Ps: Click here for my decade in Review Post.
2019 was the end of an era for me. So many changes took place, none of which I wanted but had to take in stride, yet all of which have resulted in good. After doing the 2010s decade in review, I thought it would be interesting to do an annual review as well, seeing as it was a pivotal year for me and my loved ones. Our past informs our future in that it helps us see what we can incorporate going forward as well as what we should leave behind. And so, here goes!
January | the month of crisis
January opened in crisis mode for me after one last extremely dramatic rejection. I have since learnt that’s how the devil operates, that he will always choose a key-date and a key-event for two reasons: (1) a key-event so he can inflict maximum injury to as many people as possible and cause the deepest pain possible; and (2) a key-date so he can get that same pain to recur year after year on said date. For us, that key-date was Christmas eve and the key-event was my sister’s wedding. See? Key date, key event, maximum number of people affected, pain recurs each new year that date and event comes around. He loves it when everybody is miserable it’s his only goal in life; to kill, steal and destroy.
Mid-January while pulling into my driveway with my son next to me and my sister on the phone, a gentleman walked up to my car, confirmed my name then handed me some paperwork. My Jan looked them over as I pulled into our driveway. He read them out aloud; they were court summons for a divorce petition. Apparently, the gentleman was a court-marshal and I had just been served. That is how Jan, Clem and I found out that I was being hauled into court for the unconscious uncoupling process to begin. Again, notice the enemy’s timing, his goal is always to traumatize as many people as possible at the same time. I was scheduled to fly to Amsterdam that night, but I ended up calling out of work for the rest of that month.
Jan’s best friend, Sathia, and his mum were travelling to their native Dominican Republic that month and she asked me to come along, get out and get some air. It did me good because up till then I’d sat in my bed with lights out and curtains drawn feeling strangely quiet and calm on the inside. I had been threatened with divorce at least weekly for a nine-year period and it was finally happening. I didn’t want it. I had never wanted it. It broke my heart every time it was mentioned, and each divorce threat was usually followed by a heartfelt apology and assurance that it was only said in anger but that it would never happen. And now here we were, seconds from disaster, so to speak…
My Dominican getaway did me some good as we travelled across the country where I met all of Sathia’s family. We travelled upcountry to see his grandfather, a handsome debonair gentleman. I enjoyed the horses on the farm and took long naps in the hammock. My brain had gone on freeze and I just existed for a few days. Coming back home, I began preparations to respond to the court summons. All pleadings with Mr. Grey to find common ground and go the more affordable and cordial mediation route fell on deaf ears; he was eager and braced for the anticipated court battle up ahead.
February | the month of faith
February rolled by and I went to spend some time with my older sister Clem in Austin; it appears flight and denial seems to work well for me when in crisis 🤫. I came back home a few days before we were due in court and tried to plead again for mediation instead of expensive lawyers as I didn’t want to throw away money like that. I’ve always loathed family court lawyers and what they stand for, I could not believe that we were going to let them take us to the cleaners under the guise of them fighting for us while in effect they would only be fighting for a bigger paycheck from our coffers.
It was always my position that I would not go to war over material things should we end it, and I had stated that throughout the marriage. With each divorce threat, I would usually yell to go get the papers right away, that no lawyers would be needed, and that I would sign them on the spot and walk away. I believed in my ability to fend for myself, to start over and build it all over again, I have always had faith in that. I’ve really never cared for material things. Or money. Or stuff. Or homes. I cared about love, and if I was losing that, then I was losing everything anyway…
Yet here we were now, on the war path to a court battle I did not want. His attorneys were contacting me for my attorney’s contact details and I didn’t have any on retainer. After reading several reviews online and making a few phone calls, I finally secured one a day before the court date in mid-February. After a hasty meeting, I contacted my company to withdraw money from my 401K account under the advice of my attorney, explaining that such a withdrawal was permissible in cases of divorce. Coming from Belgium where pension savings are mandatory and untouchable, it had never once occurred to me that funds for my retirement would be on the table. $8,000 later, I had representation for court the next day.
The day before court, I fasted and prayed for God’s direction. I prayed that he may take away the pain and heal my broken heart. I woke up every three hours and prayed again and again. Court was horrible. Being there felt vile. I hated walking through those doors. I cringed sitting on those chairs waiting to be heard. Mr. Grey refused for us to be in the same room and our lawyers went back and forth between us for a while until it was becoming ridiculous and we all had to sit together to iron out the details. I got to stay in our old home and he was given residency of the new building. We changed our locks after court and he came by that night to pick up his things. I went to work the next day. I could not fathom that he could decide to end us without as much as a conversation on the phone or in person. I texted him to that effect and he said he saw no need for it, that he was done with me. I had served my purpose, and now I had been dismissed.
Initially, I scoured the internet for healing, mixing in Law of Attraction messages and church preachings as I had done for almost a decade now. The insults were coming fast and furious, text message after text message. I was being called every name under the sun and I was drowning under the weight of the insults, accusations and name-calling. This is when my friend Vanessa prompted to find my identity in Christ. My heart was very still. I was quiet inside. I didn’t cry. I just sat, and did, and came, and went, and ate, and slept, I was all numb inside.
Slowly I started to become aware of a divine presence beckoning. I did a YouTube search ‘how does God speak?’, I had my suspicions and wanted to confirm. The voice started to become clearer and clearer as I devoured message after message of how to hear Him. Awakening, I heard my Father as clear as day, He was knocking at the door of my heart, urging me to turn to him, that he had the answers to all my questions and solutions to all my troubles. I remember saying, ‘if that be you Lord, bid me come’. Verses from days of old were rushing through my mind: come to me all ye who are heavily laden, and I shall give ye rest; my yoke which is easy, in exchange for your burden (Matthew 11:28-29). And so began my prayer life; I was on my way to salvation and healing. God himself had come on the scene to interrupt satan’s vicious and meticulously planned takedown aimed to kill, steal, and destroy. My identity in Christ started to emerge clearly and I started to better discern when God was speaking and what he was instructing me to do. My God showed up in a mighty way in my life, quietening every storm.
March | the month of salvation
By March, I was peaceful and calm, unfazed by every insult that came my way. I had been rescued and all the pain and anguish had miraculously stopped. I was starting to find my footing and I was hitting my stride in my walk of faith. My prayer life was becoming consistent and less desperate, more trusting. Out of nowhere, the Holy Spirit gentle prodded me to re-dedicate my life to God on the morning of March/5 in my hotel room in Amsterdam. Kneeling by my bedside, I obliged and said the sinner’s prayer. In retrospect, that was the first time I become aware that I have been backslidden this whole time and I didn’t even know it until the spirit prompted me. March/25 in yet another hotel room in Amsterdam, my divine appointment had come; the Spirit of the Lord led me to a ministry group for mentorship; my journey to grounding and salvation had finally truly began in earnest 🙏.
April | the month of identity
By April, I now fully grasp my identity in Christ and begin walking in the power and liberation that comes with it. I now start using my shield of faith to extinguish the lies of the enemy, text message after text message, now powerless to hurt me. In my ministry group I learn more about God and what he expects of us. It is brought to my attention that depending on the state I live in, I might not have to go to court at all if I didn’t care for the proceedings. I do my research and discover that I live in one such no-fault state. $12,000 later, I dismiss my attorneys and withdraw from the court proceedings. I hand-write Mr. Grey a letter to that effect, telling him that I will not be participating in the court proceedings, requesting that he leaves me the home I’m familiar with, but that I’ll go with whatever he says and respect his final decision. Leaving Mr. Grey behind, I close that door and fully throw myself into growing my faith and attaining a closer walk with my Father. Psalm 34:8 tells us: ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.’ I had tasted and seen that the Lord is good, nothing else mattered and I couldn’t do anything about it anyway. Sweet surrender.
May | the month of growth
May comes around and Jan comes home for the summer holidays to find an assured woman with a confidence he hasn’t seen in years. He enquires the reason for this change and I tell him about my walk with the God of the universe. Incredulously, even as a millennial, he doesn’t think it’s ridiculous at all. Faced with the evidence of a redeemed soul, he marvels at the transformation.
I learnt my greatest spiritual lessons in this month. I found the solution to every problem we’d ever had in our marriage. I learnt how my contentiousness had contributed to the tearing down of my house with my very own hands. I learnt that we must NEVER leave marriage to chance, which is what I had done for a good four years as I helplessly watched it erode. I learnt about having a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4). I learnt about how the unbelieving husband has been sanctified by his wife and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified by her husband (1 Cor. 7:14). I learnt about how I could have won my husband over to the Lord without a word just by my actions (1 peter 3:1). How could I not have known to pray?!
There was deep sorrow there for my failing, deep regret for not having turned to my father for help. My Father in turn comforted me, assuring me that the glory of the latter house will be greater than that of the former house once he was done pruning and priming (Haggai 2:9); He will give double for the trouble (instead of your shame you shall have double honor – Isaiah 61:7); That He will return all the years the locust had stolen (Joel 2:25); that what the enemy meant for evil, he would turn it for our good (Genesis 50:20); that what was impossible with man was possible with God (Luke 18:27); that in God’s economy, nothing is lost forever and everything can be recovered. ‘Pursue them, you will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue‘, the Lord instructed King David when they’d come back from battle to find their homes razed to the ground and their wives and children taken captive (1 Samuel 30); I received promise upon promise to comfort me. The word for the season was ‘hush, it’s all in my hands, what the enemy meant for harm I will use it for your good’. I felt such deep love and forgiveness. I had lost my marriage and God was telling me it was still going to be alright, that he would recover everything in my life after a season.
June | the month of dissolution
With Air BnB accommodations booked in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo, Jan took off for Japan for a month together with his friend Ed, and another month exploring the finest continent on the planet.
For me, June was a time of rest. I had worn myself out praying and fasting and the Lord was teaching me to enter into a rhythm of rest with him so I wouldn’t wear myself out. I remember visiting my sister Clem for a few days. I also visited Vanessa that month and finally met her beautiful bouncy baby boy who was almost two at the time. It was such a time of love, care and healing. Vanessa and I took long walks in the evening where we prayed and talked, turning everything over to God. It’s amazing how our Father prepares us for tough seasons in our lives; he does so by either having us gear up to war in the spirit or by entering us into rest to hide in the shadow of his wings.
At the airport with my mama who had come to visit and my sister Terry on the phone is how we all found out that the divorce had finalized a week prior when Mr. Grey’s lawyer sent an email informing me about the conclusion of the matter.
I found Mr. Grey had chosen the house I would have preferred to keep. He had left me with 74% of our family debt because it was in my name since I was the one with the good credit. He had requested I pay back all student loans he had taken out on behalf of Jan. He had asked for 50% 0f my 401K. He had let me keep my Toyota matrix on condition that I change the car title to my name within 30 days, failure of which ownership would revert back to him -this hasn’t happened yet due to outstanding vehicle taxes preventing the transfer.
The courts granted everything he asked for since I had bowed out of the proceedings.
How did I feel? I didn’t cry. A car is just a car. The houses, that was his dream not mine, I was just the conduit to it as a helpmate. And any debt in my name was always going to be safer in my hands anyway. Money comes and money goes, none of this stuff matters. I mean, it does, but not really, never in the grand scheme of things. Never in the long run because we can lose it all and make it all back just as easily…
I would do it the same way over again, for I’m really not a fighter. It didn’t matter what the courts had decided… what I got or didn’t get… I had lost him when he’s all I wanted… Nothing else mattered… My God would make it all alright in His time, whatever that will look like. I put my trust in Him and He has never lost a battle, He certainly won’t start with mine.
July | the month of rest
July was a quiet month. I hid away with my father absorbing my new status, completely depending on him to show me the way forward. I wasn’t sure how to proceed now. My heart was still. Peace be still. My spirit was quiet within me as I waited for what next. Now that he had gotten what he thought he wanted, Mr. Grey was friendlier, nicer. I was sad for him for I knew what he had lost… what we had lost… I understood that only the devil had really won at our expense, that we would never get to accomplish the plan God had for our marriage. I also knew his relief would be short-lived. The euphoria that one feels right after the divorce they wanted is part of the honeymoon stage right before the doubt, guilt, shame and regret sets in in the aftermath. I knew the ‘O God what have I done’ stage would come, followed by ‘I broke free, now what?’ stage. I wondered if he would turn to God or run headlong into his next love adventure. Knowing his prior pattern, I understood that there would be many Facebook Kaylee’s from his other secret Facebook account waiting to keep him busy, to distract him from the real inner work that needed to be done in order to end the blaming and start introspecting… It’s what the devil will have us do, keep sending us back to the starting line over and over again while he plunders away at our lives as the years pass, toiling away for nothing, only to throw it all away and start over again and again, each new time being sure that things will be different this time, until they’re not… Oh the folly of life, the meaningless chasing after the wind…
“Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? All things are wearisome, more than one can say... What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun… All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. So I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun… So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun, only to leave it all to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune… Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” An exposé from the book of Ecclesiastes, taken from chapters 1 and 2.
2020 Update: Concluding the grass would be greener on the other side, Mr. Grey choose the latter, rushing headlong into his next relationship, eventually traveling to my native Kenya in February 2020 to meet his new girlfriend, a Ms. Kaylee Ngugi. See, that’s the thing about the devil, he will always have us downgrade, and we’ll be none the wiser until the fog lifts -that’s how he mocks us. Steven has always prided himself on his quick turnarounds from one relationship to the next. For him, ours was the 4th marriage/relationship he had initiated divorce proceedings against and walked away from. The pattern held.
August | the month of rebirth
Jan came back from Japan for a few days and left to spend a month with his grandma where I later learnt he survived a severe bout of malaria; the doctor said he had 6 hours to live had my mama not sought medical help. Thank God for loving alert attentive grandmas everywhere. His return was delayed as he recovered and gained strength for the journey back, arriving here with only a day to spare before resuming lectures on campus.
Meanwhile, this clueless mama was out here living out loud! I’m hanging out in Dallas with my classmates for my annual re-qualification classes, they are teaching me how to get on Bumble and how it works. And believe it or not Bumble suggests Mr. Grey as my perfect match when I am not even in Connecticut and the app is supposed to be location-based! I screenshot it and text it to Mr. Grey and he says Bumble suggested me to him as well and that he swiped left. And just to be extra-cruel, he texts again to clarify that swiping left meant ‘not interested’ 👀
August was my hot-girl summer month in New York. Oh I had such a blast! Thank God for friends that come through, friends that give you their penthouse apartment to stay in while they are away on holiday, friends that meet you every day after work to take you shopping and show you around, friends that scout restaurants with you in the hunt for gastronomic adventures, friends that take the New Jersey transit for a different culinary experience across the Hudson. One day emerging from a New York subway and breathing in all that fresh polluted air, it was the first time I felt I will be okay after all. This was my sex-and-the-city moment and though Mr. Big had left me for Natasha, I still had my girls looking out for me, and I was swatting men away simply because I could. New York was intoxicating, coming home every night and putting my key in the door lock made me dream of all that could be.
It’s funny because it’s also the time I awakened the long-suppressed domesticated homemaker side of me. Longings were stirring up in me to nest and nestle, to create a loving home, a place of peace and rest, a home to come to. My feminine side was gently awakening in me as I revisited childhood longings for a loving home and a family of my own. You see, when things happen in life, one can say they failed or one can say ‘do it again’. August is when I felt I will do it again, try and build a loving home for myself and my family, I’ll die trying if I have to but I will not be giving up. There would be no white flag above my door. It was August the 14th at exactly 1414h that I got the revelation for my new blog name and started thinking about rebranding.
August was a month of renewed resolve. I would do it again and whoever came along for that ride, that was fine and dandy, whoever opted out that was fine too. I wanted to embrace my feminine side and really come into my own in terms of my femininity. It was a month of soft pinks and warm happy thoughts, a month of kindness to myself and resting in my father’s love for me. I had processed the wound of rejection by receiving unconditional acceptance from my father and entering deeper into his rest.
September | the month of experiential learning
September was a saving grace month when my younger sister Terry and her family travelled across the country from Seattle to come see me the month prior. It is then that true healing began for me as I came home to a house full of delicious smells of cooked food and a very loving family. Love was everywhere. That deep desire to nest and nestle and create a loving home I spoke about earlier, they really exemplified that for me. It was like watching the brady-bunch or something. They lived so peacefully, so lovingly, so accepting of each other, making room for each other to become who they are and supporting each other strongly. I saw what it means to run your own race, to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, to depend on God fully.
Just from observing them, I could clearly see why and how I had failed in my own marriage. I hadn’t really been any kind of a wife. I had stayed selfish and separate in too many ways. Is it because divorce was mentioned all the time? It doesn’t matter, I still have ownership in the tearing down of my own home. My husband knew what I thought of him, he knew I had sort of given up on him. I had dimmed my light to accommodate him and my resentment for it showed in private -the things that happen behind closed doors…
Do you know what it does to a man when he knows his woman has given up on him? It really is emotional terror. Because every man wants to be a hero, and mine knew he wasn’t a hero in my eyes. And his fall was great for he started out with the nickname of ‘Superman’. Do you know how vulnerable and exposed he must have felt that I saw through him and deemed him lacking, wanting, falling short…? It’s no wonder he did the same to me when he decided to walk away, his rage was not misplaced in that regard. Alas for us, he had shut that door and no correction could now be made. But when you know better, you do better. And now I know better. I learn by example and for me, observing Terry and Tony interact did what a lifetime of therapy or being-told would never have done. How ironic that I was learning the lessons too late, just after the devil had instigated negative action. We had given a foothold and he had taken over, run the whole show and wrecked everything; he had killed, stolen and destroyed.
I could lie down and stay defeated, or I could arise and say I’ll be better; I chose the latter. I’ll do better. I’ll be better. I’ll do it again. I’ll build a loving home, a loving lair. I’ll embrace my femininity and be loving, kind and supportive. Instead of tearing down, I’ll build up. I’ll pray over my husband’s weaknesses instead of taking over or giving up on him. I’ll do better. I’ll build it again. September was a month of healing, and learning, and forgiving myself. It was a month of acceptance and lovingkindness. It’s when I started the ‘My Father Series’ here on the blog. I wanted everyone to experience the transformative power of walking with God and leaning on his understanding instead of ours. I had seen Terry and Tony model it and I finally grasped what it should look like, how it should feel. I had experienced the prevailing atmosphere that would permeate my home if I got it right, and I wanted the same for myself and for us all, I wanted more of it for more of us, even you reading this here on the blog now.
October | the month of transformation
Terry and her precious family moved on as per the Lord’s leading, ending up in Dallas Texas, and I learnt many lessons from them experientially. This is also the month I learnt to pass the tests, the month of transformation. This month I finally majored in peacekeeping. I am not having battles with a man I love. And he really is the most quarrelsome man I have ever known, I’m just not sure why I thought quarreling back louder was the way to go -Oh the foolishness! I know better now and so I must do better. This is the month when I am finally successful in refusing to be drawn into needled squabbles. It’s the month I rise above and choose the more excellent way, the way of love, the way of peace.
November | the month of prayer
This month, my Lord asks me to steal away with him for a season, to wait on him to love on me, to give him this season of my life and simply spend this time with him. It’s the month of laying it all down. I feel the need to take on the burden of praying for those I love, especially for those I lost when I could have been their light. It’s a month of intercessory prayers and standing in the gap, laying my loved ones on God’s altar of grace and pleading for their salvation. This is the month that Christ reveals himself to me as my kinsman redeemer and my season of betrothal to Him progresses in earnest with my savior loving me enough so I can be without wrinkle at his great reveal. He asks that I stay at his feet as he works on me and steadies my feet.
In the days of Queen Esther, she ‘had to completed twelve months of prescribed beauty treatments—six months’ treatment with oil of myrrh followed by six months with perfumes and various cosmetics’ before she could appear before the king (Esther 2:12). My Lord is giving me a makeover as I wait at his feet. He is giving me beauty for ashes; he is making over my character; he is transforming my mind; he is replacing my heart of stone with one of flesh; he is preparing a table for me in the midst of my enemies; he is preparing me to be a bride unto himself ‘without spot or wrinkle’ (Ephesians 5:27). Who would have ever guessed I would be a blushing bride in such a short amount of time!
December | the month of ministry
December has been a faith-building month. By now, I am passing tests by God’s grace, I’m hoping I am due for promotion any time now, not sure to what though 😊. I’m just having so much fun on this unfolding journey with my Lord. I’m hiding away with him as he has instructed and just letting him love me as I love Him back. It’s also a season of ministry as I continue communicating with other women of similar ilk. I’m getting back on my social platforms again and lining up character-building blogposts for the new year. I am in a good place. The enemy thinks he’s winning but I’m in on the secret that God has already won all our battles for us, precisely because our God takes that same evil and works it out for our good! 🤗
Year Summary | 2019
I’ve heard it said derisively that believing in God is a coping mechanism for people that can’t deal with the harsh realities of life. I am proudly one of those people. Life is harsh and I’d rather face it with my savior. This year was supposed to be my rock-bottom, but instead it became my mountain-high year of salvation. This is what my God can do if we turn it all over to him. All things do work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to his purposes.
This year has been in the making from the very beginning of this union; divorce was tabled as first, middle and last solution to each and every event or occurrence, big and small. Every mole-hill became a mountain once the word was mentioned, thus making this outcome inevitable. Yet this is the goodness of the God I serve: He made sure I was not on my own when it finally happened; He made sure I was not on my own when Mr. Grey finally walked out on me; he made sure I was not on my own when I received official communication of legal proceedings; he made sure I was not on my own when the legal proceedings were final; he made sure I was not on my own when I had to move from my home. What’s more, to prove his goodness and to bask in his abundance, He didn’t just provide one person in all the mentioned instances, he provided more than one each time, and He made sure they were family. Ponder that for a second and tell me if my God is not a good God! I am spoilt beloved, I am loved beyond measure. My Lord has already recompensed for all the rejection I have endured. I serve a just God. I serve a good God. I have done well to entrust my life to him and wait on Him to show the way forward.
I still hate the devil and everything he has stolen from me. The more I learn about his schemes, the more I see how unoriginal he is because he uses the same lies and strategies over and over and over again, he really doesn’t have any new original ideas AT ALL. We must be wary of his schemes because once we know all his tactics, it’s easy to see through them thus avoid getting ensnared by them; it becomes easy to see him crouched, waiting to pounce; it becomes easy to identify when he’s at work and to laugh him out of town. You and I must stay vigilant and refuse to let him in because if you give even just an inch, he will ensure that it will cost you more than you want to pay; it will take you farther than you want to go; keep you longer than you want to stay…
I’m ending my year in glory because my Lord has wrought me victory in Christ Jesus. I have labored and toiled on his threshing floor this season and the oil of joy is on me, awaiting my season of breakthrough. My instructions are to ‘wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in my best clothes, then go down to the threshing floor but not let him see me until he has finished eating and drinking’ (Ruth 3:3). Let’s see what the unveiling will bring this new year; may it be a blessed one.
NB: Please remember that there is always ‘his side’, ‘her side’, and the truth. This is simply my side, there is an equally valid ‘his side’. Also remember, the enemy is never the other person, the enemy is always the devil. Humbly, Helena xoxo
Ps: Click here for my decade in Review Post.