Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Led astray...

"All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all."
--Isaiah 53:6

One of the reasons Todd decided that we should move down here was so that we would be able to help other families like our own.  Granted, not every family is the same and not every addict is the same, but when you have gone through similar situations, there is peace in knowing someone else has been where you are.  Since we have lived here, there have been a couple of people who have come across our path that needed the same grace that we received.  Yesterday, we drove about three hours towards Arkansas to meet up with someone, now our new friend, who had decided to make a change in their life. 
Honestly, once we started heading back down to Fort Worth, I became extremely bitter.  I didn't realize until later that my bitterness was not directed towards anyone but satan.  He has completely captured so many vulnerable people through the power of addiction.  It is disgusting to see how he can make someone believe their life is dependent on everything except the one true GOD that all our lives should depend on.  I was sickened to see how parallel our new friend's life is and Todd's life had been.  The lies, the stealing, the manipulating, the lack of LIFE.  Driving along, our friend kept nodding in and out of consciousness.  As she told us her story, I couldn't believe it.  She has already endured much more than I could ever imagine in her short life.  Todd and I just kept looking at each other.  
It was not a look of annoyance and judgement but a look of...HOPE.  We know there are possibilities for her life.  We know she is beginning her second chance.  We know the pills she had just taken and the cigarettes she just smoked, could be her last...forever.  We know this because we serve a gracious God that will pour out His mercy on her if she will just ask for it.  We know this because it happened to us.  
We can't wait to see the progression of our new friend over the next six months.  God will restore her life, her family, and her health if she will just allow Him to take it over.

Friday, March 16, 2012

God's timing is impeccable...

"Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise." 
--Nehemiah 9:5

"Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you."
--Exodus 23:25

"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another."
--John 1:16

We got settled into our little apartment just a few days before Christmas and right from the start it was perfect. We had cut our square footage in half and yet our space had doubled. For you see our place back in Benton was just a house, not a home. Most of the memories in that place were horrid. We got Beckett settled in and then Duncan (our retriever). I think Duncan is still getting used to not having a backyard, but that won't last too much longer.

Meagan and I would often go to the men's/women's homes. I had developed such a strong relationship with Nick over the past few months, that I wanted Meagan to get to know Ms. Ana. Ms. Ana and her husband, Pastor Gerald Salamon started the Men's home in Ft. Worth over 20 years ago. Pastor Gerald passed away around 2 years ago and that is when Nick took over the men's home and Ms. Ana stayed over the women. 

Meagan and Ana hit it off immediately. I think the fact that Ms. Ana fell in love with Beckett probably kick started that. We all hung out pretty much every night. And at some point during the day usually stopped by to say hi to each of them. God began to use Meagan with the home's. She began volunteering one day a week at the administration building doing whatever was asked of her. I was so proud of her obedience to the call of God. She also began doing artwork for the men's home and then the administration building. 

Everyday was a new adventure for us and we loved it, still do. This whole time I was vigorously looking for a job. I had what I thought were a couple things that were locks. God didn't see it fit for me to do these things and he closed those doors. For the first month we were down here the job hunt was somewhat dead. We were not desperate for me to get a job right away and we just enjoyed our days together. 

After the first of the year I really cranked up the job hunt and right away had two different interviews on schedule. I went to them and immediately I knew that was not what God had in store for me and my family. Over the next several weeks I went on several more job interviews, most of which were to just get the experience and then the "one" came up. It was a firm in Dallas where the pay was great, the benefits were great and the time off was even better. It was the one that Meagan and I wanted. This being said after a week or so had passed they called to tell me they had selected someone else.

During this time, my good friend Bobby came into town and I headed over to hang out with him. Out of the blue he asked me if Meagan knew how to use the program AutoCAD. I called her and she said yes, it had just been a while. Bobby's partner owned a landscaping business and needed someone to come up with concepts for multi-million dollar backyards. She was skeptical at first even though the money was great. We had decided that she would stay home with Beckett pretty much no matter what.

She went and met with what is now her boss. He explained that she could work from home and do it on her time. Wow, God is so amazing. Bobby also called me not long after that and told me he had a guy he wanted me to meet. The guy he spoke of was a director at a rehab in Azle, TX. We will call this guy Robert. Robert and Bobby met at one of the monthly luncheons at the men's home back when Bobby was still in the home. Bobby kind of became a liaison for Robert. When the men who just couldn't seem to get it after three months at Robert's place, he would call Bobby and he would help him get to the men's home for 6 more months. 

Since Bobby had moved back to Oklahoma he wanted me to introduce myself to Robert and somewhat fill this role. I gave Robert a call on a Saturday and after a great conversation he wanted me to come out and see his rehab. I went out on Monday to have lunch. My first impression of the place was...WOW. It was huge with nice leather chairs and huge bunkrooms, the kitchen had granite counter tops and it looked like a culinary school's kitchen.

Robert and I sat down and chatted for a while and we talked a lot about this blog which he had read. We also talked about the fact that I was vigorously looking for work so that I could provide for my family. He thought that was crazy because they were looking for someone. He said they weren't really advertising the job but believed that God would bring someone to them. God is amazing.

A week or so went by and Robert called and told me his partners would like to meet and we set up a meeting for the next day. Robert informed me he would not be there. When I got there I met with the other 2 partners and 2 of the counselors. It soon became a job interview filled with questions. I could tell they were kind of skeptical of my short sobriety time. But like I told them, when I got out of rehab the first time I was all about getting my 30, 60 and 90 day chips at AA meetings and all that, but now I didn't really think in time frames. I was just clean and sober and that was my life, it would never go back and it didn't matter if it was 9 months or 9 years to me.

I left there feeling pretty awesome about everything. In the mean time I had gotten another interview with the "perfect job" company in Dallas and it was coming up in about a week and a half. During all of this we went to Benton for Beckett's birthday. We figured it would be a lot easier to have 30 people meet there than all drive 5 hours away. By the time we went to Benton it had been a little over a week since I had heard anything from the rehab. We had a wonderful time with friends and family but were very glad to get back home to Ft. Worth.

I got a call the night after we were back in town and Robert said that I needed to call one of the other partners in the morning to talk specifics of the job. After a week of prayer they had decided to over look my short sobriety time and offer me the job. I will be going back to school to work on my masters and will hopefully get my doctorate as I become a licensed counselor. Two days later was supposed to be my interview with the company in Dallas, but God had made it so clear to me that I was to take this job and decline that interview.

I started the job over 3 weeks ago and I love it. I get to spend time, minister and just help these guys out. The hours are long and odd but I get to be home every weekday to spend time with the family. The money is great and on top of that we still have 3 or 4 different side jobs going on. Our life is so incredibly simple and so overwhelmingly amazing. I wouldn't change one thing about our life. God has blessed us beyond belief and we praise him daily for his grace and mercy. I am able to do more than just provide for my family and I owe it to Jesus.

Beckett is with his grandparents in Benton this week for Spring Break.  He stayed with Todd's parent for a couple of nights and then, switched to my parents for a few nights.  I'm nervous to see how he acts when he gets home because he has been SOOOO spoiled!!!
He loves bananas!

My dad said this was his favorite "toy" today.  Notice the HUGE knot on his head!

First experience playing on the playground in Chick-Fil-A.  Needless to say, we have an issue with hitting other people right now!  Oh goodness!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Strong Hands...

"Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ."
--Ephesians 5:21

I don't know how many of you have ever heard the song "Lead Me" by Sanctus Real, but if you haven't, you need to listen here.  

A year ago, when Todd was in one of his worst binges, I remember listening to this song and thinking, "How in the world will I ever have a husband like this?"  I thought it was hopeless.  When we would ride in the car together and this song would come on, I would drop subtle hints like, "This is my favorite song right now" and "I love this song.  Just listen to the words."  It didn't ever help though.  When the song started off with the part that said, "I look around and see my wonderful life, Almost perfect from the outside," I almost lost it every time I heard it.  That was MY life.  COMPLETELY.  If you were just an acquaintance of ours, you didn't know the truth.  Honestly, even if you were a good friend of ours, you didn't know the truth.  Because I was REALLY good at hiding it.  I felt desperate, lonely, and hopeless.  I wanted Todd to lead our family with "strong hands" to "stand up when I [couldn't]."  But, I knew that not only could he not do it, but he WOULD not do it. 

I wanted so badly not to be the strong one in our family.  I didn't want to make the decisions anymore.  I wanted to follow the biblical truth because I knew it was the right thing to do.  I wanted someone to help me with the finances.  I wanted to be submissive and obedient but, I didn't have to because it was never required from my husband.  I wanted someone else to love Beckett as much as I did.  And I never thought I would have it.  But, I accepted my fate and decided to keep it as concealed as possible. 

God changed that.  He gave me a strong husband that is willing to fight for our family.  He also gave me a husband that I can have dreams with and work together to accomplish them.  He gave me a husband that loves Beckett more than anything.  He gave me a husband that has chosen to support our family on his own and allow me to stay at home and be a mother.  I am so thankful to God for his gift to me.  

I'm not going to say it has been easy learning how to be a submissive and obedient wife though.  Because of the things that Todd and I had gone through, I had built up mounds of resistance toward him.  Also, I didn't think very highly of him, so why would I ever trust what he had to say.  It takes a lot of patience, prayer, and guidance to try to be anything like what I know God wants me to be.  It is a constant struggle for myself.  Everything single day.   

When I listen to the song "Lead Me" now, I feel completely different than I did a year ago. Instead of feelings like resentment and shame flooding me, I feel emotions like excitement, thankfulness, and fulfillment.  I can't wait to see all the things God has stored for Todd and me during our marriage.  They will be big.

Photography by one of my best friends, Kellie Snellings

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Start of the Start...

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven...For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
--Matthew 6:19-21

When the day finally arrived for me to pick Todd up from the Victory Home, I was elated (to say the least).  I had decided to go down the night before and stay with our friend's, The Trantham's, so I would be at the Victory Home the earliest time Todd could leave.  Driving up to the home was different this time.  It was the last time Todd would be considered a true "homeboy."  The reason I say true "homeboy" is because Todd will always be considered a "homeboy."  I would consider any man who finished the program through the Victory Home should be able to wear the "homeboy" hat.  But, he would no longer be living there.  It was his turn to give back to others.  It was OUR turn to give back to them.  

Todd met me outside and we wasted no time leaving.  Not because we don't love the Victory Home, but Todd was free.  For the first time in six months, we could talk as long as we wanted, he did not have to be home at a certain time, he did not have to call and check in with anyone, and most importantly, we were really on the path to starting our new life.  We drove back to Benton, smiling the entire time.  We were greeted by my parents and were not excited about the conversation that was going to take place.  Todd said in the last post, it was almost like there was an "elephant" in the room.  There wasn't just an "elephant," there was a GIGANTIC "elephant."  One that had to be spoken of.  At this point in time, Todd had only seen my parents once during the six month journey (when his grandpa passed away).  At that time, there was no room for talking about the things we were about to discuss.  My parents really said the things I expected them to say.  "We are sad our baby is leaving Benton."  "What about a job?  What about her job?"  "Why do you have to move away to stay better?"  "You have a lot of proving to do."  They said all the things ANY parent would say in their situation.  And honestly, I understood.  I really did.  But, at that point, Todd and I knew God was calling us to Texas.  You can't really stand in the way of God when he is all but shouting to you to go the other way.  I wouldn't say that Todd's conversation with my parents changed the way they felt.  It didn't.  Nothing could.  Except time.  When you have broken someones trust as much as Todd had to many people in his life, it takes time to gain it back.  

Todd and I spent a couple of days in Benton and then, headed back to Texas to move into our apartment.  Once again, we stayed with our friends the night before we headed to the new place.  The next morning, I woke up with the worst feeling ever.  I was sick as a dog.  Literally.  Of course...What does Satan always do when he sees God's servants fervently working for HIM?  He puts obstacles in their path.  If we lived in Benton, it wouldn't have been a big deal.  I could have called my parents to come help.  Todd could have called his parents.  But, down here, we didn't have anyone to call.  For the first time, Todd and I realized what it was like to fully rely on each other and God.  The experience could have possibly been one of the best growing experiences for us to start with in our new life together.  Somehow, we managed moving in, unpacking, and getting things set-up for Beckett and us when we got back the next time. 

I want to talk about our apartment.  Our apartment is our own little 800 square feet of earth that we cherish.  We love our apartment.  Not because of what it is, what it looks like, what it had in it, but because of what our lives in it stand for.  We are living here not for ourselves, but because we felt God's guidance in our lives to live in Fort Worth.  We left behind a much larger home in Benton.  But that home was so empty.  On the outside looking in, it was everything we could have wanted or needed.  I loved the thought of our home in Benton.  But, like my good friend Kellie said one time, "That home was never what you thought it would be."  Honestly, it was much less.  It was full of lies.  It was full of bitterness and hatred.  It stood for everything I am so glad I am not a part of now.  I have everything I could ever want in our small apartment.  I have Todd, Beckett, and our faith.  I used to get so caught up in what I wore, what my house looked like, what  my husband did for a living, etc. that I lost sight of the main reason we are here on this earth.  We are only here for a moment in comparison to eternity.  When you look at the world and your life with that perspective, priorities change.  Work isn't as important.  The brand of clothes you wear really doesn't matter.  And the happiness of your husband and his satisfaction with his job is much more important than what it pays.  I love our little apartment.