Thursday, October 2, 2008

Restoration and Loving Well

Wow, what a weekend! Our women's retreat was so refreshing! We learned so much about "Loving Well." We cried a lot, laughed a whole lot, ate lots of food, and just had a some good quality time with the Lord! As I mentioned in the previous post, my sister-n-law were speaking at the retreat. I thought it would be easier than it was. I was crying before I even grabbed the microphone. But, it was so good to see, once again, how God restored our relationship! And I know our restoration spoke to so many women there. So, I thought I would post our "talk" right here for you to see. It wasn't read word for word. In fact, the talk was only supposed to be 5 mins. and it turned into 20mins! Oops! Don't you love it when God moves!

(This is my sister-n-law, Cassie and myself on her 30th birthday. We had a picture taken of us at the retreat. But, Cassie thought it was such a great picture and I didn't! Hmmm...I wonder who looked fantastic in that picture????)

Cassie -
Jaime and I have known each other for 11 years. It has been quite the ride. There have been ups and downs, and many bumps and bruises over the years. And we wanted to share our story with you.

Details – College thru March 2000
We went to school together. I got married to Cory in Summer of 98 (after he graduated). We bought a house in Atlanta and we were only a couple hours away from Cory’s family. In 1999, we had our first daughter and only 3 months later, Cory lost his job. He looked for 3 months before finding job right here in Orlando.
So, in March of 2000, we moved our family down. This was a very sad time for Cory’s family. Cory is the oldest in his family and the first to move away. We also had the first grandchild, great-grandchild in the family. Needless to say, it was difficult.

Details: March 2000 thru August 2004

When Cory and Cassie moved to Orlando, we definitely struggled. We didn't agree on the move. We didn't feel like it was fair. It was painful to be so far away from them. I didn’t want us to grow apart. And “blogging” wasn’t around back then to keep us connected! I had always thought we would live near each other. I fell in love with my first niece the moment I met her. And to have it ripped away, hurt. I let my sadness turn into anger. Then our communication began to get worse. We were 2 very different people with very different opinions. We then began to believe things about each other that were not true. We made accusations. And instead of asking “why” and questioning each others actions, we simply chose to believe what our emotions told us.

Details: March 2000 thru April 2005
As we continued to believe these lies about the other, we allowed bitterness, anger and resentment to fester. Often, we would neglect to get on our knees in prayer and confession over this situation. Instead, we would go to our small groups and friends with “prayer requests”. Sometimes, our hearts were genuine and looking for restoration, but many times, we were just looking for someone to complain to.
When we did see each other, at Holidays or Birthdays, we became very good at faking it. But after time, the faking wasn't working anymore. The bitterness continued to build inside and we were ready to blow up. And it did. There is a day in our past that I never want to remember. We said things we never should have said at a level louder than I ever would have imagined we would. And no true healing took place from that conversation. We did our best at the time and said we were sorry but we continued on without dealing with the pain. This took place for 4 VERY LONG years!!

By the end of those 4 years, I had 4 children 4 years old and younger. Because we started having children so young, we didn’t have many friends that could relate to us. I began to struggle with feeling unwanted and overwhelming to people.
I started praying fervently for a friend. My answer didn’t come right away and I had to depend completely on the Lord. There were people all around me that loved me, but I still felt alone.

Details: August 2004 – April 2005

At the same time, in late 2004, Jarrett and I had been relocated to St. Louis for a job opportunity. Since we had now moved across the country, we had no family, no friends, and no church. We were lonely! This was very hard on us. We now had an 18mo. Old, with no more babysitters, no more grandparents, no more help and hands on advice. I would say that this was the first time that we had no one to fall on but God. In the first few weeks, we found an incredible church. I became very involved with a godly group of women who had no prior information of my history and no bias. During this time, I grew A LOT! God began to change me and break down some barriers in my life. One of those barriers being the stained relationship with my sister-n-law. The one person who I ridiculed advice from was now the same person that I was now confiding in. And she was several hundred miles away! Distance didn’t seem to matter. As time went on, our financial state became quite scary and Jarrett had to make a career change. And guess where God took our family…Easter weekend 2005…within 2 weeks of knowing that we had to get another job…we were now living down the street from Cory and Cassie! And we were now given another chance to heal a relationship that had been severely broken.

Details: April 2005 – Present
God did a great work in both our lives and answered the longing of my heart. It was amazing how quickly we formed the bond that should’ve been there years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean we have had a “happy-ever-after” ending since then. We still have our differences, we still disagree and we still can get on each other’s last nerve.
The difference now is, the restoration comes so much more quickly. We also have learned that we can be honest with each other and agree to disagree.

For instance…
Jaime deprives her children of the joy of running inside any enclosed building. They don’t get to have any fun!

Cassie deprives her children of another joy. She doesn’t even let them play with play-doh, dirt, and doesn't enjoy seeing an 18mo. old child eat spaghetti on their own!

Ending Remarks

So yes, we have made it through some pretty tough stuff. But God has brought restoration where I thought it was once impossible. We worked hard to make this relationship become what God intended it to be. True forgiveness had taken place. And I had to get to focus on myself to deal with my sin and quit blaming others. And now, whether I want to hear it or not, Cassie is always there to speak truth in my life. Her walk with the Lord is such a testimony to me. I am always looking to her for advice. And I'm glad I have her. We have become so close and I hate that we lost so much time together before. This girl beside me doesn’t feel like an “in-law.” And she’s more than a friend. She’s my sister. In fact, rarely a morning goes by that she isn’t woke up at 8:30 AM to hear me say…oops, were you still sleeping…”Whatcha doing today?”

I can’t imagine what a mess our families would be if God didn’t bring us back together.

Ending Remarks:

Like Jaime said earlier, the last person I would’ve called in crisis 5 years ago, is the first number on my speed dial today!
Jaime has to be one of the most honest people I know. Not only will she tell me if my jeans make my butt look fat, she has no problem calling me out on my pride and self-righteousness.
Jaime has become one of those friends I can just be myself around. I don’t have to pretend and I don’t have to clean up before she comes over.
In fact, my relationship with Jaime is what gives me hope in other broken relationships. Now, I can’t even imagine my life without her. I am so thankful that God gave me such a wonderful gift.

So, don’t do what we did. Don’t let 4 years, or even 20 years, be wasted and lose a friendship. God has something much better in store for you.

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God." 1 John 4:7




Dearest Jessica said...

I am so proud of you guys, awesome work!

Cassie - Homeschooling Four said...

Hey, I want to see the pictures from the retreat! I think they were great!!

Jackie Sue said...

I thought you guys did a great job. God is so awesome! Thanks for being vunerable and obedient!

Pete said...

Thanks so very much for sharing! really and truly, it was so encouraging to hear a story from people who were once so distant that are now great friends! Thanks! ^_^