Genesis 5020

Stories for His Glory

Meredith’s Story Part Two September 13, 2013

Filed under: Other Genesis 5020 Stories — Melissa Finnegan @ 10:06 am
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sad-woman-1347879026vYLThis is the conclusion of Meredith’s story. If you missed the first part click here.

We got married a month after I found out I was pregnant.  Marriage was great at first.  We talked about how it would be once my son was born and about maybe even having another baby a few months after.

Unfortunately, physical and verbal abuse started a few months into what I thought would be a “perfect” marriage.  I found myself fighting for my life and the life of my child.

We ended up getting evicted from our apartment due to my husband’s rampant drug and alcohol use. So we moved into my parent’s house where the abuse continued and got worse.

By now my husband was also having multiple affairs. I sank into a very deep depression. It wasn’t until after Gabriel was born and a couple months old that I decided to file for divorce.

I was terrified because my husband had threatened to kill me and my family if I ever did so.  A few months after filing for divorce my husband moved out and my depression continued to worsen.

Speed ahead to a year after the divorce.  Thirty days after the divorce was finalized my first husband married his mistress and within a few short months they were expecting their first child, a little girl.

I snapped!  I hit rock bottom and from that point felt that God was punishing me for all that I had done in my life.

I let the voices get in and start telling me what a bad mother I was and that I was a horrible person…how I would be better off dead so those around me could lead better lives without having to worry about me.

So one night I borrowed my parent’s car and decided that I was going to drive off the overpass onto the expressway. As I started to drive I was crying and crying out to God “WHY????”.

I don’t remember what happened to me but once I started to drive over the bridge, the next memory I have is of me in the church my mom had introduced me to so long ago, crying and not able to speak.  I sat down in a chair next to a woman but didn’t say a thing.  I listened to the testimony of a man who had a story different, yet similar to mine.  After the sermon, I felt I had to go up and speak to the pastor.

I did, and I let everything that had happened to me spill out as I was crying.  He sat quietly listening and then told me his story which was like mine.  He also told me that God loved me no matter what I had done in this life and that by asking for forgiveness it would all be washed away and I could start a new chapter.

Then he had a group of women come around me and pray and offer words of encouragement and love. That was the first time in a very LONG time I had ever felt love and compassion from other people. They gave me all of their numbers and information for the counseling center at the church. They took me out to dinner and just loved on me.  \

I knew from that moment that I wanted a relationship with Jesus and didn’t want anything else. The next day a counselor called me and I was immediately brought into counseling.

Speed up to present day. It has been 5 years since that night and I am so grateful that God literally saved my life that day as I would have missed out on so many beautiful and wonderful things!

I did get remarried and divorced again but it was nothing like what I went through the first time. I clung to God the whole way through it and he brought me through.   He gave me a new sense of renewal and a purpose to my life. He has introduced me to a whole bunch of loving people who I am honored to call friends, and he has “restored the years the Locust have eaten” (Joel 2:25).

He can Restore yours too!!

Yes He can. You are never too far gone for God to reach you, never doubt that everything can change with Jesus.

What’s your Genesis 5020? Someone needs your story so they know they are not alone. Share your story with us at: 5020genesisstories(at)gmail(dot)com

 

Is Your Marriage Normal? August 27, 2013

Filed under: Book Reviews,Tuesday Thoughts — Melissa Finnegan @ 11:29 am
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love to stay

Love to Stay

by

Adam Hamilton

From the back cover:

In this book, Adam Hamilton explores how, with God’s help, we can make love last. Drawing upon a survey of thousands of couples and singles, interviews with relationship and marriage therapists, the latest research in the field, and wisdom from the Bible, Hamilton looks at what it takes to create and sustain healthy, meaningful romantic relationships across the course of a lifetime. Contents include:  More Than a Piece of Paper; What She Wants; What He Wants; The Significance of Sexual Intimacy; Habits That Hurt, Habits That Heal; Clothe, Bear With, and Forgive; A Love That Lasts a Lifetime. A companion DVD study and leaders guide are also available.

My thoughts:

I am totally breathing a sigh of relief. Yes, my marriage is normal and yours probably is too.

After reading Love to Stay things make more sense to me now. I see that my husband and I are in the hardest years of marriage but if we can get through these the next stage should be easier, happier.

Now the author isn’t telling you to just get through the years. No, he admits that marriage is hard, one of the hardest things we will ever do but he encourages us to strive for better, for more of what God wants. Which is my heart’s cry as well.

I really enjoyed this book. It wasn’t anything ground breaking but it was a good reminder of what it takes to make a marriage work. You can see actual graphs and percentages of what other people say regarding different questions in their marriage. I really liked seeing that clearly.

One of the many things that stuck out to me, and has challenged me, was to ask myself if I am the type of person my husband would want to date now if we were both single. I want to be that person, how about you?

At the end of each chapter are reflections, questions and prayers and even reflections for singles, so you don’t have to be married to read this book.

Overall, I highly recommend this book.

Grab a copy at your local book store, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com or Deeper Shopping.

Visit Adam’s website here.

A copy of this book was given to me by Abingdon Press through Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

 

Fight For Your Marriage August 9, 2013

Filed under: Melissa's devotions/articles — Melissa Finnegan @ 11:26 am
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hands-with-heartsIf you are single please don’t skip this post. Just keep reading, we need you.

My heart is burning today so instead of sharing a devotion I want to ask you to pray. This post will be short because I want you to truly take the time to pray today.

It is becoming more and more clear to me that we need to fight for our marriages. I keep hearing and/or reading about the difference between fighting in our marriages vs. fighting for them. I don’t know about you but most of the time I feel I am fighting in mine and I want to fight for it.

Marriage is under attack. Adultery is more rampant than any of us realize. We need to take back what Christ has given us. He gave us marriage as a picture of what our relationship should look like with Him. How does your picture look? Does it even come close to looking like Jesus and His Bride?

We need to be a generation that rises up as an army, and says “No more.” We won’t let the enemy have his way in our lives, in our children’s lives. We won’t give up, we will keep fighting. Fighting for God’s best.

We have fallen short. We have settled for, “This is the best it will get.” That is lie. It can be so much better, we have no clue and that is right where the enemy wants us. It does get better, it is better.

Today I ask that you take a minute and pray for marriages all over the world. If you know people who are struggling, pray for them. If you are struggling, pray. If you are single pray for your future marriage, pray for those who are married. We need to be people on our knees, better yet, on our faces.

Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6 (ESV)

If you need prayer you can leave a comment. No need to leave specifics, the Holy Spirit knows what is going on. I would love to you lift you up today.

 

Part XXIII-Open Up the Gates July 27, 2012

Our relationship with our Pastor and his wife had grown closer over the years since we returned to elem3nt. We started camping with Pastor Gayle and his “insta-family”. They had been trying for fourteen years to have a baby. They adopted three children and guess what? They got pregnant. All in a matter of year.

On our next camping trip with Gayle we decided to share our story. We figured after the kids went to bed we would tell them while we sat around the campfire.

Every night it rained so we never had a fire. My nerves were a tangled mess as I continued to wonder what night we would share.

Finally, on the last night it didn’t rain.

We sat around the campfire after the kids went to bed. I can’t remember exactly what Gayle’s wife said but something like she was grateful for our friendship and we could just be regular people when we were together.

What a perfect segue, right? I couldn’t open my mouth. Patrick looked at me as if to say, “Go for it.” But I knew I needed him to get the conversation started.

He did. We shared.

Pastor Gayle said one of the coolest things I have ever heard after we have shared. He said, “Praise God, He won one.”

Now, He didn’t mean that God doesn’t win very often, he just meant that so often we hear of marriages that don’t survive, of couples who are torn apart by adultery. But God won our marriage.

Pastor Gayle wasn’t shocked, wasn’t mad that we didn’t share sooner. None of that.

Once again there was love.

Once again my heart healed a bit more.

About a month after that our lifegroup got back together after several weeks off. We knew would share at that time.

Now let me back track for a moment. The summer of 2009, when I had the affar, I sat with some church ladies and one of the ladies said something that floored me.  We were talking about disobeying God and she said, “I never purposely disobey God, do you?”

I couldn’t answer. I sat there and simply thought. “I did. I purposely disobeyed. And I will never tell anyone in my church what I did. No one would understand.”

I tell you this as a warning to be careful what we say. You never know where someone else is at on their journey. That statement was enough to make me want to hide my story forever.

Thankfully, God got a hold of me and I knew I couldn’t disobey Him again.

So here I am, a year after the affair, about to tell church people what God had done in my life, my marriage.

Remember, one of the couples in the group went through the exact same thing several years before, yet I was scared. I don’t think I looked anyone in the eye. I found a nice place on the wall to stare at.

We shared. We cried. We were loved. More healing came.

I believe during that time of sharing  Genesis 5020 worked its way into our story and has been a part of it ever since.

The other couple said, “You could have told us.”

I nodded, I knew I could have. “I was so ashamed.”

Everyone still loved us. And now we could be us. We had no secrets.

That fall I heard a friend of mine, who I talked to only once in a while, might be getting a divorce. Instead of gossiping and speculating about it I called her and asked.

She said yes, the information was true. Then she confessed to me. She had an affair.

I sobbed into the phone. “I did too.”

I offered what I could to her, my love, support and prayer. I continue to offer that to her but her story ended much differently than mine. Although she repented of her sin and wanted to fix her marriage that did not happen. I do understand that not every marriage can be salvaged after such a terrible sin.

Now, hear me. The only person who has a right to divorce is the spouse who was sinned against when it comes to adultery. That is the only time God says it is okay. If Patrick wanted a divorce he could have gotten one without disobeying God. If I wanted one I would have been digging myself into an even deeper pit of darkness, pain and disobedience. I had no right to ask for a divorce.

That being said, I believe God even wants us to work through that mess. I believe it pleases Him when a marriage can survive something so horrible. He is the healer, He can heal all things.

After telling Pastor Gayle and our life group we knew the day would come when we would tell our church body. We didn’t know when or how, only that we would.

We also knew before we told our church we had to tell our families.

In the fall of 2010 I also read a book Wounded Heart. This book is about dealing with sexual abuse. I started to feel a need to help others to heal from abuse. I wondered how many other women had been abused and had affairs? It seemed all the women I knew who had affairs had also been abused.

In the book the author talked about speaking to your abuser. I skimmed over that chapter. I couldn’t talk to my abuser. It would be too hard and weird. He was still a part of my life, I saw him a couple of times year and I was comfortable pretending that everything was fine.

Once again, I told God “never.”

Next week I will share what my never turned into. I am sure you can guess.

And the God of all grace, who called  you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10 NIV

I’d love to hear about some of your “nevers” you told God and how He turned that around and you ended up doing it. Feel free to share with us in the comments.

Just a reminder:

Patrick and I are very excited to share something with you. As we draw to the close of our story we would love to hear your stories. We have created an email account just for that. Do you have a Genesis 5020 that needs to be told? It doesn’t have to be marriage or abuse, it could be anything. Don’t think your story is too small. Nothing God does is small. If you prefer to be anonymous that is no problem, just tell us that in your email. We would prefer you paste your story in the body of the email, do not send an attachment. You can start sending your stories at anytime, we will contact you when and if we use your story on the blog.

We would also like to use that email to help you. If you are going through something and you need to talk to one of us don’t hesitate to email us and let us know. We are not counselors and don’t pretend to be but we know the joy that is found on the other side of pain. We can’t drag you to the other side but we can encourage you along the way.

email us at: 5020genesisstories(at)gmail(dot)com

We can’t wait to get your Genesis 5020’s out for the world to see God’s glory.

 

Part XII-Losing Control May 4, 2012

Guest post: Patrick Finnegan

God is in control, it doesn’t matter what is happening in your life, the economy, on a political level, or in this world.  God is in control.

When Melissa and I went through the tragedy of Melissa having a physical affair (what we have endearingly nicknamed “the incident,”) God had it all under control and wanted to work on both of us.  I know that seems strange and I never would have guessed it at the time.  

You see, when I found out what happened God spoke very strongly to me, over and over again that I needed to focus on Melissa and her healing.  And that I needed to be there to support and encourage her. 

To be honest, this was very difficult for me. 

I was the one who was hurt.  I was the one who was betrayed.  I was the one who was “sinned against.”  How is this about her?  I was wronged!!  Help me!! 

But through this anger and these questions God spoke to me in His patient comforting voice, “It’s about her right now, love her as I do.  See her as I do.  Comfort her as I do.  Forgive her as I have.  Your healing will come later I promise, but right now it is about her.” 

Are you kidding me God? 

Do you not realize what she did to me?  It felt like she ripped my heart, my life, my children, and my being out of me and threw it away.  And you want me to love her and comfort her without any healing first?  That is when I had it out with God and told Him, “You better take control because I can’t do it.”

This is a huge statement for me that I didn’t realize at the time.  “You better take control God because I can’t do it.” 

For those of you who don’t know me that well, I am the guy that can do anything without the help of anyone.  This is the classic definition of a control freak.  So let me put it mildly; I am a huge control freak. 

So there I was, a child of God in the midst of what felt like everything was out of my control, which it was. 

From all visible angles and evidence I was trapped.  There was no way back, and no way forward. I was in that place no one ever wants to be.  

And the entire time God is speaking His sweet voice to me and I am hearing Him as plain as day

My idol had become Control.  I could control or take control of any situation.  If I couldn’t, I walked away from it.  This included my marriage. 

I tried to control my marriage in a variety of ways, let me tell you it doesn’t work.  God needed to be in control of my marriage, BIG TIME!

The battle I face was that I no longer controlled of any aspect of my life.  All control of anything had been ripped from me. 

Over and over I keep thinking I want out of this marriage. But the scriptures say God hates divorce.  So what was I supposed to do?  As difficult as it was, I obeyed God.  Not because I want to, but simply because He commanded me to. 

I hated it.  I hated the fact that I felt as if Melissa took everything from me and even God didn’t have compassion for me. 

All of this soon to changed. 

I will never forge our 11th anniversary, June 13.  We decided to go out and try to forget about it.  Ya right.  It was a terrible night. Out to eat, out for dessert, trying to pretend like we had everything under control.  Fighting most of the time.  The only time we didn’t fight was when we saw someone from church. We pretended everything was completely ok.

For some reason that evening we decided to go to the Christian bookstore.  As long as I live I will never forget it…I pick up a book about marriage. 

In it there is a section about unfaithfulness in marriage.  I can’t remember the exact words the book used, but it basically said that God understands completely how difficult unfaithfulness in marriage is and that sexual sin is the most serious of all sin.  Because of the seriousness and nature of this type of sin and that it involves multiple people God understands the terrible hurt and grief that go along with it.  And even though God does hate divorce, this is the one reason God would allow it.

I wasn’t trapped anymore.  God understood and would let me out.  He knew I couldn’t bear the pain and grief.  I once again had some control in this situation.  I had a get out of jail free card.  

 Then came that voice again “It’s about her right now, love her as I do.  See her as I do.  Comfort her as I do.  Forgive her as I have.  Your healing will come later I promise, but right now it is about her.” 

Wait, first I have no control, then I do have some control and you are asking me to give it up God?  That is when I realized…

Fear says: It’s over, there’s no way out, I can’t deal with this.

Faith says: I don’t know what God is going to do and I don’t know how, but I know God has it all under control.

So there I stood.  Pondering these two things.  Was I going to trust that God had control of this and allow him to work?  Or was I going to grasp on to any bit of control that I could? 

I hit complete and utter rock bottom.  The only control I had was in making a decision. 

Either I was going to take the only control I could and drag her through the mud where I stood to lose everything.  Or would I practice what I had preached to other people but had never fully done myself. which Completely put all my trust and faith in God and know that He was in control and He would take care of this situation. 

This was the darkest moment of my life. 

Here is a lesson that will change your life; God works the night shift. The greatest miracle of your life may only be an hour away. It always gets the darkest just before the dawn.  God worked on and spoke to me through many nights.

Without knowing it I was finally in position for a miracle, for God almighty to do what I could never do. He had  been waiting for me to recognize one of the idols in my life; control.  He was waiting for me to recognize my weakness, and His strength.

You’ll never know His strength until you recognize your weakness.

The Lord told the Apostle Paul: 2 Corinthians 12:9 New Living Translation (NLT)  Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  

 That is one reason we share our story.

Have you struggled with letting go of control? Don’t we all at some point? Are you willing to share with us some areas you have had to let go of in your own life?

 

Part VII-The Emotional Affair March 30, 2012

Filed under: Melissa's Genesis 5020 — Melissa Finnegan @ 12:18 pm
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We left off last week with Jesus coming into my life. I felt wonderful and new. I fooled myself into thinking I didn’t need to look my past in the eye and deal with it. That took place in 2000.

In 2002 Patrick and I had our beautiful daughter, our princess.  That same year Patrick came to know Christ as His Savior.

Sometime between 2003 and 2005 I began having an emotional affair. Before this time I had “dabbled” in my thought life. Thinking things about men I knew I shouldn’t. The thoughts didn’t last long and I would move on.

 This time the thoughts took on a life of their own.

I shared my struggles with a close friend. But as my thoughts consumed me I hid them from her so she couldn’t help me.

I begged God for  two years to take away these thoughts. I knew they were wrong. But I also told myself I wasn’t hurting anyone. What would a few thoughts do to a marriage?

One Sunday at church our pastor  took some pottery and broke it into shards. He gave each of us a piece. We wrote down something we struggled with and then placed our brokeness on the cross.

I wrote down “lust.” I still see it every Sunday, because that cross stands on the platform as I lead worship.

I gave it away, yet I didn’t walk away.

I think I over simplified my issue. The product of my sin was lust but the root was pride and power.

I felt powerful when I had these thoughts. That was a complete lie. The thoughts had power over me.

Blinded by power, I didn’t see my pride. The rules didn’t apply to me so I could think what I wanted.  

I started planning ways to end my marriage. I convinced myself I would never be happy with my husband and I just needed to do him a favor and release him.

During this time I read an article in a Christian magazine. The article was about emotional affairs and referred to the book Every Women’s Battle. I was shocked to learn I wasn’t the only Christian woman who struggled with this problem.

You see, I began to question my faith. I mean, if I thought these unholy things how could I call myself a Christian? Reading that article helped me to realized I wasn’t alone.

But I still didn’t walk away.

I believe this grew more intense for several reasons. I was around this man a lot. I put myself in a situation in which I spent a great deal of time with him. Patrick even made comments about this other man wanting to date me if I didn’t have a ring on my finger. He had no idea I was struggling with impure thoughts  and his comments only fueled the fire inside me.

One more factor played into my issues; I wanted another child. Patrick did not.

I wanted to be okay with having an only child. I started reading books on the best way to raise an only and I tried to convince myself everything would be good. 

Jealousy burrowed a hole in my heart as I watched other women have babies.

I told myself if I divorced Patrick I could have a child with this other man.

In the summer of 2005 everything exploded. I can’t even tell you how because I don’t remember, but it did. I confessed everything to Patrick. Not out of wanting to repent but because I wanted out of my marriage.

I said things like, “I never loved you. I should have called off the wedding before we even got married. I’m not happy.”

Patrick persisted in fighting for me. He searched the Word and spoke truth into my life, even though I didn’t want to hear it.

I was very confused. I didn’t really know what I wanted after Patrick started fighting for me. I finally told him I believed a major reason I wanted out was because I wanted another child and it hurt me deeply that he refused.

Patrick confessed something to me; God had spoken to him about having another child.

His story is very powerful so I want to give Patrick the opportunity to share with you next week.

I hate to leave you hanging, but isn’t that what good storytellers do?

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

How about you, have you struggled with your thought life? No need to share details, but can you share how you have overcome thoughts in your own life that could have been destructive?

 

Part VI-Girl Meets Savior March 23, 2012

Filed under: Melissa's Genesis 5020 — Melissa Finnegan @ 12:51 pm
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Last week I talked about the time I met my husband and called it Boy Meets Girl With a Red Ford Probe. Although I enjoy that story, I have an even better love story to share with you this week.

The story of how I met my Savior.

I ended last week with the dream of living happily ever after. We all think that will be our story when we meet the one we will marry, don’t we? But reality settles in eventually and we realize that our spouse isn’t meeting all our needs.

Before Patrick and I got married I began to feel restless, unsatisfied. I had an aching feeling inside. Problems rose up before our marriage, to the point that I tried to call off the wedding.

I will never forget that day.

Patrick walked out of my parents house and drove away. A few minutes later he returned. I looked out the window and saw him holding his hands to his face. I assumed he was crying.

 This was the first time I broke my husbands heart, but it would not be the last.

I knew when he pulled back in the driveway I would go through with the wedding. I am so glad I did.

Our wedding was perfect, everything I ever wanted. But, in the back of my head, I was thinking, If this doesn’t work I will just get a divorce.

The first two years of our marriage I carried that thought with me. I was basically waiting for a reason to divorce Patrick. I felt like I was forced to marry him because “Melissa always does what is expected” and I didn’t want to let anyone down. I was sure Patrick would do something that would allow me to file for divorce.

During that time I hung out with my friends, choosing to party with them and not be with my husband.

In January of 2000 I attended the church I grew up in most of my life. In the Sunday school class the teacher challenged us to read the Bible in a year. I had never read the whole Bible so I thought I would give it a try.

A strange thing began to happen as I read.

I saw God.

The words made sense to me when before they were just stories in a book. I looked forward to Sundays and what the pastor would share.

In February of that year our closest friends told us they were getting a divorce. I realized I didn’t want that to happen me. I saw the pain in their lives and didn’t want to bring that into my own life, or Patrick’s. Divorce started to lose its appeal.

March 18, 2000 I attended a conference for women, called the Changed Life Seminar. I went thinking it would be a nice day to spend with my mom. I never thought my life would change.

God had others plans.

The speaker was Glenda Revell. I won’t go into detail about her talk, but God used what she said to reach into my heart and show me His great love. My eyes were opened for the first time. I asked Jesus to come into my heart.

Now, I was sure healing had come into my life. What Patrick could not fill in my heart, God could. This is true. Yet, I faced the problem of taking some responsibility for my healing.

Jesus does offer us complete healing when He comes into our lives. But healing is a gift.

Upon Jesus coming into my life I accepted many gifts. I unwrapped loved, praise, forgiveness and so much more.  

One gift looked too pretty to unwrap and I knew if I unwrapped it I would have to look at a lot of ugly stuff and it would hurt. The gift would lose its beauty.

That was the gift of healing from my past.

I took that pretty gift and I said, “Yep, I have been healed.” I placed it up on a shelf and I would not look at it again until nine years later.

Every once in a while I would throw glances at healing and remember that it was there but I would never touch the pretty box. I didn’t want to mess it up.

I am so glad I met Jesus when I did. I have questioned Him, asking why He saved me back in 2000 when He knew I would commit so many dark sin’s later. He has clearly told me, “Because I knew you would need a Savior.”

I cry.

I thank Him for wanting to be my Savior when He knew I would hurt Him and turn my back on Him.

This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 1 John 4:10 (NLT)

Last week I asked you to share the story of how you met your spouse. This week I would love hear how you met your Savior. Please share.