We know our families don’t always look like we’d hoped, prayed, or planned.
We know our “Ideal” is rarely our “Real."
When you’re struggling to overcome challenges or surrender to God’s plan for your family, the last thing we want is for you to feel alone. Instead, we want to show you evidence of God’s faithfulness to women in varied circumstances so that you are encouraged. Your situation may feel unique, but often it is more common than you may know. You may feel alone, but others understand. You can be sure God sees you and cares for you.
This series, Ideal Meets Real, has been on our hearts for a long time, and whether the topics are ones you’ve personally wrestled with or not, we hope you read them and are blessed and stretched by them. Perhaps you know someone in a similar position and you can share the hope of the Lord with them.
The women we’ve interviewed have endured difficult trials and allowed themselves to be transformed in the process. They may have seen the redemptive hand of the Lord, or they may be waiting for it—but they are clinging to Him and His Word as they do so. Be inspired and encouraged to to fix your eyes on Christ, whatever your situation may be.
Because what we really know is that God is good.
An Interview with Brittany
I was told Brittany had an amazing testimony and that the Lord truly used the season in which she took Entrusted with a Child’s Heart to strengthen her marriage and her parenting. However, I didn't realize how dramatic the circumstances He used to do that would be At first, I was amazed at Brittany’s transparency and the difficult circumstances her family was in… and as I continued to hear her story, I listened in awe. She could have chosen to focus on other’s shortcomings, but she chose repeatedly to delve into the areas in which she needed to change. What a beautiful example!
My prayer is that as you read, you think about how you can press into the Lord for sanctification, no matter how difficult your season or circumstances may be. Others will disappoint us repeatedly, but we serve a Savior that never fails. May His power to transform and redeem give you hope.
What circumstance has left you thinking, “This isn’t how I pictured my life”? / What real situation threatened your “Ideal”?
Our marriage was in turmoil. Years of strife made it seem that divorce was the obvious option. Then we went to a marriage conference at a church, and soon began attending there. I surrendered my life to Christ and became on fire for Him. However, this heightened the tension in our relationship and in our home because my husband and I weren’t unified in anything. Jake had grown up in a Christian home and he was bothered that I was now seeking the Lord. This was even more magnified because we had just moved into an eighty-year old home and were renovating it. I was pregnant with our third child and had had enough of living without a kitchen and without a bathtub for our children and a bathtub for our one-year-old and four-year-old! I followed my desire for comfort, escaping the marriage and our circumstances, and moved in temporarily with my parents in hopes that this would help to quicken the timeline of the renovation. What I didn’t realize is that my husband—who was a functioning alcoholic—would turn even more to alcohol when the kids and I were physically out of our home.
One Saturday morning, as I was getting my daughter ready for soccer, my husband called me. I answered thinking he would tell me he was just wrapping up with another task for the home and that he was on his way to the field. I was met with a much different phone call.
“I have a drinking problem. But by God’s grace it’s ending… I got arrested last night.”
My initial response to my husband was of peace and understanding, a gift from God, even though on the inside I had a million different emotions going off. Had I not been walking with the Lord and submerged in His word, I know my knee-jerk reaction would have been much different. I was in shock and questions were compiling more and more. Should I tell my parents? What will this mean for our family? What will this do for the business and my teaching career? Will my husband go to jail? Will I have our third baby without him present? I had asked God to prune my fear of man, but this?! I didn’t know how this moment of fear would actually be the turning point for our family.
Immediately after Jake was released on bail, his knees hit the pavement and he gave his life fully to Christ. He came to the soccer field and confessed to my parents. He apologized to them—humbly and loudly! He made the necessary steps to seek freedom from his addiction from a church program and two other addiction programs. He hit the ground running towards God’s Kingdom and wasn’t looking back.
Specifically, how did this impact you and your family?
This impacted our family because it brought my husband back to Jesus. It also encouraged me to shed more layers of fear of man and surrender my desire for control.
One specific, amazing testimony of God changing our character for His glory is how we dealt with the legal proceedings. We needed to get an attorney for my husband, and we got “one of the best”. This attorney prides himself on helping guilty people get little or no penalty. When he was working with Jake he was completely flabbergasted as Jake kept saying to him, “I’m guilty of what I did. God used it to change me, and I am prepared to suffer the necessary consequences in this world for His glory.” It frustrated the attorney because he kept telling Jake all these loopholes we could use and each time Jake refused. When the date of the trial came, Jake stood up and shared his testimony with the judge and had people testify to his transformed character. The verdict came, a six-month probation sentence. Praise God! The attorney was completely confused and when he called Jake, Jake praised God first and foremost. The attorney just kept saying, “On paper it just doesn’t add up. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
But GOD!! Yes!
Jake’s faith in this whole process was beautiful to witness as he kept leaning in further to God and didn’t let fear encompass him. I leaned on Jake a lot and also learned a lot from Jake as God was growing me in laying down my own idols. When I finally surrendered an idol of comfort in regards to this particular trial, God blessed me with His peace. The days and weeks leading up to the trial I could rest knowing that God is sovereign and that He will continue to lovingly use Jake, myself, and the girls, to promote His Kingdom. The final verdict was such a gift--and God personalized it further as it all happened on my birthday in September. Choosing to trust God and the promises of His Word is a choice we make every day, and I pray that God will continue to allow me to grow in my faith of praising Him in all circumstances as I continue to keep my eyes and heart fixed on the TRUE and FINAL verdict— that we will have eternity with our loving Savior!
How did you have to adapt your life to embrace your new normal?
God lovingly pruned a lot in me which allowed more of His glory to shine through. My husband’s addiction magnified the deeper-rooted afflictions in our marriage and more so, of us as individuals. God helped me to see that focusing on controlling others was counterintuitive for both His work and my betterment. The moment that He softened my heart to see all the logs in my own eye was an immeasurable blessing because I realized that it would take a lifetime to work on removing them all---so it was time to roll up my sleeves and ask Jesus to knock down those pride barriers!
In His kindness, He showed me that I walk with a lot of entitlement. ---Cue the home renovation for over a year with 3 young kids, no kitchen or bathtub--- At first, it was hard to find joy in it at all but God chipped away at my heart more and more and helped me to see His glory laced in the mess. Do I keep my eyes fixed on the saw dust everywhere or instead do I keep my eyes fixed on how God is building resilience and gratefulness for the girls and myself? Do I keep my eyes fixed on the various people in and out of our home constantly or do I keep my eyes fixed on each person coming into our home is an opportunity to share the Good News?
God also showed me that my people pleasing was rooted in fear of man. I cared more about what other’s thought of me than living my life for God. I was one foot in and one foot out. I now daily remind myself, that I am appeasing an audience of One, The Ultimate One, and He is worthy of all the attention and adoration.
Next up in my spiritual heart surgery was filling myself and fueling myself with the best remedy—His Word. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 was a memory verse in Entrusted and it was inscribed on my heart, especially the part that says, “It (love) does not insist on its own way.” I wrote that entire Scripture on the wall in our daughter’s nursery and meditated on it every time I nursed her. That simple, but powerful paper banner I wrote is still up today and is a constant reminder of His faithfulness. And Psalm 51:10 was a beautiful anthem He gifted me during the year long trial as well. Every night and every morning I read it praying to God to remove anything in my heart that didn’t reflect Him.
God grew me so much through the Entrusted with a Child’s Heart study: a workbook laced with His Word and truth. This partnered with a tableful of God-fearing women to walk alongside me was the cherry-on-the-top. Constant reflection was the personal theme of the study for me—not just evaluating my parenting, but repenting for my own sin and behavior. This brought loads of tears and relief. Whew, what a humbling and beautiful year of women’s study.
How have you seen God’s faithfulness to you and your family in this trial?
God has humbled me in so many beautiful ways: from seeking genuine forgiveness from Him, from my husband, and from our girls when I sin, to inviting people into our messy home, and more so—into my messy heart. I have found that vulnerability is a powerful weapon God uses to promote His kingdom. And if sharing a piece of my testimony helps another person grow closer to God, then I am all in!
Are there any other passages of Scripture that have ministered to you?
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
How would you recommend women come alongside someone in a similar struggle to yours / what blessed you in this season?
Listen. Simply listen to them. Make sure that the person who is in the difficult trial is doing the majority of the talking in your conversations. It was truly incredible how much the Holy Spirit would convict or affirm when I was speaking aloud to a friend.
Before meeting, ask God to give you tender ears, a heart that loves them like He loves them and His wisdom for you to season into the conversation. Proverbs 2:2
And pray with them and for them.
If you could go back in time what would you tell yourself at the beginning of the trial?
In a short time, Jake will be a light at work. He will have empathy for others and believe in victory because he’s seen it in his own life. He will walk with the confidence of the Lord, lovingly calling others out in their sin. Your husband that now loves money, will serve others for free and give sacrificially. And you, you will learn to love unconditionally. You will still feel deeply, but you will not let your emotions drive the train.
You and Jake will call each other during the day to share stories of how God is using you to reach others. You will each seek Christ, and it will unify you.
The upgrade in your marriage, your family, your church community, and your own faith with God will be truly miraculous. He doesn’t waste anything.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4