Tuesday, February 24, 2009

One Decision, One Year Later

It is almost impossible for me to believe that it's been a year. One year ago today, Don left. We separated after being married 17 years. Now it's been an entire year of our lives that we've spent apart. An entire year that neither of us can ever get back.

It all started with one decision. In all honesty we know that a marriage doesn't end over one decision but on that particular day, it took one decision to decide to separate. That decision was mine. I made it. I suggested it. No, I demanded it. Finally. Deep down I knew that there was no way our family could heal if we stayed together. For years I had pushed that knowledge down because I didn't want to be alone. It was too scary a thought for me. For years I denied the truth that was staring me in the face. Nothing would ever change if everything remained the same. I feared that if we lived apart that I wouldn't have control (never had it in the first place). I feared that he might choose to truly walk away and not get the help we all needed. I feared that he might find someone else. I feared! All the what-ifs kept me from making a decision that so desperately needed to be made.

By no means am I saying that Don was the only one at fault. It always takes two. But I believe I enabled an unhealthy marriage to continue to die without having the courage to get it the help it needed. One decision. Can't turn back time but I wish I had made that decision years ago. Our family might still be in tact. But, here's the thing...God's timing is perfect. That decision was meant to be made on just that day.

That day. It also marks the day I said good-bye to an addiction that had held me in bondage for the 5 previous years. When I needed to escape or calm the anxiety or fill the boredom IT was there. I didn't consciously decide to put away that addiction on that day, it was just a non-issue from that point on. How is that even possible? At the time in my life when I would think I would run to it for comfort and escape, it was no longer necessary. Only God. I didn't even ask for Him to take it away. I believe He came in and filled the empty places - the places that I had thought Don would fill - the places that never got filled because it's impossible for another human to fill them. I didn't need to run to "it" any more to escape my life.

One decision. It can change the course of your life and the lives of many others. This alone time, as I've said before, has allowed me to write and to be a part of an online Bible study. I'm not by any means saying that I am glad I got separated so that I could do all these other things. But I am saying that each choice, each decision we make has purpose if we allow God into it. As I am doing the Esther study and learning how critical each step is in our destiny, I want to be sure my steps are following right behind God.

One year later, I find that the one decision has brought healing. It's not the way I thought it was going to look, but the story is not over yet. We have many more decisions to make. Lord, position me in such a way that I am pointing in the direction you want to take me. Keep me open to your calling. Fight off the bitterness that could so easily entangle. Give me a heart and a desire to pray for Don. Wisdom for each new decision. Your wisdom only.

What decisions do you need to make? Each step, each choice we make can bring us closer to our destiny. I pray that you are able to walk in the freedom of Christ, knowing that HE is the one guiding your path.

Celebrating today. NOT my separation. Celebrating a God that loves me enough to bring me peace. Celebrating a God that has given me freedom from addiction. A God that is pursuing my husband's heart. A God that will bring good from all of this. Peace. Right now, there is no greater thing.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Checking In

What do people blog about when they think they should "check in" but they really don't have anything to say? Maybe I've run my course now that I've answered all your questions! Wow, is that all I had was one year's worth of blogs? Ok, I am kidding - sort of. I really feel like I don't have anything to share but that I should check in.

Thank you all so much for having fun with me through all the questions and answers. That really was enjoyable for me. Also, I wanted to tell you about sending my donation to Mossy Foot. I sent it off last Friday and as I had said previously I was going to have faith that God would provide the money. In perfect "God style"...two days after I sent that donation, I received a refund to my account for a return that I had forgotten about. It was for $3.22 more than I sent. How cool is that?

Some random updates for you. I go to the attorney in the morning to finalize some things for our legal separation. I hate all of this but know that it is necessary. I am trusting God to give wisdom and discernment. The legal separation should be final by the end of March. Hard to believe that for now our family has dissolved. Hard to trust God that He will supply all of our needs. But when there is no other option - trusting God is made that much easier. Does that make any sense? On one hand it's hard, but there's no other option. HE has never let me down. HE doesn't know how to.

The kids are doing pretty well. Counseling continues and baby steps are being taken. I love the relationship I have with both of them. One of them is making some really poor choices, but I made some of those same choices at his age. I am glad to be able to sit with him and share instead of condemning him so that he'll never come to me again. Single parenting - I think I am okay with it.

Physically I am not doing as great as I once was. But I am not bed bound and boy, that feels great! I hope to never again take the little things for granted. Spiritually I am trying to really listen to God instead of doing so much talking. I believe He is trying to tell me something and I don't want to miss it. I am doing Beth Moore's Esther study and loving it. God has a plan for each of our lives. A destiny. I sure don't want to miss mine.

Well, I just wanted to check in. Tell you again how much you all mean to me. God has placed you in my life for this season and I am so grateful. The newest verses that I am memorizing for the year are: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort that we ourselves have received from God. 2 Cor 1:3 & 4.

Thanks for showing comfort to me. I pray that I am able to bring some sense of comfort to those of you who are experiencing some kind of trouble. Again, thanks for taking this journey with me.


Friday, February 13, 2009

The Blogaversary Finale

Since today is my actual blogaversary, this will be the day that I send in my "give away" donation to the Mossy Foot Project. This is also the day that I will wrap up answering the remaining questions. I saved these to do at the same time as I thought it was fitting to share with you where God and I have been together. Here are the questions:

If today was the last day you had on earth, what would you do and who would you be with?

How old were you when you turned back to Jesus?

What made you surrender your life to Jesus? How did you hear His call?

What brought the prodigal daughter "home to God"?

Can you tell a couple of these people must know a bit of my story? Either that or they are just assuming that I walked away from Jesus!! As I look back over the past 20 months since my life changed I can clearly see Jesus' hand in it all. I can say the same thing about most of my life. I will try to explain a little bit.

I was born into a Christ centered home. My dad was the dean of students at two different Christian colleges and my mom was blessed to be able to stay home with us kids. (well, I think it was a blessing, don't ask her) So hearing about God was just a part of everyday life. When I was 5 I told my mom that I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart and I would say from that moment on, I know that I was a child of God.

Fast forward a year or so and my dad became sick with leukemia. He died 3 years later on New Year's Day. I was 9. My brothers were 11 and 4. My mom was just 32. I could NOT believe it. Didn't God hear me? I had prayed that my dad would be fine. But it wasn't to be.

When I was 11, my mom remarried and we moved from Illinois to Michigan. I was in the 6th grade and not at all happy about any of it. I did not want a new dad. Didn't know why my mom needed a husband anyway. And I was livid that I had to leave my friends! I think that's when the beginning of the anger really started. I still loved God and attended church. Very involved in the youth group. Tried doing the right things. UNTIL...high school.

Wow, did you know how much fun you could have if you didn't follow the rules? I never denied my faith but I certainly didn't live it out. High school led to college which just led to more "living" and eventually I married. That marriage ended in divorce 3 years later. All this time I was not attending church. Nobody would have imagined that I was a believer.

Eventually I married Don. My parents had been very involved in Bible Study Fellowship, which is a non-denominational international Bible study. There was a children's program in BSF that you could take your children to once they turned 2. So, once David was old enough my mom strongly suggested that I attend. I did, but only for the sake of David. That first year we studied Moses. All the grumbling and complaining that the Israelites did even though God never left them and always provided. Hmmm...I saw just a little bit of myself in there.

One night I remember laying in my bed and telling God that He could have total control of my life again. I was giving myself back over to Him. It had been more years than I care to count since I had said anything like that to God. By this time I was around 29.

Slowly and I mean very slowly, I began to give more and more of myself to God. When I prayed the prayer that night telling God He could have total control, I didn't really mean it. Or maybe I just really didn't understand fully. It was not until almost 3 years later that I began attending church again. By this time we have two children and are a little more ready to "settle down". I loved the church and it didn't take me long to throw myself fully into serving. With youth. With women's Bible studies. You name it! But I will be honest and tell you that God still did not have all of me.

Now, fast forward MANY more years to June 2007 when I became ill. God got my attention. No I don't think He planned my illness but He certainly allowed it. Finally my life fully belongs to my Savior. Finally I believe He really loves me. Finally I know that He is all I need. Finally I am free from all the bondage that entangled me for years. Finally!! He never left me. Not in these past 20 months and not when I turned away from Him all those years ago. He waited with open arms ready to welcome me home.

So...what brought the prodigal daughter home? Jesus' love. How old was I when I turned back to Jesus? Technically, 29, but it is a choice I make daily. What made me surrender my life and how did I hear His call? I knew I couldn't do it alone. I knew I didn't want to. I heard His call through His faithfulness to me when I wasn't faithful to Him. Lastly, if today was my last day on earth, what would I do and who would I be with? I would share Jesus mostly with my children. I would want them to grasp what His love is really like. There is nothing I would really want to do but be assured that they fully understand who God is.

Moms (and dads) of prodigals: keep praying

Prodigals: it's never too late

HE is worth it! This journey has been long. Full of bumps. Many heartaches. Lifelong consequences. Lots of mercy. But it's nowhere near over. I am excited to see where He is taking me next. Healing? Who knows. Marriage? Who knows. HE KNOWS!


Monday, February 9, 2009

100th Post. Woohoo!!! AND more Q & A...

One hundred posts. Hard for me to believe that I've actually put myself out there that many times. You guys have been so wonderful to me. So, to pay you back I am going to make you endure yet another question and answer post. I know, who would have thought it would have taken this long to answer them all. And just to break it to you, this is not the last of them. I am excited to make my donation to the Mossy Foot Project on my blogaversary, so if you haven't yet posted a question on the give away post, please do so. Okay, on with the questions...

I know this last year has been very stressful for you. But what was your favorite thing that happened during that time?

This is easy. By far my favorite thing that happened is how God used this laptop to do great things in my life. Both through the blogging world and allowing me to facilitate a Christian forum. We are in the process of doing our third Bible study together. Never would I have imagined that women from all over the country could get together on the computer and form life long friendships. That has happened through the blogosphere and the forum. I have loved every minute of it. One of the many reasons that I am grateful that God allowed my illness in June 2007.

My question is...are you going through menopause yet? Any symptoms? Hot flashes, night sweats, all that other fun stuff. C'mon, join us other 40 somethings and fess up. I'm not really dying to know this, just thought I'd throw you for a loop. You're getting some deep questions.

Is she funny or what? I was grateful for another "non deep" question. Even though you really don't want to know I am going to answer anyway. In 2005 I had to have a hysterectomy because of what they thought could possibly be cancer. Thank God it proved to be benign. However, they left my ovaries (aren't you so glad to know all this) SO...someday I will get to enjoy all the joys of menopause, but not yet!!

What makes you the happiest, what makes you the saddest.

Tough question for me to answer. There are two things that make me really happy. One being when someone who has been in bondage to satan's lies finds freedom. When they realize they are not alone and it's okay to share their "junk". Oh I love to watch that happen. The other thing would be just dying laughing with my kids. We are all super funny (and super modest). Saddest...has to be seeing my kids sad. When they cry, have broken hearts, it feels like mine is being torn right out along with theirs. I also cannot stand to see the less fortunate passed over.

What's your quiet time routine like, do you have a cup of coffee, or tea, or do you just snuggle down with your Bible and a blanket?

Easy... I have NO routine. I do not have "quiet time" any more. That is something that I used to do on a daily basis. But not any more. Definitely still spend time with God throughout the day, but there's no routine to it.

So...now a question...what is your favorite "relaxing" activity?

Hmmm...I am pretty good at relaxing. I've got that down to a science. Love a good book, love a hot bath, love being with friends and laughing and no, not at the same time.

What is your favorite childhood memory, and what is your favorite memory of your children's lives so far?

This really has me thinking because I do not have an answer for either part of it. That bothers me. This is something I am going to work on. Thanks for asking it because it is going to cause me to reflect.

What are 10 random favorite things? (No people included--they are people, not things!!!)

Lila (my laptop)
DQ Blizzards with Heath and Butterfinger, no chocolate syrup
My mom's Bible
A clean home
Good music
Hair products

1. Live, prime-time, televised concert. You were the honored guest. Had an on-stage seat, so no texting, only singing and toe-tapping. Who would you choose? Wait, you then have dinner with them, just a cozy, little affair. (Not really an affair, just...you know what I mean.) Barry Manilow or Liberace?

2. Front teeth that come down to your chin but the best personality ever - or - to be a cute, talented, little thing but always feel like you are about to fall? Wait, what am I thinking?

Chin teeth or the cutest girl in the county but an odor that makes everyone gag in your wake? (can't file your teeth and no perfume covers the odor.) What would you rather have?

Okay, I have to tell you. This came from one of my IRL (in real life) friends. And I had to post it because she wants everyone to know that she is the funniest person on earth. At least she thinks so. I am sure she spent hours and hours working on this so that you all would burst out laughing! Here's the deal...I cannot stand Barry Manilow (she loves him, nuff said) The next question is asked because my best friend and I (who died 4 years ago) used to sit around and ask "would you rather" questions for hours!!!! So given the above options, I guess I would have to pick chin teeth and I would grow my chin beard really long to cover them!!

That's all for now folks. Yes, there are a few questions left and I've saved them to do them all together on purpose. Thanks for hanging with me through my 100 posts, no matter when you joined in on my journey. Life is going pretty well right now, I am loving it. Little bit more healing every day physically. Hallelujah it's fun doing chores!!

Until next time...


Friday, February 6, 2009

I Know, I Know. Will it Ever End. Q & A Part 3...

There is still time to ask a question in my give away post. You have until February 13th. Probably you don't want to add anything else to that so that these questions will stop, huh? But it's for a good cause, so at least go leave a comment there if you haven't done so yet. Now on with the excitement...

What would a "perfect" day look like in the life of a completely healed Sheryl?

Wow...is the day only 24 hours long? Okay, let's assume it is and I am also going to say that it is summer. The perfect day would be one spent at the beach with my friends and my kids. (we are 3 minutes from Lake Michigan) After a day of becoming a bronze goddess we would come home and shower (since it's a perfect day, my hair would straighten itself) Off to a night out to dinner, followed by some shopping and DQ. I really wouldn't have any big plans. Just want to do the ordinary things - believing that one day I will get my healing and I'll tell you about my day!

My question is this what has GOD taught you about yourself during this past year?

I am stronger than I thought I was. My relationship with God really is the most important thing in my life. That may seem odd but after this past year & a half I know now for sure that Jesus really is number one. He has also taught me that I am okay alone. I don't need a man to make me feel complete or wanted.

What moment or event would you change in your life if you could?

WHOA! This is tough because a couple of things came to my mind. However, if I changed them then my life would not be what it is today. Does that make sense? But if I had to pick something it would be one that wouldn't change the outcome of the rest of my life. I would like to go back to my childhood and know to be "more present". If I really understood that my dad was going to die I would have spent more time really getting to know him.

Question... what are you doing right now that requires faith? ;)

That is the question from the book Crazy Love that really hit me. I felt like my answer was: NOTHING. There is nothing I am doing that really requires faith. That was part of why I wrote the give away post. That required faith that God would provide the money to give to the Mossy Foot Project. I know He will. On a daily basis I know that I am living by faith as I need the Lord every moment of the day. But I wanted to be doing something tangible.

Do you think learning dependence on God is possible without the struggles in life?

True dependence? No I don't think it's possible without the struggles. I've often said that being born in America is both a blessing and a curse. Because of our lack of daily struggle for food, safety, religious freedom, etc. we do not NEED God like others around the world. I believe that we come to really know Him, love Him, depend on Him when we need Him. When there isn't something driving us (maybe it's just me) to Jesus I honestly don't believe we depend on Him.

What would you doo-oo-oo for a klondike bar?

Ok, thanks for the laugh. This is probably against the rules but I am going to change the klondike bar to a dairy queen blizzard with heath and butterfinger, no chocolate syrup. Yes, I am addicted. It's a problem and I am not planning on getting help for it. Almost every night I get a large one. (I am working on cutting down - those things are expensive) But I would do almost anything for one. Okay that is a bit dramatic. I have been known to bribe my son to drive up there and get me one right before they close.

That's it for now. Sorry to leave you hanging. But that's all I can take of myself. There are still several more to get through, so if you'd like to stay away for a few days cuz you're sick of hearing about me...I will completely understand. This has been fun for me though, see you again soon.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Yes Again, Q and A Part 2 of...

Okay, my insecurities are really coming out now. I think I need to hurry through these questions and just get this over with. Not that I had a huge following but I am afraid I will lose you all with all these boring details about me. So here goes, I will answer yet more of your questions from this post.

What do you think has been your biggest challenge this year?

It is so hard to pick one thing. The illness itself has been a challenge on a daily basis. Losing my marriage has caused such turmoil in all of our lives. And not to sound super spiritual, because I am not, but the biggest challenge has probably been to not forget who God is. There were times that it would have been easy to just give up and say that God doesn't care about me, why me, if He loved me He would heal me. But I have had to choose to believe Him, believe He's good, believe that He would not allow any of this if He couldn't bring a greater good. Daily I have to choose - it is a challenge but one that has taught me who God really is.

What was your most embarrassing moment - - but here is the kicker - - but is now hilarious to talk about?

This is going to sound SO lame, but I really do not have an embarrassing moment that comes to mind. That's not to say I've never been embarrassed, I'm sure I have but they must be repressed memories.

I would like to know, at this point of your life, what one thing would you attempt to do if you were guaranteed not to fail?

HA - have you been in my brain or in my kitchen. People who know me in real life know that this is a question that I love to ask. "If you knew you couldn't fail, what would you try". I even have a plaque of that in my kitchen. So...my answer would be that I would love to write a book. But I am far too terrified and I don't know where to begin. Thus, it is not likely to happen. Well unless, of course, God wants me to do it, then we'll see.

How do you begin each day?

I will be honest here. First I take my meds before I get out bed, then I gauge how bad my symptoms are, wish I could say that I go to my Bible and have some really great quality time with the Lord but that would be a lie. Check my emails, get the kids off to school and then I jump back in bed. Yep, that's the real deal around here.

What is your favorite prayer that you say, to get you through the tough days?

There is not really a certain prayer but I often will just repeat the name of Jesus out loud over and over. I also like to quote scriptures (also out loud). There is just something about hearing God's words that bring comfort to me when I am having tough days.

I will ask something easy: what is your favorite Bible study and the author?

Favorite Bible study of all time is Breaking Free by Beth Moore. I did that study 5 times. Four of the times I was privileged to be leading it. But I can tell you that I did not find real freedom until the fifth time. I am sure not everyone else is as hard headed. That study is life-changing. Love it!!

Do you like shoes or purses better? And do you still like me best?

What a great question!! I love them both SO SO SO much. But if I had to choose I guess it would be purses. Oh that's hard to say but I guess that's what I will stick with. And do I still like you best? Well I am sorry that you were ever led to believe that I have favorites. Because I don't. No matter what others may tell you - I love you all the same. (is lying a sin?) For those of you who think I am really mean, this question came from a friend of mine and I am pretty sure she can take some friendly sarcasm.

I am starting to bore myself, so I will end there for now. Don't worry, I plan on answering every single one of your questions. This will be a record number of posts for me within a week's time. On February 13th when I celebrate my "blogaversary" I will close down comments on my give away post, so please go leave a comment before then if you haven't already done so. Thanks for hanging in here with me. You guys are the best!


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Q and A Part 1 of.....

WHAT was I thinking when I told you guys to ask me questions and I'd be answering them? Yikes, you all are some deep thinkers. If you have no idea what I'm talking about please go and read this post and join in on my "give away". I am excited about doing a small part to reach those outside of my little world. It's been very cool to hear from some of you and have you joining with me.

Ok...so now onto some questions. Obviously I will not bore you with answering them all at once. So I will pick a few to do today and then will answer the rest in MANY posts to come.

Other than the friends you've made in the blogosphere and their support during this past year, what surprising yet great thing has being a blogger brought into your life?

Since I can't mention the friends and their support then I guess I would have to say the ability to connect with people all over the world. The accountability I have. And I really do know the Lord better because of being a part of the blog world.

Is there a song that really touched you this past year?

Wow, I love music, it's hard to pick just one. So I'll give you a couple. I love "Healer" by Planetshakers and "One Touch" by Nicole C Mullen.

As far as a question, hmmmm: what makes you laugh? Like full belly, tears down your face, crossing your legs, laugh?

What makes you think I cross my legs, huh???? Anyway, if I have to be really honest (and I know this is not nice) I find it hysterical when people trip and fall!!

What is THE MOST important thing you've learned about being a Christian? In other words, what one thing once learned, turned your life around?

THE MOST important thing is the fact that if I don't believe that God really loves me, it is a sin. That was life changing for me for when I learned that I needed to confess the sin of unbelief. I felt certain that God loved everyone else but it seemed so hard to believe that it was true of me. Once I asked forgiveness for that sin of not believing Him...freedom!!

If you had one wish and only one wish, what would you wish for?

Truly it would be that my kids would LOVE the Lord and have hearts that are fully committed to Him.

How often do you have to color your hair?

Color my hair? What exactly does that mean and why do you think I color it? Is it not possible that my hair is that beautiful color all on it's own. (at least every 6 weeks)

That is probably a good place to stop, don't ya think. Don't want to put you all to sleep. I really do love doing this because it will be a great record of a lot of things I haven't thought about in a long time. There are some really great questions still to be answered. Thanks so much for joining with me. Please go post on my give away if you haven't already so that I can donate even more to the Mossy Foot Project.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Getting Ready to Celebrate With a Give Away

On February 13, 2008 I wrote my first blog post. This post I am writing now is my 96th entry. So within the next 12 days I will celebrate my "blogaversary" and my 100th post. There have been a lot of things going around in my brain about how to mark this occasion. Little did I know that 11 days after starting this blog, Don and I would separate. But God knew. He knew how much I would need all of you. What a gift you have been.

I have just finished reading "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. Amazing book. Life changing book if you'll let it be. He talks about loving God with abandon. Being obsessed with God. He talks about a question that he was once asked, "What are you doing right now that requires faith?" Wow! I have a hard time answering that question. In the next few posts I am sure I will be sharing more of what I have learned from this book but for now I want to share about a man that he talks about, a man with a passion for God and His people.

Nathan Barlow: A medical doctor who chose to utilize his skills in Ethiopia for more than sixty years. Nathan dedicated his life to helping people with mossy foot. Mossy foot is a debilitating condition primarily found in rural districts, on people who work in soil of volcanic origin. It causes swelling and ulcers in the feet and lower legs. The subsequent deformity, swelling, repeated ulcerations, and secondary infections make people with mossy foot social outcasts equivalent to lepers.

I (Francis Chan) met Nathan shortly before he died. His daughter, Sharon Daly, attends my church and brought him to her home from Ethiopia when his health started to fail. After only a few weeks, he couldn't handle being in the States. The people he loved were still in Ethiopia, so his daughter flew him back home so he could spend his last days there.

Once, Nathan got a toothache, the pain of which was so intense that he had to fly away from the mission field to get medical attention. Nathan told the dentist that he didn't ever want to leave the mission field for the sake of his teeth again, so he had the dentist pull out all of his teeth and give him false ones so he wouldn't slow God's work in Ethiopia.

This amazing man was the first to help these outcasts, and he spent his life doing it. Yet he died quietly, without a lot of attention; no one really knew about him. (pgs 150-151, Crazy Love)

So, what does all of this have to do with me and a give away. I've decided that I really want to "give away". Sorry that's it is not to you but I would like to give to the organization that continues to do the work of Nathan Barlow. mossyfoot.com

Here is where you come in. I would like you to comment with a question you want to ask. Any kind of question. Crazy. Deep. Nosey. Anything. I just love questions. (and, yes, I will answer them...I think) For every comment, I will donate a certain amount of money to this organization. God has already told me how much to give per comment and I am going to have that faith that He will provide the money. I have been given so much through this blogging community. It's time for me to give back. The best way is for us to reach out and love with abandon. Crazy Love.