Do You Have An Irma?

I woke up this morning, as with most mornings, with God’s praises on my tongue. I thought back to my pre-Christian life and followed that through to the present.

There are two forces at work in everyone’s life. God has a plan for you, and so does the enemy, Satan, the devil, the one who is out to destroy you and me.

I met my husband in business school, the land before meeting my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. My neighbor in the apartment across the hall offered to read my palm. I was inrigued so I let him. We didn’t know each other yet he knew I had just been through a broken engagement and that it was permanent. He also told me that within thirty days I would meet the man I would marry and it would be a solid relationship. It happened exactly as he said. Now, I’m not saying he was in tune with God because he had to get high before he read my palm. Nevertheless, the message he gave me was no doubt (at least in my mind) God’s plan for me.

Sometime later I was in the office of the housemother and another man was there who also knew nothing about me. He heard me talking to her about having my palm read. He walked over, grabbed my hand and said I would be divorced, have four kids and my first husband would die in a car accident.

Fast forward four years and my husband and I have a young son and my husband isn’t sure he’s ready for the responsibility of a family. He leaves me and takes off hitch-hiking. By this time we have both accepted Jesus’s invitation to receive the free gift of salvation, but that didn’t mean everything was perfect. When God starts blessing the devil starts messing. God chased my husband back to me and then he joined the army. Four years later we now had two kids and he was honorably discharged from the military. I was going to church and he wasn’t. He wasn’t happy with me and I wasn’t sure what to do.

My husband has never been abusive to me, but he had closed himself off. I tried for months to change the situation and was considering leaving–not because I wanted to but because I wasn’t sure how much cold shoulder I could take. One day at church I talked to my dear friend, Irma, who had been married and dumped a few times. I asked her what she thought of me leaving.

“Is he beating you?” she asked.

“No.”

“Is he beating the kids?”

“No.”

“Is he providing food for the family?”

“Yes.”

“Are the bills being paid?”

“Yes.”

“Then hang in there and keep praying. Trust God to work everything out. You don’t want your kids to suffer through losing their dad, and go through the guilt of not being able to provide for them the way your husband does. If you need to talk you know I”m here for you.”

If I had not followed her advice the second palm reading may have come true: what I believe was Satan’s plan for my life. My kids would have grown up to be entirely different people than who and what they are now. My husband and I would not have the fabulous relationship we do now. We’ve been married forty-five years and are closer now than we’ve ever been. It just gets better every year.

By the way, Satan tried to take my husband’s life many times in car accidents while he was working for a company that kept him traveling. But God in His mercy and grace has protected us and has kept us from any major harm.

I hope every lady out there has an Irma in her life to talk to when things get tough. I have, unfortunately, lost touch with my friend as we have moved around a bit, but I think of her often, pray for her, and thank God for putting her in my life during the roughest time in my life.

 

 

 

My Testimony Part 3

One thing I forgot to mention in Part 2 is that I never received any counseling for my temper/anger issues. I didn’t go to any anger management classes or read any books on the subject. I prayed and God answered.

Within the first year of our tour in Germany, my husband stopped going to Bible study; I continued. My mind was like a sponge, soaking up all it could. The last book study in my afternoon ladies’ group was titled, Lord, Change Me by Evelyn Christenson. We were due to return to the U.S. shortly thereafter. The lessons contained in that book really didn’t sink in at the time. It was a good thing I had my own copy of the book.

It was late at night when we left our on-base apartment, taking the shuttle bus from there to the military airport. We were all exhausted. My husband deposited the kids and me at the hotel’s restaurant while he got the luggage checked in and made sure the flight was arranged.

I sat our two-year-old daughter in a booth, told her I’d be back with her supper and asked her not to go to sleep. It was so cute. She looked at me with her big blue eyes and said, “I’m not slee-py” split up like that as her little head wobbled. Our son and I went through the cafeteria-style line and filled our trays. When we got back to the booth my little girl lay in the seat—fast asleep.

My husband returned, ate a hamburger and hustled us off to the DC-8 for our flight home. We would live with his parents until we had a place of our own. As we flew over Scotland the pilot came over the intercom and instructed everyone to look out the portside windows so we could see the lights of Edinburgh. What a sight it was! Of course, the kids were asleep.

When we arrived in the U.S. my husband quickly found a job but still wasn’t speaking to me very much. His older sister had found her Mr. Right and was due to get married so preparations were underway. She lived in another state. The weekend we spent there was one of the most difficult of my life. If I walked into a room, he left it. He wasn’t speaking to me any more than he absolutely had to. His sister came to me and said, “He’s my brother, and I love him, but if I were you, I’d leave him.” I went to the church that night by myself, and spent many hours weeping at the altar. When I said, ” ‘Til death do us part” when we got married, I meant it.

We began looking for places to live. Everyone in his family had a house except us and we were not in a position to afford one right then. We decided on a mobile home. We looked at floor plans and manufacturers. He said I could choose three features that were important to me. I chose a bay window, built-in bookshelves, and a washer and dryer.

Our mobile home was beautiful. It was a 14×70 rose and white color on the outside. It had buffet cabinet in the kitchen with the bay window above it. The built-in bookshelves were also very nice: cabinet underneath with three glass shelves above. We also had a wood-burning fireplace. The furniture was a country motif—wood frame couch and chair with stuffed cushions that were vinyl on the back and ends, and tweed in the middle. They were just the right size for full size sheets to fit around on cold winter nights and lay in front of the fireplace. There were three bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms.

One night while we were getting settled in, we were all tired from unpacking. My mother was there for a visit to help out. My husband was going to go out and get hamburgers and French fries for us. He asked the kids if they wanted fries and they said no. Our finances were limited so I just asked for a hamburger and small fries. When he got back the fries smelled so good the kids changed their minds and asked if they could have some of mine. I hate to admit it, but I refused them saying if they had wanted them they should have asked. It was the last straw.

My husband looked at me, and for the first time ever, yelled at me. “I don’t love you anymore. I would have gone out and gotten some more fries for the kids. I am so sick of your nagging and complaining. If you choose to stay here you’ll have a roof over your head and a place to sleep. Don’t expect anything more from me. If you choose to go, you’re not getting the kids. I won’t have them raised by your constant nagging and complaining. Frankly, I don’t care if you choose to stay or not.” Then he stalked away.

What had just happened? When had he stopped loving me? Why hadn’t I noticed? What had I done to cause him to stop loving me? Could I fix it? No. Only God could do that. One thing I did know—I would continue to meet his physical needs. I still loved him and I was not going to give him any reason to stray.

I went to our room, weeping as I got on my knees and cried to God. I knew my husband didn’t wake up one morning and decide he didn’t want to love me anymore. Something had to have killed it. What had I done? I asked God to show me what I had done to kill my marriage. If you don’t want to know, don’t ask the question, because God will show you.

The next day I dove into that book, Lord, Change Me. I read scripture along with it. I looked up every scripture mentioned. I wrote Bible verses on index cards and taped them on the kitchen cabinets where I would be constantly reminded of what I was supposed to. I asked God to make me the wife my husband needed me to be.

In the meantime, while I was doing that, and a few days after the blow up, I asked the pastor of a church I had started attending to come over. I thought maybe he could counsel us. He and a deacon sat at the kitchen table with my husband and I. As I related what had happened, I was crying. The pastor (or maybe it was the deacon) looked at me and said, “Well, maybe if you got your nose fixed so it didn’t run, maybe that would solve the problem.” Needless to say, I didn’t go back to that church. My husband and I laugh about that now.

One day I asked him if he would go to counseling with me. He said if I thought I needed a counselor I could go, but he didn’t have a problem. I found a Christian counselor who was willing to work with our finances. (Dave Peterson, if you’re reading this, there are not enough ways to say thanks. We’re still together.) I went. He gave me a detailed personality test first. The next appointment was to go over the test so he could explain how my personality affected my behavior and attitudes. He then told me to purchase a book by Drs. Frank Minirth and Paul Meier titled Happiness is a Choice.

As I read these two books plus my Bible, I learned a lot about what I had done wrong. It also showed me what I could do right. I asked God to help me be a better housekeeper so that our home would be neat every day when my husband walked through the door. I began to take more care in my appearance so I looked nice when he got home. I made a list of all of the things that irritated me, and another list of all of the things I appreciated about him. I placed the first list under a vase over the mantle and told the Lord that was His to take care of. Those things were beyond my ability to change. I was not to touch that list until my marriage was healed (except for picking it up to dust under it). The second list was a matter of daily prayer.

I studied Proverbs 31:10ff. That was the kind of wife I wanted to be. I gave my tongue to the Lord and asked Him to remove every critical thought or complaint from my mind and heart (out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks—Matt. 12:34).

I treated my husband as if he was the most important person in the world. I gave him all the love I had, expecting, asking for nothing in return. He was suspicious for a long time, thinking I was trying to manipulate him. It actually took about two to three years for him to really love me again.

God taught me how to be a good wife and mother. God put my marriage back together again. Everything I did, every change that occurred in me, came about because of God’s tools (counseling, Bible, books, and prayer) to heal the rift. My husband had given up, but God had not, and He gave me the will to persevere. Satan tried to destroy my family. God gave me the will to fight for it. Romans 8:37—”Nay, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

©copyright April 13, 2015 by author Aleta Kay. All rights reserved.

My Testimony–Part 1 Marriage

The basics: My husband grew up in a Christian home, always in church, until they went to Africa for two and half years, where he went to British Boarding School. He didn’t know God then, only knew about Him. His parents were in the upper middle class economically.

I was not raised in church. My family was poor, especially after my dad had to retire from the the shipyard at age 47 due to emphysema. I knew very little about God. Never heard the gospel until I was 23 years old, thanks to my husband’s younger sister.

So we weren’t Christians when we got married (Christian means follower of Jesus Christ: it’s not a denomination or a religion; it’s a relationship with our Lord and Savior.).

I had a terrible temper and I had zero self-confidence. My husband joined the military to provide a living for our growing family. I was pregnant when we got married.

His first assignment was a weather cutter ship that stayed out to sea for thirty to forty days at a time. It would then come into port for seven days, two of which had to be spent aboard ship: 48 hours. I was young, clingy, naive, and I missed my husband.

I was a master at complaining and criticizing. But he was gone most of the time and didn’t hear much of it. We were okay. His next duty station was a small boat station and most of his friends were single guys. He didn’t want to spend much time with me and, since I had no driver’s license I had no way to go anywhere. I was stuck at home taking care of our son and babysitting other people’s kids. But we were sort of okay.

His re-enlistment bonus would have been a year of isolated duty in Alaska. He didn’t re-enlist. While he was waiting to be out-processed he sent our son and me home to his parents’ house to wait for him. He called every day, and they would give him a date when he could leave the base, then cancel it because the paperwork got lost. Meanwhile, my sister-in–law was working on me to “get saved.” I didn’t know what that meant but she took me to a Billy Graham movie and I saw my own attitudes and self-loathing in the main character’s life. An invitation was given at the end for people to come forward and ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. I did and I have never been sorry. Unfortunately, that was not the end of my troubles. I was sabotaging my marriage without knowing it.

A few days after I got saved I was really concerned for my husband. He was really getting depressed. I prayed that night before I went to bed and asked God to show me when my husband was coming home so I could have his favorite meal prepared. That night I dreamed I received a telegram that said my husband would be home on Friday. The telegram wasn’t signed but I knew who sent it. The next morning I asked my mother-in-law to stop by the grocery store and pick up the necessary ingredients for me to fix his favorite meal. She did. My husband walked in the door late that night. Our son was in bed; his parents were out at various meetings. I had him all to myself and his supper was ready.

He didn’t go to church with me at first, but I was always so excited to go to church, and so eager to go back, he was sure I had a boyfriend there. One Sunday he decided to go with me to see who it was. He got saved that day and we were baptized together the following Sunday. A young man in the church immediately approached my husband after the service and offered to have Bible study with us once a week. It was great except that my enthusiasm kept my husband from participating. I kept jumping in with questions. The men didn’t stop me and it never occurred to me that I was being self-centered and getting in the way of my husband’s learning.

He tried to get a job in the civilian world but nothing seemed to pan out. He was getting frustrated and left me for a while. I took our son and went home to my parents. I got a job during the Christmas season, praying all the while that God would bring my husband back to me. I was going to church and reading my Bible, learning a lot about God.

Part 2 Tomorrow.

What Are You Thakful For?

There are 25 days left until Thanksgiving (I’m in the Eastern time zone).  So every day I will post something I am thankful for.

Today, I am thankful for my husband. He is the most patient man I know. When I look back at how I almost lost him because of my contant compaining and negative attitude, it is scary to think what my life would be like today if I had not asked the Lord to help me change and become the wife he needed me to be. Our kids were small (the oldest in second grade) when my husband told me he didn’t love me anymore.

I was devastated. How could this be? I thought we had a near-perfect relationship. What I didn’t realize was that he had been holding his feelings in, trying not to hurt me. But one day he just couldn’t take it any more.

What could I do? I knew he didn’t just wake up one morning and decide he didn’t want to love me any more. Something had to have happened. What could have caused this?

I had only been a Christian for a couple of years and had recently finished a women’s study on the book, Lord Change Me by Evelyn Christiansen. I had been through so many Bible studies that it really didn’t sink in, but I dove into that book with a new purpose. I also dove into my Bible and prayer, asking the Lord to show me what I had done to cause such a drastic change in my husband. As I began to study anew, God had a long list of things to show me.

I also found a Christian counselor to help me understand what I was studying, and to help me implement the change necessary to become a happy person. (Dave Peterson, if you’re reading this, God bless you. We’re still together and happier than ever. Thank you from the depths of both of our hearts. We still pray for you and your family.)

One of the things I had done was expect my husband to make me happy. You know, all of the fairytales we grow up with show the prince or knight rescuing the damsel and (the older ones from the 50’s) never show the woman contributing anything to the relationship. Through Biblical counseling and reading a book called Happiness Is A Choice by Drs. Frank Minirth and Paul Meier, I realized that I am responsible for my emotions, not someone else. No one can make me feel anything because my emotions are mine. The Bible has a lot to say about self-control. Happiness had to come from within.

I had to learn to respect my husband. Love and respect are not synonomous. I loved my husband, but it never occurred to me that he needed to see and hear me being proud of him, and to be willing to accept his point of view without always feeling as if I had to prove I was right (my insecurities were not his fault; they had been there since childhood).

I also started learning (still working on this one) to discuss things calmly and not get into a poor-little-me attitude every time something didn’t go my way.

Lastly, I had to help him understand that every time I mentioned I liked a house we passed by, or commented on a pretty yard, it didn’t mean that I wasn’t happy with what he had. He had been thinking that those comments meant that I didn’t think he was a good enough provider. He had insecurities of his own that I never considered because I was too wrapped up in myself.

It took months for him to realize that the changes taking place in me were not a means of manipulating him, but were genuine.

I’m so thankful God didn’t let me give up on my marriage, but my husband couldn’t see any hope for it. But he didn’t kick me out either.

I am so thankful for our lifestyle and our relationship. GOD IS AWESOME. HE KEPT US TOGETHER. TO GOD BE THE GLORY.