I started writing this in Portland OR. USA before Christmas, while we were packing for our trip to Natal. Finished it in January 2016 in Natal, RN, Brazil.
That word “home” is spoken every day, even as it is used with hundreds – perhaps thousands – of connotations. I can take countless adjectives, from the lowest negative to the highest of good – spread those adjectives out on tables for people to choose. At the end, there would be no adjectives left, as people picked them up and carried them away in their hearts as a description of “home.”
For me, the word “home” is bittersweet, as myriads of memories pour into my mind. Childhood on the farm. My teen years in a small city. All those years with loving parents. I am one of the fortunate adults with memories of love at “home.” When life in the world outside was lonely and hurtful, I still had my refuge at home. As a child, that gave me a security in my relationship with God, for I knew He was there!
Then marriage, children, “home” in continuously changing places, as my young husband searched for a meaningful and fulfilling occupation. Now it is my turn, to try to create an atmosphere of “home” for my children, a refuge for them to come back to when the world outside becomes too stressful and heavy.
Since I first married in 1950, I’ve lived in more than 50 houses or apartments, moving into each place with the goal of creating a “home”.
I learned to hate moving, tearing up a physical home, packing it and moving it. However, I find joy in unpacking and the challenge of creating “home” once again.
I believe that some physical houses try to dissuade one from creating that place called “home.” Other places invite one with open arms, and it is a joy to create beauty.
At times, life shreds our hearts and our homes with unexpected griefs. At other times, joy and contentment fill our hearts and homes.
This year, instead of Christmas decorations, our apartment here in Portland is filled with suitcases– including on our bed! Tonight, we are sleeping on our recliner sofa. The 23rd will be filled with all of the endless small details that are waiting to finish
We are preparing to leave this apartment in Portland, Oregon, on Dec. 24th to travel together to a very small apartment in Natal, RN, Brazil where, in 2012, I created another “nest” for us to live, at the time when Joe had to return to the states in Oct 2011 because of health challenges.
Now we return together to Natal, to our “home nest” for a few months: at this moment we are unsure for how long.
Preparing for this trip isn’t easy… you’d chuckle if you could see all the different ways we get things done, as we once again discover that 83 year old bodies don’t necessarily cooperate with the commands our brains give them.
Right now, my body is telling me I need to sleep some more before I tackle this day.
My brain and heart want to finish and share this with you. If you see this, you’ll know who won. (12.28/2015 I was unable to finish this before leaving the states, so I am here in Natal editing it before I post it on my blog.— My computer gave me serious problems: still is, but now, 1.19.2016, I hope to succeed.)
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we will be on planes, heading for “home”, celebrating in our hearts the miracle of the birth of our Lord. On the day after Christmas (the 26th), the Lord willing, we will be arriving at our “nest” in Natal. (We did! Tired, but we made it!)
I’ll be sharing more with you from there.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm —
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
26/01/2016 We’ve been here for one month and are gradually establishing a daily routine.
It is good.
I wonder how many of you identify with some thought I’ve written here?
I keep re-reading those verses…trying to figure out how to thank God for everything.
It makes no sense to me.
17 Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit. [Prov 23:20.] 20 At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. AMP
I keep on talking and asking for wisdom, trying to get around that word everything,
However, it doesn’t matter what I say to God my Father, the words that are written do not change, and still sound impossible for me to do.
From what I can understand, I am to thank and praise God for everything.
But God, that involves losing my marriage.
It involves betrayal.
The list of things it involves seem endless and keeps growing. I learn more of them each day.
And I am supposed to thank and praise you for these?
That my children no longer have a father – and my grandchildren don’t have a grandfather?
For my “husband” has totally abandoned us. We are no longer an important part of his life.
No longer will I have a home for my kids to come to . . .
I have to leave Brazil, this country I love and is now my home;
and return to the United States where I do not want to live.
Oh God! Help me!
The words in God’s Word still do not change.
After a couple of days, finally, I am quiet… not arguing any more.
Ok God. I will have to do this as I do the forgiveness: out of obedience, for my heart only hurts.
Father, I thank You, I praise You for my husband’s actions, his betrayal of our children and I, for . . . the tears run down my cheeks. . .I thank you for his children from that relationship … I thank you for the woman whom I thought was my friend … I break down, begging my Father for help.
Every time I thank God – the tears come. I learn three important things.
1. Thanking God – even with tears – cleanses my heart. I take these different situations that involve so much hurt, talk about them with God, give thanks and praise for each one: it’s like a balm that heals as it goes over my wounds. It becomes easier to forgive those involved.
2. What is “high praise.” Ps 66:16-19
16 Come and hear, all you who reverently and worshipfully fear God, and I will declare what He has done for me!
17 I cried aloud to Him; He was extolled and high praise was under my tongue.
18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me; [Prov 15:29; 28:9; Isa 1:15; John 9:31; James 4:3.] (So I must forgive, to keep my heart clean.)
19 But certainly God has heard me; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer.
I come to the conclusion that high praise is when I weep while I thank God . . I wonder how long it will be before I can thank Him without tears?
3. What is a sacrifice of praise.
15 Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name. [Lev 7:12; Isa 57:19; Hos 14:2.]
When I praise God for all things, it truly is a sacrifice of my will for my life, as I choose to obey Him; and tears flow.
However, the result ? I am blessed with a deeper quietness in my spirit., and I need that quietness and peace.
I am living with an anguish I never imagined. At the same time, I know I am not alone.
There are some things one cannot explain.
I do not know how to explain what is happening to me, with me. But changes are happening.
I only know I will continue fo obey God to the best of my ability, even when I don’t understand.
I thank God for all things, and forgive those who have hurt me so deeply.
I desire to be free from the past, free to walk into my future.
Then there are these promises to me – to anyone who is attempting to walk with God.
I hang onto them, for I know they are true!
He is doing it on a daily basis for me, as I do my best to walk in obedience.
At times, I have to hang tightly onto His hand to have the strength to follow.
But He IS HERE.
Isa 43:1-3, 19-21 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
. . . .
18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.
. . .
20 . . . because I provide water in the desert
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.
These promises hold me together as I hang onto His hand for dear life.
It is still difficult for me to even write this today, although 28 years have passed since then. The deep anguish is gone; however, a profound sorrow remains. I am still hanging onto His hand, and continue to learn how to thank Him for everything
I have questions for which there are no answers – yet.
Life is a challenge and, at times, a battle for survival. Yet, in all of it, He keeps His promises.
If you are walking in anguish, full of anger, or lack peace and joy: please experiment with these first two steps: forgiveness and thanksgiving.
Just remember, we can trust Him – totally! even though we don’t understand.
In next post, the third challenge He gives me – just as big as the first two.
The result? BLESSING!
It is mid-morning…Bright sunshine along with a refreshing breeze filters into the living room through the open wooden sliding doors. The rustic room is cool, partially in the shadows. The mood is somber.
Those present are: my husband of 37 years, myself, three of our children, a son-in-law, plus an American pastor and his wife who are visiting us.
A tragic life-changing conversation is in progress. . .
My son is speaking, with tears in his eyes: “Dad, you didn’t only betray Mom; you betrayed all of us six kids.”
This horrible, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach keeps worsening, it won’t stop. I know my world has just now forever changed. I was hanging onto my sanity, even as I wanted to run screaming from the room, shouting NO, no, no. . .
I was in total shock as I looked at my husband. I had no words. I knew our relationship had serious problems. But this?
My adult children had discovered their father had other children outside of our marriage, with a woman I knew well whom had been a friend. Their relationship started over 12 years earlier. As my children and our friends spoke with my husband, they discovered my husband had been involved with even more women as well, at least two of them whom I knew and loved.
I was speechless and sick. How could this be possible? What do I do now? God, help me please. How could this have happened? What is wrong with me? Am I stupid?
“Oh God! Now what?”
Is there a difference between a one time and a life style?
I had struggled with my husband’s infidelity at the beginning of our marriage. I loved him. He had such a storehouse of talents. He could sing, lead people, and preach. He had a charismatic personality which covered the inner problems he battled of sarcasm and anger. We had been married for just a few years when the infidelity happened for the first and, I thought, the last time.
We had three small children five and under. For about three years, we were constantly with one other couple. Camping. Game nights. Movies. Our children played well together. One small incident happened on one of our camping trips that had made me uneasy. I talked with my husband about it, and was reassured.
One sunny morning in August, soon after my husband left for his business, the phone rang. I picked it up quickly before it awakened my small crew. It was the husband of the other couple and he had difficulty speaking. “Voni, your husband and my wife have been having an affair for over two years. I found a note last night.”
Three months without knowing what was going to happen…I forgave him and then had to wait for him to work out releasing the other relationship, for it was OVER. I was determined to keep my marriage. The day before our oldest child’s 6th birthday, my husband released the past and turned toward our future. He asked forgiveness.
We moved to Texas, with our three small children.
It was rough. I learned the necessity to continue forgiving, and we began re-building our marriage. I also learned to pay attention when I felt that little twinge of a red flag when he was around some specific woman, and would warn him to be careful. He listened.
We had some good years. Challenging and good. Our relationship strengthened, and we were working together. He was running a business, and started studying at a college when he was 30. We moved to a small oil town in Oklahoma (one stoplight where the main street crossed the “highway”) and he began preaching at a small church. Wow, the things I learned!
(Did you know if you bring your clothes frozen off the line, they are perfect for ironing. No steam iron necessary?) (Did you know that when people in the congregation get upset with the preacher, they usually start talking badly about his wife or kids?) I learned how to type the bulletin and run it off on the mimeograph machine. –look that up on Google. Our family spent many hours in a friend’s storm cellar, as tornadoes passed over. Those – and many other valuable life lessons. I got to study Greek – and loved it. I got undulant fever (brucellosis) from bad milk. (Another one to Google.) … and more.
We moved to Oregon, where my husband preached at a larger congregation. Loved those people! More life lessons.
In 1967, we moved to Brazil to serve as missionaries. By that time, we had five children, from 15 years old down. (Our sixth child was born in Brazil.) I painfully learned life lessons of culture shock . . . and the “red flag” started flying. I didn’t understand what and why, but my husband changed.
I sensed there might be other women . . . but there was nothing concrete. I continued loving him, learning, caring for our children, bonding into the culture. Our home was filled with our children, their friends, others who came to talk, learn English, and learn more about our Lord. Life was full, with adventure after adventure as the years went by.
We started a language school as a tool for income (which we needed), and a way to reach into the community. Inner loneliness was a part of my life. We were busy: our lives were full. But the relationship I desired with my husband was not there: it was gone. Although no one knew it, I was living in anguish.
Looking back, I realize my husband “set me up”, asking me to teach an intensive language class with a CEO of a large firm, who was a womanizer. I didn’t know that fact; my husband did. Classes five days a week, three hours each day. In our English classes I was able to share about Christ and what He meant to me, and my student and I became friends. The day came when I realized the loneliness in my life was making me vulnerable to the possibility of emotional involvement. I entered into a battle with myself I’d never thought was possible. It was God Who gave me the strength to pull out of the situation and kept me safe. But I learned a new humility and understanding that I’ve never forgotten
More years passed. A young woman, whom I’d loved, sat on my lap, weeping, asking my forgiveness for an affair she’d had with my husband. She was the age of one of our daughters, and this had almost destroyed her. I was angry and heartsick. I told my husband if this happened again, I was leaving, and he knew I meant it.
Over the years, I had spent hours and hours studying Bible scriptures about marriage.
I knew them well.
e.g.How the attitude of both should be toward
one another. And if he doesn’t treat me with love and honor,
God will not listen to his prayers. (I like that one!) Check it out
here:1 Peter 3 The Message (MSG)Cultivate Inner Beauty3 1-4 The same goes for you wives:
Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs
. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words
about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty.
What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of
your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—
but your inner disposition. 4-6 Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that
God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful
before God that way, and were good, loyal wives to their
husbands. Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham,
would address him as “my dear husband.”
You’ll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same,
unanxious and unintimidated.7 The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your
wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women
they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life
of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground” [italics mine]
Next question: How do I know my husband (or anyone else) really loves God, and therefore I can trust them when they say they love me?
The Only Way to Know We’re in Him
1 John 2 The Message (MSG)
2-3 Here’s how we can be sure that we know God in the right way: Keep his commandments.
4-6If someone claims, “I know him well!” but doesn’t keep his commandments, he’s obviously a liar. His life doesn’t match his words. But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.
9-11 Anyone who claims to live in God’s light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It’s the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light and doesn’t block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness.
I asked myself, what is hate?
Not walking in God’s love, not keeping His commandments – can that lead to hate?
If someone goes against His commandments, can I believe anything they say?
In reality, God’s commandments generally go against our own selfish nature.
Our tendency is to put ourselves, our desires and our needs, as the first priority in our lives. If we haven’t established God’s boundaries in our lives, we will ignore the God-given rights of others. Therefore, what was my husband’s real attitude towards me? Obviously, not one of love.
God heard the vows my husband and I made together – yet, my husband broke them when he put his own desires ahead of his family. When he stopped caring for, protecting and serving those whom he had promised to care for, although he said he loved God and loved us, his life turned into a lie. But we – his family- didn’t know this, and many things happened we didn’t understand.
Obviously, this wasn’t a one-time action. It had happened only one time in the states. I have no idea what happened when we moved to our new country?
But that morning in our living room, I learned he’s had a lifestyle with different women, over many years; all of this while we were in public “ministry” together: singing, teaching the Bible, and recording cd’s with our band. I loved those young men who worked with us over the years. I loved the children’s group I was working with: we’d presented Kid’s Praise before thousands, and made CD’s that were selling all over the country. How could we have betrayed the people like this? (Logically, I knew it wasn’t me but, in these situations, many years may go by before the other spouse is free of the feeling of guilt for the failure.)
I know you may think I’m crazy: I should have left him long before? By American logic, maybe. However, we were living in a foreign country. In the culture we were living in, divorce was not legalized until 1977. Infidelity was a common problem in that culture, usually on the part of the husband. And, though I suspected, I had no proof before that young woman crawled into my lap a year and a half earlier. To protect her, although I spoke plainly with my husband, I didn’t talk with others. She needed protection, and I gave it to her. Ethically I felt I had no choice.
I made the right decision. She has grown and matured, helping many others, and I thank God for His goodness!
Some good friends of mine had chosen not to separate from their husbands. I learned to respect and honor these women. They stayed to maintain their homes. It wasn’t because of economics, but was based upon a choice of what would be best for all. I gleaned from their experiences. (Yes, the positive and negative factors are open for debate, and each case needs to be individually assessed. If you wish, we can discuss this aspect later.) A huge difference between them and I was their husbands were not looked at as leaders in any church.
One thing I want to emphasize: over the years, I did the best I knew how to do before the Lord, based upon the knowledge I had. Whether others agree with our decisions or not, we walk in the wisdom we have at the time, making choices step by step.
In this new situation I faced, I now knew my husband’s betrayal was far greater than anything I could have imagined, and I accepted in my heart that I had to separate myself from him. We were leaders – I had learned we were not living what we were teaching. The very thing I’d fought against for years, the destruction of our family, I was living in the midst of it, walking down a path with no idea of where it would lead. All I could do was hang onto God’s hand!!! Isaiah 41: 10,13 Amplified Bible (AMP)
10 Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.
13 For I the Lord your God hold your right hand; I am the Lord, Who says to you, Fear not; I will help you!
We had many friends scattered over the country where we lived, besides those in the US. This was a mass betrayal, so many people hurt. Worst of all, the message about following Jesus Christ that we’d shared for over 20 years was sullied! I was shocked – and ashamed. How could I have been so stupidly blind?????
In the next post, I will begin sharing some of the things I learned from God and His Word that continued changing my life, gradually relieved the anguish, took away the despair, gave me hope – and I began to laugh again. It’s quite a mixture.
If you desire to follow this path with me (with a few detours along the way), click on the box and request to receive these posts in your email.