greek language we find four words, Agape, Phileo, Storge and Eros that are all translated as “love” in the English language.  In the Bible we find all except Storge.  So if each of them mean love, why are there four of them? Let’s unpack these four words and the differences between them together.  Agape is the love most commonly used to talk about the love that God has for us and the love we are asked to exhibit to one another.  Eros is where the English word, “erotic” comes from.  It’s dealing with more sexual love.  Phileo love is better translated as a strong friendship. In English we tend to say this is the kind of love we have for chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, dark chocolate, Jane Austen movies, shopping, friendships, and whatever else.  Storge is used to describe love between a husband and wife, siblings, and parents and children.  Three are used in the Bible: Agape, Storge, and Phileo.  Agape is the most common type of love we see in the Bible.  Let’s take a minute and talk specifically about this kind of love.

Agape love is the love we hear used when it’s talking about God loving us and the love we are commanded to show others.  This is the love talked about when Jesus asks Peter three times, “Peter, do you love me?”  It’s also the kind of love that God asks us to love others with.  This is the kind of love that we need to show others even when it’s the last thing we want to do.  Agape love is the kind of love used in John 3:16 where it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  Most of the time where “agape” is used it has to with verses where it talks about the love that God had for us that caused Him to send us His Son.

Isn’t that absolutely amazing?  God loved us, us insignificant, sinful people, enough to send His Son.  His love was great enough to see past man’s sinfulness and rebellion.  He loved us enough to have a plan in place that when we choose to sin, He was prepared to redeem us back into fellowship with Him.  His love was the kind that can’t be equaled.  The ultimate expression of love was on the cross 2000 years ago.  We may think that we’ve seen love in a movie or had it given to us by a special someone, but the best and ultimate expression of love was displayed on a cross 2000 years ago by a perfect man who never sinned and yet he bled and died for us to pay for our sin.  We think that love looks like hearts, roses, chocolate, and warm feelings when in all actuality love looks like blood, sweat, tears, pain, and agony.  The face of love doesn’t look like a movie star or a special other.  The face of love looks like a man whose face is the picture of agony wearing a crown of thorns, bearing his own death warrant.

Love is the words, “IT IS FINISHED.” (John 19:30)

This kind of love is the reason that we demonstrate this love by loving even when it’s hardest.  We love people even when they cheat off our homework, hurt us, say things about us behind our backs, turn their backs on us, lie to us, and abuse us.  Why do we love them? We love them because God loved us. We love them because the same actions that hurt us are the same ones that we’ve done to God.  We have hurt, lied to, and turned our backs on God more times than anyone has done or ever will do to us.  How can we say that we can’t love anyone when God has shown us so much love?

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (1 John 4:11) God asks us to do what is hard, not what is easy.  He promises us that the life of a Christian will not be easy.  But He has made another promise.  He has promised us that He will not give us a trial too great to bear.  If loving were easy then we wouldn’t have so many verses in the Bible talking about love. 551 times the word “love” is mentioned in the Bible.  “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:44-45) Many of the times when “love” is mentioned in the Bible it is used in connection with loving others even when its hard and tough to do so. God’s love is the kind that even when man is still in full-on rebellion against Him, He loves them enough to give them good things.  He still causes the sun to shine on the righteous and unrighteous and blesses them.  Despite all of man’s shortcomings and failures, He still loves us.  Ephesians 2 talks about how even when we were at enmity with God He still loved us enough to make a way to make peace with Him.  Even though we deserved death and the wrath of God, His love was enough to break past the wrath He had for our condition.

Love isn’t something easy.  It is certainly easy to use the word, but so much harder to live out the word.  Sweet girl, as I write these words God is working in my heart.  This is a lesson I’m constantly having to learn.  I’m always having to learn to love.  I’m always having to ask God for forgiveness for not being the loving Christian He wants me to be.  Even though it hurts to love, I’m called to love.  I’m called to show the same love that God has shown me.  Is it easy?  No.  Is it something I want to do?  No.  But is it something I need to do?  Yes.  Let’s work to be loving women of God that change the world by the way we love others around us.

5-15-16-011Hannah Kittle is best described as a sinner saved by grace.  She currently is a high school senior taking dual-enrollment classes at two different colleges and is headed to nursing. She has a heart for the unsaved, seeks to serve God by serving others, and desires to shine as a light to others to draw them closer to God.  Her two life Bible verses are Joshua 1:9 and Jeremiah 29:11-14a

Hannah loves reading, shopping, and being with people whether it be young or old people. She has a calling upon her heart to serve others and to love others even when it’s tough. She believes that God is calling her into nursing or the medical field in general to best accomplish this purpose. She is waiting and praying for the man that God has for her and her heart’s prayer for her life is that others would see Christ through her, her words, and her actions.

 

 

Guest-Writers, {Love}

{Love} Pursuit of Love

Written By: Tricia Underwood

I’m sitting in the exact same chair I sat in when I told him I was done… it was over… that there was no more I could take of our marriage.

It’s a white rocker whose matching partner usually sits empty alongside of it most days, as I find myself swaying along to the rhythm of life outside on our front porch, taking in some much-needed deep breaths, and staring up at the blue sky above me.

That day, however, I don’t remember pretty blue skies. I don’t remember any birds chirping, as they are this very moment. All I remember is the love of my life now standing against the post that held the porch up, looking completely defeated, as if he were trying to hold the entire world upon his shoulders, after the words I had just spoken to him, begging me to tell him what else he could possibly do to fix this.

I had already checked out emotionally.

I was asking him to just let me go.

In my head, I had it all figured out. I had believed the lies the enemy told me that our kids would be happier in the long run with us living apart, as happier (separated) adults than what we were living at that time. He begged for patience and forgiveness… for me to offer him more time to work on some issues we had. I thought the time I had already given him had proved worthless and always ended with the same results. So.Why.Keep.Trying?! That’s the question the enemy kept asking me.

I was tired. Oh, so tired. I just wanted an end to the pain I was in and to somehow find peace in what I thought would be freedom.

Thank God that over the course of 3 more years, the man that God gave me, the father of my children, never.gave.up on me! He never let me go! He never said “yes” to my requests for separation. He fought harder than I ever imagined.

During that time, God broke and softened my own heart as He kept pursuing ME. I didn’t realize how far I had walked~ no, RUN~ from His ways and from His arms. When your own heart isn’t right with God, your relationships, especially your marriage, are bound to suffer!

God taught me so much during those 3 years about how marriage is so sacred to Him through my husband’s constant pursuit, patience, and unconditional love for me. Though I gave him absolutely no reason to, my husband showed me that he loved me as Christ loves the church.

The healing in our marriage finally came once I accepted God back into my heart and re-committed to live my life for Him. Once I finally realized just how far I had run away from the Lord and how badly I needed Him in my life, I cried out to Him from the deepest, darkest, most broken place I have ever been. And He Was There! Right there… with Open Arms! I would have never been able to accept my husband’s love again without first fully accepting God’s love, and God healing our relationship first.

Next, God healed our marriage. When I reached out to my husband with sincere words of regret for such time wasted, painful words spoken, and moments I can never get back to re-do or fix again, my husband welcomed me just the same as God~ with completely open arms… as if he had been waiting for that moment all his life! Our “issues” or problems were exactly the same as before. Nothing had been “solved”, however it was how I now chose to see them that was different (and that’s truly a miracle in and of itself)!

I realized how close I came to losing everything that was important to me in my life~ my husband, my marriage, my family, my home~ nothing that is replaceable! None of that is worth worrying over our “issues”. If love can win over what we have been through, then our issues are truly not that important.

My husband shows me he loves me in a million different ways now~ a lot of ways that are different than when we first got married, and those are the ones that mean the most to me!

Yes, love can change the longer you are married, but it can change for the better if you just look for the GOOD, appreciate what you have, and live your life to serve one another in love!


Ephesians 5:22-33 (NLT)
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body. As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Until Next Time,
Tricia

Guest-Writers, {Love}

{Love} My Story

Written By: Shannon Geurin

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My head was in his lap and I was looking up at the ceiling, wondering how I had gotten here. My little girl hopes and dreams were flashing right before my very eyes. My heart felt like it was literally being torn apart.  My husband’s soft hands were brushing away the hairs surrounding my face. “Shannon, do you really think that this is Gods will?” In that moment, that very tiny moment in time, it was like a lightbulb that had been flickering for days finally flashed all the way on and shined bright. “No,” I said. “No, it can’t be.”

HOW MY MARRIAGE SURVIVED WHEN IT HAD EVERY REASON TO FAIL.

 

John and I will be married 25 years in June.  This man I love with all of my heart, soul, and mind. He is my everything second only to Jesus. But after 15 years of marriage, I betrayed my husband such that it nearly wrecked and killed both of us. Nevertheless, what Satan meant for pure evil, God has turned in to something very beautiful.

We got married at 19 and 20 and boy did we have the world by the tail. 6 years later we were blessed by a beautiful big lipped baby girl that we named Alex Elizabeth. Then,  2 1/2 years after Averee Grace was born with eyes blue as the sky.

About a year after Averee was born, John’s best friend suddenly died and it completely rocked our world. He and John had plans. They were going to open a business together and had already done most of the research to get started. Our families were close. We spent vacations and holidays together. It was a very traumatic time not only for us, but of course their family as well. He had left a wife and 3 small children behind.

Fast forward 2 years and John had another best friend that suddenly died. Same situation. We were close and spent vacations together. He left a wife and two small children behind.

As crazy as this sounds, after this happened I knew that I would be next. I mean, why wouldn’t I be? John has a pretty extensive family history of heart disease. Surely he will die soon, and I too will be left to take care of two small children. How in the world was I going to do this? How will I get through it? Watching my two friends go through the loss of the loves of their lives just about did me in. It was extremely painful.  I don’t know how they did it. Seriously- I have no idea, because we grew apart. Sadly I am no longer close with these two ladies for really no other reason than we just grew apart. But maybe if I peeled the banana back a little more,  I intentionally pulled myself away from them. Distancing myself in order to try and save myself. Very selfish I know, but sometimes in life you do things that necessarily may not be the right things in order to survive.

So “knowing” that John would be next I started preparing myself and my heart. I started living out of fear and I just had to figure out a way to become independent. I needed to learn how to take care of myself and my two girls without leaning on John. This was a gradual process and it was something that just happened over time. I didn’t “set out” to become independent, it just happened. And it was wrong.   Aside from that, I had completely left my heavenly Father out.  I had forgotten to put my trust in Him. There were parts of me that I just hadn’t given over to Him. This was the beginning of my failure. Fear. I let fear in and allowed it to control my mind and thoughts.

Over the next several years we had our normal ups and downs as a couple. We had the normal struggles. We loved each other and were doing fine. We were “coasting.” When Alex was about 7 and Averee 5, John received a promotion at work which caused us to move to Dallas, Texas. We were excited and ready for this new adventure for our family.

Little did we realize that the bricks were slowly starting to break apart.  They were on the verge of crumbling down around us suffocating and crushing both of us almost to the point of death.

We were excited to move. Yeah, it was gonna be hard. All of our friends and family were in Oklahoma. Every thing we knew was in Oklahoma. We were tight with everyone- our family, our friends, our church. Even so we were ready. We felt it was God’s will and we were ready and prepared (or so I thought) for the adventure.

John had received a pretty significant promotion so he was in a season of proving himself at work. He has always been good at balancing work and home.  He’s always made family a priority and he does it so beautifully- it’s one of the things that I admire and love about him so much. So, during this season in his career it wasn’t that he really worked a lot, but he was under a lot of pressure. He was stressed out. He was on their radar and they were watching him. He just had a lot to prove.

The house we bought was an older home and so it needed some work. The master bathroom was a mess so we had to have it updated. It sounds like a simple task but honestly it was a lot of stress for me because I was the one over-seeing the project. Aside from that, I had to find new doctors, new dentists, new hair stylists – things you really don’t think about when you move, and it was just hard.

Do you remember how I let fear creep in? Fear had crept in to such a degree after the death of our friends that there was a part of me that I kept away from John…the most vulnerable part. I needed to be strong. I needed to be able to take care of myself. That fear flourished inside of me and taught me how to not need my husband.  That fear caused there to be a crack in the door of our marriage. And Satan slivered his way through.

Not too long after our move I opened the door of my heart to another man. This led to an emotional affair and then a physical affair that literally almost destroyed me and my husband and our two girls.

I’m going to stop right here and say to you- if you are flirting with this temptation STOP RIGHT NOW. It’s not worth it. I’m telling you, it’s NOT worth it! Furthermore, it’s NEVER God’s will to break up a family. NEVER. If you’re involved in a relationship like this than STOP. It is NEVER God’s will for you to leave your spouse to be with someone else. NEVER.

I betrayed my husband. The one who my soul has always loved.

The one who I promised to cherish and love all the days of my life.

The one who makes up half of my beautiful girls’ heart.

This beautiful man, I betrayed. When the affair came to light, my husband did not kick me out. He should have…but he didn’t. Instead he opened his arms to me. He showed me the love of Jesus. Don’t get me wrong…he didn’t just roll over. He’s a smart guy. He had no idea what I would do, and he had to be prepared. The morning after it came to light he got up (he was sleeping upstairs in the guest room), came downstairs and got in the shower as if he was going to work.

I knew he wasn’t going to work.

He was going to see an attorney. So, he left that morning. The girls were with my in-laws so I was alone. I remember just laying in my bed in the fetal position not knowing what was going to happen. I called my dad and I told him everything. I felt like I was a teenager again as I listened. “Shannon, you cut it off! Cut it off RIGHT NOW.” He had a conviction in his voice that I had never heard. He scolded me and told me what a mistake I had made. He spoke truth to me and talked sense to me. Yes, I felt like a teenager again…but it was exactly what I needed, because I certainly hadn’t been behaving like a responsible adult. Gosh- thank you so much Dad…for speaking truth to me. Thank you for not being afraid of the ramifications of how I would react. Thank you for being brave. You have showed me how to be brave. Oh how I love you Dad.

Can I just tell something?? Speak TRUTH to your loved ones! Speak truth to them even when it will hurt them. And on the flip side- YOU ALLOW OTHERS TO SPEAK TRUTH TO YOU.  Speaking truth to others can literally save them! They may not take it well at first, but THEY WILL GET OVER IT.

Later that day I saw Johns car drive in front of our house and pull into the driveway. I walked over to the garage door. I just wanted a hug. I wanted to be in his arms. See, we have this special hug thing that we do. We’ve done it our whole marriage. I walk into his chest and he envelopes his arms all the way around me as if he is shielding me. So, he walks in and I’m standing there. I walk right into his arms and he pulls me close. I whispered, “I love you John.”

“I love you too honey.” And at that moment we both knew that we were going to try.

Little did we know that this was one of the hardest decisions that we would ever make in our marriage.

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Here’s the cool part. On the way home John was praying and crying out to God. He asked God to help him know what to do. He asked God for a sign….and when he walks in the door there I am. Our hug was his sign.

Only God.

So the girls were staying with my in-laws and we had about 4 days just to really talk things out and try and move past the initial trauma.  Let me say- it would have been SO much easier for both of us just to give up. Infidelity is extremely painful and honestly sometimes it’s just too hard to come back from.  The world says it can’t be done.

But Jesus.. 

Giving up and getting a divorce would have been the easy part for us.

Instead of kicking me out John welcomed me in. He showed me love. I had mocked him and spit in his face. I caused him to bleed and I shamed him.  Sound familiar? Matthew 26:67 “Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him..”

Jesus.

He showed me who Jesus was and for the first time in my life I realized what Jesus Christ did for me on that cross. I’ve been a christian and loved Jesus ever since I was a little girl and at the age of 36 I finally understood. 1 Peter 3:18 – Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring us safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the spirit.

That cross though.

My head was in his lap and I was looking up at the ceiling, wondering how I had gotten here. My little girl hopes and dreams were flashing right before my very eyes. My heart felt like it was literally being torn apart.  My husband’s soft hands were brushing away the hairs surrounding my face. “Shannon, do you really think that this is Gods will?” In that moment, that very tiny moment in time, it was like a lightbulb that had been flickering for days finally flashed all the way on and shined bright. “No,” I said. “No, it can’t be.” I was so messed up. I had lost my mind..literally. I actually thought that it was God’s will for me to be with this other man.

I sat up and I asked him, “Why? Why are you treating me this way? Why haven’t you kicked me out?” He got up and started to walk around the sofa and stopped. He bowed over sobbing as if he was in deep pain and agony. He looked up at me, “Because I love you!- I love you Shannon?!”

I love you Shannon.

John, I love you too.

The days following didn’t get better. In fact, they got worse.

I’ll never forget the day we picked up our girls. I remember them piling out of the car; Alex’s mousey brown hair was just a mess and she had that crinkled up nose smile that she always gives me.  Averee’s sweet blue eyes just twinkled when she saw me. (Her eyes are now a warm chocolate brown but they were blue for the longest time.) They both ran up to me and hugged me so tight. We hugged for what seemed like the longest time. They had no clue. They had absolutely no clue what their momma and daddy was going through. Those sweet babies didn’t have a care in the world.

They had no idea that the next couple of years would be the hardest…that it would be an emotional roller coaster. They had no idea their parents were literally fighting the powers of darkness and hell.

So, we decided to make it work, but we were very, very broken. There was SO much to be repaired and so much work to be done. I had broken the heart of my husband and completely severed the relationship I had with many of my friends. How could I do such a thing? How could I? It wasn’t my character to do this. I was in such a state of depression for what I had done. There were many days that I didn’t know if I would make it. I just didn’t want to live in the shame and regret. It was too hard.

But Jesus..

Can I tell you something else? Never, EVER make this statement: “I would never do that.” You know, that saying… “Well, I would neeever…”   Oh Please. (Honestly that saying makes me want to throw up now.) I said it and look what happened. This thing….thing that I did was the NEVER of all never’s for me. It was my un-doing.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering why in the hell world I would disclose something like this online or in public. It’s something that’s supposed to be kept a secret, right? It’s private. Yeah, I know. And Satan would love nothing more than for me to keep quiet.  God spoke very clearly to me and told me exactly what to do so I’m doing it. What we went through and how God restored us is just too much of a miracle to keep to myself. Honestly it’s His story, not mine.

JESUS.

Only Jesus.

 

RESTORATION:

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The next 3-4 years was the most difficult season for us. While we were fighting for our marriage we also each had our own, very personal things to work out.

John had to deal with trust issues and the hurt, anger and bitterness. I can’t really go in to what he went through because that is his story…but I will tell you, there were so many layers of deceit and hurt that it is purely a miracle he survived. He is a walking miracle. WE are a walking miracle. OUR KIDS- they are walking miracles.

Thank you Jesus.

And me? Well, I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I didn’t know how to read my bible. I remember picking it up and not even understanding the words. Sin does that to you- it twists you around and turns you into something that you are not.

Sin twists you and turns you into something that you are not. #MyInfidelityStory #marriage

Jesus was just foreign to me. It was as if I had never heard of Him or even read the bible. It was weird. The root issue was that I felt unworthy. I felt so unworthy and unlovable. I felt dirty and full of shame. There was absolutely no grace for me and no way back.  I would be forever marked as “that woman.”

The healing process for us was extremely crucial and important. Each step had to be taken very carefully. There were so many different layers to our situation. John was completely heartbroken at what I had done. Iwas heartbroken at what I had done. As I said before, our marriage needed healing, and we each needed individual healing. I don’t know how we would have done it without Jesus and counseling. We had an amazing marriage counselor.

Let’s go back and talk about sin for a moment. It makes you want to run. So you have two choices: either run away from God or run to God and let Him see you. And if I were to be honest, I would tell you that it’s easier to run because when you run you can avoid what you’ve done.  You can run but it won’t get you anywhere. In fact, it will make you miserable.

When we run to God it’s excruciating at first. Running to Him makes us see what we’ve done and causes us to face it. But letting him see us is crucial! My friend Suzie describes it perfectly.

“He peels away the superficial to find the source of the infection. Like a skilled surgeon, He cracks open the chest to find out which artery is leaking, or which primary muscle needs to be revived. The key to change is letting God see you completely, no holds barred, and offering your thoughts, your relationships, your life and your heart for His skilled touch. ..God sees beyond the obvious sin to heart of the issue -and then reveals that truth to us”

When I ran to God, that is when restoration started taking place.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13  The key here is seeking Him with all of your heart. This goes a long with EVERY area of our lives my sweet friends. Every.Single.Area.

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Show Him your heart….he sees it anyway. So if He sees it anyway, than why do we need to show Him? Here’s why- it’s the act…and in the act of showing you will find Him and you will find freedom. And it will be worth it.

It’s so worth it.

If you will allow Him to see every part of you….every part…the good and the bad, than you will find him. And that’s just what I did. I found Him. The Him I never knew. Now hear me- I’ve been a Christ follower as long as I can remember. I have loved Him for as long as I remember, but after my infidelity and being stripped bare of everything I ever knew I was finally able to see who He really was and what He really did for me that agonizing day on the Cross.

That cross though.

Jesus paid the price for me that day on the cross. He carried the burden so that I would not have to. HE DID THE SAME FOR YOU. When I realized that I could stop carrying my sin around it was huge for me. He carried my sin to the cross!

Jesus loved me so much that he saw past my sin. John loved me so much that he eventually was able to see past my betrayal. It was Jesus in Him….otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to get past it. If you’re the victim in your marriage because of infidelity the ONLY way you will get through it is JESUS. He is the God of the impossible! SHOW him your heart! Cry out to Him! He will heal it– I PROMISE he will heal it if you let Him.

I have learned that with God I am capable of anything. He is my source! He is my strength! I am not only worthy of God’s love…I am worthy of my own love. I have had to learn how to love myself.  Please hear me- until you can fully love yourself, AND forgive yourself, you can not live in the fullness of what Christ offers. You are worthy and you are enough!

Until you can forgive yourself you can not live in the fullness of Christ.

It took me a long time to love myself. I know that there were some who judged me and shamed me…and that’s fine (actually..it’s NOT fine, not according to the bible anyway..)…but no one judged me or shamed me more than myself. Believe me- I judged and shamed myself enough for everyone. I didn’t understand why John treated me the way he treated me. He was extremely protective of me. When others shamed me, he fought for me. The one I betrayed fought for me. Anyone see a resemblance to Jesus here?

Jesus.

This is kind of a bold statement and please believe me when I say that I am speaking this in love and truth. You have absolutely no right to judge or shame me or another human being. No right. Other than Jesus Christ, my husband was the ultimate victim here. If ANYONE has the right, it’s him. There’s no grey area here. It’s black or white.

Someone once said to me, “Shannon, do you realize how lucky you are?” We had been talking about how far we (me and John) had come. This didn’t sit well with my spirit. It was as if this person was shaming me and they didn’t even realize it.  Honestly I don’t think this person had any clue as to what they were saying and I love this person with my whole heart and do not find fault with them..but it spoke volumes to me. I was looking down at the time and I slowly lifted my head with conviction and said, “Yes, I know how lucky I am….but you know what? John- he’s lucky too.” It made me feel so small and it made me mad. It was like this person was reminding me of what I had done, reminding me of the burden that I needed to carry around and that I should feel lucky that my husband didn’t kick me out. It was honestly a defining moment for me.

Because of Him I am worthy. And I am loved.

Learning to love myself was hard. Thankfully during the process of restoration I didn’t look to human beings to find love…I looked to Jesus. If I had looked to people I would have never found it, because no one can give us the love we need like Jesus Christ. John couldn’t give me the love I so desperately desired. Only Jesus could do that. I am confident in the love of my Savior. I am confident that I am HIS daughter. Daughter of the King. I can walk in to a public place and hold my head up high and know that I am worthy and that I am not dirty or worthless. I am loved.

Ya know, Christians are funny little humans. When one of our own sins we tend to just kind of freak out, don’t we? <insert total sarcasm here> I’m talking about BIG sins (infidelity, murder, stealing, etc)…because small sins (lying, judging, over-eating, pride, etc)  aren’t the same are they? When one of our own commits a BIG <inserted sarcasm still there> sin and then genuinely repents we find it hard to move past it. It’s like they don’t deserve to be happy and confident in Jesus. It’s like we expect them to carry around what they did. Why is that? I mean, whats up with that??

Can we as christians vow to not be that way anymore? Please? I used to be that way until I was the one, then when I was the one I stopped being that one.  (Say that real fast three times) Christians- (I say this in love) stop walking around like you have arrived. You have not. You will arrive when you walk through those majestic gates of Heaven. You will never reach this generation until you drop the pride. This generation won’t put up with it..they just won’t.Christians will never reach this generation until they drop the pride.

John 8:7– When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Jesus was on my side, and He’s on your side too.

Luke 6:37– “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Romans 2:1- “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

Can we all learn something from this? Don’t judge. Love. I am SO thankful to the ones that loved me through it!

I learned the true love of a savior. He knew what I would do. He let me fall and it broke His heart, but He was right there to pick me up. He was always there. Through every single tear he was there. I swear I cried for 3 years straight. I was so weak, but I became strong because of Him! Everything I am today is because of Jesus Christ.

I want you to listen to me

If you who have suffered a broken heart for what ever reason,  offer that heart up to the one who died for you. Face your pain. Face your struggles. Strip yourself bear and offer everything you have up to your Savior who literally DIED for you. He died for you. He died the most hideous of all deaths. OFFER YOUR HEART IT UP TO HIM. Offer your broken heart up to the One who died for you. #Jesus

Maybe you’ve had a dream that has never came to fruition and you want to let go of it. Don’t let go!

Never let go.

Maybe you have sin in your heart right now or your like I was and you are carrying a past sin around…. you feel isolated, alone… Jesus isn’t afraid to talk about our sin!!! Talk to him about it! Give it to him! Give him your whole heart! Satan WANTS you to feel isolated and that’s a whole ‘nother blog post…but if he can get you to feel isolated than he’s got you!

So many people tell me that I am brave and courageous. Listen- Jesus made me brave!

No matter what we’ve been through or what we face, we all have within ourselves to be BRAVE – to be the person that God designed us to be! Its your decision! Step out of your comfort zone! With HIS courage and HIS strength we CAN make the choices that can CHANGE our circumstances!!!

WHERE WE ARE NOW:

 

So, has it been worth it? Naturally I guess it seems my answer would be yes. Our family is so happy today. There is pure, genuine and fierce love. We know what it feels like to almost lose love and we’ve both tasted death. We are thankful and we live each and every day out of gratefulness, and hopefully that has been passed down to our girls.  So to get to where we are today I would say yes it has been worth it…but if I could go back and change what I had done than I would. Because even though today we are happy I wish I hadn’t done it. I wish I could take it back and go to the place I was before I broke my husband’s heart into tiny little pieces.

Several months ago I got a call from a good friend.

“I would love for you to speak at our Women’s Conference this year.”

Those 13 little words caused my heart to hit the floor because I knew at some point that it would be coming and I was extremely nervous. Yet, God had been preparing my heart for this for the last year. I don’t know why I was anxious I just was. When I hung up the phone I inched down to the floor and stared straight ahead for what seemed the longest time. Ya know that one emoji with the big eyes and straight mouth? Yeah that was me.  “God…, this is it, isn’t it?”

Then I remembered; everything that I had gone though and everything that our family had gone through had brought us to that day. The day that I would share my story publicly. The day that would cause countless lives to be touched by my heavenly Father.

When my beautiful friend Jen asked me to speak she had no idea what was really going on in my mind. The self-doubt, the fear, the anguish. Would my family be okay? Why would I tell thousands of people about such a dirty secret? God? God! Is this really you??

I knew I had to do two things before I told her a definite yes. #1- It was critical that my husband be 100% on board and at peace with this. #2- I would need to have a conversation with my daughters.

My sweet daughters.

Their hearts.

This was almost too much to bear. After everything John and I had gone through; the utter heart-break, the depression, the isolation…nothing to me was worse than possibly causing my daughters’ heart to break in two for them knowing about what I had done. This is where FAITH comes in. It took an enormous amount of faith for me to move forward with what I believe God had called me to do. I had to believe that if he had called me to share my testimony publicly that he would put everything in to place perfectly.  This included taking care of my daughters’ hearts. Let me just tell you, he had their hearts in His enormous hands the whole time.

Before I go on, let’s backup just a little.

It took about 5 years for both of us to become completely whole. 5 years of blood and sweat. It was hard work. Marriage is hard work y’all. But if you push through the hard times it can be so rewarding.

When you push through the hard times, marriage can be so rewarding. #marriage #myinfidelitystory…

We only lived in Dallas for roughly 2- 2 1/2 years. John’s company was bought by a bigger, larger company so some things changed and it allowed us to move back to Oklahoma. Back home. It was a miracle. God knew what we needed- to be back home surrounded by family and loved ones. As I told you yesterday, the next couple of years proved to be the hardest. When we go through hard things in life we have two choices. Either we sweep it under the rug; because sweeping it under the rug will cause it to go away, or we do the hard part and face it. Remember Jeremiah 29:13?
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with ALL of your heart.

We could have swept it under the rug…acted like it was fine, but ultimately that probably would’ve been our downfall, and we would’ve chosen to live an average life, mediocre, okay, ordinary life. But we didn’t do that. We chose to face it. We had to face it. We longed for wholeness. We longed for genuine happiness. So we chose to face it. We had so much junk to work through. If you’re marriage has been rocked by infidelity than you know exactly what I’m talking about. In order for us to survive we had no choice.

We had to seek Him with ALL of our hearts, so that we would find Him, and in finding Him we would find our ultimate healing.

When you seek Him with all of your heart, your healing will begin. #MyInfidelityStory #marriage

We fought and we fought hard. And it made us strong. Jesus made is strong.

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So after Jen called and asked me to speak I talked to my husband and he was 100% at peace. He had no second thoughts. I kinda thought he might have second thoughts but he had none. Ok God? Wow! Well that was easy..so that was checked off my list.

Next. My girls. Oh dear God, my sweet girls…

When I talked to Alex it was the most beautiful moment and something I will forever treasure in our relationship. We went and got take out from Chipotle (her favorite place) and went to the park for a picnic. It is her senior year so I wanted to just talk to her about being an adult and tell her about the mistakes I had made in my early adulthood days that hopefully she could avoid. I knew this would also be a perfect time to tell her about what her dad and I had gone through. So after we talked about some of those things, I knew it was time to talk to her about the other.  “Honey, also….your momma made a mistake….” The moment I said the word mistake she bowed her head and put her face in her hands and started sobbing. I freaked out thinking OH MY GOD what have I done?? Was this a mistake??!!!

She looks up at me. “Mom, I already knew. I’ve known all along.

Wait. What? “I didn’t know if you were ever going to tell me. I’ve kept it inside for so long.”

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Wow.  I immediately started telling her how much I loved her daddy and what an amazing man he was and I started talking about love and forgiveness and I  asked her to forgive me. I mean I was grasping at straws here…

“Mom, I forgave you a long time ago.”

Those words. 8 words. Who knew 8 small words could change a life.

This little girl had kept that secret to herself for 7 years. She never spoke a word of it to anyone. Never asked me about it. Never asked John about it. Never talked to her sissy about it. Wow. What a girl. What a strong, courageous little girl.

We underestimate our children sometimes.

How did she know? Honestly I’m not sure. The only way she could’ve known is by hearing me and her dad talk. We had A LOT to talk about- especially after the initial trauma of the infidelity. We talked every night when they went to bed and any time we had a chance when we thought they weren’t listening. Alex is also very intuitive and picks up on things very quickly. She’s a smart one, that girl.

Galatians 6:7- …a man reaps what he sows.

I have reaped what I have sown in my precious oldest daughter. She carried that around for 7 years. If you know my Alex, than you know that she is very hard to get to know. She is sort of closed-off and it takes a lot for her to trust someone. She keeps her emotions bottled up and sometimes she finds it hard to express herself and how she is feeling. I believe this is because she had to learn to keep things in and keep her emotions at bay. My Alex is the most caring person you will ever meet. She truly cares about people even if her actions paint a different picture. Most won’t take the time to get to know her- but those that do find a loyal and caring friend.

We’ve always had a strong bond. I’ve had that with both of my girls. My love for them comes with a certain kind of fierceness. Since that conversation we have had an even stronger bond. It broke so many chains in her life as it did mine. She has a different kind of peace about her now…and I don’t know if she knows it, actually I take that back- I’m certain she does know..it’s the peace of the Father. A peace that ONLY comes from above. Her senior year isn’t what I had hoped it to be for her. In fact, it has been extremely hard for various other reasons. Yet, even so, she has peace. And she is happy. She’s always been happy…but she is a different kind of happy now.

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And here comes the miracle:

My sweet Alex- she knows how to fight. You see, we didn’t know that she knew. Over the last several years Alex has known what her parents went through…and she has seen us genuinely fight for one another. She was watching. I don’t know what she thought initially. Did she think we were going to make it? I don’t know? Did she wonder if one day she would come home from school only to find out her parents were getting a divorce? I don’t know? Each day though…she saw us fight for each other. She literally was witness to her parents putting the pieces of their marriage back together. She saw us love; the genuine, authentic kind of love. And she saw Him. She saw Jesus.

Only Jesus.

Can we just take a moment and give Him the honor he so deserves?? Thank you Lord!! Thank you so much!

And Averee Grace?

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Look at that sweet girl. Oh that little bundle of joy, what can I say about her? When I had my conversation with Averee she formed big crocodile tears in her eyes. She had questions. I answered. I was honest and real. Then 15 minutes later she was asking what we were having for dinner. Seriously if it were normal I would take a bite out of those cheeks of hers. If I could just fold her up and carry her in my pocket… Oh how I love that sweet baby of mine. She brings joy to everyone she touches. She has truly been a gift to me.

Can I tell you something? Be honest with your kids. Have honest conversations with them. Be real and authentic. Our world is full of fake, let it be different at home.

Let your home be a place of authenticity. #marriage #mystory #infidelity

Today our family is a living, breathing miracle. When I think of the grave possibilities that could have taken place had we not surrendered to Jesus I shutter. There is fierce love in our home. What you see is what you get with us. People joke and kid with me all the time about the way we love each other. “You and John are so sappy and mushy!” Yep. We sure are. I would always think to myself- if you only knew what we have gone through to get here. We hold on to each other and we hold on tight.

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We live.

We laugh.

We love.

John and I have learned the gift of God in marriage. We are a team. We love and we love hard. We don’t hide it. Love is a decision and we have decided to love on purpose. When I am weak, he is strong. When he is weak, I am strong.

Love is a decision and we have decided to love on purpose. #marriage #MyStory #infidelity

Because of Jesus.

We are John and Shannon. And we always will be.

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We have had so much favor in our life. John has had so much favor in his career. Since this happened he has received three promotions. I don’t tell you this to brag. He has had favor at work that you would not believe. I believe God has honored him for his decision to fight through the pain and work on our marriage. John has developed such a strength and tenacity that only comes from God. Oh how God has honored Him.

God will honor you when you do the hard things. #marriage #MyStoryofInfidelity

Proverbs 3: 3-4  Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.

And me? Well if you knew me before and you know me now you probably will say I am a completely different Shannon, in a good way. I’ve come a long way. I am bold. I am strong. I will speak truth in love to you. I will support you and I will fight for you. I do all of this because of Jesus inside of me. It isn’t me, it’s Him. He is my reason!

I realized something yesterday as I was driving down the road and it made me giggle..so I changed my blog name to ShannonGeurin.com right? I think that’s been Gods plan ever since I started my blog, because.. well,..I am Shannon Geurin. That’s who I am. There is nothing for me to be ashamed of. I am the daughter of the the most high King and because of this my chin is up.  I am His.

Fiercely His.

xoshannonmeetshannon