Love is a choice

After a few of you have reached out to me after reading my blog, I realized not everyone knows my (our) story. So today I am going to share a part of our story that I wrote for a video interview in 2015 for a marriage conference that my church holds called Recreate. I thought this would be a simple way to at least fill in some gaps for those that haven’t been with me from the beginning. My prayer is that by choosing to share our story, you will see our God. Anything good in me (in all of us) is Him. But most of all, I pray our story reflects and reveals what I believe to the very depths of my soul…He is enough, Even if…

It’s hard to believe that December 21st marked the 19th anniversary of my marriage to the love of my life, Arvid Wakefield.

I was a divorced mom with two small children that were my world! The three of us had gone to watch our church softball team play that night at Wilson Morgan. I was sitting in the bleachers while the kids were playing with friends and I leaned over to the girl friend of mine that was sitting by me and said “who is that guy on the mound? He has got a cute butt.” Ha! Little did I know that guy on the mound was someone I had known in high school. Long story short….Before I left the ball field that night, Arvid Wakefield, the guy with the cute butt, asked me out on a date and I said yes! A few days later, we are pulling out of my driveway with his Jock Jams cassette thumping through the speakers of his truck… And as they say, the rest is history. Six months later we were standing before God and our family repeating our vows and saying I DO! Me this woman with a past filled with so much shame and regret and two small children, marrying this 28 year old man that had never married. This good man. This man that had never been with another woman in his life. I always felt that Arvid coming into my life was just a small reflection of how my God loves me. Arvid saw past my full figure, two children and never once asked details of my past. And somehow he fell in love with ME. He saw ME. Not the Me with all the baggage, extra pounds and imperfections the world may see. But ME, the one I didn’t even know yet. The Me God created me to be. The Me that deep in my soul I had always wanted to be but feared I could never become.

Life was absolutely wonderful! I was married to a man that adored me, my children and God. He was a great daddy. He jumped right in with both feet and before I knew it we had become this amazing family that I had always hoped for. We had not planned to have more kids but several years later, God interrupted our plans and reminded us His is always better. When Hunter and Jordan were 9 and 7 yrs old, Grayson Wakefield made his appearance into this world and into our hearts! We kept ourselves busy with sports, dance, church and keeping up with a little one. It’s crazy to think how fast the days and months went by. It seems as though I just turned around one day and I had two teenagers and my baby was now a little boy that loved to play ball as much as his daddy. I don’t know when it happened but somewhere along the way we stopped making time for just each other the way we had done in the past. The little things we didn’t see eye to eye on became much bigger and the things we once loved most about each other were not what we thought about when we looked into each other’s eyes. Somewhere, in the midst of our struggles raising teenagers, compromised choices in our own lives and instead of a God focused marriage, I at least, found myself in a very selfish place. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t satisfied. He didn’t show me the passion I felt I deserved. I was miserable so believe me when I say, I made him miserable. So there I was one night standing in front of Arvid, while he was sitting on the edge of our bed after a very heated conversation, of what I am sure was filled with how he fell short of everything I needed, I looked him in the eye and told him, “I love you but I am just not in love with you any more”. That day, as I stood there speaking words that had to have ripped away pieces of his heart, I was actually considering breaking the promise that we had made to each other when we stood before God and took our vows. Words that I swore I would never speak. I don’t have some magical formula…or a spiritual check list to give you on how or why I didn’t walk away. It was not an overnight miracle that transpired to heal our marriage. It was this deep “knowing” in my soul that wasn’t who I was. I knew what that felt like. I had watched my dad walk away. I watched my first husband walk away. And that was not who I wanted to be!

I had no idea that day, what battle lied ahead of us. I didn’t know that in the midst of us choosing to fight for our marriage and make God first in every area of our life that He was preparing us for the fight of our lives. I shutter when I think about what might have happened if I had walked away from our marriage? God has shown me that the decisions we make today, especially in our marriage, will impact the future of generations to come. I have no doubt that would have been the case if I had walked away.

That summer Arvid started having problems like not being able to pull himself up on the knee board or skis, he fell at work and then down our stairs. He went to our family doctor and all the test looked good. Nothing. I started noticing that Arvid was reacting a little slow in conversation. He was easily fatigued. Had a few more falls. Few more doctor’s appointments and still nothing. We left a neurologist office in Birmingham, December 2009, and as we were getting on the elevator, leaving once again with no answers, Arvid asked me “Do you know what my worst fear is?” And I couldn’t imagine what disease or diagnosis he might be thinking of, but I asked him “what?” and he looked at me and said, that they will find nothing wrong with me and everybody will just think I am crazy”. That day I knew in my heart, that I was going to stand alongside my husband and fight for him until we found an answer. After much prayer and research I picked the phone up in March 2010 and called Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fl. No referral. Just me calling trying to see what it would take to go and see if God had answers for us there. I spoke with a lady on the phone that asked a series of questions. I answered them. She said that someone would now screen his information and determine if they felt a visit was indicated. A few weeks later they called with a list of specialist that would see him. And then in May 2010, a few days after Arvid’s 43 birthday, we were in the car on our way to Jacksonville. On that drive we talked about many things but the one thing I will never forget was the prayer that we prayed…”God, we know that you are already in our tomorrow and that You will be with us no matter what but God we ask that you reveal to us what you already know. No matter what the doctors say, Lord we will give You all the praise, honor and glory and surrender our lives to Your will. God we trust in You ”. And within 24 hours, after just a short exam with the neurologist, we learned more than we had in the past year and a half. Dr. Dimberg was very kind. He was careful with his words. He used initials and words that we had not heard before but it was the craziest thing I had ever experienced…As we sat there listening to God revealing to us what He ready knew, “Our Goliath” walked into the room that day, but it was in that moment, when I had to face that giant, that I realized my faith in God was bigger than any enemy we would battle! After a battery of test and seeing several specialist over the course of several days, we were on our way home knowing God had answered our prayer but facing the reality that we now must decide if we will honor our promise to Him.

It would be October 2010 that Arvid received a confirmed diagnosis of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I learned a lot about this disease that I had known very little about until the day it came knocking at our door. A disease that would eventually rob Arvid of the ability to throw a ball, run, walk, swallow, speak and even breathe…on April 11, 2014 Arvid lost his battle with ALS. On April 11th, what was my loss was Arvid’s gain. In that moment with our children and his parents…and my hand in his, as he took his last breath, he entered into the very presence of God and was made whole!

There are so many things I wish I could share about our journey but I feel compelled to speak some very specific revelations that God has given me that I think might speak to someone here tonight…

 *I wish I had realized sooner that Love is a choice. It is not a feeling or a destination that you will arrive at once someone has met a list of certain requirements. God, who is Love, is the only source in which we can truly love. When we choose authentic love-we can hold onto God’s truth that Love Never Fails!

*I would let God be the one that shaped and molded Arvid into who He designed him to be instead of me criticizing or nagging at him wishing he would change. I wish I could go back and take back every unkind and harmful word I spoke and trade them for words of affirmation, words that would build up and encourage him instead of tear down and destroy.

*I wish I had allowed him to be the leader of our home the way God had created him to be much earlier in our marriage. We cannot turn God’s creative order upside down and then expect that it will become something beautiful. It was when we followed God’s plan for our marriage that God did supernatural things in our lives…restoration, hope, passion, respect and a love that was unshakeable!

*I wish we had danced more. Oh how I love to close my eyes and remember the times that we did…I can still smell him, feel his touch and his breath on my neck.

*I wished that I had reached over and held his hand more just because I could.

*I wish I had taken more pictures…mentally and physically. Today those memories I have and the pictures I can hold are more valuable to me than gold.

The things I DO NOT regret…

*I don’t regret that I didn’t walk away from our marriage!

*I don’t regret taking care of Arvid’s every need… I dressed him, fed him through a feeding tube, brushed his teeth, bathed him, combed his hair, helped him with all bathroom needs, put him in bed each night, suctioned him during the night & then in the morning I would lift him out of bed & place him in his chair & do our daily routine again. Covenants aren’t always convenient but if given the chance to do it again  I wouldn’t hesitate. I count it is one of the greatest honors of my life!

 

*I don’t regret ALS…as crazy as it may sound, but it was in that battle that we chose to step out on a level of faith we had never known and face our “Goliath” head on and when we did, God’s words transformed from just being words on a page to reality that we were experiencing every day! I wouldn’t trade that for anything! I have always believed that God can make something beautiful out of our trials but now I believe that sometimes it is only when we walk onto the frontlines of the battlefield and face that giant, clothed only in the armor of God, that He will transform lives in the most miraculous way and when He does they will shine His light for generations to come! Oh how I pray that will be our story!

I know many of you never had the honor of meeting my amazing husband so I wanted to share some entries from his journal in hopes that you may get a glimpse of the man I am honored to say was MY husband and the love of my life…

Entries from his journal…

5/10/12

I went to the corporate campaign for ALS with my dear brother in law, Brian Hinson. He was one of the speakers at the campaign. He wore a suit with tennis shoes. I told him I liked his shoes and he told me they had a purpose in his speech and they did. I now have my very own pair like his. They say JOURNEY ON on the tongue. They are very special to me because that is the name of a song that I had shared with him that talks about no matter what life throws at you, Journey On.

5/13/12

Spent the day with the best mom in the world…Dawn

5/14/12

This disease may take my life but it will not take my love for God

5/22/12

God showed me in a dream I had last night. I saw myself walking normal. Thank you God for healing me. Went to JW Steakhouse with Jim Turner, Daniel Speakman, Steve Harris, Richard Jones and Joey Tucker. Had a blast. Thank you Lord for Godly men I call friends.

 

5/23/12

Went to Chet’s funeral today had to leave. I just don’t want to leave my precious family. I want to grow old with them. Jesus bring the rain. I want my family to know how much I love them. Dawn, Hunter, Anna, Jordan & Grayson. Mom & Dad and the whole gang. Greater things are yet to come, greater things are still to be done.

5/24/12 Had another dream about healing my body. I thank God for healing me of ALS.

 

5/28/12

God is a God of unfathomable love. Acts 3:16

6/17/12

Had the Best Father’s Day ever. I love my gifts. Thank you Lord for allowing me to be a dad. I am blessed beyond measure. Happy Father’s Day God.

7/4/12

I AM REDEEMED!!! The cross is my statue of liberty. It has made me glad to be a Christ follower. I pray that my joy & excitement for Christ will spill over onto everyone around me. I pray that I will be contagious.

7/17/12

Jesus wants us to be real & a true believer. Even in the hard times. It’s easy when it is going good. He want us to be real & true even when you get bad news or if things are not going the way you want them too. I’m getting worse. It takes all I have to get around but Praise God I can still get around & talk. I’m His. He can do with me what He wishes.

9/19/12

Taste and see that the Lord is good. He has blessed me with a wonderful wife and great children. My God is an awesome God.

 

9/20/12

My God is so good. He has allowed me to vacuum & do laundry. I couldn’t do it without God. I love the Lord with all my heart. I am very grateful the Lord has given me strength to walk & talk

11/19/12

Thank you Lord for another day to live, walk & talk. God is always faithful. I got another day to be with my family.

11/22/12

I am thankful for God & my family. God paid it all. Conquered death, hell & the grave. And thank God for this disease.

12/15/12

I thank God for my wife and all she does. She is a wonderful wife. She is the glue that holds us together…she is the love of my life & I think she knows I don’t tell her enough. I am trying. I just need her to know this…That she is a godly woman and a righteous fox!!!

2/25/13

Thank God I can still bathe & dress myself. The joy of the Lord is my strength & my song. Thank God for my health.

4/24/13

Got my feeding tube today. Was very sore. Praise God he’s going to take care of me.

7/11/13

Lord I put my trust in you & only you for you Oh Lord I trust & put my life in your hands. You have placed me here for a purpose & that is to make disciples.

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