On September 25, 1994, I asked Jesus in my heart at the age of 12 years old. Since I was actively involved in my youth group, I wasn't exposed to many of the things the world has to offer. I have never experimented with any type of drug, and I have never had a drop of alcohol. When I was 13 years old, I made a vow to God to keep myself pure for my future husband. However, I had my own struggles of standing up and being a leader, faithfully reading my Bible, and really thriving in my Christian life. Many times I felt that I had disappointed God, and wondered if I’d ever really be good enough for Him to use me.
While at summer camp at the age of 17, I told the Lord I would go anywhere he wanted me to go and do anything he wanted me to do. I felt that He had a calling on my life, and I wanted to follow Him and His plan. So after graduation, I started Bible College with about nine other friends from my youth group. During this time, I learned so much about God’s Word and ministry. I was blessed to make lifetime friends and memories. In 2004, I graduated from Bible College in Virginia Beach, VA with a degree in Elementary Education. I began teaching in the Christian school there in August.
During my first year of teaching, I had a friend set me up on a double date with a guy who was in the Navy. Since he was in the Navy, I wasn’t really interested in a relationship, but I thought it would be fun to go out and have a good time. While on our date, we had a blast and he said that he felt the Lord had called him to preach. He said that he was planning to get out of the Navy the following year and attend Bible College. This completely changed my view of him, and after that date we continued to see each other. Four months later, he asked me to marry him, and I was thrilled. We were married on July 16th, 2005, and I was sure that we would be the happiest couple ever.
In January, his Navy term was complete, and he began Bible College. It was a two year struggle financially and physically for the both of us. We were like two ships passing in the night. By the time I got home from school, he was at work. So, we never really saw each other. On the weekend, we were so busy with ministries in the church that our time was poured into that and our relationship became a checklist of things that had to be done.
While on a trip to visit his family in Tucson, AZ, we attend a Free Will Baptist Church in the area. We met the pastor and the people there, and felt a burden for the ministry there. We received a phone call from the pastor there a few weeks later asking us to consider coming to be the youth pastor at their church. While it was a volunteer position, the pastor mentioned that after a period of growth he would like to pay us. We prayed about it and through our exhaustion with our current situation and our burden for the ministry there; we decided to go. So, in July 2007, we packed our things and started our long journey from Virginia to Arizona.
We experienced amazing growth in the youth group the two years. We were busier than we had ever been, but we enjoyed it. After two years, the ministry started to struggle and we were struggling with the leadership of the church. We decided to continue on and make the best of the situation. However, we continued to struggle financially, and I felt that the financial burden was completely on my shoulders. I worked teaching 4th grade at school, picked up a before and after school shift, sold Mary Kay, tutored, and even wrapped Christmas gifts to make the money we needed to survive. However, it seemed he spent it quicker than I could make it. While we really never fought about anything else, money was a big issue that we seemed to disagree about. Even through the difficulties, I loved him and was committed to him. I knew that with God’s help we could overcome that problem. After two and half years at the church, we decided to resign from our position and were able to leave on great terms with the lovely people of that church. Since we were homeowners and were unable to move, we decided to attend a different church in town. The Lord gave me the exact place I needed to attend. My relationship with the Lord thrived, and I was closer to Him than I think I've ever been. We became actively involved in the church and started helping with the ministries there.
I thought things were going great. In my mind, we were happy, but on July 5th, 2010, my life changed. When I came home from work early, I found that my husband was acting strangely guilty. After going to the table to shut the laptop quickly and other strange activity, I felt something compelling me to open the computer and check the history. What I found was devastating; there was picture after picture of a half-dressed girl on a Myspace account. After much begging, pleading, and questioning, he finally confessed that he’d been talking to a girl he had dated prior to joining the Navy. He became angry, and his entire countenance changed. He said that he wanted a divorce, and he wasn't the good boy I thought he was, and I agreed I didn't know the person who was speaking to me. I remember saying, “Who are you? This is not the person I have been married to for five years.” He said he didn't want counseling; he just wanted out. I was broken, confused, and felt like my world was spinning out of control. Through later discussions, he said that he had started talking to her over a year ago, she had been at my house while I was away visiting my parents, and they had drank together.
It was a little too much to take in at one time. So, I went to a friend’s house to get away and talk things over. I was convinced that this couldn't be the end, and just knew he would change his mind. After a few hours, I decided to go back home and discuss things with him again. When I called to talk to him, he said he was out and about to go to a movie and would be home late. My heart was broken. Who was this man who was so cold hearted? How could he be out with her the day he told me he wanted a divorce? I immediately called my pastor, and my friend and I went to see him. He counseled with me, and gave me some amazing advice. I went home and I waited for my husband to come home.
Finally, at 2:00 in the morning, he came in with a bar stamp on his hand. I found out later that he had spent $180 that night on his date. When he came in, I was kind and begged him to go to counseling with me. He finally agreed, although I’m pretty sure it was just to get me to shut up. I got up just as usual went to walk with a friend and to my summer job, but never said a word about the situation. I scheduled a time for us to meet with the pastor. He texted me at work telling me that he was moving his stuff into the family room, he would not move out, but he would not bother me. I asked him if he was still planning to meet me for counseling, and he said yes. When I got off work, he sent another text that said he was too emotional to meet. I called him and tried to get him to go with me. His words were so mean and hurtful. He said he didn't love me that way anymore, and asked if I’d really want to be with someone who couldn't be faithful to me.
Hysterically crying, I called my pastor to cancel the session. My pastor told me to come to his office, and I was met with the loving arms of his sweet wife. The pastor said it was time to call my family and let them know what was going on. While I didn't want to because it was confirm in my mind it was over, I knew it was necessary. He called my family, because I couldn't even speak. He told them that I was going to stay at his house with his family while we figured out what to do.
The pastor’s family was so kind, and they allowed me to stay there for a week. I knew that no one but God could fix my situation. So, I hit my knees and fasted for days begging him to fix my marriage. He gave me the strength I needed to get up and do the things that had to be done. During that time, I began taking care of the financial things that needed to be done to protect myself. The following week the pastor’s family went on vacation, and my best friend Bridgett flew in to stay with me. We stayed at the pastor’s house during the night, and packed things at my house during the day. My husband finally agreed to leave the house and stay with his parents who had just found out at the end of that week. As I took Bridgett to the airport, I picked my friend Holly up from the airport. She was able to stay with me for a week and keep me company. During that week, I had to sign divorce papers and meet with lawyers. At the end of the following week, my parents and some friends came to get me. I was so blessed to have such amazing friends and family.
When I got home and was alone, things were difficult. I knew that the Lord was the only one who could comfort me. While I couldn't stand to cry in front of my family, I cried out to God often. I held onto Him as tight as I could, and He held me back. Even through the hurt and tears, I could feel His presence and His love. He became everything to me, and I was comforted knowing He would always be there and never leave me. He provided me with a job and led me to meet some amazing friends.
After a year, my friend, Amanda, started talking to me about this guy who would be perfect for me. While I appreciated her thinking of me, I couldn't even think about the possibility of dating. A few months later she mentioned it again, and he added me to Facebook. However, it was six month later before he contacted me. We began to talk and became great friends. We talked every night for hours, and I was amazed at how much we had in common. After a month, we decided to go on a double date. Even though I blushed pretty much the entire time we were together and couldn't look at him in the eyes, he somehow was still interested in me. Since we were both a little gun shy, we talked for about six months before we became an official couple. After a year and a half of dating, we got married. After overcoming many trust issues and fears, God has brought peace to my storm and taught me to trust again.
The Lord restored everything I thought I had lost, and made me happier than I've ever been. I’m beyond blessed with my family and my ministry. My biggest fear after the divorce is that God would stop using me, but He has given me so many opportunities that I would have never had without my storm. God took my mess, and gave me a message. He was the Rock that I clung to during my storm, and now He is the Rock I stand on in the sunshine. What an amazing God I serve!