Sunday, August 3, 2014

Trial by Fire

Today is our 12th anniversary. It should be filled with cards, and flowers and the anticipation of a fantastic date night out. But it isn't. I've never before anticipated a date that I know will be filled with pain instead of celebration. Things crumbled last year around this time. Jon had been hurt by me a few years prior and despite plowing forward and attempting normalcy for a couple of years, the band-aid covering his gaping wounds just wouldn't hold any longer and so began my husband's retreat to try to find healing. I remember last summer being so sure it would just be a handful of months, but here we are a year later. The pain of separation isn't much easier. I'm just more used to the feeling of it.
I've found that people can fairly easily talk about those rough patches once they're back on smooth ground. But I don't hear people talking about it when they're stuck in the middle; at least not outside their trusted circle of family and friends. But you know what's even harder than walking through the toughest time in my life? Pretending I'm not. I can't and I won't. I will not put on a mask of perfection when my heart is aching on the best days and feels like it's being ripped in two on the worst days. I sometimes want to hang a sign around my neck that says, "Tread lightly. Broken heart inside."
People often tell me I'm brave for sharing my story. I don't feel brave. I feel free. I'm free of guilt and shame. I'm free of worrying about any sort of reputation that I may or may not have. Freedom in Christ is so very real in my life. And the more I talk, the more my story is in the light and able to be used for His glory. I want others to experience that same freedom. The sin in my past is ugly. But God is already redeeming it and I think I've only seen a fraction of the redemption to come.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. -James 5:16 MSG
On this day, August 3rd, 2014, I choose joy. I have compassion and empathy for others that I didn't have a year ago. I have more grace and less judgment than I had a year ago. I have a much bigger faith than I did a year ago. And I have had far too many blessings to count this past year, particularly in the area of friendships. When I was at my loneliest, God flooded my life with incredible, deep, authentic friendships. But most importantly I have a desperate need for my Savior. There were times about six or eight months ago that I would honestly think, "God, I'm not sure I want this season to end because I don't ever want to stop needing you as desperately as I do right now." Being at your wit's end is sometimes the most beautiful place to be.
My friend once wrote a great blog post about what to do for a friend who's miscarried and I so appreciated it. (I'd link to it but I don't think it's live anymore.) So here are my tips if you have a friend walking through any sort of difficult and painful time:
Acknowledge it. Don't ignore it. If they know you know about it, ask them how they're doing. Sometimes the conversation is awkward when people ask me how I am (because I'm usually brutally honest) but I feel so incredibly loved by the people who do and sometimes hurt by the people who don't. Send a text or a card if the thought of bringing it up in person seems scary. If you're very close to them, find out their love language and meet it from time to time. You have to remember that someone in a marriage separation or recently divorced isn't receiving any sort of affection, besides from their kids. And although, I'm learning to rely on God and fully realize that He is and always will be enough, it sure does feel good to be loved by a friend. And lastly, buy them a copy of the Streams in the Desert devotional. I don't know where I'd be without it.

My life does not look at all what I imagined it would right now. I can't say yet that I wouldn't change it, although some parts I definitely would. But I trust that I'll be able to say that a few years from now. I just couldn't produce spiritual growth like this on my own terms if I tried. And I know its not in vain. I want to be used on this Earth for the kingdom. And if my broken and redeemed past and broken and someday redeemed marriage will ultimately bring Him glory, then I will continue to praise Him for this storm. My God is big. And He's got this.
Here's an excerpt from one of my favorite Streams in the Desert devos, because I can't ever quote that book enough:
We are to honor the Lord in the trial--in the very thing that afflicts us. And although there are examples where God did not allow His saints to even feel the fire, usually the fire causes pain.
It is precisely there, in the heat of the fire, we are to glorify Him. We do this by exercising perfect faith in His goodness and love that has permitted this trial to come upon us. Even more, we are to believe that out of the fire will arise something more worthy of praise to Him than had we never experienced it.
A person has only as much faith as he shows in times of trouble. The three men who were thrown into the fiery furnace came out just as they went in--
except for the ropes that had bound them. How often God removes our shackles in the furnace of affliction!
This is the way Christians should come out of the furnace of fiery trials--liberated from their shackles but untouched by the flames.


  1. I'm a Streams in the Desert junkie too :) It always speaks to me with the just write sentiment!

    Hugs and prayers your way. You are brave and you're setting many free in their own journeys by sharing your heart. xoxo

  2. Thank you sweet friend for sharing your story...and encouraging others in the process. Love you.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. Praying healing and the Lord standing in the gap for you and your entire family. He is able to do immeasurably more. Press on, dear one!

  4. Oh my goodness- I am in the exact same situation! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I just "celebrated" my 16th wedding anniversary a week ago by going out to dinner alone. My husband moved out of the house this past Friday and my girls and I are having a tough time. I never expected to be in this position, and I never realized how lonely it is to be separated. Prayers for you and your kids in this.

  5. Thank you for being willing to share your struggle while in the middle of it. You are so right that very few of us share while in that spot--I know that I didn't. Some of it was based on the fact that I couldn't even process my own feelings and was trying to just get through each day. But most was based on the fact that I felt so alone--feeling that I was the only person in the world going through it at the time. Being brave enough to share while in the middle lets others know that they are not alone and is a reminder that we are linked in a beautiful way---even in the hard times.

  6. Such rich words. And yes, so easy to talk after a trial but so hard to speak during. Thank you for your courage.

  7. God will bless you for sharing your heart. Others need to hear this today -- and I am one of those who needs to know how to encourage others going through this type of a trial. I am so thankful for all that God has been teaching me through trials in my own life. They look very different from yours, but are painful nonetheless.

    Streams in the Desert has been a huge encouragement to me over the years ... in fact, I have completely worn out one copy and started over! I appreciated your suggestion to share a copy with those going through trials. I recently bought a used copy to keep on hand for just that purpose. Another book that might help you -- it surely has helped me -- is the study Finding God's Path Through Your Trials, by Elizabeth George. I have gone through this study three times!

    One more thing -- the quote at the end about the three men in the fiery furnace. As I read that, I was reminded that the Son of God was walking through the fire with them. And He walks through the fires with us as well. If we can thank God for nothing else about a trial [at first], we can at the very least thank and praise Him that He is in it with us!

    God bless you today. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above what we could ask or even think.

  8. Thank you for sharing your heart. I'm off to find a copy of the devotional. Very needed. Praying for healing and love to grow.

  9. This is beautiful--and hoping for a new and happier season to come your way soon. I'm Jewish, and today is actually a day of mourning in Jewish tradition--mourning for the broken things and hope for their redemption.

  10. I'm so sorry for the pain you're going through. I'm praying for you this morning and would also encourage you to visit April Cassidy's blog, The Peaceful Wife. There are sweet christian women who encourage each other to find their peace in Christ like you are doing in the comments of April's posts. Some are now in separation in their marriages. I think you would be blessed. You can also look up posts from the archives that deal with specific subjects like separation. Warm hug to you, dear sister in Christ.

  11. This is why I love you. Courageous heart. Sharing your story and you're still in the thick of it. Proud of you and I believe in you. And I believe in God's ability to blast your marriage with all kinds of miracles.

  12. Thank you for this. I'm laid off, not separated, but I can identify with many parts of your post. Including people no longer asking how I'm doing.

  13. I don't know if it's of benefit sharing this here, but... i was about ten when my parents divorced. Mum stayed, dad left.

    I remember feeling left out of mom's pain. I guess it makes sense to "ration" it somewhat from a 10-year-old, but I wish she had shared more with me.

    As a grown-up I have now made an effort to learn sharing vulnerability. I think I picked up - unintentionally - from my mother how to hold in hurt and keep looking strong on the outside. I am not sure how healthy she finds it, but I find that it damages me, both mentally and physically, to keep looking strong when I feel hurt on the inside. It actually helps to share and it builds genuine friendships, I find.

    So, yeah, I think it may actually help your children, too, if you share it. At least I think it would've helped me, as a child.

  14. Your words touch me and I am praying for you and you boys and your husband. The Lord can make all things new!

  15. I am so sorry. Thank you for sharing your journey. I'll be thinking of you and praying for you.

  16. Honesty and openness are such huge gifts. As women, we tend to present our best selves to the public, causing loneliness both in ourselves as well as those we come into contact with. Sometimes being willing to share our story not only lifts the burden off of us, but off of those who hear it as well. Good for you for being brave enough to be open. We need more of that in this world.

  17. I hope you feel better asap and praying for peace for you; your photos are beautiful; found you from ashleyann's blog!

  18. I just want to say thank you. Thank you for being real and raw and courageous. While I am not currently going through a hard time I have before and have many friends who currently are. It means so much that you speak out and share. You are putting Light out there.
    I stumbled across you on instagram the other day and once again when I was catching up on Ashley's blog. I know all social media is connected in all these overlapping circles but to me it felt like a "God thing." I just wanted you to know that in the little I've read and seen of your life you've inspired and encouraged me.

  19. God Bless! Have you heard of Retrovaille? It is a retreat that is held around the country and has helped many separated couples come back together.Hope it helps!

  20. Bless your ever lovin heart. It is so comforting to hear one anothers story's, amen? I mean I felt SO alone, (I didn't blog when I was in the thick of it all), I've only had my blog for 3 or 4 years. We've come out of the desert now, but we were there for 6 years. We are made to share and be authentic, it's who we are, it's the world that is opposite, so PTL you are sharing and open, because what you said is TRUE, it's all for HIS good and glory and His purposes during, and after you come out of it. Dealing, truly dealing with it is the truest thing you can do for yourselves and for God and for others. I remember my husband would say "Well, it's been 10 years and we're still together..." well blah blah blah, but we haven't DEALTH with it TOGETHER. That's not a kudos for me if we are digging in and finding healing. That was before he started dealing with certain things. Anyway, I'm rambling now and our story is long and unreal, I hope you and I can stay in contact I'm so glad I came across reading this and I am PRAYING. And I am so encouraged that you are both wanting to live in the Light and live free. It's the only way. XO I could relate to everything you said. All of it. My darkest hours were my best days for God.

  21. Dear Haverlee:

    I endureded the same kind of pain - the pain caused by lonelyness - 5 years ago, for a different reason. I was in my 30s, got 2 little ones, and... became a widow. And I did think "i was the only one in the planet suffering" by that days. Then I realized that (unfortunatelly) there are soooooooo many people facing bad days and that I could just help them by... writing! And I started a blog. It was called "the diary of the 3 Musketeers" (and it was my 5 years old son who choose the name). Through the internet I meet so many great people, talked to a 1000 more, became real friends with whom I could never be "in a regular basis".

    So, there is a part of the Bible that I treasure very much that I´d like to share with you: Paul said that "people read us like a letter". You don´t choose to pass for hard times... but you DO choose how will people read you during that time! Because they always "read" us. Lets use our lives for His glory DURING the process of healing.

    Kisses and blessings.
    Mirys (from Brazil - so forgive my English)

  22. Hi Haverlee!
    I just found your blog :) I don't know if you're still in the Des Moines area, but if you are, I was wondering if maybe you were looking for a little "mom" community? There's a group of us who love Christ and each other and I'd love to invite you to hang out with us :) If you'd be interested, my email is I'd love to meet you/get coffee someday!


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