Hello my friends!
Are you looking for an excuse to postpone taking down your Christmas tree?
Do you need to do something with your hands other than eat another cookie?
Would you like to read some good news since things have been pretty tense in our country lately?
If so, I can help!
Here’s my end-of-the year ministry and personal update. As you’re reading this update, I’m cleaning up my apartment. I had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas with my three adult daughters. Last Christmas, my oldest daughter was on deployment in the Middle East, so I loved having her home this year. We enjoyed created special memories together during family game nights, a hysterical escape room adventure and visiting with extended family.
Speaking of blessings, I want to shout about how God has blessed my ministry this year. If you’ve prayed for me this year, purchased one of my Bible studies or attended one of my speaking events, TOGETHER we shared in what God was doing in and around me.
I’d love to share some of the highlights of what God has done through my ministry this year. Here are some photos that capture a small snapshot of all that God blessed me to be a part of in ministry this year. After the photos, I’m sharing an update on my family and marriage.
In 2019, my word-of-the-year was HOPE. That was inspired by my verse of the year below, which is Romans 12:12.
I chose the word HOPE because for the past few years, my greatest spiritual challenge has been learning to how to keep my focus on giving God glory, no matter the outcome of my personal story.
For those who are new to my email list, my family has been in the midst of a long and hard season due to an addiction issue in our home. I’ve refrained from sharing a lot of details because my family wanted – and at times – needed the privacy. I wrote a few blog posts in July and August 2018 about what was happening, so if you want background information, you can read here.
I’ve been grateful for the prayers and notes of support from so many of you. Over the past 16 months, I’ve heard from a heartbreaking number of wives who were dealing with addiction issues in their marriages and families. If you’ve been afraid to speak up or feeling ashamed of speaking up, please know that you’ve got nothing to be ashamed about. Most of all, you aren’t alone. You are not solely responsible for saving your marriage. Be wise and talk about what’s really going on – and be wise about who you choose to talk to!
For the past 10 years, I prayed and asked God to rescue my marriage and restore our family. But, that didn’t happen. After 26-years of marriage, my spouse no longer wanted to continue being married even after numerous pleas for counseling and reconciliation.
Over the year of court hearings and delays, I slugged through crippling grief, anger, loss of confidence, shame and a two-week depression in late-March. The depression set in after an emotionally traumatic court date. I had the face the reality that I was not going to get the miracle that I prayed for. The pain of it all was too much. I lost the ability to speak for a few days. Other than a brief workout each morning, I stayed in bed for days. Thankfully, I had a break in my speaking and writing schedule so that I could get the help and rest that I needed.
This summer, I wrote the Surrendered: Letting Go and Living Like Jesus Bible study. This Bible study is about letting go of what we can’t control. I focused on Jesus’ time in the wilderness. I spent a lot of time meditating on Jesus’ response to Satan in Matthew 4:4: People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
During those dark days in March when I barely felt like I had enough life to keep breathing, I would lay in bed and repeat every Bible verse I knew. I couldn’t eat. I could barely move. But it was God’s Word that sustained me.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because the LORD is with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9
You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you! -Isaiah 26:3
The Lord gives his people strength.
The Lord blesses them with peace. -Psalm 29:11
These verses and dozens of others breathed life into me when nothing else on the planet could help. If you’ve read about my God-Morning/God-Night Technique from Winning the Worry Battle, you know that I repeat five verses every morning before I get out of bed each day. God has used this as a healing and strengthening exercise for my heart and mind.
Our divorce was settled at the end of September 2019. It took a few more months of final paperwork, but at the end of the year, the divorce is done.
During this long season, God also surrounded me with an incredible support system of friends, both from church and Al-Anon. My accountability partner and Christian counselor provided a safe spaces for me to be 100% real and deal with messy emotions. The truth does set us free – but first, it does hurt. And that’s okay! Freedom is worth it!
I felt the God’s conviction be vigilant about carrying for my body and soul. God created our bodies and commands us to take care of them.
I cried through a lot of workouts, but exercised anyways because it helped me stay upbeat and positive. Exercise energized me and even helped me with staying consistent with my own daily Bible study and prayer.
I’ve noticed that when I felt physically worn out or down, it’s tough to be spiritually engaged. So working out helps me stayed engaged with God.
In addition to exercise, I’ve kept up a weekly fast for the past four years. This spiritual discipline built up my self-control and prayer muscles so that I could battle against the various temptations like emotional over-eating, control-loving issues or holding onto resentment. I need new spiritual muscles now that I am single. I’m still a whole woman so self-control is needed in new ways, like avoiding inappropriate relationships (which wasn’t challenging, but a new aspect of life that I’ve had to adjust to this year).
I’m still trust God’s sovereignty over how addiction and divorce have destroyed precious family relationships.
My adult daughters are still dealing with some hard things. I’ve dealt with family and friends who been critical, in denial, judgmental or cut off contact. It’s painful. Yet, wise voices around me encourage me toward showing grace, keeping good boundaries and walking out Romans 12:18: As much as it is up to you, live at peace with everyone. So, while there are people in my family who no longer want to have a relationship with me. But I can let go of the hurt and forgive, even if there is no reconciliation. There is great freedom in forgiving and letting go!
As you know, my most recent Bible study is I’m Waiting, God: Finding Blessing in God’s Delays. Not only did I experience God’s provision while writing the study, I had live out the spiritual principles that I wrote about in the study. In the final week of the Bible study, I write about letting go when God’s answer is no. This is a hard part of life that we don’t like to acknowledge.
For reasons that we don’t understand, God allows loss, pain, death, addiction, divorce, infertility, etc. He didn’t cause these tragedies, but God is the only One who can redeem our pain.
God’s glory is never dependent on how He answered our prayers. God’s goodness isn’t diminished one iota even though my marriage ended. He is still good. He is still a good God. At the same time, God is compassionate and loving. I’ve sensed His love and presence every single moment of this heartbreaking situation.
Divorce is the death of a sacred, holy union. If you’ve been through a divorce, you’ve experienced the shocking physical pain of being emotionally gutted by the ripping apart of that union. It’s the death of companionship, love, intimacy and a future. I spent the first half of 2019 coming to grips with the loss of my marriage.
It was a spiritual battle for me to hold onto hope.
I ruthlessly cling to Jeremiah 29:11 – that even in this heartbreak that God’s plan’s for my life and my family’s life are for good and not evil. I believe this for each one of us, including my former husband. I am grateful for God’s mercy that my girls and I have been freed from the pain of living in addiction. Every single day, I pray that he will experience God’s freedom and rescue as well.
Friends, in this 47th year of my life, I experienced the power of God working in my life in miraculous ways. This year, I’ve experienced the blessing of living for God’s glory, no matter the outcome of my story. Too often we get wrapped up in the way that we think that our lives should look or turn out – and when God doesn’t answer those prayers, we get discouraged.
In my I’m Waiting, God study, I say it like this: What if God has better blessings for us when He doesn’t give us what we want?
That’s a hard and scary question, isn’t it? Especially if you’re praying for something that means a lot to you. I get that. My marriage and my family meant a lot to me. I may never know why God allowed this to happen, but I don’t need to know either. Even if I did know, the tragedy still happened.
So, I decided to trust God and focus on what I could do:
I can lean in. I can hold on. I can choose faith. I can be strong.
So much has happened this year, so it wasn’t possible for me to get through what I’ve been through on my own.
I could not have written two Bible studies in my own strength. I’m Waiting, God released in September and Surrendered: Letting Go and Living Like Jesus releases this April 2020.
God’s strength got me through!
I could not have filmed two teaching DVDs in my own strength.
God’s strength got to me through.
Not a chance I could have managed 31 speaking events across the country and given 70, yes 70 separate talks at those speaking events.
God’s strength got me through.
I wouldn’t have tremendous joy, peace, courage and strength to embark upon a new year with hope and excitement. All Glory to God!
Thank you for reading my long update. I know that I’m not the only one going through a hard time. If that’s you, know that I am hugging you and praying for you, my friend. You are not alone! If you’ve got any questions about my ministry or family update, you’re welcome to email me at email@example.com.
So what now? Well, next week I’m sharing a post about preparing ourselves for 2020. In fact, I’ve got a fun planning sheet for YOU! It’s not a goals sheet, but a focus sheet to help you pick what’s going to be important to you this year.