Visions of becoming the bride in a church wedding grew with each wedding I attended. My artistic mother created the beautiful cakes.

Marriage seemed to be the way to love, security and safety. Pushing away the fear in my soul kindled by childhood sexual abuse, I readied myself for a marital relationship.

My response to God began on my knees before an upholstered pink slipper chair in my bedroom where as a young child I asked Jesus Christ to come into my life and to be the one who would save me forever. A heavy burden fell away from me. As I grew, I became wary of “the plans” that might be God’s choice for my life. What if marriage and children were not included?

Just weeks after high school graduation, I met a determined young man who announced that all my old boyfriends were history and that he was now number one. We were married within a year.

In 1968, while in Germany, far away from the Vietnam War, I felt safe and secure as I studied the face of my first baby. It seemed that life was turning out just right. I prayed, “Lord if you want me ‘as is,’ I’m yours from now on.“

I had four children at 28, and my work as a hair design artist had been replaced by the work of a stay at home mom.

My childhood dreams of a faithful marriage had been shattered by my husband’s brief affair a few years earlier, but we were trying to put it behind us. I began drinking secretly in order to numb the pain that felt like a jagged rock inside. Family times in church together provided a respite, but frequently my husband worked on Sundays.

I stopped drinking when my mother died suddenly, and a deep sadness hung over me for several years.

In our 23rd year of marriage we divorced and I was left alone with four children. Terrified and desperate, I clung to Jesus, praying constantly about my every need. Somehow, each day we had just enough.

After five years alone, we were married a second time. A second divorce after 2 ½ years left me alone again with a large house and a mountain of credit card debt. I worked hard and rented space in the house which enabled me to sell and move four years later.

The children are now married, and their dad is remarried. Life is still challenging, but we have formed a “family” that includes everyone. The pleasure of my life is to serve the One who never left me, not even for a moment. I do so by befriending other women who are alone or whose husbands are addicted to substances or behaviors.

I feel privileged to have been married and to be a parent. God’s plan has allowed me to see my life as a design of His own making that includes all my mistakes. Nothing has been wasted and life is far from over!