Desera and her husband Bryan will be renewing their wedding vows on their fifth anniversary, the day before Easter. Pretty special, right? More remarkable is the journey God has taken them on during those years. Here’s Desera’s story.
“I never had a faith. I struggled with addictions most of my life. Back in 2010, when I was four months pregnant, my husband was incarcerated. When my son was born I started drinking again, dabbled for nine months and just felt lost. I don’t exactly remember how or why, but my family did an intervention in November 2011 and I started getting back on the right path.”
Meanwhile, God was preparing this new path for her. Some of the women at Word of Life Lutheran Brethren Church, in Marysville, Washington were participating in the Angel Tree Ministry of bringing Christmas gifts to the children of those who are in prison. Desera says, “I remember someone calling me saying they had gifts for my children, and ‘could they drop them off after church on Sunday?’”
Prior to this, Desera had tried a few churches, wanting something different after she had become sober, but just hadn’t felt comfortable. She remembers feeling “lost and discouraged.” After the Word of Life women—complete strangers to her—dropped off the gifts, she decided that she would honor them and try their church. “And I never left!” she declares.
She characterizes her previous life’s journey as marked by wreckage and damage. It wasn’t that she did not believe in God; she “just didn’t know him!” So God drew her to himself, as she continued her journey at Word of Life. She talks about how cool it was, going by herself, where she knew absolutely nobody, yet it became close and comfortable. And God, in his remarkable way, was also drawing her husband to himself at church services during his incarceration. Apart as they were, both had their “Aha!” moments with God, traveling the same path with him.
Their son, Jordan, was baptized at Word of Life when he was almost two. Currently four years old, he has been learning about Jesus, just like his parents. His Dad was released at the end of September 2014, and as they all rode together in the car, Jordan said out of the blue, “Mom and Dad, let’s pray!” They know God is present in their lives. Both have sons from previous marriages. Now they have one together: new beginnings also in parenting with God.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t struggles. Desera says, “God is definitely working in our lives. It’s just if we’re willing to receive it. I tend to get in the way. A lot. But when I get into despair I know how to get out. Seek him! I’ll feel better much quicker. Trust him instead of ‘knowing better.’” She is learning that the internal message, “I’m worthless,” is a lie. Jesus died for her! “The biggest thing is trust: have faith, and don’t give up. He’ll make sure everything turns out. And talk to him. He’s present!”
The church family and Pastor Jay Price have been instrumental in both Desera’s and Bryan’s lives, and that is where they will renew their vows: in a church, with a wedding dress, reception and family trip, which didn’t happen five years ago. It is a new beginning, and Desera doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that their anniversary falls on the day before Easter, Resurrection Day!
Cheryl Olsen is the Faith & Fellowship correspondent for Women’s Ministries of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.