About Dena, Faith, Guilt, Hope, Ministry, promises, Uncategorized

DQ Dena

Several years ago, our church started a karate school. It’s an amazing ministry which seeks to bring people from the community in to learn karate, and in the process they are exposed to the gospel. I encourage you to look up ABKA Karate and Sensei Denny Holzbauer to learn more, but that’s not my purpose today.

I want to tell you the story of my personal karate experience.

You see, when the ABKA started at our church, my son wanted to take karate. However, because of his age at the time, he was required to have a parent take the class with him.

And that’s how I became a karate student.

I can hear your laughter now. If you are thinking that I don’t seem like the karate chopping, board breaking, kata performing type, YOU WOULD BE ABSOLUTELY, 100% CORRECT.

But, I am a child-loving, out-of-your-comfort-zone, follow your dreams kind of mama. So, I purchased my gi (that’s a white karate uniform for those of you wondering), tied on my white belt, and proceeded to learn the various kicks and punches with my kids.

Soon, a tournament presented itself. My kids wanted to participate, but they were scared. So, in an effort to set the example, I signed up for the tournament. That’s where I earned my first fighting name: P Cubed. In case you are wondering, I was the only participant with pink, pedicured toenails—thus I became P3 for the Pink Pedicured Princess. I am certain my name struck fear into the hearts of my competitors!

My plan to encourage my children did work, however. When the next tournament rolled around, my kids were ready to participate. We tied on our orange belts (impressed, eh?), loaded up the car, and made the trek across the state.

The rules were simple: if you land a kick or punch in the appropriate area of the body, you score a point. The highest point total at the end of the match would win and advance to the next round. However, the face is off-limits at the orange belt level.

I drew a bye for my first round, but soon it was my turn to spar. I stepped into the ring with my competitor, and the fight began. I threw a right punch to the head—but she moved, and I landed it square on her right eye (off-limits). The ref stopped the fight to issue me a warning. One more shot to the face, and I would be disqualified from the competition.

Again, we stepped into the ring. Again, I threw a punch. Again, she moved. Again, I landed it square on her right eye—giving her quite a shiner. And I was disqualified. A great big DQ went up next to my name.

And that is how I earned my new name: DQ Dena.

Although that competition ended my karate career, I still use my name to keep my kids in control. The threat of unleashing DQ Dena on them will usually snap them right into line. It’s true. DQ Dena strikes fear into the hearts of my children—fear of total and complete humiliation in front of their friends.

Whatever it takes…

While I love to laugh about my karate experience and my disqualification, there’s another area of life in which I have struggled with feelings of being disqualified. You see, when I was ten years old, I felt God calling me to full-time ministry. I surrendered in that moment, and I knew that my life was on a path to serving God. I didn’t know specifics, but I knew that God would reveal his plans to me.

As a freshman in college, I remember sitting in church one evening and having an overwhelming sense that I was supposed to be a pastor’s wife. It was a thought that simply wouldn’t go away. I prayed that God would either confirm what I was sensing or take it away. Again and again, God confirmed that His plan was for me to serve as a pastor’s wife.

After nearly 17 years as a pastor’s wife, my marriage fell apart. Suddenly, I had lost most everything of importance—including my ministry. You see, I was raised in a denomination where divorce disqualifies you from ministry—regardless of the reasons for your divorce. My usefulness to God was over.

I struggled with reconciling God’s call on my life with my divorce. Why would a divorce—especially as a result of adultery which was biblical grounds for divorce—disqualify me from being used by God? Had I been relegated to a second class Christian? No pastor would marry a divorced woman, so I could never be a pastor’s wife again. Where did I fit in the grand scheme of God’s kingdom? Did I have to settle for living the rest of my life as a single woman, never to marry again if I wanted to serve God?

And that’s when I ran across Romans 11:29:

For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. Romans 11:29

Those words ran through my mind night and day. God’s will and His call are irrevocable. If that is true, there is still a calling on my life. But how do I reconcile Romans 11:29 with scriptures that indicate leaders must be the “husband of just one wife” (Titus 1:6, 1 Timothy 3:2, 12; )? Does that scripture apply to me? Does it only apply to those serving as leaders in the church? Why would God apply it only to men and not to women as well? So many questions, and yet so few answers.

I know there are people who will rise up against me and say that I have been disqualified from ministry because of my divorce, especially if I remarry one day. However, I am learning that what man may consider as a disqualification from ministry, God can actually use to qualify me for ministry.

How can God qualify someone through divorce? Or addiction? Or adultery? Or _(fill in the blank)_? God has used this time of pain to purify my heart. He has used it to wipe away the pride that caused me to believe I was better than others. He has cleansed me of my judgmental attitude toward those whose lives were not as “perfect” as mine. I have come to a place of understanding that even I need God’s forgiveness because—in  and of myself—I am capable of great sin. I have experienced the love of a God who pursues the one sheep who walks away, the God who is faithful even when I am faithless. I have been the prodigal son and the prideful older son. I have experienced the grace of God and no longer need to prove that I am worthy. I walked through the fire and found my faith strengthened and purified. I have met the Great I Am—the One who meets my every need exactly when I need it.

Today, I know my Savior personally, intimately, experientially. He has walked me through the painful trials and tribulations of life, and I can say with absolute certainty that He is faithful!

While I still can’t answer all of the questions, I know that God has again planted a seed of ministry in my heart. Dreams of writing and speaking that had been pushed deep down into my sub-conscious mind have been brought to the surface, the passion burning brighter than ever. Doors of ministry seem to be flying open at every turn—opportunities that I have in no way pursued through any means except prayer. With every heartbeat, my passion grows, my dreams seem larger and closer, and the vision grows clearer.

Has divorce disqualified me from ministry? Only God can call, and only God can qualify. And, perhaps it is through the trials and tribulations of this life that He qualifies those He calls.

**********

(Click here for some commentary on the phrase “husband of just one wife” from BibleGateway.com)

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12 thoughts on “DQ Dena”

    1. Awww… Thanks! I actually attend Lifechurch.tv these days. Craig Groeschel (sr. pastor) is actually from the Methodist church. I have no problems with my Southern Baptist background, but I just don’t want to put God in any box. I want Him to have free reign of my life!

  1. Dena, you are ministering to all of us who are walking the same path – you may be a few steps ahead but through your blog you give us strength and hope for our journey. Your ministry is most effective because you are authentic. Heartbroken knowing that you are where you are because of what you’ve been through, but thankful that you are WHO you are and are heeding your call to minister to others this way.

    1. Thanks so much, Carol! This truly has become my ministry! I am amazed how it grows daily and how God continues to enlarge my territory! Because of what I’ve been through, I can actually minister to so many more people. God truly uses the “disqualifications” in this world to qualify us. To Him be the glory!

  2. In our church, we take the verse, husband to one wife, to mean not polygamous. You can be divorced but married to only one wife at a time. And we have youth leaders who have both been divorced and remarried.

    1. That’s one of the suggested interpretations. Another is simply faithful to your spouse. Some say that simply because I had biblical grounds for divorce, I also have biblical grounds for remarriage. No matter how you look at it, when God is opening doors…no one will be able to close them!

  3. Dena, I stumbled upon your blog not long ago… how I don’t remember. Actually, I believe the Lord led me to your blog and is using your story, your insight, your lessons, your tips to teach me, guide me, UPLIFT me, strengthen me during this desperate and painful and lonely time in my life. Thank you so much for being so real…. for allowing our Father to use your anguish to work good in the lives of others like me. Your words and insight have given me glimmers of hope, as well as proactive, intentional actions I can take to surrender my all to HIM who writes our stories. God Bless You.
    Rachel

    1. Rachel, I am so sorry that you are hurting. This path is tough, but it can be filled with such amazing blessings! My prayer for each reader is that God will give just a glimpse of the amazing future He has planned for you and that you will surrender fully and completely so He can get you there! Glad to have you here! God bless!

  4. Luckily I have people that spoke life into me during my hard times. I am very involved on ministry at my church and was encouraged daily to keep doing what I was doing. A leader told me that everybody was watching how I was dealing, and people had told him how impressed they were with my continued service and dedication. I was encouraging and strengthing others because I was walking the walk and not just preaching it. That kept me going. My pain has helped me reach so many more people. I feel more qualified because I’ve been tested. Dena, you are more qualified now than ever before. Being a pastors wife is just a label. You are doing the things a pastors wife would do, and more.

    1. I agree completely! I had so many people from the church tell me that watching me walk through the fire strengthened their faith. I can reach a much broader audience because I have a deeper understanding of their hurt and pain. I have a deeper compassion than ever before. I truly believe that God often uses the very things that disqualify us in the eyes of man to qualify us for His kingdom! God bless, my friend!

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