Through the Lens of Grace: Full Disclosure

I’ve come here over the past few weeks multiple times with the intent to write more of this story, but every time I leave with a blank screen.

It’s hard to go back there.

I left off with describing the first week after discovering the secret life my husband was living. I had one goal: keep life as normal as I possibly could for the girls.

Dave wasn’t living at our house, but in an effort to keep life normal for Little Bug and Sweet Pea, Dave “came home from work”, stayed through dinner, baths and putting the girls to bed, and then he immediately left once they were in bed.

I will never forget what it felt like to not even be able to look my husband in the eyes. I couldn’t look at him, much less interact with him, and, truth be told, I really didn’t even want him in my house! It was best for the girls for him not to completely disappear and I needed to figure out where his heart was. So I asked if he would come over every evening to keep things as normal as possible for the girls. I endured his nightly visits during those first couple of weeks.

Any communication we had was purely functional and related to the girls and our brief, strenuous couple of hours as a family every evening. The pain, on both sides, was so raw. Neither of us knew where we were headed and those weeks of him coming over like a house guest were some of the strangest weeks of my life.

I was watching his actions like an animal watches their prey. He continued to faithfully come over every night to be a daddy to his daughters. I was very aware of the fact that this was a step in the right direction for him because, had he desired to take on his secret lifestyle and make that his new life, he certainly could have done it in those weeks.

During these weeks, we started marriage counseling with our pastor’s wife. She was instrumental in guiding us every step of the way towards rebuilding our marriage. One of the first things she asked us to do was to go through a process called “Full Disclosure”.

This was a very painful process but a very necessary part to healing. Basically, she asked Dave to make a timeline of sorts of everything he had done, as best as he could remember, from the first offense all the way to January 22nd. Then, Dave was to tell me everything on that list, item by item.

There were many things I learned as Dave went through that list, but if we were going to work towards rebuilding our marriage (I didn’t know if that was even possible at this point!), everything had to come to the light and be exposed, so it could be dealt with and no more secrets would be popping up three years down the road.

That process was excruciating – for both of us. Item by item, Dave told me everything. My heart was flooded with so many emotions during that time but this one feeling stands out to me plain as day.

I felt like my family was a fraud to the point that I wanted to take down EVERY SINGLE family picture hanging in our home and burn them! There we were smiling in those pictures, holding Little Bug and eventually both girls, and from the picture, it seemed like we had it all. We’d been through so much to even become a family! Who would have thought all of this was going on in the background where no one could see, including me? I couldn’t look at those pictures.

I remember wondering to myself if I would ever be able to look at our family photos again prior to January of 2014, and have any positive feelings towards them.

It was too much to process in my mind and it didn’t seem real. In order for me to even think about beginning to heal, I had to find a way to make all of this seem real. I felt like I was living outside of myself, looking in and witnessing something horrible going on to some girl that I didn’t know.

The way I brought all this to my reality was by doing something that was extremely painful to do, but something that I had to do.

There were years of emails and work chats between my husband and several women at work, and I went through and read every single email and every single line of chat.

I knew that was my first step toward wrapping my mind around all of this and being able to process all that had happened and who my husband had been all of those years.

It was devastating to read and it cut me to the core of my being, but it gave me what I needed: I began to accept in my mind that all this really had been happening.

And then I had to decide what I was going to do with my new reality.

These days

And here it is Fall. Another season come and gone. It is so true that time moves faster the older you get. It is also true that the days can sometimes be very long (depending on the moods of my little people) but the years are absolutely flying by. When I look back at pictures when it was just the girls and we lived in our first house…it seems a lifetime ago. It reminds me to savor whatever stage of life I am living now…because soon, it too will be gone.

And truly these days – the days when I am up to my eye balls in dirty diapers and sibling squabbles – are the days I looked forward to for many of my “growing up years”. Now they are here. They are my life. For now. These days, this season of my life, will end, too.

I’ve almost had Little Bug for half the time I will have her under my roof! We aren’t going to send her off on her own at 18, but…she is halfway to that milestone and that is just crazy talk. Because wasn’t it just yesterday I was wondering if I would ever be a mother? And now I’ve parented my oldest for almost half of the years I will be privileged to parent her?

Moving right along. (Because I don’t want to talk about that anymore!)

One day I will finish telling the story of Through the Lens of Grace. My mind has just been cluttered with the failed adoption and figuring out what is next for our family. My plan is to continue writing and get that story completely told by the end of this year!


Through the Lens of Grace: July 2006

From the time I was 15 years old I have journaled in 3-ring notebooks. I have over 40 notebooks filled and every so often I like to go to where I store them all, pick one randomly, open it and begin reading.

Tonight I picked notebook #27 which I wrote in from June 10, 2006 – July 21, 2006. I don’t normally fill a notebook in a month’s time but these were very significant months in my life because it was during this time that Dave and I started dating and knew we were going to marry one day.

I came across my journal entry from July 5, 2006. Before I share what I wrote on that day, I need to tell you a little bit of background information.

Dave and I met in January of 2006 when Dave was my brother’s roommate and would come every week for Thursday night family dinner. A friendship grew over that spring and by the end of June, we were dating. As a general rule, I kept myself very guarded when it came to guys, but Dave weaseled his way into my heart pretty quickly. Within the first week of officially being together, we were talking marriage. We were one of those couples that just knew we were going to get married.

So on July 5, 2006, a little over a week after we started dating, I wrote this in my journal:

There is nothing telling me not to love Dave {last name}. The only reason I don’t want to love Dave is so I won’t get hurt. But I want to be married and have a husband and children more than I never want to be hurt. So tonight I am going to choose to love Dave. I am going to trust Dave but ultimately I am going to trust God. Yes Dave is human and can make mistakes but if I choose to love him, love forgives. So I will forgive him and ultimately know my heart belongs to God. And there I am safe.

These words are extremely significant to me now! The last few posts of this story have been written by Dave as he has boldly shared his journey through sexual addiction and repentance from the secret life he lived for so many years. And now it is time for me to tell the rest of my story in this. I will soon begin to talk about my journey through forgiveness, because it is only through Dave’s repentance and my forgiveness that we were able to rebuild our marriage from the nothing that it was on January 22, 2014.

Through the Lens of Grace: Consequences Part 2


When I finally decided to face my problems, I realized I had a lot to settle with God. I didn’t know where to begin. I spent several days devoting myself to a process of remembering things I had not dealt with, writing them down, praying to God for forgiveness, vowing to put those things away, and making a plan to confess them to Elaine. At the same time our church was doing a corporate 3-day fast; I joined in on that fast for the purpose of making self-examination and repentance the most important things in my life during that time.

After this–though I continued the process of remembering, confessing, and repenting for quite some time, at a lesser pace–I began to direct my thoughts more toward my most basic flaws. I wanted to know what led to me becoming a sex addict. How did it all start? I couldn’t really remember off-hand. I just knew whatever it was began early in life. The most terrifying thought was feeling like I was doomed to fail again if I couldn’t get to the origin of my addiction.

You could say the origin of my problem is common to everyone. It’s just sin. But the Sunday School answer to that question wasn’t good enough for me, and it shouldn’t be good enough for anyone else. While technically true, blaming sin for our problems is just another way of dismissing those problems and failing to deal with them. Still, I didn’t have the answers. So I got help. I found a counselor I could trust and who I felt understood me, and I went until I was told to stop. Separately, I went to an intensive workshop for people who were dealing with situations like mine, where I spent about 24 of the 72 hours working through my past, creating a narrative to help illustrate the root of my problems and how the sin I left unattended grew quickly into an impenetrable wall, behind which I hid more and more as I got older.

I learned about the psychology of addiction, the need for every man to be held accountable, and I made specific plans to place safeguards in my life and people I could trust to hold me accountable. I learned the value of confession and its role in releasing myself from shame and from the lie I told myself, that if anyone really knew me, they’d never love me.

Also during this time, I had to let go of my burning desire to fix my marriage. Maybe that sounds strange, but I couldn’t let my marriage take the place of God in my life. Did I want my marriage to succeed? Absolutely! That never changed, but I didn’t have much control over that, and I couldn’t really blame Elaine if she wanted to quit. So I had to give it up. It was a big deal to me, to the point that I can remember exactly where I was when I finally said, “Ok, God. If you want to take my marriage away, I will be alright, and I will trust you.” That attitude has stuck with me in a lot of hard situations, and it really makes life in general so much easier.


By not dealing with my issues while I had the chance, I opened myself and my family up to a lot of financial hardship. God had blessed me with a really great job, and I made more money than most people my age. But I had been a terrible steward. Sin is like this awful, giant Kraken that spreads its tentacles into all the areas of your life and chokes you to death, and I became an impulsive spender on top of my other problems. I spent money on everything from food to clothes to video games.

Once everything came out, on top of the debts I had incurred I had bills from counselors and intensive workshops. And I faced potential loss of employment because of my inappropriate work relationships.


I wish I could say that once I faced my problems, everything in my life was just peachy. Eventually, Elaine and I did recover our marriage, and I did regain her trust. It wasn’t a quick fix, and it wasn’t easy. And I fully believe that God would have taken my marriage away in order to bring me back to Him. I’m thankful it didn’t come to that. I’m thankful Elaine chose to forgive me and work with me to rebuild our life. I’m thankful that I get to wake up next to her each day and do life with her and our children.

It’s not any easier to do the right thing, but after what I’ve been through I’ve learned how to deal with sin appropriately. I’ve learned how to recognize harmful rituals that lead to sin and break the cycle of addiction in my life. I’ve learned the importance of meeting regularly with other men who are serious about accountability. And above all else, I’ve learned that there is no replacement for a daily meeting time with the Lord.
– Dave

Through the Lens of Grace: Consequences

I have been telling the story of how God redeemed my marriage. My husband has been telling the story from his perspective and this is his latest post. To read this story from the beginning start here and follow the links.

Laundry List

What had Elaine discovered? Let’s take a moment to list it out…

  1. I had a (nearly daily) problem with pornography.
  2. I had at least two emotional affairs ongoing at work, and was basically living a second life there.
  3. My dealings with women in general were not appropriate in nature.

Elaine had learned about the pornography over a week prior. The rest she discovered from going through my work email, out of suspicion. All because I had decided not to answer a phone call (a benign decision I now thank God for). Over the next days and weeks, she also became aware of the following, through my confession…

  1. My impulsive and wasteful spending habits
  2. A partying/drinking habit that was symbolic of my overall rebellious attitude
  3. An account I had set up on a website meant for cheating on one’s spouse
  4. Experimentation with marijuana
  5. Vulgar language and coarse joking, being a totally different person depending on what crowd I was in
  6. A lot of individual incidents related to the above, including a few times I came close to cheating physically
  7. Various other lies and secrets, arising from the fact that I had trained myself to be an expert at deceit.

I had what to me felt quite suddenly like a barrel-full of awful secrets. And I didn’t just decide one day that I’d start doing (or hiding) all these things. It was a gradual process. You see, when the Bible talks about the end game of sin being death, it’s not talking about an overnight crisis. I left a corner of my spiritual house unattended, and over the span of several years, the mess took over the place. Now that the shutters had been thrown open and the lights turned on, I was realizing just how dirty my life was. Before I could even think about cleaning it up, though, I had a few consequences to face.


The first consequence I experienced was ejection from my home. Did I have to leave? No, it was my house. That wasn’t my attitude, though. I was in nearly as much shock as Elaine was over what I had done, because I was finally having to face it all. So I packed (not nearly as many things as I needed). And I left. I ended up being out of the house for more than three weeks. Amazingly, I had friends and family willing to let me hang around for that long, including Elaine’s parents (like I said, amazing).


It’s not every day that one’s demons are all aired out for the world to see. Well, that’s basically what happened to me in a short period of time. Before I had even come to grips with reality of my problems, I had to call into work and explain why I was unable to come in that day and how there was a great possibility I may have to look for employment elsewhere. I’m so thankful for a boss at the time who was incredibly understanding and who I can still count on today to hold me accountable.

I had to back out of a few leadership positions with my church and other organizations, because I didn’t feel fit to be in them anymore. I also knew my priority needed to be on restoring my relationship with God and with the people I had hurt. So I didn’t have time for anything else, really. It hurt to have to back out of those things without any real explanation behind it. I confessed my situation to my men’s group, to my pastor, to my family and some other close friends. I began attending a support group, which involved more confession and more exposure.

Think about the worst thing you’ve ever done. How would you like everyone to know about this thing? Now imagine you’ve been actively hiding it for around 15 years and it’s being ripped out of you. That was my life. And yet, after all the hurt caused by exposure, it was also incredibly cleansing. I am now a true believer in the power of confession. And while I don’t really buy into the sterile, behind-the-veil style that you might imagine, there is something to be said for verbalizing our sins and letting them go. We’d all avoid a lot of trouble just by admitting our mistakes and moving on from them.

A Season of Waiting

We are coming up on one month since our failed adoption. July and August have dragged by and I am ready to welcome a new season. The beginning of our 4th year of homeschooling has been a great distraction but these last 4 weeks can be defined by a constant nagging question in my heart and mind: What is God up to now?

While I cannot see the Big Picture today, I know with every fiber of my being that God is at work even now and in His time He will reveal our next step and perhaps even shed some light on the whys over this past month. In the meantime, I must wait on the Lord.

We waited 16 weeks for the birth of that baby which was the longest we had ever waited during an adoption process! The waiting was challenging and despite having three wild and crazy children to keep up with, there were weeks that drug by and days when July seemed an eternity away instead of just a few months away.

During that season of waiting God revealed to me the beauty of living in the present. The here. The now. I didn’t need to think about 10 weeks from then; I needed to focus on that day.

That was a valuable lesson to learn considering I have now entered an even longer waiting period and my focus needs to be on the present as we seek the Lord and pray about where God is leading us in the future.

I have packed away the baby items and turned my focus on my present tasks.

Little Bug is a snaggle-toothed 2nd grader who is excelling in reading! It has been my pleasure to watch her turn into a bookworm over the past six months or so. Watching Little Bug’s reading skills blossom has made me even more grateful for the opportunity to homeschool my children. She was not ready to read at age five. This was convenient since that was the year Sarge was born and it was easy to put off phonics for another day. Another day came when Little Bug was around 6.5 years old and within a few months, she went from painfully sounding out each and every word on the page to reading beginner’s chapter books fluently. And now, she has already read 29 chapter books since June 1st!

Sweet Pea is a big Kindergartener this year! She is very proud of the fact that she is now five years old. She is very enthusiastic about school, especially math. I pulled out a math workbook for Sweet Pea to see how she would take to it and she did 7 lessons on the first day! She has also read the first two BOB books on her own accord. My plan has been to ease into Kindergarten with no pressure to learn to read but I may have a little girl begging me to teach her soon. Again, homeschooling gives me the freedom to teach her to read when she is ready so I will follow her lead on this.

Sarge will be two years old next week! The sweet little baby boy that stole my heart before he was officially even mine has turned into a class-clown toddler. At not even 2, he has already become ta comedian. That boy is hilarious every single day. He’s not quite to the degree of “gets into everything” as Little Bug was, but he is a close second. That boy can run fast and when he has something he knows he shouldn’t have, he takes off running like he is running for gold in Rio against Bolt! He certainly makes homeschooling interesting but we have a pretty good routine established that allows us to do the majority of our school work while he is playing in his bedroom and napping. Little Bug is also responsible for playing with Sarge for about 30 minutes while I do Kindergarten with Sweet Pea. Little Bug does an excellent job of keeping Sarge entertained while I am working with Sweet Pea.

In this season of waiting, I am going to enjoy a phase of all my children over age two! There is much freedom schedule-wise once you hit age two and I plan to enjoy it. Might as well since it is my reality right now!

Dave and I will get back to writing Through the Lens of Grace soon so check back to hear the next part of this story. I am especially looking forward to finally sharing Sarge’s story.

I would appreciate prayers as we continue to seek the Lord about what our next step will be.

It is well with my soul

I wrote this on July 29th.

Today, one thought rings true in my head…..I am so glad it is not this time last week!!!

The safety of that baby, the deception of the mother all these months, and the loss of the dream of “Baby 4” are heavy on our hearts.

I almost feel like I should be mourning longer, but ultimately and honestly, our hearts are filled with tremendous peace as we look to moving forward from all that has transpired over the past 2 weeks.

The peace we feel can ONLY be a direct result of our absolute trust and faith in God and confidence in His Sovereignty – even when He does not.

To our human minds, it is extremely hard to comprehend the outcome of this situation, but this is exactly why we are all called to live by faith and trust in the Lord, especially when things don’t make sense! It is there, and only there, true peace lies.

Dave & I look to our future with great expectation. We are open to where the Lord leads and, right now, in this season, it is a time of seeking Him and allowing Him to lead us to where He would have us go. It is both scary and exciting to think about, and we ask your continued prayers on our family as we seek the Lord about what is next.

We do worry about that sweet innocent baby boy, but ultimately we have to remember that he is God’s first and foremost. We have to rest in the knowledge that we did everything we could to be available to have that baby join our family. And the rest we trust to the Sovereignty of God even though we can’t understand it all.

With each adoption, God has given us a verse to claim and this time the verse was Psalm 118:23, The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes.

He’s just still DOING and, at this time, we don’t know what exactly He is doing….but I can guarantee you that it is going to be marvelous in our eyes – whether we remain a family of 5 or whether God does have plans for another child to join our family at some point.

It is well with my soul.

Loss of a dream

This is something I wrote on July 28th.

Ok – one more thing heavy on my heart & then I think it will be time for me to begin taking action in moving forward by moving through the motions of each day until the grief passes & life again feels normal. I have no idea how long that will take but I do have 3 children who need me & I need to be there for them.

What hurts me the most is just another loss of a dream.

I’ve shared before how since childhood I have desired to mother 4 children. To me, this baby was my dream come true and I was in awe of the way God had chosen to build my family. I still am in awe, obviously, because each of my children have come to me in ways that only God could have orchestrated.

Just like my children didn’t think of this baby as THEIR baby, I didn’t think of this child as MY baby. With every adoption I have kept myself guarded until TPR is signed at least 48 hours after birth. (Except for Sarge.) So because of this, I feel more of a loss of a dream than the loss of a particular child. I am not sure if that makes any sense whatsoever, but that is my thought process and guarding my heart certainly was wise in this particular situation.

On the flip side, as soon as I would have heard that she had signed her rights to us, the flood gates would have been let down and that baby would have been wholly and completely MINE. I could not wait to look at those 4 children and just stand in awe of all GOD had done! It was going to be beautiful – but it was not God’s ultimate plan.

So, in many ways, all this takes me emotionally right back to where I was in March 2009 when I was told my dream of pregnancy & childbirth was not likely at all, which is a huge blow & a lot to process! Except then, it was obvious where God was leading: to adoption. Right now, we just don’t know where God is leading our family after this.

All the options are scary, but we are left with both feeling like our family isn’t quite complete yet. (Perfect stage for for God to perform another miracle!)

Which again brings me to the S-word. Surrender.

That’s where I ultimately need to get to with this situation & it’s just going to take some time to get there.

I KNOW in my head, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God WILL lead us through these deep waters. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we WILL have a 4th child at some point, but it also doesn’t necessarily mean that He is saying “no” to a 4th either. It’s just going to take time to seek the Lord and walk in the direction He leads.

We want immediate answers! But that isn’t how God works most of the time. As Dave keeps saying, “We will walk through whatever opportunities God presents to us, just like we walked into this opportunity by faith back in March.”

We have no regrets in saying yes to this baby, when God eventually said no. (Isn’t that ironic? This time we said yes and God said no. With Sarge, we said no and God said yes!) His ways are higher than our own and in simple child-like faith, we just simply need to trust Him with this.

We will get there, eventually. Each new day puts us a little further away from all the pain and heartache of this and a little bit closer to discovering God’s plan for us next.

We will persevere & push forward. We refuse to have a “victim mentality” here because that only hurts us and our family. In the meantime, we will feel deeply what we feel, work through it together, and…just keep walking by faith because that’s all any of us can do when we find ourselves in deep waters.

I do wish I could snap my fingers and be “over it” all today. Haha, wouldn’t that be nice, but that isn’t reality. God made emotions and we are pretty much feeling them all right now.


Daniel 3: But even if he does not

Daniel 3 has brought us much peace through this.

This is something I wrote on July 27th and I wanted to share it here too.

This continues to be a very difficult day for our family. I think most of us are just confused as to why God has chosen, as far as what it looks like right now, to not place this baby in our family, especially when the options of where he is going or will end up are not very promising situations.

I wish I had a concrete answer, but I do believe Daniel 3 speaks to this situation very well. And, in times like this, it is ONLY in the Word of God that we can find peace.

Daniel 3 is about King Nebuchadnezzar who had made an image of gold that was ninety feet high and nine feet wide. He set it up and then everyone was commanded to fall down and worship this image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Verse 6 tells us that “Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

Verse 7, everyone is falling down in worship to this image, and in verse 12 it is brought to the King’s attention that there are some Jews – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – who are paying no attention to this command to worship this golden image.

Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the 3 men were brought before the King. In verse 14, the King says to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold that I have set up?” The next verse, they are directly warned that if they choose to not worship, they will be thrown into a blazing fire.

It is their response that grabbed my attention.

Daniel 3:17-18, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O King. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

What tremendous faith in the face of adversary!

We’ve been in a “blazing furnace” over the past week. We have all prayed and prayed and prayed – many of you have even told me how you have weeped before the Lord on behalf of this child – that God would rescue this situation and place this baby in our arms. We have believed that He can do it.

The next six words are so incredibly powerful: But even if he does not.

But even if God did not rescue them from the fiery furnace Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego told the King that they will STILL worship God and not the king’s false god that he had created out of gold.

At this time, it appears that God is NOT going to place this baby with us. We’ve all been waiting for that moment where I get a phone call and Charlene tells me that by a miracle of God she just showed up at the office and wanted to sign. But, that is not the direction it looks like God is moving in at this time, even though we all know He still could (and many of you have told me you are still praying to that end).

But even if God does not place this child in my arms, I cannot turn away from God and feel abandoned or forgotten or even worse…feel like there is no God.

I must rise above it all and know that God is still God and even though I do not understand what He is doing at this time, He is good and He will reveal His plan for our family in His time.

God is still worthy to be praised and glorified and the best way I can do that today in my grief is to, once again, surrender my life, my current circumstances, my broken heart AND this child that I so desperately wanted to love and by my son, to Him.

It’s all too big for me to handle on my own and I don’t have to handle it on my own. Knowing this child is out there, alive and living and not with me is a hard pill to swallow but ultimately I have rest in the knowledge that God created this child and loves this child more than I ever possibly could.

The waters surrounding me today are turbulent and deep, but I am not sinking. I am firmly anchored to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The waves can crash around me and on me, but I will stand firm in the promises found in His Word.

To walk away from God for not acting in the way that we thought and prayed He would, is pointless. Even though today hurts very badly and I wish God had spared our family from these circumstances, we have hope tonight.

Our hope is in the Lord. We live in a fallen world full of sin and darkness. It is everywhere we look. But my God offers hope to anyone who is ready to receive it. I hope every single person that has been following this and praying for this situation KNOWS the God of Hope I am speaking about right now. If you do not, I would be glad to tell you all about Him. Just call, text or message me!

I would love to bypass the grieving phase and move right on in to what God has next for us. We both firmly believe our family is not complete, but at this time, we have no clue where God is going to take us next.

God’s got this…we just don’t know what that looks like yet. 


She did not place.

While this has been a very difficult week, our hope and trust is in the Lord.

We both feel tremendous peace that can only come from God.

Thank you for your faithful prayers.