Saturday, August 24, 2013

The key isn't always the KEY!

So I had no intention of blogging tonight about our visit.  My plan was to go our 2 days and come home then when I had some time I'd sit down and write my post, but after the day we've had I've decided that today needs it's own post.  It's been eventful to say the least.

We had meet the teacher at school last night.  The kids are at a new school this year and my baby is starting kindergarten! Sniff Sniff.  Everything went off without a hitch and the kids are super excited to start school.

So afterwards we came home and I packed us up.  And I packed meticulously, which goes against everything in my nature.  I'm more of a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl, so the fact that I took the time to make sure we had EVERYTHING we needed was out of the ordinary.  Kevin is the packer....he even rolls our cloths because it looks "neater".  I spent a good portion of the evening, after I put the kids down early, researching every detail of the visiting process (why no one has blogged about their visiting experience is beyond me!).  I focused in on things like dress code, vending machines, what not to bring......I was particularly amused by the what not to wear list!

The following attire will NOT be permitted:
Skirts, dresses, culottes: 3 or more inches above the knee in the standing position or splitsin the material to include wrap around clothes 
C apri pants could be worn but must be no shorter than the calf area 
Khaki clothing (pants, shirt, blouse, etc.)
Shorts (only children 12 and below may wear shorts)
Halter, tube, tank or crop tops
Any shirt/blouse exposing the midriff
Spandex attire
See-through clothing to include plain white t-shirts
Form fitting clothing
Sweat pants or jogging suits
Clothing displaying obscene gestures, language or disruptive symbols
Hats, Any type/form/resemblance of/to a baseball cap, cowboy hat, sombrero, head wrap,
or head band.
NOTE: Shoes must be worn by all visitors except infants. Flip flops or any other type of house
shoes are not to be worn for visitation.

I was planning on wearing both my culotte and my sombrero so you can imagine my disappointment! ;) No but seriously I live in flip flops and headbands!  And all my breast cancer girls will know what I'm talking about when I say wearing  a "brassiere" with tissue expanders is not a comfortable thing.  But for him I don't care if I have to wear a trash bag.  So I was completely prepared.  Bags packed, everyone's clothes laid out, car cleaned, plenty of activities to keep the kids busy on the road, I mean I had it all!  There was even some of this action going on:

Kevin would have a coronary if he would have seen this kind of organization from me (at work I do lists and home not so much but we're obviously improving!).  And the amazing thing......when you prepare the night before, your mornings are smooth sailing!  Imagine that! (Mental Note: Remember this next week when school starts)  So at 6 am sharp everyone was up and putting their clothes on.  We took our time and it was organized bliss....even the dogs were good.  It was like a Solar Eclipse, things rarely come together like that.  We were all packed and on the road by 7am which gave us plenty of time to drop the dogs.  We stopped in Dallas and dropped the dogs off at my brothers and we were off, praise music blasting, ready to see Daddy!  It was such a peaceful drive.  There was no fighting, no screaming, no "mom, how much longer?", only one bathroom break and I was the one who needed it.  So we pull in right around 10:30.....a plan perfectly executed right? 

Visiting hours run from 8am to 3pm every Saturday and Sunday, but Kevin had told us not to get there until 10:30 or 11 because we would have to wait in a long line otherwise.  This is what I see pulling up.

Yup see all those people standing in line and more walking up.  Yipee!  Oh and did I mention it was eh about 95 degrees outside?  But you know what?  No big deal......I'm happy to wait.  Just knowing we're in the same air makes my heart happy.  So we take all our pictures before we have to put the camera away.  (The people in line were looking at me like I was nuts.  I guess most people try not to document this process.)

So we head back to the car and I let the kids grab some stuff to keep them busy while we wait in line.  They found a shady spot and sat down and I got in line.  I never meet a stranger so of course I start chatting up the people in line with me.  The woman in front of me had already waited in line once and was sent away because her skinny jeans were "too tight".  So she had to go to a store and buy some new pants.  I noticed everyone except one guy (who was sent away as well) were wearing closed toed shoes.  So I asked if she thought my sandals were okay, It just said no flip flops so i figured my sandals were ok.  Well she told me that they do not allow open toed shoes.  But since I was soooo super organized I had grabbed a pair of tennis shoes just in case, so crisis averted.  The line was moving quicker than I thought so I called the kids over.   I had people behind me now and didn't want to lose my place in line so I gave Taylor my keys and asked all the kids to walk to the car together (which was about 50 feet away without crossing any streets) and put my phone and their stuff up and to grab my tennis shoes out of the back.  So I watch them and Kayden comes running back with my shoes.  While she was gone I remembered that I had forgotten my Driver's License.  So when Kayden brought my shoes I told her to go back and and grab my driver's license and to make sure the car was locked.  Then I see Taylor walking up and I can tell her face is distraught,  I look and she has nothing in her hands.  Jake is following closely behind her smiling so I think, "maybe she's just nervous."  Then I notice no one has my car keys.  

You know those parenting moments that you wish you could just erase? or do over?  Yeah.  So I ask Taylor where the keys are.  She turns around and says, "Jake had them."  All 3 of them are standing in front of me at that point and I look at Jake and ask him where the keys are.  I remember thinking in my head, "there's no way they locked my keys in the car."  And right as I finished that thought he says, "They're in the car," and the kid is smiling.  So I look at Taylor and say,"Well the doors aren't locked right?"  She bursts into tears and I felt my heart physically sink and then all the emotions that I have been managing came flooding out in the most unholy way possible. I grab my son's arm and drag him back to the car. Everything in me is raging.  It's taking every ounce of self control I still have to not spank this kid out of anger.  The girls stand in the line for a minute before realizing they'd better follow.  At this point I am just angry.  I was so meticulous about every detail.  How is this happening?  I have no phone, no i.d., and it's blazing hot outside.  And no one in the line even batted an eye.  Once I get the entire story from all of them it turns out Jake had grabbed the keys from his sister just to irritate her and was more or less playing keep away from her and then wasn't getting out of the car just to agitate.  He'd already hit the lock button on the remote and taylor finally got him out of the car, but without the keys.  I am not keeping my composure at all at this point.  All I can think is, "He is right here and I'm not going to get to see him today."  I spot a kid (maybe 17) sitting in his car using his phone.  So I walk over and tell him what is going on and ask if I can call a locksmith.  So he looks up the only 3 locksmiths listed in Texarkana.  And not one of them answers the phone.  This process took about 25 minutes to get through because I kept handing the phone back to the kid and he would find another number.  I had no clue what to do.  I don't have anyone's number memorized.  Then the number of one of my close friends pops into my head.  The only reason I remembered it was because I had to put in on about 20 school forms.  So I call her and as soon as her husband picks up I burst into tears.  And once that dam opened the tears flowed.  I told her what was going on and that I didn't know what to do.  She told me it was going to be okay and to pray in the spirit.  She said she would find someone to get out there.  I hung up that phone and had no idea what was happening.  I walked off from my 3 kids trying to regain my composure, (and to not say something that I couldn't take back) but all 3 of them were in tears at this point too.  (Just a side note.....walking into the prison was not an option....they would not let you in without an i.d. period).  I just couldn't get it together.  I tired to walk over and pray, but man the enemy was all over me and it was easier to be angry and upset.  I can't imagine what my poor babies were feeling.  I know that seeing me so upset made them feel horribly guilty and being honest I didn't help  ease those feelings at all.  I took them over to a shady spot and we literally sat on the grass there sobbing.  And then my amazing nine year old daughter did what I didn't have the strength to do.  She looks at me tears running down her face and says, "Mom can we pray?"  And something rose up out of me and snapped back at her, "Go for it!"  And at that point I realized that was not me talking.  That was something dark and ugly that I needed gone. Like RIGHT NOW!  I sat there for a second and had to push away the ugliness running through me and I grabbed hands with my kids and I prayed over them and we all cried.  It was very similar to the scene we had there as a family 3 weeks ago.  But I felt that ugliness leave and the strength of the Lord return.

I am embarrassed at the way I acted today and I had to apologize and ask my kids for forgiveness.  But as a parent I have never been prouder.  My daughter saw the issue and knew exactly what to do about it.  She knew we weren't dealing with keys locked in the car.  We were dealing with a spiritual issue. 

 Wait wasn't I just blogging about this?  Yes I was and today I was not walking my talk.  But man my daughter was so we must be doing something right.  Pop a lock showed up shortly after that and 2 hours after we arrived we were finally walking in.

We got a full 2 hours with him and honestly it was not as scary as it looks going in.  The room is was crowded but nice.  And they have a family room that is staffed from 12-2 on Saturdays.  So we went in there and played some games for a little bit.  They were not strict about contact at all.  The kids kept fighting over sitting in Kevin's lap.  He looks amazing.  He cut his hair short and he's lost a good 15 lbs.  Guess that working out stuff really works. Imagine that! He was glowing when he saw us and he prayed over us before we left.  And you know what?  I had no issues controlling my emotions.  It would have been easy to give place to that darkness again and break down and cry an tell Kevin how horrible our morning was, but instead we laughed and I got to tell him how amazing his daughter is. It's amazing how simple it really is.

But we make it so hard.  Swallow your pride......submit to God.......and the devil has to go!  Thank God that His grace is sufficient and his mercies are new every morning....although we didn't have to wait until morning. Thank you so much for all your messages and prayers, they were working.  I will post more later about what our visit was like, but just know that this visit was exactly what this family needed.  Look at these sweet faces and you can see it!

Oh and this too!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Battlefield

I love driving.  Driving long distances especially.  For some reason my mind gets quiet and I am able to really think about stuff.  It doesn't even matter if my kids are in the car, for some reason, in the car, I can completely tune them out.  And if you've ever met my kids you'd know what a challenge that is.  For the last 2 weeks we have been doing a lot of driving.  Our church has a campus out in Granbury, TX and for the last 2 weeks we've been having a revival service every night at 7pm.  We've been able to make it to at least half of them.  It's about 1.5 hours from our house which makes it a 3 hour round trip, but man these meetings have been sooooo powerful.  And I love the drive's dark and in the country it's really dark. I've figured out that turning up worship music really loud deters my kids from just takes too much effort to yell over the music.  And when my kids get quiet at night this is what ends up happening.
Do you hear that?  Yeah me either!  Sweet silence!

I hear God speak to me when things are so still and my natural mind is occupied with driving.  I talk to him and just soak up His presence. Tonight's drive home was not one of those nights.  

The last 17 days have been a roller coaster.  Some days I feel so strong, like I can do this, and then like a tsunami, a huge wave of sadness will hit out of nowhere.  And it will engulf me....... my entire countenance will change and I am humbly reminded that I can not do this without God.  There have been a few days where I have honestly wallowed in that sadness.  I know some of you are thinking, "Well, I mean you deserve a day here and there to just feel sad.  It's okay!"  And I too have embraced that thinking a few times.  In fact I completely embraced it yesterday and that kind of thinking could not be more wrong. I have seen the result of it.  It's like opening a door and inviting satan to sit down for dinner for some civilized conversation (except nothing satan does is "civilized").  Before I knew it I was thinking things like, "I can't do this!  My kids are going to be so messed up!  Who cares if I miss church, I mean everyone knows that I have my hands full.  No one will probably even notice.  No one cares about us.  We are all alone in this.  What if everything I believe is wrong?  Maybe my church is too extreme.... I mean we are there ALL the time."  Yes ALL OF THAT FROM HAVING ONE DAY OF "DESERVED" SADNESS.  Those are all LIES straight from satan's lips into my mind.  Do you know how I know that those are lies?  Because they are completely contrary to the Word of God.  And I also got these two text messages:

Praise God for friends who hunt you down and then love you enough to tell you the TRUTH.  All of a sudden, it was like the lights turned on.  And I started to see the real battle that was going on.  Seriously.....a battle.  I'm sure you've heard the term "the battlefield of the mind."  Let me tell you, that is no joke and it's Biblical!

This picture accurately depicts what is going on all the time and we have no clue.  All day and all night this goes on......a whole other realm that we can not see.  I remember being a little girl, maybe 9 or 10, and my mom reading Frank Peretti's This Present Darkness to the whole family on a road trip.  I had no clue what she was talking about.....sounded like a bunch of craziness out of a rated R movie to me.  Angels and Demons at war and I can't see them?  Yeah Mom you're nuts!  But as an adult I know now that this was not just a fictional's a reality in my life and in yours too.

Let me tell you satan does NOT discriminate.  He doesn't care who you are!  He doesn't mind if you are a 9 year old little girl.  Taylor has broken down multiple times in tears.  And I feel like my heart is being ripped out every time it happens.  The Sunday morning before Kevin left, Taylor got really upset in Sunday School.  Kevin was paged to go get her (I was on stage with the praise and worship team) and I watched my amazing husband walk my sweet baby girl down to the altar and they both got on their knees before God.  He told her that this is where we take our sadness.  We take it straight to God and we leave it at His feet and we take His peace back with us.  It was overwhelming to watch.  I don't even know why I thought I could sing that morning....I was a blubbering mess.  But his words to her are so right.  So when she breaks down I remind her what her Daddy told her.  And tonight I took a break from singing on stage and walked down to the altar with her and left my sadness there too.  

On the way home we were chatting and I had some praise music going, just having a that sweet quality time together.  We even pulled over and took a picture of the moon with our new camera that we bought today.

And then out of nowhere WHAM!  Kayden bursts into tears (the devil doesn't care if you are 7 either).  My initial reaction is to think she is hurt.....because she is full on sobbing.  Then it comes, "I miss Daddy.  He's not going to be home for so long."  At first I tried reasoning in the natural with her.  I said, "But Kayden we get to go see him in 2 days!"  And I got the "I know, but......"  I got that response a couple of times with different reasons as to why what I was saying was not making her feel better.  This went on for a good while.  And then I began to recognize those responses from the reasoning I was doing in my head yesterday and a righteous anger rose up in me like a pot boiling over. Satan WILL NOT have my family!

And never underestimate the power of a mother armed with the name of Jesus!!  I grabbed her little hand and I said, "Did you know that you can give that sadness to God and he will give you joy for it?" Between sobs she said, "But I don't know how to do that."  So I asked her if she wanted me to show her and she said yes.  So I prayed over that little girl.  I prayed the peace of God that suprasses all understnading would cover her.  I prayed that the sadness would cease and that in the name of Jesus, satan had no right to her.  I prayed that she would feel the arms of Jesus wrapped around her and that He would fill her heart with joy.  And I prayed all of these things in the name of Jesus and I told her I loved her.  And I turned the worship music up, way up.  I just wanted so badly to punch someone.....specifically the thing that was messing with my baby.  But we can't battle that way in this realm (which is really frustrating sometimes).  I kept praying for her and prayed in the spirit (yes I'm one of those) under the sound of the blasting music.  And about 3 minutes later I hear her say, "Mommy?"  I reluctantly turned down the music, "Yes Kayden." I answered.  And I kid you not this is what came out of her mouth, "Do you think Ms. Meagan (our worship leader and one of my best friends) would ever sing Taylor Swift songs?"  I laughed and told her, "Not even if someone was holding a gun to her head."  And in my battlefield I said, "Take that Satan!"  I turned the music back up and she peacefully drifted to sleep.  And a word that the Lord had given me through our guest speaker, Tim Grisham, came rushing back to me. 
Photo by Jeremy Spears
 The Lord had said that I was anointed for this time, and there are times where I won't feel anointed but HE who lives in me is, and His anointing will overflow into me.    He said that things didn't have to be this way but because they are that I would experience a greater intimacy with Him than I've ever known.  And man did these words come to fruition tonight.   

It doesn't matter what emotion we are holding onto: anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, sadness, jealousy, hatred....ect.  They are all an open door to the enemy.  And when he sees an opportunity, don't be mistaken, he will take it!  We have to know how to deal with these battles.  Before tonight I kept telling my friends that I am just having a hard time figuring out what to do with this sadness.  Good grief.....I had the answer the whole time.  I was even telling my daughter what to do and still scratching my head trying to figure it out. We take those feelings and lay them at the feet of Jesus......even if we have to do it every day, every hour, or every minute.  We use the name of Jesus to cast down those thoughts and bring them into obedience to the word of God! 2 Cor 10:5 in the message says :We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ."  I love that!  Loose thoughts and emotions....boy we've had lots of those lately but praise God that we know what to do with them.

We will be heading up to Texarkana early Saturday morning to visit Kevin.  We would appreciate if you would be lifting us up in prayer at that time as I know it will be a little scary for the kids the first time.  Kevin is doing really good!  He's found solace in working out (which in the 11 years I've known him I've never seen him touch a weight let alone lift it).  We get to email 2-3 times a day which has been such a blessing and He's been able to call 3 or 4 times so far and it's so nice to get to hear his voice.   He found out a group of inmates meet on the yard every Sunday morning and take turns preaching and he said this Sunday was great!  He should be able to take a turn preaching one Sunday.  It gets me all giddy at 1:30am just thinking about that man preaching in that place!  The Holy Spirit is about to show up in a BIG WAY!  He already is here :)

Came across this in Kevin's notebook the other day!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cereal and Church

So normally right now Kevin and I are plopped on the couch playing footsie and watching whichever TV series we've found on Netflix (we were watching 24).  We would have come home from church together and prayed over our kids before we put them to bed.  I'm doing all of those things without him tonight......except the footsie.....the dogs just bite my toes.  Church was hard for me tonight.  During the last couple of days it's been easy to just pretend life is normal and Kevin is at work.  His stuff is still everywhere. I just stay busy and have fun with the kids and it seems like any other day.  I was folding his clean laundry today and I thought, "What am I supposed to do with this? I just leave it there?  Do I pack it away?  Do I donate it?"  I know he's coming back, but in his words he's going to come home "looking like Brad Pitt in Troy".  So if he does that none of his clothes will fit him.  I think I'll stick with denial and just put them up like he's going to ask me where is basketball shorts are when he gets home.  Probably not the best way to deal, but we've got time to address that.  

Church was hard for me tonight because that is the place that our family is always together.  I rarely ever went to church without him.  Even Jacob forgot for a brief second and asked where Daddy was and I think the look on my face must have reminded him because before I could answer he said, "Oh yeah" and ran off to play.  But sitting in that sanctuary I realized there were very few times that I would look up from prayer and not see this:

The man loves being at the alter of God.  And it's nothing short of a miracle to see him there.  I got a few emails from him today.  He sounds good!  I didn't get to ask him all the questions I wanted but hopefully he will call me soon.  I did ask if he'd met the chaplain yet and he told me the chapel had not been open, but he said he's had lots of time to read and pray.  So that's good.  I can't wait to hear his voice.

So as hard as it was to be at church tonight I would not have missed it for the world.  And like He always does, the Lord had a great word for me tonight that came from the same man that Kevin went to lunch with instead of filing our divorce decree. (our pastor is in Texarkana tonight at a conference and is trying to get in touch with the chaplain at the prison to get into see Kevin please pray that he is able to do that).  He reminded me of this verse: 

How powerful is that!  I felt His presence tonight.  I feel it all the time, but it was strong tonight.  All I've been praying for for weeks now is strength..... and as soon as I heard this verse my mind immediately went to this popular verse.....ok actually it went to the Twila Paris song (you know the contemporary christian song of the 90's) but the song is based off this verse:

(Random thought: How did people blog before being able to find cute pics on pinterest? )

Cue the light bulb moment!  Ok so Lord let me get this straight......if I get in Your presence I can have fullness of JOY and that JOY is my STRENGTH.......So if I want strength to get through the day I need to get in Your presence???  I can see God on his throne smacking His forehead saying, "By George I think she's got it!"  I've gotten so many amazing messages in the last 24 hours. saying what an inspiration I am and how strong I am, and while y'all know how to make a girl feel good, the truth is I am not any of those things without HIM.  It is only through Him that I have walked through being married to an addict, through domestic abuse, through cancer, and it's the only way I will be able to walk through this.  It's not always easy to lay things at the feet of the Lord and walk away from them.  I told a friend last night that sometimes I try to tiptoe back and just grab a few of the minor things.  But when we are able to lay our battles down at the feet of Jesus, we can truly start experiencing His presence.  And in that presence we find joy which is our strength.  I should be a mess right now.....I should be hiding in my house in my PJ's with a box of kleenex and my kids running around like rabid monkeys.  But instead we are living life with Joy!  I mean look how excited my kids are to get to eat breakfast cereal again! (Kevin thinks that cereal is too expensive because we eat it too fast......I think I love cereal and so do the kids and I will pay for the convenience of sleeping an extra 20 minutes....Love you honey!)

Jake gets very serious about cereal selection.....and Mom even let them get boxes instead of the malt-o-meal bags!  Score!  See it all goes back to Choosing Life......I will choose to wake up and get in the presence of the Lord....even if I have to lock myself in the bathroom to do it (moms you feel me on this one right?). I will choose Joy when I feel like crying.  I will choose Life and Life more abundantly because that is why my Jesus came (John 10:10), so that I can have that!  He came so that you can have that too!  

All you have to do is make the choice :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Worst Moment of My Life

I don't even know where to begin this post. I've already written and deleted it twice. I know those of you who are Facebook friends may have figured out that there is something going on in my life right now. And you're right. But let me just put to rest the fear..... I am still cancer free and am staying that way.  But my family is in the midst of a storm. 

I've gone back and forth on whether to go public with this, but those who know me know that secrets are not in my dna. I am the most open person you will ever meet.... Sometimes to my detriment. But it's just how God made me.  And we intend to glorify God in every circumstance. So I hope you'll walk this journey with us and be blessed by it.

On April 12, 2013 I sat next to my pastor and one of my very best friends in a federal courtroom in Sherman, TX and listened as a judge sentenced my husband to 5 years in a federal correction institution.  She gave him the maximum time she was able to and I am convinced that if she could have she would have given him more time. I remember not being able to breathe and then I lost it. I mean really lost it to the point that they removed me from the courtroom.  I couldn't believe that this was happening. The guy who committed those white collar crimes 8 years ago was dead. This man that sat before that judge was a different person. She didn't even look at him.... She just looked at what she saw on paper. And on paper my husband looks like a career criminal with a horrible drug problem. And up until about 2.5 years ago that would have been exactly right.

From the moment I met Kevin he struggled with addiction. For a long time I thought I could help him. I stayed through the most miserable of circumstances. There were times when we were completely broke. Like no gas in the tank and no milk in the fridge broke. And my husband's first priority still was getting high. There were times when  he would get violent towards me. He would be on the brink of insanity.  I would leave him for a few weeks/ months, but he would suck me back in promising changes he had absolutely no intention of following through with. And I fell for it every time.  He would pacify me by going to rehab only to come out stay clean for a few months and then go right back to it.  Or if he would stay clean, he would start gambling, like serious gambling.  He'd drive to the casinos in Oklahoma and I wouldn't hear from him for hours, sometimes days. I got used to being a single mom. Most days I had no clue where he was, what he was doing, or if he was coming home. And honestly most days I didn't care. As long as my kids had the things they needed and we were together we were okay. I did attempt to blog about my life then ( but it was really difficult. Mainly because it took everything in me to keep it together and there wasn't much left in me at the end of the day.  There were points where I knew he was doing things that were illegal, but it was so much easier to look the other way.  But it ate away at my soul.  I started to find refuge in God at that point in my life.  I remember being at my church in Frisco, TX in 2008 and hearing the Lord for the first time in a long long time.  And I seriously questioned my own sanity when I heard what He said.  He told me that my husband would be a mighty man of God and together we would change lives and help set people free by sharing our story.  I remember laughing internally.  I thought, "Maybe God meant my next husband because there was no way I can continue life like this for much longer".    (I never realized how much this story sounds like that of Sarah when God told her she would have a child.)  But He told me to remain faithful and continue to stand in the gap for my husband and that my faithfulness would be rewarded.  I reluctantly agreed, and my faith began building.  I remember laying hands on him while he was sleeping and praying over him.  When he would start acting crazy I would just start praying.  And he would mock me and tell me that prayer doesn't do anything.  And to be honest, I questioned it a few times myself.  I would start to see a change in him, a step forward, only to watch him give up and take two steps back.  We moved out to the country to live with his dad because we were so broke at one point.  Let me tell you want to test your faith???  Move out to the middle of nowhere to live in a travel trailer with 3 kids under the age of 6, 5 cats, and a rabbit.

Yeah not going to shook my faith a little.  It shook it even more when Kevin relapsed again.  I mean we are living in a travel an RV! I just got to the point that I was ready to let it all go.  And I prayed and prayed about it.  And I felt peace about leaving.   I was grieved, but knew it was what was best for the kids and I.  I had a cousin offer to let us live with her and I still don't think she has any idea of what that act of kindness has done for my family.  I thought it was the end......the end of our family, the end of my hope for our future.  When I think about this time I always go back to Proverbs 16:9.

God was directing my steps when I thought he had failed me.  I just didn't understand why God didn't "fix" my husband.  I was faithful and I stood in the gap.  If this was the reward I wasn't sure I wanted to follow this God anymore. Little did I know that God was beginning a work that is nothing short of a miracle in Kevin's life.  All of sudden everything he knew was gone.  He didn't have me in the background cleaning up his messes or taking care of the day to day things.  He didn't have his kids.  He didn't even have a place to live.  He was sleeping on his dad's couch driving his dad's car.  And he finally hit a place where he knew that if something didn't change he was going to die.  He hit his knees and cried out to God.  And God showed up in his life in a mighty way.  On April 17, 2011 with the help of his manager of all people (who was a former addict and ended up being his sponsor) Kevin walked into a Narcotics Anonymous  meeting with a sincere desire to change his life.  Even though this was everything I wanted from him, I was a complete skeptic.  I had a right to be that way.  I'd seen this from him so many times only to have my heart crushed when he would relapse.  As I ran further away from God, Kevin ran closer to Him.  He was at church anytime the church doors were open.  The Pastor of that church in Seagoville, TX is like a second father to Kevin.  He never gave up on him when everyone else did.  He showed Kevin what the love of Christ really was and it changed his life.  Kevin began to realize how much of his own kid's lives that he had missed.  He moved to a sober house in Lewisville to be closer to the kids and I let him spend time with them.  He eventually moved out to Roanoke, TX to help "co-parent" our kids.  I remember being relieved when he stayed sober and was able to help with the kids.  I watched him be the kind of Daddy I always wanted for my kids and all of a sudden I started to get angry.  Mainly angry at God.  I remember thinking, "Seriously God?  Now you're going to "fix" him?  Now that we're not together anymore.... That is a bunch of  bull!" (I'm pretty sure there were some curse words added in there, but I figured I'd skip that.) And I let that anger boil and fester and drive me further and further away from God.  I let Kevin have the kids on Wednesday nights because I wanted them to go to church, but I didn't want to take them.  I had them every other Sunday, but we jumped from church to church so I didn't have to really commit.   But I still felt the Lord tugging at my heart every time I walked into His house.  Kevin came with me a few times since we wanted the kids to go to the same church every weekend.  But he knew that's not where he was supposed to be.  He ended up finding this tiny little church in a shopping strip, and he knew right away this was his home.  He kept inviting me to come and in my stubborn anger I kept saying no. At this point divorce papers were filed and ready to be finalized and we had both been dating other people.  It looked hopeless that our family would ever be reunited.  But he finally wore me down and I reluctantly agreed to go to church with him one Wednesday night.  I had ATTITUDE written all over me when I walked in that sanctuary.  It was way too small for me to just blend into the crowd.  Praise and worship started (which has always been "my thing") and this beautiful blonde woman got up and started singing to there were no instruments.  I kept thinking, "This place is a joke, this is like karaoke God style."  And then all of a sudden the spirit of God came on smacked me right in the face.  And I fought it with everything I had in me.  I crossed my arms and tried to close it off, but it didn't work.  He was there and I couldn't deny it.  I left that night feeling confused and wondering if I was making the right decisions.  I decided to grab back on to that anger because I'd been here before and the bottom always fell out.  I couldn't go through all that again.  I pushed Kevin to finalize our divorce.  I signed the final divorce decree and left it up to him to file it.  And I made it easy for him to want to.  He went to lunch with a guy from his church who told him a story about his own marriage and how God had restored what he thought was beyond repair.  Kevin was supposed to be filing our final divorce decree that day, but he called me and asked if I would be willing to go see his pastor with him just as a last ditch effort.  I reluctantly agreed.  That was one of the best decisions I've ever made.  We sat in this man's office and I shared with him my anger towards God and how I just didn't get it and he said something to me that I will never forget.  He said, "Nicole, God didn't let you down.  Kevin did.  God can't control the choices of a man."  Tears streamed down my face and right there that anger lifted and I felt a hunger for God like I've never known.  In the next 6 weeks we sat in OUR pastor's office and learned what the Bible says a husband and a wife are supposed to be to each other.  We learned things we'd never known and we fell in love, maybe for the first time.  I met a new person and I realized that the old Kevin I knew was gone.  It wasn't all easy.  We both had to make adjustments and we dealt with some backlash from our families.  They only knew the old Kevin.    In our last counseling session our pastor gave us a warning that was NO JOKE!  He said, "The last thing Satan wants is for your family to be restored.  He will go on attack.  You need to be prepared to go to battle."  We had no idea what we were in store for.

A few months after that day Kevin received a call from his attorney telling him that the federal prosecutor was filing an indictment.  We knew that Kevin had been investigated, but we thought the statute of limitations had expired since the crime (official charge was conspiracy to commit wire fraud, although they never charged anyone else so it was a one man conspiracy) had been committed over 5 years ago.  Apparently President Obama had decided to extend that statute.  And since Kevin had gone in and cooperated with the FBI there was no chance that he would not be sentenced.  And the truth was that he was guilty.   We were told we'd have 6-12 months before his sentencing hearing.  It was quite a blow.  But we were both calm.  We knew we had some time.  We weren't going to let this deter us.  We continued to stay in the word and we continued to go to church.  Two weeks after we got the phone call from Kevin's attorney, I was diagnosed with stage 3c breast cancer.  And well my blog chronicles that story.  We had plenty of time to make a plan and Kevin did a great job of making sure the kids and I are well taken care of while he is gone.

Looking back I see how God moved in so many ways that made no sense at the time.  I know that is what is happening right now.   

Yesterday, August 5th, Kevin reported to FCI Texarkana.  It was by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life and I've beat cancer.  We intended on leaving the kids with a friend, but as soon as we got in the car both of our girls started to break down.  I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest.  We asked them if they wanted to go with us and they said yes.  We made the 3 hour drive together laughing and talking.  It was such a sweet time together.  I'll never forget it.  We decided to go to lunch at one of Kevin's favorite places.....Golden Corral.   With full bellies, we asked a stranger to take our last family picture.

Not sure what's going on with Jake's face there, but I still cherish this picture.  We drove him to the facility.  I felt like my heart was being ripped in two as we pulled up and I'm not going to lie... My self ccontrol was hanging by a tiny thread. We got out of the car and he prayed over each of us and the tears flowed.  We said our final goodbyes and watched him walk into a 12 foot double barbed wire fence.  I walked my 3 hysterical children back to the car.  Walking those 40 feet back to my car was the worst moment of my life thus far. I looked up to heaven and I felt the Lord strengthen me.  All I wanted to do was scream and fall apart, but with the help of the Holy Spirit I held each of my kids hands and looked into their tear filled eyes and told them that we are going to be ok.  I told them that we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us. And we sat in the car and watched at he finally disappeared behind a door.

Then we made the long drive back home.  I've never had such a quiet car ride with my kids.  I turned on praise music and took turns holding my girls hands as they cried.  I know people were praying for me.  I felt the arms of Jesus wrapped around me.  And I felt peace.  That peace that surpasses all understanding.

I have not heard from Kevin yet, but I do have a address for him.  Feel free to email me if you would like it. The kids and I plan on visiting him at least once a month.  And in the federal system, inmates have access to email.  So we will be able to email him.  But I have no clue how long it takes to set all of that up.  Right now I am just trusting God for favor for him.  God fulfilled the word he gave me back in 2008.  My husband is a mighty man of God.  He has already changed so many lives.  I don't know if it was satan working that put Kevin there or if it was merely a consequence of stupid decisions.  Either way that place that is filled with darkness has no clue the bright light that just walked in.  My husband walked into prison a FREE man! And he is about to set others free.

He spent the last year of his life preparing for this mission trip.  He finished one year of bible school and he started preaching the word of God.

He is ready for this mission trip and so are we.  I'm not even going to pretend that this is easy.  There have been many, many tears shed.  I piled all 3 of my kids into bed with me last night because I couldn't bare the thought of sleeping in that big empty bed by myself. (This will probably go on until school starts)  He's going to miss Jacob's first day of kindergarten and his first t-ball game.  He's going to miss birthdays and Christmases.  This is not going to be easy, but when Kevin walks out those doors no man will ever be able to judge him again.  We do not know how long he will be there.  With good behavior he could be out in 51 months vs 60.  If you would like something to agree with us in prayer for we are praying that Kevin will be accepted into the Residential Drug Abuse Program or Rdap.  If he can get into rdap they will knock 18 months off the 51 months.  He will have to spend 6 months in a halfway house, but he will be close by and able to work.  The only thing that might prevent him from getting into that program is the amount of time he's been clean.  So prayers for favor for that would be appreciated.  It will make a huge difference for our family.  As soon as I hear from him I will post more details about what he can receive and what he needs.  I know he intends to email me blog posts to post on a blog that I will create for him so I will have more details on this as well.  Thank you for all the love and support you've shown us.  It lifts me up more than you will ever know.



***Wow I am floored by the response to my blog!  Thank you for all the love and messages!  There is no need to ask permission to share my blog!  Please share away!  God is so good and I hope that people can see His love through my family!  Add me on facebook, follow me on instagram, follow me on twitter, email me!  I never meet a stranger and would love to hear your stories!***