Resiliency through Adversity: A marriage journey (Guest Blogger)

Recently I made a trip to the Enlisted Heritage Hall, an Air Force museum, where my husband’s uniform is displayed.  It is the uniform that he almost died in when the bombing of Khobar Towers happened on June 25, 1996.

I was just a young bride with no children at the time; married less than 5 years.  After my husband completed his deployment, he came home and we got pregnant with our first child, a boy.  During that year, we were told I would miscarry that child.

The same week my husband had a massive brain hemorrhage.  Again, he should have died.  Two years later we welcomed another child, a girl.  During that year, she and I were hospitalized 7 different times. At the time, we did not know that she would most likely have lifelong health issues.

Over the years hardship plagued our family.  We dealt with a child on the Autism spectrum, military moves that were difficult on the family, a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and a Traumatic Brain Injury (PTSD/TBI) and suicide of an extended family member.  Most recently, in the span of a year, we endured the death of my father, 2 uncles, my dad’s beloved dog, and my husband’s first service dog.

I am not writing these things to say “woe is me” or for you to think I’m looking for pity. Quite the opposite! I want to share how I managed to be in a happy fruitful marriage of 26 years despite these struggles.

When my husband and I married, we knew that God would be the head of our home.  Yet we were young and didn’t understand this concept completely. It is through some of these adversities that I learned who I had to lean on in the dark times. My biggest struggle is loneliness even with others around me. I think this a common issues most military spouses endure, especially those that have a spouse with the PTSD/TBI diagnosis. I can no longer go to my husband with things that bother me, because he will likely get overwhelmed and not be able to handle multiple issues.

I can’t share with those who are not in the military, as they do not understand the lifestyle. I do not share with other military spouses for fear of being judged.  Likewise, they don’t want to hear it for fear of it happening to their family.

Comfort can be found in Philippians 4:11 (KJV) “Not that I speak in respect of want for I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.” 

This does not mean a state like Nebraska or Ohio, but rather our mental state. Although in truth, sometimes I needed it to mean what literal state I was in at the time!  For me, I learned to rely heavily on God and I did this through His written word that was written in my heart.  We may not think it is important as we get older to remember verses, but when I couldn’t think of anything to say, to do or even how to just be; I relied on reciting verses.  This is how God kept me calm through many trials.

I was faithful in my devotionals, attending church, serving in my given mission fields, and trusting the advice of a few Godly people in my life. It was the reliance on my faith through adversity that made me a resilient person.

I have always sung the song, His eye is on the sparrow written by Ethel Waters, but never knew the backstory.  It was about one couple seeing another couple deal with adversity that seemed incomprehensible. When they asked the couple how they dealt with the life difficulties handed to them, the wife responded with “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.”

That, my friend, is how I live my life. When my emotions and the drama of life is all consuming, I know and TRUST that my God is watching over me and he is watching over you too.

-A Military Spouse

Shelly Graphics

 

Guest Blogger (18 August 2018)

The purpose of the Iron Porch is to allow a space for women to come share with one another without the fear of reprisal and judgment. It’s a space that we felt God wanted to provide, so that women could encourage and comfort one another.  After prayerful consideration, we would like to encourage potential guest bloggers to submit a post for consideration.  These guest blogs will be posted under ‘Fe Sharp’ rather than ‘Erin’ or ‘Emily’ and we will attempt to feature one a quarter.

On Saturday, we will be posting an entry from a woman who has had the incredible delight and challenge of being a military wife.  At this time, she is electing to remain anonymous, but her heart is filled with the Lord and she has a wonderful perspective on the unique calling of being a military spouse.

Please join us on the porch this weekend for our second guest blogger.

~Emily & Erin

The Walmart Meltdown

I don’t often break down.  I definitely don’t break down in front of people.  I’m the kind of woman that needs to feel like she’s got her emotions in check.  I encourage women to let go and be ok with not having it all together.  But me….I don’t always take my advice.

Let’s take the Walmart incident Emily wrote about two weeks ago.  When she wrote that I had a meltdown, she wasn’t exaggerating!  I took a left at the end of McKenna’s road to head to Walmart and somewhere in that 4 minute drive, as she encouraged me to tell her what was going on in my head, I start blubbering and crying.  And she was there to help me get myself back together.  Here’s what she didn’t tell you because she felt it was my story to write.

I was afraid of judgment.  Here we were, visiting my beautiful oldest daughter and her husband, Indy, along with my sweet little grandbaby, Andros, and I was worried that I would be judged on how well McKenna was doing!  By my best friend!  How silly does that sound!?

But it wasn’t silly to me in that moment.  Would Emily see something that would reflect poor parenting?  Were McKenna and Indy thriving?  Was Andros doing well? Did McKenna love her job?  Was the house clean enough?  Were they eating healthy?
These are all things moms worry about for their grown children, but somehow in that moment, Satan had woven anxiety around me to make me feel as if I needed to question my worthiness as a parent, as a grandparent, and as a friend.

It was overwhelming to say the least.  In that 4 minute drive, I was afraid to tell Emily that I was terrified of being judged by her.  Yet, when I shared my heart, she lovingly told me that there was NOTHING that would ever make her feel as if I wasn’t a good parent, a good person, a good friend.  She reminded me that I was overwhelmed with everything going on with the trip, and that there were great things in store from God.  And that I needed to stop freaking out!

And just like that, it was over.  It was as if God had placed this blanket of protection over me through my best friend’s kind yet realistic words.  Satan’s rhetoric was banished from that car, and grace filled the air.

How many times do we do that to ourselves, ladies?  We question our value and our worth through someone else’s eyes.  We want to feel accepted and worthy of a friendship or a job.  We long to feel good enough to teach a class or learn a new skill. Yet, we forget that God sees us as worthy already.  We are good enough.  Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV) says, “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

He knew who we were before we were born, and He created us in His image.  We. Are. Worthy.  Because we are His.

~Erin

A Sinner’s Heart

I was pregnant with my second child when I was removed from the nursery schedule at the church I attended.  At approximately four months along, my belly was growing at a far faster rate than my first pregnancy.  Though I wasn’t tiring out easily, the nursery director wanted to ease any discomfort I might encounter while taking care of babies and toddlers as their parents were listening to the preaching down the hall.  While I felt a twinge of guilt at the extra duty the volunteers would inevitably encounter in an underserved area, it was a welcome reprieve from the Sunday morning routine.

Four weeks into my mini nursery-vacation, however, I was splashed with an ice-cold bucket of judgment that left me wondering if I would ever be worthy of my Jesus.  A friend confided that the respite I had been given was less about discomfort for me and more about the discomfort of our small church.  “How on earth would it look to have an unwed pregnant woman taking care of the babies in our nursery?” was the true reason I was asked to step aside in the role of nursery volunteer.

Yes…I was pregnant.  And unmarried.  I began having a relationship with the man who would eventually become my husband, and due to sinful nature, I became pregnant prior to any kind of wedding day.  And just like that, the feeling of being worthless and unusable for God’s glory came rushing into my life.  “What kind of example could I be for women now?” I thought.  I was no longer able to fulfill God’s calling in my life to minister to women.  I had ruined my ability to do so.

I cried for months over the torturous shame I felt.  I begged God to forgive me over and over again.  I mourned for the loss of my servant ability in the church, and I felt so far from Him.  Yet little by little, I was finally able to drown out the lies of the devil long enough to hear these two verses my Savior was whispering to me.

He shall again have compassion on us; He will subdue and tread underfoot our wickedness [destroying sin’s power]. Yes, You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19 (AMP)

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; Acts 3:19 (NASB)

Those verses are beautiful, aren’t they?  I had forgotten that when true repentance happens, my sins are as far as the east is to the west (Ps. 103:12).  They are thrown into the depths of the sea, having been given whole restoration in Jesus Christ.

That sin is not one of my finer moments in life, and I fully recognize that what I did was willful disobedience.  But just as God commanded us to do, I repented and asked for His forgiveness.  He granted me the grace I so desperately desired.  There was no need to continue to live in the guilt and shame anymore.  God could (and WOULD) still use me for His honor and glory.

Iron Porch is proof of this.  God took this broken mess of a woman, full of mistakes and sinful nature, and molded her into a willing vessel for Jesus.  His grace and love is just that sufficient.  Any day that I doubt my calling, Jesus reminds me that the kind of example I’m supposed to be is the kind that shows our God is bigger than any sin or mistake I’ve ever made.  And I’ll take that calling any day of the week.

~Erin

When God meets you between a Pawn Shop and a KFC (Guest Blogger)

I had to stop the car… I had to! The tears streaming down my face were too much to even see the road in front of me. The weight of the world sat on my shoulders. At least, that’s how it felt…

As if the last 11 months hadn’t already been some of the toughest of my life, now I was faced with a decision that would not only alter my life, but my husband’s and daughter’s too. “God, I need you,” I whispered under my breath. “This decision is too much for me to make alone. I NEED to hear Your voice. I want to make a decision based on faith, NOT on fear, but You have to show me the way.” You see, as I sat there in that pothole-filled parking lot, with a pawn shop to my left and a KFC to my right, I needed a divine word from heaven.

Earlier that day, I was getting ready to leave the house to pick up our daughter from preschool when Sam received a phone call from his attorney. The company he previously worked for was suing him – for 1.4 million dollars. And the reason? Well, it all started 11 months prior when he called me from out of town to tell me that he’d just lost his job as partner at a tax firm because he’d committed fraud. The money they were seeking included their losses, plus the cost of forensic experts to investigate his offenses and clean up the mess I now found myself in.

We certainly didn’t have enough to give them all that they wanted, but they still wanted all that we had. The attorney said we could ‘fight’ it and claim that some of that money they were taking was mine (from my own business that I’d worked to build), and that taking everything my daughter and I had left to live on would cause a financial burden for the two of us. While the opportunity existed to ‘fight’ it, there was still a chance it could be denied and I was told, “it could look bad to the judge” who would ultimately determine my husband’s sentence. Sam left it in my hands to decide.

This is where I needed divine direction. Either way I went, there was an element of fear and an element of faith. Do I ‘fight’ handing over the money and have faith that God will grant us this “pardon”? and that my daughter and I will still have money to live on? My fear with this option was that it could have a negative impact on Sam’s sentencing if denied and we could lose the money anyway. Alternatively, I could agree to hand over every little bit of money we had left, relying solely on God to provide everything we needed from that moment on. It seemed like an impossible decision.

The idea of possibly losing my husband to jail time and being left as a single mother to care for my daughter with no money was unbearable. I couldn’t stop crying as the outcomes of both decisions swept through my mind and pierced me deep within. Through all of the tears and pleas to heaven, I noticed the sun was setting – a beautiful palette of purples, pinks and oranges. I sat there waiting… partly in confidence that God WOULD answer me, and partly because I still felt out of breath, and out of life, from all the crying… and I needed to get myself together before pulling up to the preschool. The tears began to subside as I stared off in to the beautiful, calming sunset, when suddenly it happened: I felt the Holy Spirit whisper, “What’s the right thing to do?

A simple question would become my answer: What IS the right thing to do? I thought about it for a moment… The right thing to do was to hand over the remainder of any money we had left – which would ultimately include anything that was considered mine monetarily. The company Sam had worked for was out a LOT of money because of his wrong-doing and the right thing to do was to give back what we could (even though he would still be responsible for a huge remainder of the balance when this was all said and done). I knew I had my answer, and while it was hard to imagine what was next for us, a gust of faith surrounded me.

Suddenly, I found myself saying, “Lord, I will do this in obedience to You. And therefore, I stand on YOUR promises. And Your promises are that You are a rewarder of those who diligently seek You – and I have diligently sought You in this. You say that no good thing will You withhold from those who walk uprightly. I know that You shall supply all my needs according to Your riches in glory, and God, You watch over Your Word to perform it, so I hold You to Your Word!” I spoke His Words back to Him in faith, with boldness, confidence and humility. And just like that – as I held on to the promises of my loving Father, peace flooded my soul.

A short while later, I returned home and told Sam my decision. After he spoke with his attorney, he said he was “proud” of me. I made it clear my decision was based solely in response to being obedient to Christ and not because of fear of any outcome. Man’s approval of my decision meant nothing to me, only God’s. Sam mentioned he had talked to another friend to get some advice on what to do. I asked him what his friend said. His exact words to Sam? “What’s the right thing to do?” And so, it was confirmed. That day I not only discovered my answer, but also learned when you have a heart open to hearing His voice, God can meet you anywhere – even between a pawn shop and a KFC.

Thoughts from the Blog: We can speak to God from anywhere – I’m so thankful He wasn’t restricted to a church or prayer closet when I needed Him that day. He hears His children when we speak to Him, no matter where we are, and He longs to speak back to us. It may not always be an obvious “spoken” word in the way this was, but I do believe that God will give peace and confirm His thoughts when you’re not sure if you’ve heard Him or not. Spend time in the Word – After all, those are His words to YOU. Spend time with other believers who can speak life and truth into your situation and who will pray with you. The Bible says to “Pray without ceasing,” and while there are plenty of moments in a day where we can’t literally be praying, I think it’s God’s way of saying: pray whenever, wherever, for whatever. Let your day be a continual conversation with Him – His sheep know His voice, and you will know His voice from spending time with Him.

Verses Mentioned in this Blog (my paraphrase):

  1. You are a rewarder of those who diligently seek You (Hebrews 11:6b)
  2. No good thing will You withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11)
  3. You shall supply all my needs according to Your riches in glory (Philippians 4:19)
  4. You watch over Your Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12)
  5. Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

~Anonymous Guest Blogger

Guest Blogger This Weekend

The purpose of the Iron Porch is to allow a space for women to come share with one another without the fear of reprisal and judgment. It’s a space that Erin and I believe God wanted to provide, so that women could encourage and comfort one another. After prayerful consideration, we both feel that there will be occasions where other women should be afforded the opportunity to blog what is on their heart. This may be their only platform to do that. These guest blogs will be posted under ‘fesharp’ rather than ‘Erin’ or ‘Emily.’

On Saturday, we will be posting an entry from a woman who has had the weight of the world on her shoulders the last two years, but she has an amazing heart for the Lord. She is a beautiful mom, wife, friend….and one we are privileged to call “sister in Christ.”

At this time, she is electing to remain anonymous because of the details of her situation. However, Erin and I want you to know that she has a story to share that is filled with an amazing amount of grace.

Please join us on the porch this weekend for our first guest blogger.

~Emily & Erin