It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Catherine Miller, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***
Cindy Beall is a writer, speaker, and a mentor to women. She and her husband, Chris, speak openly about their difficult journey through Chris’ infidelity and pornography addiction that nearly destroyed their marriage and ministry. Through God’s grace they have inspired thousands of couples and have returned to full-time ministry where Chris serves as the Oklahoma City Campus Pastor at LifeChurch.tv.
Visit the author’s website.
Life changed forever for Cindy Beall when her husband, a respected pastor, confessed to pornography addiction and numerous affairs. Through her remarkable story and with biblical, practical insight, Cindy helps husbands and wives grieve, heal, as they trust God’s power to resurrect something new out of the debris of betrayal.
Foreword by Craig Groeschel, bestselling author and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv.
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
When the Walls Come Tumbling Down
You never forget the day that changes your life forever. The day that turns your heart and your family upside down. But when that day begins, you don’t realize it’s anything out of the ordinary.
It was February 19, 2002, and my husband of nine years, Chris, and I were just getting settled into our new home in Edmond, Oklahoma. He had come out six weeks earlier on his own to begin his ministry with LifeChurch.tv as the worship pastor of the Edmond Campus. I had stayed behind in Memphis to wrap up the sale of our home there. But now we and our almost three-year-old son, Noah, were happily back together under one roof.
On this morning, while Chris was at the church, I was doing the usual stuff that nesters do. I unpacked boxes, fought with bubble wrap, and put away our belongings in the kitchen, the bathrooms, and the rest of the house. I was enjoying the process and thought how good it was to prepare our new home for this new life we had prayed about so fervently.
And then Chris came home unexpectedly at 9:30.
I was about to ask why he was back from work so soon, but the worried expression on his face stopped me from saying anything. He asked if we could talk. The request sounded so formal and distant that my heart raced as I quickly and silently got Noah settled in front of our TV with a Blue’s Clues video and inched my way along a narrow path around stacks of boxes and toward Chris. My mind was spinning in anticipation of what might come out of his mouth.
Had one of our parents died or been in an accident? Had the church changed their mind about adding Chris to the staff?
Chris motioned me to the newly purchased sofa, and we sat down together. I tried to look into his handsome green eyes for reassurance. But those amazing, clear eyes that had captivated me the day we met years before were now downcast. I waited for him to reassure me that all was well in this new life. But instead of words of comfort, the man I had prayed for as a young woman, long before I knew him, was about to share news that would alter the course of our lives in unimaginable ways.
The Prayers of a Young Woman
I first prayed for my future husband while I was serving as a summer missionary on a Native American reservation in Wyoming. Although this ministry experience would become one of the best challenges and inspirations in my life and faith journey, the day I had to say goodbye to my mom at the Austin, Texas, airport was an unhappy one. The cute denim jumper with the cheery sailor collar I wore did little to dress up my sadness at having to leave her and my home to be 1200 miles away for 11 weeks. It felt like a world and a lifetime apart.
The first couple of weeks proved to be difficult. My tear-stained cheeks initially put a damper on the adventure. But eventually I understood that I needed this time to grow up and learn to rely on God.
And I did.
I learned a lot about the woman I would become. I not only learned to lean on God but also discovered that I had a voice and something to say and something worth sharing. I learned that not all things make sense when you follow Christ. And I realized it’s okay to not have an answer for everything. In fact, it’s actually more authentic and appealing when you don’t.
In the midst of my time of learning about God, about others, and most definitely about myself, I had a longing in my heart for true love. The kind of love that would lead me to say to someone special, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” And I wasn’t the type of girl who had to have a boyfriend on her arm at all times. For one thing, I was taller than most guys my age. This is hardly an asset for a young girl’s dating potential. I also possessed an independent spirit, and I liked the freedom I was experiencing during this stage of life.
Still, this longing for true love grew. I would be turning 21 soon, and although there isn’t a guideline or time frame that says young women should fall in love by this age, I definitely wouldn’t have pushed the opportunity away. If it was the right guy, you understand. My right guy.
One particular July night during that summer mission, I stared out at the beautiful mountains bathed in sunset’s glow and began praying for others and for my future husband. At that moment, the idea popped into my head—thank You, Holy Spirit—that maybe I should pray for my husband’s salvation. So I did.
I prayed that my future husband would have the character, personality, talents, passions, and even the looks that matched up with the list I made about the man of my dreams. I didn’t think I was asking for much. Just the moon, the stars, and everything in between. Why not, right?
I first saw Chris Beall at a barn dance in November 1991. We couldn’t take our eyes off each other. He wasn’t the best dresser, nor did he have a model-perfect smile, but he held my gaze with those intoxicating green eyes. I was smitten almost immediately.
It would be a few more months before anything actually began between us. He started frequenting the Baptist Student Union on our campus for our Wednesday lunches. Within a few weeks, at one of those lunches, he asked me for a dinner date the following Monday. I didn’t have to agonize with anticipation for five days. Instead, he came to my church on Sunday and invited me out to lunch with a group of friends. There was so much excitement and “I can’t believe this is really happening” in the air that by Sunday evening, we found ourselves sitting on the balcony of my apartment eating mint chocolate chip ice cream and talking about life, family, and mostly about Jesus. And I found out something special about Chris that evening: He’d been a Christ follower for less than a year, and the date that he gave his life to Christ was July 7, 1991—the summer that the Holy Spirit led me to pray for my future husband’s salvation.
I knew with every part of my being that Chris Beall was the one for me. I knew it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I knew it in my knower and felt it in my feeler. But what I didn’t know was that the very next day he made a down payment on my wedding ring.
Ten months later, on January 9, 1993, we became husband and wife.
We were so madly in love with Jesus and each other that we were certain we’d conquer it all. We never would have guessed that the road we’d travel together over the course of our marriage would be anything but bliss.
Love was completely blind in our case. It’s a good thing, because little did I know that around year nine, we’d get our sight back.
I sat down next to Chris on our new couch, and as he began speaking, my throat went dry and my eyes stung with hot tears. Even though shock was making it hard for my mind to make sense of the words and phrases and sentences, my heart and soul took it all in with great sorrow. Chris wasn’t communicating the news that someone we loved was hurt. He was confessing that he, the person I loved most in the world, had hurt and betrayed me in the deepest way.
Chris had been unfaithful.
I was now trembling head to foot as my mind continued to spin with disbelief. I felt nauseous as the confession continued. He had been unfaithful with more than one woman. In fact, he had been with many women in many different places over the course of the past two and a half years.
While I listened, the very real physical pain of a heart breaking took me by surprise. And as I struggled to keep breathing, Chris forced himself to speak the last part of his confession through trembling lips: One of the women was pregnant, and he was pretty sure the baby was his child.
He kept his eyes on me. He didn’t look away for a minute, even when my face clearly changed. His eyes were tender, and I could tell he was devastated by watching me. He didn’t reach out for me right away. He seemed to be in shock that he was actually confessing. Then, as the reality set in of what his news was doing to my heart, he began to cry.
Many angry thoughts could have rushed through my mind at that point, but the unfathomable absurdity of this surreal, frozen moment in time triggered one thought over and over, “You have got to be kidding me!”
He was definitely not kidding.
He sat there just waiting for me to respond. I was stunned and couldn’t make sense of what had just happened. I sifted through emotions and terms for emotions. It was none of them specifically and all of them collectively. Bewildered. Stunned. Shocked. Overwhelmed. Befuddled. Floored. Jolted. Nauseated. Sickened. Disturbed. Crushed. Dismayed. Paralyzed.
Ticked off. And that’s putting it nicely.
The truth is that I still can’t tell you to this day how I felt in those first few moments. What I can tell you is that I was keenly aware that my world as I knew it was forever changed. I woke up that morning a relatively comfortable housewife and stay-at-home mom, and within a couple of hours I became a seriously damaged woman with a marriage on the brink of destruction.
We had both made vows to forsake all others for the rest of our lives. I had kept my vow. He had not. Even when the distance between us grew, I kept mine. He had not. Even when other men showed interest in me, I kept mine. He had not. Even when days came where I didn’t even want to spend time with him, I kept mine. He had not.
When the Walls Fall Down
I was deeply wounded by the truth about the lies that poured from my loved one that morning. I ached not only for me but also for the new church that had hired and embraced Chris. For our son. For our families. For our friends. As the walls of the life we had built came tumbling down, hard realization after hard realization, I felt them crush the foundations of our shared life and the dreams of this new chapter we were entering.
Can you relate to that kind of letdown? Destruction? Betrayal? When the walls have fallen down with such force that you could not breathe beneath the pressure of the debris or see beyond the dust of the rubble?
My spirit was broken that morning. My heart was shattered. Thoughts of moving forward in life or taking positive action would have sounded absurd had anyone been there to suggest them. I could barely conceive of moving my body from that place on the couch. In fact, the only reason I was able to stand up and move was that the impulse to step away from Chris was so strong. I wanted to be as removed from him physically as I felt from him emotionally in that moment. I had never, ever felt so alone.
If you are feeling alone, know that I am here to journey with you, and so is God. He already desires to make you whole, even as the pieces of your known existence seem to be scattered to every corner of the universe. If the walls have tumbled and you cannot recognize truth from lies in the remains, know that God’s grace and power to transform your life are right there in the midst of the debris.
Hold on to your belief in redemption.
I kept mine. Please keep yours as we walk together toward healing.
Your Healing Journey
Has your spouse ever caught you off guard with a heartbreaking confession? If so, what was your initial response?
Have you ever had to make a confession that you knew would break your loved one’s heart? What finally helped you break your cycle of lies?
Have you ever received news that altered your life in a dramatic way? What was it, and how did you handle it? If you are able, take yourself back there mentally and allow God to bring healing as you grieve what you lost and as you journey through this book.
What happens when we bottle up our emotions and choose not to deal with them? Do you know people who do this ? Has this been you? How can you become more able to share or express your emotions?
Discuss ways you can remain committed to your marriage even when you don’t feel like it or when circumstances have caused a lack of connection between you and your spouse.