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Hi Deb, thank you for sharing a little bit of your life with Generational Womanhood! I’m glad we could “sit down” for a cup of tea together so the ladies here can get to know you!

Deb and I met in Las Cruces, New Mexico over thirty years ago! We were both new Christians and went to the same church. As a matter of fact, Deb, I still have a wonderful Biblical exhortation on “love” that you wrote for Doug and I when we got married. It is tucked away in our wedding photo album! I was so glad to “find” you again via Facebook!

Good morning, Jill! I have really been blessed to reconnect with so many friends from a “lifetime ago” via the internet. Your wedding was among the first I attended as a Christian and my new faith brought a greater understanding to what I was witnessing that day as you exchanged vows. I smile when I remember the times you and Doug opened your home to the college singles for fellowship and study. Those experiences and relationships are part of what grounded me in my own walk with God.Thank you so much for asking me to share a bit of my life with you and your readers.

Deb, tell us about yourself. I don’t know much about your husband or your family but was thrilled to hear that, after a period of being single, the Lord brought a Christian man into your life. Please fill me(and us) in!

I went through college expecting to get married at least within a few years of graduation, but that was not God’s plan for me. I was 32 and living in Maryland when I attended a Valentines function put on for the single girls by the single guys at our small church.

When I drove up to the house, I was startled to realize two of the men were offering “valet” service to park the girls’ cars.The front door opened and a guy I had never met answered saying “I’m Kennedy, may I take your coat?” I thought he was the butler and smiled to think he was so involved in his part he even used his last name! It was a few months before I realized that “Kennedy” was actually his first name.

For the next year we didn’t pay much attention to each other, but, when the time was right, our eyes were opened to the possibilities of a friendship and more. We actually did premarital counseling with the pastor before we got engaged. We wanted to go through that process without the public pressure of a wedding date and plans, knowing how much more difficult it would be to put the brakes on things if a “show stopper” issue came up.

The premarital counseling was excellent as it directed us through difficult conversations involving our expectations of marriage and family life; roles and responsibilities. In discussing one of these sticky topics, the pastor leaned back in his chair, held his hands out to us and said “This is what marriage is about; the situations will be different, but the skill set to deal with them is the same, good communication, compromise, grace, love and commitment (to God, to each other and to the marriage). Do you have what it takes to work through these problems?”

We came out of the counseling confident that, with our commitment to the Lord, a marriage would work so, we got engaged, planned a destination wedding (Durango, Colorado) and made it happen in nine weeks with the help of our amazing families.That was just over 14 years ago.

What have you learned about God through the experience of meeting your husband, becoming a wife and forging a marriage?

Wow.There is a clamor of thoughts in my mind, too much to articulate, but, the loudest thought is “grace-filled love.” I was raised in a household where the goal was perfection. If you failed to meet that goal, you were a sad disappointment and reminded repeatedly of your failure…not a great way to grow up.

As a Christian I learned I cannot meet the goal of perfection since I am broken by sin, but, even after accepting Christ’s death, burial and resurrection as payment for my sin, I still felt the need to live “perfectly.” Because of my experience growing up, I didn’t understand how anyone could love me if I disappointed them yet, day in and day out, my husband demonstrates grace-filled love toward me.That isn’t to say I don’t disappoint him, but he never stops loving me and letting me know that he loves me.

I have felt an acceptance and freedom in my marriage I had never really known before. Do you ever walk through your day feeling “not enough?” Not a good enough friend, wife, mother, housekeeper, neighbor, fill-in-the-blank-where-you-feel-you’ve-failed?

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
While we are yet “not enough” God loved us so much He sent His Son to die for us. He didn’t wait for us to get our act together, to stop making mistakes, to stop failing. He loved us and took action to bring us back into relationship with Himself through Jesus’ death.

Knowing and experiencing God’s grace-filled love has humbled me and caused me to want to draw closer to Him rather than to indulge sin in my life.

Is motherhood anything like you thought it would be?

I didn’t have any expectations of what it would be like to be a Mom. I do have to admit, though, I love being a Mom, whether I thought about it before becoming one or not! Slowing life down and looking at it through the eyes of my children, marveling at the beauty all around in God’s creation…all of it is good. Sometimes hard, but always good.
And, again, as with marriage, motherhood has expanded my understanding of God’s relationship with me. I love my children even when their poor choices frustrate me (just as the Lord loves us although we are sinful). Of course, unlike God, I am not a perfect parent and often make mistakes, but my children are quick to forgive with a kiss and a hug when I confess and apologize.

As you go about your busy day, how do you keep your focus on God as a wife and mother?

I start my day in prayer and have made a habit of praying my way through the day. As I drive through various neighborhoods, I pray for those I know who live nearby. I fill my days with music; praise songs and hymns that keep my heart worshipful. I pray for needs as I see them.

This is especially helpful when my initial reaction would typically be to criticize ie.,“why can’t that Mom keep her kids under control?” has been replaced with “Lord, help that Mom. Give her strength and wisdom.”

Prayer changes my heart.

Prayer changes the world.

It taps into the heart of the Creator of the Universe.

The power for this change is not in the eloquence of the words or the person themselves, but the power of prayer resides in the One being prayed to. What a privilege!

A few years ago I made a jump ring of Bible verses that I carry with me attached to my purse. It is labeled “Ring of Truth” and contains verses that remind me of Biblical truths of God’s love, provision, protection, etc.
When I find myself discouraged or worried and I can’t seem to remember a verse to help, I can pull out my little Ring of Truth and be reminded of what is important; Whose I am (not who I am). Of course, there is probably a smart phone app for that these days, but my cell phone doesn’t even accept text messages so I have to rely on old-fashioned paper and ink!
These are some simple things I try to do on a consistent basis to keep my focus on God. I find if I put God first in my day, then my day orders itself around His purposes and I am better able to handle the unexpected!

What would you say to the woman who struggles to feel that she is unconditionally loved by God?

When I was single,this was a huge issue for me. I sincerely believed all those Bible verses about God loving others; being saved by grace not our own works, and I shared them with conviction to encourage others of His love for them. I just didn’t believe those verses fully applied to me!

One day it occurred to me that if I did not believe God’s grace and love covered me then I pretty much was calling Him a liar. I realized it was my own thinking that was wrong.

I began to accept the Bible verses that express God’s unconditional love, not just for others, but also for me. Later,I found myself wishing I had skills and talents I don’t have…I was dissatisfied with how God made me.
Psalm 139 tells us how carefully He crafts each one of us…did He really make a mistake with me? No, a perfect God does not make mistakes so, I began a journey to find out what talents and gifts God had crafted in me and I’ve prayerfully found places where those gifts can be used. Doing so brings so much joy!

Stay tuned for Part Two of our chat with Deb which will be posted today as well. Please visit her blog Rooted in Hope and say hello!