Brandon at 2 years old - "our little family"
Brandon at 3 years old
Life was a struggle from day one of being a single parent to a two-year-old son but I had the help of my parents, which was nice. My mother kept my son four days a week, free of charge, while I worked and he went to the babysitter once a week. I could not have made it if I had to pay for daycare, mortgage payment, car note and utilities on what I made plus $75.00 a week in child support. Getting the child support was a struggle from the beginning, I usually had to call hi or go by his apartment to pick it up every week...which was very frustrating, to say the least. In addition, having to see him every week, he never seemed to be completely out of my life. I know that you would think that because we had a son together that he would never be out of our lives, but that is not entirely true either. He lived on the opposite in of town....less than 5 miles and yet, he hardly ever came by to see his son, get his son to come spend the night, call to see how his son was doing and did not take advantage of his every other weekend visitation rights. Now, you have to understand that I usually drove right by his apartment on the way home or to pick up my son at my mother's house...so I saw the "party" that went on during the week nights and every weekend. His apartment was the local hangout for all his buddies and vast majority of the females (of age and those who were not) in town. Yet, he could not find the time to come see his only child.
The first two years, it did not seem to bother me as much as it did the last two years except for the fact that he like to flaunted the other women in his life including the one he had an affair with while he was married to me, in my face frequently. We agreed that he would not take our son anywhere with them...the younger one and her older sister (formerly, my best friend) and I would not take my son with me and a guy. I kept my end of the agreement but he did not and took our son to the zoo with both of them. I guess, I should have been happy that he was spending time with our son, however, he did not go anywhere with me and his son when we were married...so it did not set well with me.
I dated a guy from Texas that a friend fixed me up with for about nine months but the long distance relationship just did not work for me...so I was alone again. I did not have a social life because all I had time to do was....go to work, come straight home, pick up my son, fix dinner, play with him, clean house, do yard work, get baths and go to bed to start all over the next day. Since my ex-husband did not take advantage of his weekend visits, there was no down time for me then either. The lack of personal free time when I was not working or taking care of my son, no social life outside of co-workers and a toddler...the stress, anxiety and depression began to set in during the second year.
It was on April 13, 1989, my son's 3rd birthday, my daddy had surgery and found out that he had lymphoma. They began treatments immediately but nothing seems to be effective. You would have to know that my daddy was my life....I love my mother dearly, but my daddy was my best friend. I was daddy's little girl, the last of four children and the only one who looked just like him. I loved my daddy with all my heart. I began to pray and pray that God would heal my daddy but on August 4, 1989, my daddy died...a short four short months later. I have never felt so alone, hurt, angry and just plan lost. What was I going to do without my daddy? I was 27 years old and I still needed my daddy desperately. My world began to crumble down around me. I really believed that God would heal my daddy but He chose not to on earth. I was devastated and was afraid for many, many years to believe in healing again. My world had been turned upside down again.
I began to have panic attacks and depression plus the rage began to dwell in me. I was full of anger every time I saw any one of the three of them (my ex-husband, my "then former" best friend and her younger sister). For the first time in my life....I felt so much hate for another human being. I prayed all kind of evil things on him...not as much the girls but mostly on him. I wanted him to feel the same pain that I felt. I felt like I did not have any way to vent all my anger and frustrations...no where to turn. I continued to pray but nothing seemed to help at that point. I never stopped going to church, loving God, serving God, paying my tithes, praying and believing He could turn things around but I just did not know when He would feel the time was right...I was not sure that I could hold on if it took much longer either.
By this time, it was October 20, 1989...my 28th birthday....Happy "Stinking" Birthday to me! My wonderful pastor and his wife, who were dear friends and neighbors of mine, gave me a birthday card that year. Inside, Bro. Bob wrote..."Jennifer, God has impressed on me and Debi to tell you that He (God) said to tell you that this will be the best year of your life." Ok....maybe things are going to get better.
During those last two years, from early 1988 to early 1990, I had two dates. Both guys seemed like perfect gentlemen, very kind, respectful and fun to be around. Our first dates were normal....went out to eat, talked and seemed to enjoy each other's company. The second date was another story, all they wanted was to have sex and when I told them "no"...the date seemed to suddenly get cut short and I was taken home. They both said "I'll call you later" but you know what....I never heard from them again. I found out shortly after the second guy's date...that he was actually married. Needless to say, I did track him down and gave him a "small" piece of my mind. Did I regret saying "no"...absolutely not. Was I depressed at my social life? You better believe it. All I could see was my ex-husband on the other end of town living it up with all his female friends, my two lousy dates, being a full-time mom and he was foot loose and fancy free. The resentment and bitterness were just about all I could stand by this time.
I have to say that I was extremely miserable in my life. I was working full-time and raising a toddler by myself...then mix all the other emotions in on top of that and I was a walking time bomb. During this entire time from the divorce until now, God had still been so good to me regardless of my lack of self control (emotions & thoughts), maybe lack of faith and trust in His perfect will and timing. Financially, on paper, there was absolutely no way that I could make ends meet but there was always enough. I never missed a bill, was never late paying a bill, never borrowed a single penny from anyone, paid my tithes and managed to put a small amount in savings. I had bills just like anyone else...I had a mortgage payment, car payment, car insurance, utilities and medical bills...but God was always faithful.
Philippians 4:19. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
I am not saying that during this time that I did not have a loving relationship with my son because I did. We were a team...we were all each other had. Where he went...I went, where I went...he went or he was with my mother. We were always together. We managed to go on one vacation with my mom to Florida but the luxury items were unaffordable so we did things that were inexpensive, free but fun. I always made sure that he knew where I was and when I was coming back. There was enough insecurity in his life with his father or lack of a father, I wanted to make sure he could always count on his mom to be there for him, keep him safe and to love him unconditionally.
God began to deal with me around the first of August 1990 about my anger. He dealt with me for a couple of weeks regarding letting it go, giving it all to Him and let Him deal with those who had wronged me. I began to quote over and over...what seemed like a million times a day...anytime I felt the anger rise to a boiling point....
Romans 12:19 Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, I will repay them.
Now, had I released all my anger toward the others to Him ? No, but it was a start. At the end of those two weeks, I knew that I had to let it all go, lay it at the feet of Jesus and leave it there if He was ever going to be able to bless me. That very Sunday, August 19, 1990, Bro. Bob had intended on preaching on something else but felt the Lord direct him to preach of anger and releasing it. I fully believe that God knew I was at a critical point in my life and he changed the sermon...if not just for me...to at least include me. I cried all through the service and I was the first one at the altar that Sunday...the third Sunday in August. I can honestly say that I never picked that anger up ever again toward them from that day forward..on that subject. I’m not saying that he never made me angry again, however, I did not let it control me again. I had to submit to the Will of the Father and let Him restore me.
Ephesians 4:26,27 (26)In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, (27) and do not give the devil a foothold. (NIV)
Ephesians 4:31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (NIV)
Following the service, I was talking to both Bro. Bob and Debi after they had finished praying for me. I asked them both if they remembered the birthday card they had given me the previous October and what it said. They both quickly said "yes" and they remembered exactly what they wrote in it. I was crying when I told him that I believe that God told them that...but this has been the worst year of my life and God had a two months and 1 day to turn things around...if not, it had been the worst year in 28 years...not the best. They assured me that God was more than able.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (NIV)
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (KJV)
After that Sunday, I told God that I would be content with my life as a single parent, if that is what he wanted me to do. I had been praying for a couple of years that God would send me a good-looking Christian, family man who would love my son the same as he loved me and would be financially stable. There is nothing wrong with being specific in telling God what you want. Even though, my friends laughed at me and told me it was a tall order even for God these days. But, regardless, finally for the first time, I felt that precious peace that passes all understanding. My physical mind could not fully understand but I had a peace in my spirit. I was finally free...free from the anger, depression and no longer worried about whether I would find another husband or not. Whatever God wanted me to do...I would do.
Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus. (KJV)
Philippians 4:11-12 (11) I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances, (12) I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (NIV)
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (KJV)
In September 1990, my daddy had been gone a year, my emotions had been all over the place but I finally felt completely content with my life. Well, you know, God has a sense of humor at times...especially after your finally repent and submit to Him. It was like He said "ok, Jennifer...now that I have your full attention, the commitment to let me be Lord of your life and you are finally content with the life that I have given you....I'M GOING TO SHAKE IT UP A BIT! Some good friends of mine set up a "date" after church on September 2, 1990 with a handsome, Christian man, who was a father of 2 beautiful girls who he loved very much and he was financially stable...oh, did I mention his name was Roger W?
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with who is no variableness neither shadow of turning. (KJV)
Next Entry: The Greatest Birthday Present Ever
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Sunday, February 24, 2008
When the decision was made to end my marriage and there was no other healthy option for me, I filed for divorce.
Please understand that I am not endorsing or promoting divorce in any way. I can only tell my story and the decisions that I made for my life.
I filed for an uncontested divorce in October 1986. After the initial filing of the divorce, there is a 30 day waiting period that has to be completed before the divorce is actually final. During this time, he refused to move out and I also refused to leave this time. I needed a home to raise my son in rather than move back home to my parents house....therefore, we lived in the same house during this period of time. Awkward to say the least but...I had to do what I had to do to insure that I had a home for my son and myself. Regardless of all the heartache, disappointment, anger, suffering and unhealthy environment for my one year old son...I still wanted my marriage to work. Thanksgiving and Christmas was just around the corner and it would be my son's first holidays, so we decided to try once again to work it out over the holidays. During these two months, he stayed at home with his family, was very respectful and loving to us, attentive to our needs and it finally seemed like it was going to be alright.
Satan was constantly whispering in my ear that I would never find anyone else that would marry me, no one would want me because I already had a child by another man, I could not make it financially on my own and I did not deserve to find happiness with someone else since my first husband could not love me. These lies held me in bondage for 6 years. This was not the only reasons that I did not divorce him earlier but they always played a major part in my decisions to try again. Even though, I knew Satan was a liar and what God's Word says about him....I still allowed him to get into my head and cause me to doubt everything I knew about myself, who I was and what my purpose was.John 8:44 "....for he is a liar and the father of lies".
We had been together since I was 16 years old, dated for 3 years, married for 6 years, had a son with him and he was the only guy that I had ever dated....he was all I knew.
The joy and "normal" life was short-lived because Thanksgiving and Christmas soon passed which meant there was another holiday following....New Year's Eve. Like the past 6 years, he left us at home alone to ring in the New Year and he went to a party until 6 AM. I was so hurt and angry that I knew without a doubt that it was really over this time.
I went back to my attorney the following week and told him to finalize my divorce. When the Wednesday in January 1987 finally arrived, I was physically sick to my stomach. What should have been a happy day that was long overdue and a relief...it was far from that, it was one of the most emotional days of my life up to that point. When I went back to work after the court hearing, I cried all day because I felt so alone, empty and like a failure. It took 15 minutes to end what had taken so much of my time, emotions, energy, love and dedication for the past 9 years of dating and marriage. That part of my life was over.
I gave him until Friday to be completely moved out....so divorced...we still lived in the same house for 2 more days. No one in our town had any idea that we were in the process of getting a divorce, much less, that it was final. Everyone was shocked that I went through with it because neither one of us told anyone. Except for my parents, I suffered alone because I was ashamed and felt like a failure as a wife.
He was completely moved out by Friday, 2 days after our divorce was final. By then, the shock had wore off and I was totally relieved that he was gone. I no longer had to worry about where he was, whether he was going out that night or who he was with. It was the first Friday in 6 years that I went to bed and went to sleep without listening to see what time he came home.
The saddest part of it for me is that my son does not have any memories of his father and I married or what it was like to live with both parents. This is something that has haunted him all his life. However, for me, I finally had a perfect peace in knowing that everything that could have been done to save my marriage had been done and it was not meant to be saved.
My son and I started our lives together as our own "little family" that day in January 1987 when he was a few months short of being 2 years old.
Was life easy? Absolutely not.
Was God's hand of protection on us? Absolutely.
I was a child of God and His Word promises in...
Hebrews 13:5 "...I will never leave you nor forsake you."
His Word also promises that....
Psalm 68:5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
How could someone walk out on a precious little boy like this?
Next entry: 4 Years of Pain, Anger, Bitterness, Forgiveness, Submission and Restoration
Thursday, February 21, 2008
I want to begin my love story with it's rough...turbulent beginning some 26 years ago. This would be one of many bad choices that I made, the consequences that I suffered and God's mercy, grace, forgiveness and restoration that is evident in my life.
I married my high school sweetheart 3 weeks after I graduated from high school in 1981. My parents, as any good parent would do, tried to talk me out of marrying him because (1) he wasn't a Christian, (2) went to church only to please me and my parents...prior to marriage (didn't go any after we married)and (3) my dad knew that he did not have the means to provide for his "little girl". Well, like any stubborn, head-strong, independent teenager...I didn't listen and thought they didn't know what they were talking about. My daddy begged me to reconsider and not marry him. As much as I loved and respected my daddy....still thought I knew what I was doing. Remember, I was only 18 years old at the time. When I look back now...I can honestly say "what was I thinking getting married at 18 years old"....I was just a child.
When I say that my parents knew best....they knew best. I was married a little over a year when we separated for the first of many, many times before we finally divorced in 1987. Those separations would last anywhere from 1 week to 3 months. However, each time I took him back, let him move back home or I moved back home to him. I was usually the one who left but with a little sweet talking, treating me with respect and going to church....I would go back home. There was a time after we had been separated for 6 weeks that things seems to really have changed and I went home again. Our marriage finally felt right and we decided to have a baby and about 10 months later....we had Brandon. The joy and happiness was short lived and we were separated again before he was 6 months old and this time it lasted for 3 months.
What led up to the final separation was his drinking and staying out all night on the weekends. I absolutely hated to see Friday come! For most working people....they live for Friday but I hated them because I knew that he would stay out drinking all night on both Friday and Saturday. He would come home from work on Friday, take a shower and go out alone. He didn't even take me with him before I had a baby and he certainly didn't after either. We had a sense of normalcy on Sunday through Thursday and by all outward appearances...we were just another normal family. Between the explosive fights, verbally abusive, demeaning remarks, staying out all night and physical threats....I knew my marriage was finally over.
To make matters worse, not that they needed to be any worse...he was having an affair with my best friend's little sister, who I used to help babysit. Despite, all the denials and the lack of proof, I knew in my heart that they were guilty. It wasn't until many years later that she admitted that what I suspected was actually true and truly apologized for her part. Note: God is an AWESOME God who wants to restore even the most painful parts of our lives. After many years...God did just that...He restored my relationship with my friends and healed our friendship. Never under estimate the power of forgiveness and restoration when God does it. I would do anything for both of these precious ladies that are still apart of my life, thoughts and prayers. I love them dearly.
As much as I had hoped and prayed that things would change and my marriage would be saved...it was not going to happen. It takes two people that are committed to have a successful marriage. This was the hardest decision that I had to make up to this point in my life. I was raised to believe and I knew what God's word said about divorce. I know hates divorce but loves the divorcee.
Malachi 2:16 "I hate divorce," says the Lord God of Israel....
Matthew 19:9 "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for martial unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."
I was miserable and I was exposing my young son to a life that I didn't want for him. I knew that being a single parent would be very hard, however, I knew that I could provide a more stable environment for him without my husband in the same house. It took 6 years for me to get to the point in my life that I would rather live alone than live in my marriage the way that it was. I had to wait until I knew in my heart that I had done all that could be done to save my marriage and I was at complete peace with my decision.
I made many bad choices leading up to this point of my life and I suffered the consequences of my own actions. I had to take responsibility for my choices, not his. God's Word says in
II Corinthians 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers....
Regardless of my intentions, hopes and prayers that I could change him or things would change after we were married...I disobeyed God's Word and I suffered miserably for it. In the midst of the consequences for disobeying God's Word....He blessed me with a precious, healthy gift....my son, who I would not trade to avoid all the suffering during that 6 year period. That was a blessing from God in the midst of painful consequences for my disobedience. When it was all said and done....there were enough red flags that went all the way back to our dating years that should have told me even if I had not know God's Word that said "don't do it!".
Did God love me regardless of my bad choices? Yes. Did God bless me, provide for me and protect me, even though, I made bad choices? Yes. I repented back in the early days of my marriage but it was a choice that I had to live with and deal with the consequences of my actions that has affected my life ever since.
Next blog: The Divorce
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I am 45 years old (not ashamed to say but proud to see another year these days...many don't), I've been married for 17 years on February 23rd to the most wonderful, kind, loving man on earth...in my eyes, however, you should feel the same way about your spouse. I have 4 wonderful children...2 stepdaughters and 2 sons. Our children range in age from 13 to 29 with 1 precious grandson, who is 6 years old. My family means the world to me, but my children are not perfect nor have they lived perfect lives...part of the struggles and victories that I will talk about. I work full-time for a OB/GYN but I work from home. I have the greatest job...able to bring home a paycheck, be home with my son if he is sick, be home with him all summer, work at my own pace, don't have to put miles on my car and never have to buy work clothes...can work in my pajamas...if I chose to. All of this sounds wonderful but life has not always been smooth sailing...contrary to that...it has been an extremely rough terrain.
Genesis 50:20 (NIV)
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done..."
We are living testamonies to this scripture. Always remember....no matter how things feel, look or what is actually happening around you.....GOD IS IN CONTROL AND HE KNOWS WHAT IS BEST...Let Him be GOD.
I intend to post the first few blogs letting you get to know me alittle bit more. I am a very private, stay to myself type of person but God has been stretching me over the past year and I feel this is the direction He is leading. My prayer is that you might gain insight or comfort in the struggles and glorious victories that we have been through. If I can be of any help to anyone...that is why I am here. It seems like I say more and more often....Been there and done that!...I can promise you that most of the time...I didn't handle things right when they started to unravel and I suffered because of it. But, God is a gracious and loving Father who forgives us, picks us up, brushes the dirt off of us and takes our hand....saying to us "Come child, let me lead and guide you....I love you and I will take care of you"....we just have to let Him.
My next entry will be one of several (I'm a very detailed person & don't want these too lengthy) where I will share my love story to a wonderful husband and truly a God send.
Have a blessed day!