Guilt, Gratefulness and Marriage ~ A Testimony of Faith

Recently, Kev and I were on a mini getaway and on our last evening as we sipped our final glass of red wine, 🍷 we began to “dissect” this life of ours and how we managed to get here. We found it funny to look back on the journey we’ve been on together and some of what it took to bring us to this place of peaceful contentment. My hope is that in sharing this, it may enlighten and inspire. 

You see, for those of you who don’t know our story – well, nobody knows the WHOLE story – but if you’re new here you may not know that what you see today is nothing we ever expected, dreamed of, hoped for or thought possible. In fact, being together this long is a bit of a miracle in itself.

As we sat and talked about the past, we both teared up and our emotions began to grab hold of us as they haven’t in quite some time. The feelings creeped in so profoundly as we reminisced back to a time of struggle, heartache, betrayal, immaturity and brokenness. 

We were dialed into each others eyes so deeply that particular night, almost to the point of seeing through to our hearts, and it hit us like a crashing wave as we tried to comprehend how far we have really come in this life together.

Many did not expect it to turn out the way it has, but, in our discussion that night under the stars, we actually took the time to applaud ourselves for seeing it through. 

Sometimes, because of our upbringing, we are overcome by feelings of guilt for the things we are able to do now. We live a nice and fairly comfortable lifestyle where we live in a beautiful home and have nice things, enjoy fine wine (although I’m not too picky 😜). We travel and visit some of the most beautiful, extraordinary and fun places I never in a million years thought I would ever get to experience. This may come off as bragging to some, but if you read on you’ll see that it is actually a testimony of deep rooted faith and a story of redemption!

In more recent years (10-15), we have thankfully been awakened to the fact that all of this is solely a result of God’s undeniable grace, mercy, forgiveness and love for us as a couple and as a family. The hiccups and roadblocks 🚧 still come, but because of Him and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we have navigated toward a fuller life of peace and hope. He strengthened us at times when we were so weak we didn’t believe anything could save us, except to flee. 

As we continued to dig into the years of the past, our feelings of guilt for the life we are living now began to melt away. We traveled back to  the days of working as teenagers, both of us knowing that if we could not pay our own way through college, we wouldn’t be able to go (he did partially, I didn’t go at all). I went from high school straight to the school of hard knocks. Fast forward to married life when he worked night shift and I worked long days and nights all the way through pregnancies just to make ends meet. Some days – most days, those ends didn’t meet. Yes, I was the woman with a toddler in the grocery cart being declined at checkout and walking out empty handed. We struggled, we borrowed, we stole from Peter to pay Paul – you get the picture. This went on for many years and our marriage suffered in every aspect. The cracks in the foundation continued to widen and deepen, creating a wedge that seemed to be irreparable. However, even in our darkest days, for an unexplainable reason, we kept fighting. God never abandoned us – even when we clearly had abandoned Him. 

After several years, with limited options and on a leap of our dwindling faith, we hopped in a U-Haul with fingers crossed, drove 1000 miles from Cincinnati and started a new life in Texas with our 3 little ones (6, 4 & 11 months). The story of our 19 years here is a long one in and of itself but I’ll save that for another day. The rock bottom days followed us and there were many times where we were convinced that this story was not going to have a happy ending. Shoot, the cloudy days still find a way to creep in, but we’re just much better at searching for the rays of sunshine. 🌤

Eventually, as Kevin persevered and experienced glimmers of success, he started traveling 3, 4, 5 days a week and my life as a full time working mom came to a halt. I essentially became a single mom carting 3 kids from place to place and doing my very best to raise decent humans as Kev worked harder than he ever had to take care of his family and build on his career. (BTW ~ huge shoutout to working single moms – I applaud you!)

Writing, leading and inspiring women has always been a dream of mine and in the back of my mind I was going to accomplish these dreams, but there was no time, no money and fear of failure was my always my biggest enemy.

What I am getting at in sharing this little tidbit of a story with you, is those pangs of guilt are disappearing with every day that goes by. The guilt has been replaced with gratefulness! It has been replaced with joy and peace and hope. When I am able to meet my husband on one of his work trips because we’ve earned all of those travel rewards, I remind myself how and what we endured to earn all of those miles. Why do we have reward points on airlines, at rental car facilities and hotels? We don’t “deserve” them any more than anyone else – we earned them. We fought for them and we don’t take them for granted because they represent sacrifice. We overcame, we forgave, we battled, we fell to our knees many times – but by the grace of God – WE GOT BACK UP! 

When I get twinges of guilt for staying home working on my writing and public speaking dreams and my aspirations of inspiring women with my personal story, I remember that I have a story and God has placed this purpose on my heart for a very specific reason. All of the tears, heartbreak and uncertainty have led us to this place. When people say or wonder, “what do you do all day?”, I can confidently say, without guilt, “I am seeking my purpose – pursuing my dreams because that is what I know God wants from me! I am sharing my purpose through my pain in order to inspire others because He placed this on my heart as a young girl.” 

That night, under the stars, we looked at each other with a love I don’t think we’ve ever felt before and we thanked God for helping us remove the demons that used to consume us. We gave each other grace for the mistakes of the past. We thanked The Lord for allowing us these opportunities for a better life and a way to build a family grounded ON and IN the foundation of faith. Our happy place, which was once the avoidance of our reality, is now in our home, with our kids. Cheering on our favorite teams, fireside chats, playing games and having home cooked family dinners are the simple pleasures we value and hold in our hearts. You see, it’s not the “stuff” that has made this family get to a place of tranquility, but it’s in knowing what we’ve claimed victory over to get here and we are celebrating that! 👐

Because of our fight and our victory in these past battles, we are able to open our home to family and friends and celebrate the fruit of what it means to never give up with the people who never gave up on us! We are able to fly home to Ohio as often as possible for big birthdays, weddings, holidays and even funerals that we would not normally have been able to afford to do. We will never forget where we came from because it has laid out the path we’re on today and for that, we are eternally humbled and  grateful. And when the enemy shows up and he will show up…he knows we are protected and armored for battle! To that, we say “Bring It On!” 💞

This is a tiny piece of our love and faith testimony and I hope it inspires you today. You have a story too ~ I encourage you to let the regrets and guilt of yesterday go and relish in gratefulness for what God has blessed you with today! 

And, if nothing else, I hope that it is a reminder to never judge a book by its cover or a post by its filter. There is always so much more than what you see on the outside ~ 

Philippians 4:12-13 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Psalm 37:3-5 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.