Sunday, June 13, 2010

This is the header from my Wordpress Digs... "The Because I Love You" blog ended up being the place where I would cut my teeth writing and meet all sorts of friends near and far away.

I've been in a season of change the days. A season that has led me to this moment when I write about merging and moving my blog(s) [All Three Of Them] from Blogger to Wordpress.

Bittersweet? Nah... I find the Wordpress tools more versatile and admit I still have much to learn. I'm excited to be transitioning. It is a bit like physically moving. Cleaning out my closet--so to speak-- IMAGINE. After all this time I'm moving forward.

So, in the future if you would like to find me, please log onto I will be removing my posts after I get everything up and running in my new digs!

Join me there and lets continue this journey together! The new blog has a new title - all the old titles can be found there, but the difference is... :) ... The new title represents this new season of my life: "Redeemed... Restored... Released | One Woman's Story of Living Free"

Love you all and thanks for following along... You know I do!

For those who are new to my writing--First, Welcome! Hang in there and keep checking back I am "cleaning out the closets of my blogs..." The best is yet to come!

Monday, April 19, 2010

I've been busy...

We missed a couple of weeks of Return to Intimacy and since then have had one thing after another happen that has kept us from attending, but we continue to do the work.

Our most recent endeavor has been the TANKLESS WATER HEATER. A picture will eventually follow. We now have one. My hubs and dad installed the new compact water heater and disassembled and removed the old one.

The joys of home ownership ... Can I tell you?

We spent the last week shuttling ourselves and various bath products and family members back and forth to my in-laws to shower every other day. On the days in between I would boil water, sponge bathe and wash my hair slumped over the edge of the bathtub. CAN. YOU. SAY. UNDIGNIFIED?

I don't mind. It could be worse. RIGHT?

So tonight, the tankless water heater was not adequately heating only the water that is going to the BATHTUBS. IMAGINE. It gets steamy in any sink in the house, but barely warm enough to stand in the shower.

Things that make you go HMMMM. My dad who has three years experience with this tankless variety of water heater is coming on Wednesday to help us troubleshoot the issue.

I'll let you know how it comes out. I will also let you know how it effects our water and our electric bill. I'm very curious about the outcome there.

Well, it is just a day in our life -- ya' know?

My hubs is my hero. He never ceases to try new things simply because I tell him he can do - sans, a tankless water heater is now installed without the cost of labor.

Praise the Lord for my MAN!

ON behalf of my better half,

Friday, March 12, 2010

Return to Intimacy - Week Three

What can I say about week three's homework?  Two hours.  That's a place to start.  

The weekly meeting was interesting.  Scott bumped up against a wound in me that left me stung, stunned and struggling to keep my emotions in check throughout the meeting on Sunday. 

It happened in the small group discussion at the beginning.  We had an agreement.  Since I tend to dominate - I told him I would not share in group unless  he spoke first.  So when they asked the question "How did your homework go this week...."

Scott piped up and said... "It went."  

He looked at me. "Well, I mean we got through it, but it wasn't easy."  He gave this exaggerated look like the entire ordeal was horrible.  OUCH.

I later began to share about what we learned when we talked about time... 

"Our definitions of Quality Time are different."

He interjects..."Yeah, we discovered there are not enough hours in the week for her."


I retorted, "That's not true."

The truth was, anger was bubbling under the surface a that moment. I went on and described the reaction I had to the first question from last week's homework and tried to ignore the fact that Scott's responses struck me as smug and insensitive.  I felt they were painting me in  a bad light.  I overall felt we had a good week, with good progress - the homework was difficult, the discussions that we had about the deep things in our relationship had been really encouraging. I just couldn't understand why he said such harsh things about me in the group.

We watched the video about Anger... and how it is destructive if not handled appropriately. 


I got in the car and with tears in my eyes asked Scott why it seems he never says anything kind about me in public. His response, "I don't know."

I ended up sharing the overall feeling I had that he just didn't like me. 

He admitted he probably needs to weigh his words more carefully.  We ended that conversation at least with an understanding of where each of us was on the subject.

I asked him before we entered the house - "When will we do our homework this week?"

He offered Wednesday.  I accepted.

Wednesday came and I was concerned that we wouldn't do our homework because I was angry - and venting about it in a not-so-healthy way.  

It stirred me up.  I let him have it - both barrels.  He shut down, shut me out. I started cleaning and cooking dinner - my emotions settled down and the sink overflowed.  He had to be the plumber. He fixed it up good as new. 

We ate.

 "Are we going to do our homework?"

He said, "Yes, we can, why?"

I said, "I figured you wouldn't want to since we had fought."

He got out his book - we shut off the television and began.

I guess the thing it brought out for me is I am still really angry about a lot of things.  I'm hurting over it. And, as a result - I don't trust my husband.

When we finished, I asked: "What do you hear me telling you tonight?"

He said: "I have some work to do earning your trust."

"Are you willing to do it?"

"Yes, I need to."

Let the healing begin.  It's a start.  A rough start.  I feel a bit like a novice bicycle rider trying to get my balance.  We've fallen over a few times, but we keep getting back up and trying again.

It's been another difficult but productive week.  Please continue to pray.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Return to Intimacy - Week Two

Well, I'm bringing in the rear of week two today.  I've really had to contemplate what has happened this week because to tell you about it fully means disclosing some rather painful stuff.

What was the disclaimer last week:  Early on, Scott and I agreed that if telling our story helped someone else find their way then we'd do it.  So, with a very deep breath... I commit to telling it as honest as I know how.

One year, two months and six days ago (that is 61 weeks) I was sitting in the living room on Sunday night the weekend after Christmas when I asked to borrow Scott's laptop to sign up for a Scripture Memorization challenge at Beth Moore's Living Proof Ministries Blog. What happened next ROCKED. MY. WORLD.

I was just about to log off when Yahoo messenger popped up a window that said, "_ _ _ _ _ _ is online."  [I'm not using the name of the person because I don't honestly believe that is fair to her. But, this is a story that has born its time to be told.] I asked him who this person was and he responded just a friend from an online game he had been playing for a couple of years. I must admit that I was trying in that moment to suppress all the alarms going off in my head. At this point, Scott had never betrayed my trust and I wanted with all my heart to believe it was just as he said.

I asked him a few more questions, but the one that sticks out in my mind is this: "Do you think it is okay to have private messages online with a woman who is not your wife?"

His answer dealt me another blow of reality 101: "Isn't it the same as what you do on you blog?"

OUCH. Take a moment, breathe... Answer a question with a question. "Ask me how many men I am corresponding with about my blog? Or better yet, ask me how many men I'm corresponding with by email or IM because of my blog?"

He sat there in silence for a moment. "How many?"

I stated, in a calm and even tone, which was a stretch based on the raging inferno building inside of me. "Two. _ _ _ _ _ , a gentleman from a Christian athlete's organization who emailed me about the use of excerpts from Tony Dungy's speech at the Superbowl breakfast shortly after his son died. He emailed me to thank me for showcasing one of the elements of his organization's ministry and sent me several free DVDs to give away on my blog.  We emailed twice and he sent me a package in the mail. The other one is from a man by the last name of _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ who is trying to sell me some kind of coding for my blog. He has contacted me directly twice and I recently told him I would be in touch if I become interested in the service he provides. Outside of that, every single person I have a correspondence relationship with online are women."

I opened my inbox and asked, "Would you like for me to show you?"

He quietly sat back quietly shaking his head and said one word. "Oh."

After he had some time to digest what I had said, he replied. "I'm sorry, I didn't know. I'll end it."

About that time the phone rang and I had to go and pick up my daughter from a friend's house.  In the car on the short drive across town, I began to process what was really happening. I felt the first tremors of betrayal and fear settling somewhere deep in my soul.  Anger began to simmer and indignation started to rear it's ugly head. I could hardly fathom that his excuse for entertaining this kind of relationship with a woman was my blog.  MY BLOG. Yes, it was the time I spent on my blog that gave him the notion that I was entertaining all types online. But, MY BLOG. Where I write about God and my love for God and my life with God and my family and our journey and...MY. BLOG.

Once home I sent my daughter inside and dialed my cell phone with a trembling hand. "Hi, _ _ _ _. I need you to pray.  I don't even know what is happening right now.  I don't even know what it means, but I need you to pray that I will forgive Scott before I walk back in this house.  Our marriage is in trouble and if I don't have forgiveness in my heart when I go back in there I'm going to blow my marriage right out of the water."

_ _ _ _ prayed. As she asked God for mercy and truth to come to light, I heard my Daddy speak to my heart.  He said, "I'll forgive him."

In truth, He already had done the forgiving on Calvary more than 2,000 years ago. I opened my mouth and here is what came out, "Father God, please forgive Scott for whatever it is that he has done because I don't even know what that is. Forgive him because right now I can't, but God, work that forgiveness out in me because I want to save my marriage."

I went back in the house and began the tough questions. Why, How Long, Who...

The answers were vague, frustrating. He soft pedaled it.  He was actually online when I got back which landed me in a confused state. I finally asked, "Do you email each other, too?"

His answer, "Yes."

"Well, I want to see them."

My expectation was for him to open his inbox and show me right there, but he did not. He said, instead as he closed his laptop. "I will show you. But, I've turned it off already."

The next two days were quiet and busy.  We disassembled Christmas decorations and stored them away in the attic. Scott had taken the battery out of his laptop and placed it prominently on his bedside table.  I saw it there Monday night and asked, "What is that doing on the table?"

The longer he waited to respond to my request to see the emails the more suspicious I became. He told me he was going to prove to himself he would not use his computer online for an entire week.

My response, "What about those emails?"

"I'll show them to you after I do this."

It was largely insufficient and left me to my ruminations and imagination which is far worse than anything that could really ever happen.

By Wednesday morning, New Year's Eve, I was in a fit over the delay.  He came out early in the morning and said, "Hey, I'm going out for a while."

My honest-to-God first thought was, "Will you be taking your laptop?"

But, I asked another question. "Is this really your plan?"

He said, "What?"

"To torture me with the suspense of not knowing what is in those emails while you pretend it is no big deal..."

He got angry.  I went on... "Do you really intend to leave me in the middle of this mess imagining the worst when you could end that by letting me see the truth with my own eyes?"

He bowed up then deflated. "Get your computer."

I pulled my laptop into the bedroom and sat with him on our bed.  The house was quiet as the girls were asleep and the televisions were off. I pulled up Yahoo and allowed him to enter his login information. His mailbox popped onto the screen and I opened it.  To my surprise there were no emails from her immediately visible.  HMMMM... Maybe, this was innocent after all. 

I said, "Where are the emails?"

He took the computer and turned it away from me and said, "Let me see."

The hesitation and the fact that he turned the screen away from me caused me to say, "Here, let me try."

I took the computer back, turned the screen back to him and typed one word in the search box. "_ _ _ _ _ _."

I asked one question.  "Before I open these I'm going to ask you one more time, what kind of relationship do you have?"

His response, "She's just a friend."

My heart pounded wildly as the search produced more than two hundred email exchanges. I clicked on the first one... then another.  I read terms of affection and sweet little pet names.  He signed a few "Your Cowboy." And a few had the tell-tell signs of a strikethrough line indicating they were in the trash bin. Some bore the marks of "XOXO..." and the betrayal was clear. Photos were exchanged and more and more intimate details of our life.  He had complained to her about me, and our marriage.

I began reading them aloud and the mingling of pain and rage erupted like volcanic forewarnings.  The shaking had begun. He started to leave and I said, "SIT DOWN."

He did.  That is when I saw it.  "It was good talking to you last night."

Hold the phone.  "You've had conversations by phone?"

He nodded.  "Call her right now, I want to talk to her."

He did exactly what I asked. I would later learn that he had spent the few hours he'd been alone that week systematically setting up a new email address and forwarding as well as directing future correspondence from her to this new email.  We deleted the accounts.

By the end of the afternoon the relationship was revealed as a deeply entangled emotional affair. They had never met face to face nor, based on both of their claims, had they intended to do so.

He ended it with her on the phone and I advised her to tell her husband about the incident.  I administered a strong warning.  Stay away from my husband.  And, with that I advised her to tell her own husband about the relationship she had with Scott. I ended the call.

It took several days of just hacking out the reality of our situation. It was a six month relationship that involved hours and hours of emotional and relational investment in the form of spoken and written words.  Something he attested to me he was incapable of doing for me in our ten years of marriage.

It also clearly displayed the fact that I had severely neglected his needs. The first thing I did after we got off the phone with her was apologize.  Then I asked some questions about what this meant about us. He made it clear he had thought about ending our marriage, but didn't really want to do so.

We talked a lot and at some points his heart seemed tender while at other times he seemed put out and angry that he had gotten caught. He gave me full access to his email and the game where he had met her.  I asked  for some pretty strict boundaries to be set.  1.) No more game - at least not as the character he had been playing in the online virtual world. Which ended up being NO MORE GAME. 2.) Chaperone service on his cell phones and 3.) Full access to his inbox.

I also asked for marriage counseling and finally a few weeks later told him that I didn't want to spend the next year hashing out and making him pay for what was happening between us.  I went to him with my heart in my hands and said, "You know we need to deal with the messy stuff when it comes up, but in between I want to work on us being us again.  Work on our relationship and making us better."

And, as I said in other posts.  I am not without blame.  Manipulation and control have been my game for longer than I can remember.  In truth, I didn't know what was wrong with our marriage or why he often seemed distant and aloof.  After years of begging him to talk to me about it, I became pious and self-righteously indignant.  A martyr for my love. I turned to God and said, "If Scott won't be my husband, Jesus is my Bridegroom.  I will just turn to God and GOD. CAN. TAKE. CARE. OF. SCOTT."

I set him up to fail me.  After all, who can really compete with a perfect Bridegroom.  I wore my offense under my vest and proclaimed my husband trustworthy and myself lucky to have him.  All of these words belied by the true circumstances of my marriage.

The truth is for this one indiscretion on Scott's account there are hundreds of offenses on my side of the camp. I came close to a similar offense a few years back when a godly man spoke flatteringly of me to my children.  The alarms in my Spirit went off and set me running to Scott confessing that had I been in a different place I might have slipped into an indiscretion of my own.

It was the summer before my son died and this man came and ministered to my son.  He took an interest in all of my children while working on a week-long project fixing up a friend of mine's house. Our church was sponsoring this group's ministry and so my kids and I spent several days helping out and going to the evening youth services in a neighboring town.

This man was attractive, attentive and he also was kind.  He said nice things to and about me. He did all the things I wanted Scott to do for my son and he said things I longed to hear from my husband about me. Then one night at the youth service, my kids were invited to come to the circle prayer time after the service.  I agreed to let them attend.  We sang worship and were invited to pair up for prayer.  I was headed for my oldest daughter when this man grasped my hand.  I felt awkward and I was afraid to pull away...In truth it kind of excited me and I didn't want to pull away.

I knew it was wrong to pray with him because Scott and I did not regularly pray together at that time. But, not wanting to make a scene I engaged him.  He prayed over me and my family while I prayed over his. The only way I can describe it is intoxicating.  I found myself looking forward to seeing him the next few days and wrote him a heartfelt letter of thanks for all he did for my friend and our kids.

On the last night, he was sitting at one end of the table and I at the other. He was talking about how pretty I was and telling my kids they should be proud to have such "hot" godly mom.  The sentence didn't seem to fit really. In the car, my girls started saying, "Momma, _ _ _ _ was totally flirting with you."

BUSTED. By my own kids.  They were excited because they all had a crush on him. I said, "I'm sorry you saw that I was hoping you wouldn't notice."

"But, it doesn't hurt anything to flirt right?"

The girls were all in unison as they spoke.

My heart seized with conviction.  "Girls.... No.  It is not ever okay. I shouldn't have let him do that. He has a wife and I have Scott - that is not innocent.  It could be hurtful and ugly and tear two families apart. I'm sorry that you saw that."

That's when I knew I had to tell Scott. I did, and he seemed to understand.

A few months later when Justin's accident happened.  A friend of mine who knew _ _ _ _ and the connection he had made with J called him.  He came and spoke at the funeral.  We apologized to each other at that time and I introduced him to my husband. And for a brief moment we were friends - just friends - he wept with me as we went in to see my son's body in the casket and he shared how Justin's life impacted him. We sat for a long time talking about Justin and then he left.  At the funeral he spoke and left and we have not been in touch with one another again.

Add to that the irresponsible way I've handled money.  Each time it would come up, I could hear a line Ethel delivered to Lucy on that famous black and white comedy series... "How can you stand here in the middle of all this mess  and utter those four horrible words.  'I'VE GOT AN IDEA....'?"

I was a mess, a handful and a disaster waiting to happen most of the time. I did feel lucky to have Scott in my life, but I still longed for something deeper in our relationship.

This week I had a breakthrough. Alan is not only my oversight pastor at work... We are distantly related as cousins. We never really had known each other before we started working together, but the fact remains we have my grandma's bloodline between us.

He asked me how things are in my marriage this week during our weekly catch up time.  My response... "I think I've been too easy on Scott."

I mean he still has no clue to the fact that what he gave her is what I need. And, to make matters worse when I nailed him down the night before about why he did it, he said at first it was just a game.  He broke my heart because he was playing.  And, if that was true then she was just his victim, too.

Alan said, "What we focus on has control over us.  If you are in bondage to the idea that what he gave her is real then yes, you are bound up by the fact that he gave her something that you want and need."

I listened... cautiously.  I didn't really want to admit that was true, but it sounded true. [I'm chuckling at that statement.]

He then explained why the allure of pornography is so captivating to men. He said men are drawn to the safety of an ideal woman who requires nothing of them. No investment, no risk... No rejection....No failure...etc.

He said, "What he gave her was an illusion of who he is - it has to be, because the truth is he is not capable of giving anyone anything real."

He then went on to explain that something she did met a need he had so he kept up the illusion of himself to keep her engaged because what was happening was thrilling to him.

He also shared that based on my description it sounded like Scott is incapable of initiating which means that he is likely been stripped of the true masculine in his nature - or it has never been imparted to him. He said, and the problem with that is men go to women seeking that which only a man can give them.  Only a man can impart to a man the true masculinity that he needs to identify himself as truly masculine.

The truth is, most men never receive it. Most men don't know what it is they need or how it is received.  They spend their lives turning to woman after woman looking for their identity and the truth is only a man can give them what they need as they impart the blessing of masculinity from God.

Alan said, "You can be set free if you would only realize that you don't want what he gave her because what he gave her wasn't real."

It produced a dialogue with Scott that evening that led me to tell him what Alan and I talked about.  Then I told him, "If what Alan said is true and what you had with _ _ _ _ _ _ wasn't real then I've been wrong because I DON'T want what you gave her if it wasn't real.  I want you.  Just you."

My sweet husband was terribly sick at that moment.  He was wrapped in a blanket at the table eating chicken noodle soup when he inched his chair closer to mine and slipped his hand from beneath the hem of the blanket and grasped my hand.

And, then I said something that only he would understand fully how shocking it truly was... "And, when I ask you about what happened and why you did it, and you tell me - 'I don't know.' It is very likely just that - because you don't know. And, if that is the truth then I am sorry I've been angry with you because I've been wrong."

We talked some more and I asked him questions about his sense of being and how he related to women.  To my delight he answered the questions.  I could see us digging around in the sand and unearthing revelation for him in those moments.

Finally, I said the most important thing of the night.  "Scott, you have been going to women and turning to what you think "men do" to find your identity and to fill a deep need in you that only a man can help you discover. I can't meet that need for you, but I know some men who can.  Your father can't even impart this to you if he doesn't have it. And, you can't give it to Travis if you don't have it.  Would you please consider meeting with Pastor Tommy about this?"

He's thinking about it.

Our homework this week was still challenging, but useful.  It helped us to see our differences and it helped Scott to see that he overlooks my need while I saw that my expectations may be unrealistic.

The funniest moment was when we answered the first question.  We were supposed to name one area we would like our spouse to work on this week.  We had gone over this question in the group on Sunday and I answered it.  "Validation.  I need you to validate the fact that I am a priority in your life."

He had said, "I don't know. I can't think of anything."

When we landed on that question in our homework he asked me my answer and I said, "I told you on Sunday, do you remember?"

"No. Would you tell me again?"

So, I told him.

Then I asked for his answer.  "Maybe you should listen a little more."

I sat there dumbfounded.  After the previous exchange we had to hear those words I just felt like saying, "Are you kidding me?"

I didn't but I thought it for a split second.  The look on my face must have been a doozie because he asked, "What?"

I said, "Nothing, let's go on."

The exercises were productive and felt very real for a change.  He was sensitive and listened.  I was able to finally convey to him what meeting my need for quality time means.

Sometimes... This journey is scary because change is scary.  But, right now the picture I have of myself is strapped to a bungee cord, holding onto Scott for dear life while we jump off a bridge into free fall. Where we are cannot be where we stay, but where we are headed right now is so unclear - so uncharted that sometimes I get anxious just thinking about it.

Please keep praying.  We feel the prayers.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Return to Intimacy: Off to Class

If you are reading today, please offer up a prayer on our behalf. Our second group meeting is today at Noon.

Some of the things I am thinking about this morning are how scary it is to go into group discussion with Scott.  He typically doesn't like to talk about personal issues even when we are alone, and well...In a group full of almost strangers, Forget it.

So, I'm a little unsettled.  I'm also mulling over what we learned during our explosive, emotional episode after last week's meeting. I must admit I am not sure we resolved anything - even though I feel like I've released the issues that it drew up in my heart.  I guess time and our working through this together will tell.

I guess this week as I go in I'm cautiously optimistic.  I'll be back soon to share insights and issues raised in this week's session.  Lord, open the eyes of our hearts.  Allow us to see each other as you see us. Give us a word and revelation about the next step in our journey and most of all open our hearts and fill us with your love toward one another.

In Jesus name...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Return to Intimacy - Week One

I can hardly believe that it has been a short lifetime... Well, if you are an infant it is a short lifetime since I last wrote here at the RANCH.

The last week of December was "sick" central at our house.  Taylor was ill and then Scott got a pretty harsh case of the flu.  To make matters worse, we were landing on the 365th day since all hell broke loose in our marriage and I was feeling just a little put out by the entire ordeal. 

If I'm confessing, my emotional irrationality and my wounded heart finally erupted.  It was Saturday, January 2nd and man was I in a mood.  We were on our way out the door to a family reunion at my parents when something he did triggered my "I'm-mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-anymore" persona. I don't even think it was that big a deal, honestly.

She showed up in a full on. UGLY. RAGE.

I told him I was tired of waking up every day pretending everything in our marriage was fine and acting like last year had never happened.  I was tired of dealing with the ugly feelings that still surface even now a year later when he was responsible.  In short, I said, "I want to stand on the roof and in the middle of rooms full of people we know and tell people that you are simply not as great as they think you are."

I told you it was UGLY.  It spewed out of me like a bad case of food poisoning. EMOTIONAL. VOMIT. EVERYWHERE.

Hold up... This post definitely needs a warning. I am posting this for two reasons. 

1.) Because all marriages have "junk" stored in a closet somewhere in their house of history.  I mean seriously, if you don't have a few past issues, regrets, differences and points of contention in your marriage then I would like to meet you because I need some help. God's purpose are always redemptive, and so I am writing this to illuminate how He is redeeming the time in our marriage.

2.) Because when "all hell broke loose" in our marriage some 60 weeks ago... Scott and I agreed that we would tell our story if it would help others find their way.  So... If your marriage has never been a ship in a fog storm headed for the rocks, read on at your own risk. 'Cause this is the story of Titanic proportions and it is one only God has been able to steer away from the rocky coastline into calmer waters.

So back to my FULL. ON. UGLY. RAGE.

A year ago when this mess all came to light, which obviously we both knew there were significant problems in our relationship leading into December.  It's just that on December 28, 2008 the lid came off the boiling pot and overflowed filling the house with stinch and opening our eyes to how bad things really were.

The last year has been a season in which we both had to make life-changing choices.  We both had to decide what we were in this marriage for and if we both were committed to hauling this clunker down to the body shop to get her fixed up good as new.

It was a season of testing for our marriage and a season of growth. It was a season of facing reality and coming face to face with the really ugly and soulish sides of our human natures.

Very early on, though, we made a commitment to making our marriage better day by day and only dealing with the hard junk as it came up. Well, I guess I had about enough of our deal. 

Cause January 2nd seemed to be "JUDGMENT DAY."  And, to quote a cliche' "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

My statement that day was really an ultimatum - some might call it manipulation, but my heart wasn't trying to get my way - I call it a line in the sand kind of moment. I needed something to change and something quick.  I'm not even so high on myself to believe that this something might just be someone. ME.

At any rate, I needed Scott to step up and man up. I needed him to stand for us and to take some responsibility for the mess that I really felt was landing squarely on my shoulders most of the time.

I said, "You have exactly 30 days to step in and start working on what is broken in this marriage and your part of that or else we're going to marriage counseling."

One year ago, I asked him to go with me to marriage counseling and he didn't want to go.  He said he wasn't comfortable. I went in for ministry sessions at the church instead. And, he attended Freedom Ministry classes.  We started dating again.  Spending time together.  Loving on each other and really just trying to rediscover what we had been drawn to about each other more than a decade ago.

So... I had given it time.  Lots of time and I needed some answers.

This week, we've set out on a journey that is a little bit scary for both of us and a lot of work.  Emotionally exhausting, soul-searching dig up the past by it's roots and throw what is not useful, beneficial or healthy into the fire and watch it burn kind of work.


Return to Intimacy is an eight week small group experience based on the teachings of Jimmy and Karen Evans from Marriage Today. It is brand new, and has not even been released for publication yet - so the under score here is - it is largely uncharted territory.

It is designed to uncover problem areas in our relationship that keep us from living in the oneness that God created us to live in.  To explore these areas by opening the doors of communication and stepping forward as we submit these things to God and learn how to help one another grow and live fully in the blessings God has for our marriage.

Yesterday was day one.  I'm not even kidding you when I tell you we are still feeling a bit of the after shocks from yesterday's shaking.

We went to the class.  We listened. We watched a video. We filled out an "all about us" slip of paper and we left quickly through the side door.

On the way home, we had a rough conversation about one of the discussion questions.  I had openly answered the question in the group setting, but Scott had remained his usual stoic self.

I asked him anything from the morning's experience had impacted him and he said, "I don't know."

Those words hit me right in my heart when he says them.  All most every question I ask him results in this answer, and it is part of the reason I am asking for marriage counseling if we don't find some  ground to stand on in this together.

I fought back the tears of defeat welling in my eyes and quietly asked, "What is it that makes you feel insecure?"

OUCH. Does not even begin to convey the sting I felt when he answered. He was being honest and it offended me.  Mostly because we've had this discussion hundreds of times and he has never let it go. Now, that's a horse of a different color because I am usually beating a horse to death about a grievance not the other way around.

His answer.  "When you question everything I do."

He is referring to the fact that if we head out somewhere I ask, "Why are you going this way?"

I'm mostly looking for direction on what to expect.  It helps me feel safe and keeps me from growing frustrated if the trip takes longer than normal.  To him, however, it says, "I don't trust you to even get me to our destination efficiently or safely."

If you are guessing communication is a big issue for us.  You hit it right on the nose, friend.  It is a killer in our relationship.

He is also referring to the fact that I am insecure about EVERYTHING. I'm reading Beth Moore's book, "So Long Insecurity" and relishing every word. I'm a dead ringer for a case study in Insecurity.

Tag the emotional wounds I've been nursing since our boil over moment last year and the fact that we both know my love languages are Quality Time and Words of Affirmation.  Well, I'm just a time bomb waiting to go off when you start lambasting me with you do everything wrong.  It doesn't even have to be "everything," it could be anything.  But, the truth is he stated it outright.  When she does this I feel insecure.  OUCH.

I responded like a cornered dog plagued by past abuse. I lashed out hard, loud and with malice of forethought all the way. We raised our voices, used choice words, and hit each others hot buttons until you'd of thought the NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST was upon us. It was an emotionally violent storm.  The perfect storm that has been brewing for eleven years.

Awash in tears and those others messy fluids nasty emotions seem to bring out, I was still hopelessly defending myself when he said, "I'M DONE."

He hates conflict of any kind and would bite off his own tongue before having a conversation that gets anyone, including his own temper up.  I know his buttons and I start pushing, because almost always the hot button moments are when the truth really comes out.  I need to know the truth.  He let me have it.  With both barrels loaded for bear, he fired off the list. 

I ended up apologizing and asking forgiveness for every single thing he accused me of doing.  I didn't know what else to do.  I only created bigger offenses trying to explain to him that what he was hearing wasn't what I wanted to say.  That just made things worse.  So, I bit my tongue and flushed out some humility hoping to put an end to the emotional turmoil being stirred up inside of me. 

After about two hours of this gut-wrenching mess.  I went and laid down on the couch and cried those aching silent tears I've been sitting on for months. He came out, kissed me on the cheek and apologized for being harsh with me.  I apologized again for being so wound up and angry. He left me there in a puddle of my own tears.

As I cried, I realized he never even addressed what he does that brings out my insecurities. I went toward the bedroom and opened the door. 

What I saw sealed up the door to my heart tight. I was done now.

He was laying casually on the bed like nothing had happened and was watching the race. 

For heaven's sake... I thought.  I'm trying to save our marriage and all he cares about is the stinkin' race.

I asked for the keys to the Explorer and told him I was leaving.  I needed desperately to get the heck out of Dodge before I said something I'd regret forever.

His response forced an answer, "What do you mean leaving?"

I simply said it the best I could. Between sobs and tears I spilled my guts. "I'm done.  I've got to get away and think. I can't do this anymore. I've got to get out of here. I've got to get away and think."

My heart was miles ahead of my body.  It was headed for the hills to hold up in a self-built stronghold that would help me deny the pain and rationalize my response.  I turned toward the bathroom and our closet looking for some shoes when the phone rang. 

Scott's mom had called and while he spoke with her on the phone... Clarity moved in.

It mostly came by way of the bathroom mirror while I was rummaging around for shoes.  Running away is never the answer. "You, dear girl, are one half responsible for this mess and you are not allowed to run away from it."

I heard the words of my Daddy God loud and clear.  It was time to face the music and do some forgiving myself. I sat down and gave him the list of "I choose by my will to forgive you for..."

I don't know how many items I ran through, but I made a complete list and released him from the consequences of those actions against me. I apologized again and finally said to him, "Scott, I'm still done with this. I can't do this anymore. If I had in mind that divorce was a reasonable solution, I'd be gone. That is not a threat, that is not saying I'm leaving you or anything else. I'm telling you I can't live like this anymore."

He came to me after I collapsed in a weary heap on the floor.  I confessed my fear and my weariness to him.  I asked him for help again. He came to my aid. We lay on our bed in utter silence while the bright winter sunshine streamed through our bedroom windows setting the room aglow.  Eventually we napped and sweetly surrendered to reconciliation and oneness in a make up sort of way. It's definitely not over but we are at least back on the roadway and working our way forward again.

We covet your prayers, and appreciate your coming along for the ride.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Just the Same

It's been a while since I've posted here. It seems life has taken over and I don't have as much time as I would like to write about our dream... But, have no fear we are still believing and dreaming! We are.

Today is our anniversary and I thought I would share my memories of our wedding with you today!

August 22, 1998

Eleven years ago this very day, Saturday - August 22, 1998, Scott and I left Justin, Texas in separate vehicles headed to Granbury to spend the day preparing for our wedding. We married in a quiet little bed and breakfast just off the square called "The Secret Garden." It was an enchanting old house with a loft bedroom upstairs, a large bedroom suite downstairs and a private hide-away cottage where we would spend the night out back.

That day we were surrounded by our children - Justin, Brittany, Travis, Taylor and Megan- who were dressed in our colors of blue and white western w and stood with us as we vowed before God, our family and friends to join our lives together in marriage. The faint sound of doves can be heard on our wedding video as they were caged in the arbor just out of sight. I still count it as one of the most exciting and blessed days of my life.

Back then, I hoped we had what it would take to stand the test of time, but I really didn't know. I was hopelessly romantic. Couple that with a tattered, torn and broken heart and life and I just felt lucky to be there. Like I was living a dream. And, I was. The fairy tale I had dreamed of my whole life. Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome with his hat, his boots and his Wranglers ride in to rescue me and take me off into happily ever after.

If someone would have told me then what happily ever would have looked like I might have run for the hills... But, as I said, I'm hopeless in the lofty dreams of fairy tale endings. My friend, Cheryl took me to my mother's home and we visited her hairdresser where we laughed and talked and I felt the first jangles of nerves dancing around inside of me. When she spun me around and I saw the exact hairstyle I had selected from the magazine I knew it was going to be the perfect day.

Once we arrived back at my parent's home, Momma took me downstairs and opened up her small cased of precious jewelry. She handed me a pearl necklace and a pearl earrings before slipping off the first wedding ring my father gave her for me to wear on my right hand. I gathered up the other miscellaneous things, kissed my family goodbye and ran off to the bed and breakfast to decorate, to bathe, to try to relax and to wait.

The afternoon began to wane as we finished afixing the simple bows and swags of blue and white roses to the arbor and the railings in the back yard. It was, after all, August in Texas and the sweltering heat was at an all time high. Cheryl hussled me into the suite where we assembled our baby girls with coloring books and crayons while their hair dried on the sponge rollers I'd placed in them earlier that day.

Cheryl finally talked me into soaking in the bathtub and letting her take care of the last few details for the day. I remember laying back in that warm, sudsy water and thinking it was absolutely too good of a day to be true. It may not sound like much to you, but for me it was a day I had dreamed of all my life. I was marrying a man that I loved with my whole heart, a man who helped me to feel safe and beautiful - a man to share my life, my dreams and even my sorrows with. A man who would love me in spite of me. And at that moment I realized I was only hours away from marrying Scott Edward Bentham and pledging my life to him. Sweet tears of joy fell in those moments of quiet realization.

I sat there for a long while before getting out and beginning to dress for the ceremony. I pulled out the dress I had hidden away under a garbage bag. It was a light linen sundress that I (and now this is telling) had picked up off the clearance rack at Wal-Mart for $15.00. It was not a high-end bridal gown, but a simple reflection of the life I wanted to live. The dress made me feel beautiful, and that is all I wanted to be. Beautiful before my groom. I allowed the whispy fabric to caress my fingers before turning to the vanity and applying my make-up. The finishing touches were in place when I heard a car door shut in the drive outside.

My heart began to beat with anticipation as I heard the voices of men echoing on the hot summer breeze. I climbed up and poised myself to spy a quick glance through the window set high in the wall. And that is when it happened... He walked by. My head felt light and my heart danced in my chest. I couldn't even breathe I was so captivated. I whispered, "Soon... Baby... Soon." And felt the warm tears of joy begin to course down my cheeks once again.

It was within an hour that people began to arrive and filter into the back yard where they took their seats and awaited our arrival. My babies and my best friend from Dallas, Brenda, preceded me down the aisle and I walked on the arm of my father to where Scott waited for me on the lawn. The Justice of the Peace asked, "Who gives this woman to marry this man?"

And my father's voice broke as he said, "Her children, her mother and I do."

1 Corinthians 13 was read and a simple ceremony observed before the words, "I now pronounce you man and wife, you may kiss your bride," were spoken. And that was it... I was now and evermore would be Mrs. Scott Edward Bentham. At around 7:30 PM we were married. And lauded with the cheers and applause of our family and friends.

Later, my cousin who was also divorced whispered in my ear - you give me hope for myself. I also saw my dad walk up and put an arm around Scott's neck and welcome him as a son. My joy was truly complete that day. Our reception was full of laughter and sweet moments of mingling with family and friends. I would often find myself separated from him, but a quick glance across the room made me smile. At the end of the night, Cheryl put on a sweet song about a man and his wife and how beautiful she was in his eyes. Everyone backed up against the walls and Scott and I danced there under the ceiling fan on the hardwood floors our first dance as husband and wife.

I treasure the memories of that day. The day a little girl's dream became true. I had married my prince, even if sometimes he seems like a toad, and we have truly found a place where we are more happily ever after than not. I love you, my sweet man. Happy Anniversary Scott... I'd choose you again. I love you.