John 15: 1-4 (NIV) 1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesa so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I was separated from my first husband in 2003 after 24 years of marriage. At the time, I was not in a relationship with God. I was too busy “conforming to the patterns of the world,” commuting 3 hours every day to and from work in Northern Virginia, climbing the corporate ladder, studying for a degree, raising two children and somewhere in between trying to hold my marriage together.
We reconciled a year later after hearing a sermon on forgiveness. God told me several times during that sermon to “go home” and so I did. That is when I began to change my patterns, making God a priority.
In 2008 when my sister died from lung cancer, I went to Texas to attend her funeral. Afterwards it was hard to leave my Mom and brothers and return home and so I prayed and asked God to open a door for me to come back permanently. Two years later my husband told me that he didn’t want to be married anymore. As I lay awake that night trying to make sense of it all I remembered that prayer. I said “Wow God you sure have a sense of humor!” That’s not the way I thought He would answer my prayer and I was deeply wounded, but I chose to remain in Him.
Two months dragged on as I packed up 31 years of memories. I couldn’t sleep or eat and my emotions were all over the map, but I dug in and I did “more of the same.” I kept reading my Bible, I prayed 24/7, and I leaned on the women at church in an effort to understand, to trust and to remain in Him.
Things fell into place. I was able to take my work from home job with me to Texas. In February 2010, I made a trip to San Antonio to find a house to rent. After looking at many houses, I ended up choosing one in Alamo Ranch mainly because the first thing that I saw when I walked in was this:
I can’t explain the sense of peace it brought me. That framed poster hangs in our house today.
A few months went by and I was still trying to figure out God’s plan for me. The anger that had fueled me during the move was wearing off and the loneliness, sense of loss and rejection were setting in. Finally, one night in my bedroom I fell to the floor and begged God to heal my broken heart. He was about to answer me in a huge way.
Not long after that I met Kevin, newly divorced after 20 years. In August 2011 we began attending Life Point Church. We were married in 2012 and together we have 7 children and 9 grandchildren!
Over the next year numerous family members and friends began attending church with us and many were baptized. Some now even serve on the Dream Team! It is amazing to see the spiritual growth in our families and to see old patterns replaced with new, fruitful ones.
“We make the patterns and then the patterns make us.”
Pastor Danny, from “The Power of Same,” January 10, 2016.
God continues to prune us. Kevin is an ex-felon and a recovering addict who has been free from drugs for over 20 years. In 2013, he joined Prison Fellowship Ministries and began teaching weekly at a prison in Hondo. Last spring he said wanted to teach The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) course in Dilley. This 3-year course equips prisoners to become pastors and church leaders. I told Kevin I would provide administrative and moral support, but God being the Master Gardener He is, decided it was time to “prune” my fear of public speaking and I now teach right alongside Kevin! More fruit!
Last month during “The Power of Same” sermon, Pastor Danny said “there is power in remaining planted in Jesus.” Kevin and I believe that. We would not be where we are today had we not remained planted in Him.
Published by Catherine Hyland