By Danny and Kim Shelton
Kim and Danny tell the story of how their “happily ever after” got derailed and how God intervened and restored their marriage. They have live in Cleveland, Texas.
Danny was from a family of three boys, his parents did not go to church anymore – they had been hurt years before and stopped attending. His grandfather, whom he loved dearly, was a minister and he was taken to church by his aunt and uncle and loved it! He always knew that God loved him. I was born and raised in a Christian home. My great-grandmother was one of the first ordained women ministers in the Assemblies of God church. I was saved at age seven during the children’s church service one Sunday morning and began a real relationship with the Lord.
Danny: When I first heard about Kim, I knew she was something special. She had the qualities that I knew I wanted in a wife. I saw her visiting a friend that lived near me one day and I told my dad, “That girl right there, that’s the kind of girl I’m gonna marry.”
My dad said,”You don’t even know that girl.” I told him, “I know what kind of girl she is though.” The funny thing is, she asked me out first. We had a good time and soon we were almost inseparable.
How we met
Kim: We both attended the McArthur High School in Houston, Texas, and met on the phone one day. A mutual friend introduced us and I was the one who asked Danny out first. I needed a date to an end of school banquet – that was supposed to have a DJ with dancing – the boy that I liked at the time did not dance and told me to ask Danny because he did. The rest was history. We started dating and by the way – there was no DJ nor dancing at the banquet.
We started dating during the end of my sophomore school year and continued through the summer. We were inseparable and our relationship was a very emotional one. There was never a break up – We were determined to make things work out even though we did not always agree, I’ll be honest, we did not agree a lot! In spite of our differences, we fell in love quickly and started talking about getting married. My mother knew that he was the one and asked me one day “Why do you want to marry someone who makes you cry so much?” My response was, “because I love him!”
How he proposed
Well, I can honestly say that Danny was not a show off when it came to the proposal – he has always been pretty private with our relationship. He proposed in the driveway at our home one evening. I said “yes” and immediately told him that we needed to go in and talk to Mother and Daddy. We did and it was a done deal! I was going to be Mrs. Danny Shelton! I was so happy.
We were engaged for several months. The date was set for the summer between my junior and senior school year. There were many obstacles to overcome with planning such a big day, but we did it. We both knew that these were growing pains and necessary for getting to know one another. Communication was a key to our relationship, we talked until the issue was resolved or we were tired of talking and gave up, it worked for us. There was a big church wedding. I did all of the traditional things, I had something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and I carried a bible with my bouquet. It was a beautiful way to start our life.
The first years
During the first two years of marriage, we lived behind Danny’s parents until we moved into our own home a few miles away. I had graduated high school and worked for my mom and dad until I delivered our first child. He was beautiful and we instantly fell in love with him. Danny was very a hardworking husband and a wonderful dad; he always came home at night and did not feel the need to go out with the guys.
Danny: About a year after we met, we were married and began our life together as Mr. and Mrs. Danny Shelton. Life was good as we grew together and soon started our family. After a couple of years we felt as if we needed to move to Cleveland. Our life there was wonderful. We got involved in church, in the Little League baseball and the kids school, and we were so happy. After the kids are grown, Kim became quite involved with her job and a couple of volunteer positions that she held. She was quite successful in her civic projects and I was always right there with her.
Kim: We had great baby sitters; both sets of grandparents were always willing to help when we needed a night out. Our second child came 18 months later and she was not so healthy. She was born on time with no complications, but was blue. They whisked her away very quickly after her birth and I had no idea that there was anything wrong – I had a bad cough and thought that they were just being cautious. Later that evening, Danny kissed me and left. I called down to the nursery to ask if I could see my baby and the nurse said “Oh, they have not come in to talk to you yet?”. My heart dropped, I said “No, tell me what’s going on!” They sent someone in and explained that her heart was deformed and that she would need to be transferred to The Children’s Hospital early that next morning.
I called Danny and he rushed back up to the hospital. We had just started going to church steady again after being lazy in our attendance. God was so good in His timing and I remember thinking that it would have been hard to pray the prayer of faith for Megan unless I had been hearing the word regularly. Faith in God has everything to do with your understanding of how He operates in your life and believing that He will do what you ask. Megan’s story is an amazing one that will have to be told another time.
Kim: Through what we had learned so far, God used us in a special way and launched us into ministry. It really started when we moved up to Cleveland, Texas, from the north side of Houston. It took us a year to find a local church, but the Sunday that we walked in to this particular church we were there for 25 plus years. We worked in Sunday school, the private school offices and as leadership. Danny was a board member and we were Cell Group leaders and served as children’s pastors for 15 years. Most of what we did, we did it as a couple. We learned early that a three-stranded cord was much more difficult to break than working separately. We grew together and were able to teach what God had taught us to those in our circle. It was wonderful. It was hard at times, because we were so busy during this time that we failed to take time away for us.
It was wonderful, but it was also hard at times because we were so busy during this time that we failed to take time away to work on us. We were on auto pilot in our marriage, coming and going – doing the same thing we had always done – thinking that it would always be OK. It wasn’t. We had always taken the first few minutes of our day to catch up after getting home from work, and then we would join the family to have dinner together at the table. We stopped talking and then it turned into co-existing in a home full of kids, grand babies and an ill parent. It was a lot to deal with.
Danny: I think the beginning of the end for me happened when I having a class reunion that was on the same day as one of her events, I asked her to skip her event and go with me to my reunion. She was adamant about being at her event, so I had to wait to go to mine. I began to feel like her jobs were more important to her than I was. I had asked her several times to quit some of her “stuff,” but she was committed to what she was doing.
The break up
Kim: I noticed that “something” was wrong, but I could not put my finger on it. Danny started working late and not making eye contact with me. We had always gone to bed together – this was a time to connect and unwind from our busy lives. Danny was staying out until 11 p.m. two or three times a week and then getting up early and going to work. This had never happened before. I was confused. I asked God to help me understand what was going on and He showed me … almost instantly!
Danny was having an affair. My heart sank and it all came to me like a flood, all of the things that he had been telling me, now made perfect sense. I knew who it was and where she lived, and I knew at that moment, he was with her. I called him and told him that I knew what was going on and asked him where he was – even though I already knew. He was shocked and later told me that he was relieved that the affair had finally come out into the open. He would not discuss anything with me; instead he told me that we would talk when he got home that night.
I went home and went straight to our room – lights off and prayed. I did not know how to pray I was numb. I stayed there until he got home late that night. It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I thought that I would die when he said that he was leaving me for someone else.
Danny: I became very unhappy and depressed. I began building walls around myself and shut everyone out of my life. I would get up and leave for work around 5 in the morning and work until late afternoon. When I would get home from working, I would go to my barn and work on projects until 2 or 3 in the morning. This became my way of escape.
After 5-6 months of this I met an old girlfriend that was as bad off emotionally as I was and things got complicated quickly.
Soon there was no turning back for me, I was all in and all done, and ready to move on with my life.
God clearly spoke
I remember lying on our bed wrapped up in extra clothes and a blanket, shivering, feeling totally alone. I called out to God to help me and in an instant He spoke to me, “You are going to be greater and you are going to like it.” I felt the Holy Spirit all around me and there was such a sense of peace in me. I jumped up and started pulling off the blanket and laughing. I thought to myself, “I’m going to be OK! I’m going to make it!”
God spoke to me and I heard Him audibly, like He was standing in the room with me. I have always been able to hear God’s direction, but I do not remember hearing His voice before. It was the most comforting sound I have ever experienced. God met me right there where I was – the darkest place I had ever been.
Danny: Kim and I divorced in 2014 and I thought things would get better. I continued in a lifestyle of depression and self destruction, doing things that I knew were bad for me, but not caring. I wanted to die. Through all of it though, I always knew God loved me and that I could not sink low enough or run far enough to separate myself from his love. ——–John 6:39 says, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.”
Kim: Over the next two years, I learned things that I wish I had not asked about, details of his relationship with her. It is important to guard yourself from knowing too much. Now I understand why ‘guarding what you say and who you say it to,’ is so important. Generally, people do not forget the things that you say to them about someone else and this causes awkward moments when restoration comes.
When I was hurting, I needed to talk about things – it helped release some of the pressure. The Holy Spirit was my constant companion. I remember praying while driving, this was my time to spill my heart and tell the Lord all of the raw emotions that I was having. I learned that no matter what I said – God could handle it, He was always so sweet to comfort me. Many times people would call and say that I was on their mind and I knew that it was God impressing them to call me. In moments that I felt desperate, I would only say “God I trust You!” I did know that God promised to take care of me and He really did.
Staying the course
In my mind, I saw myself as a long distance runner, who was feeling the pain of running the race course – cramping, hurting and desperate for the pain to stop. I determined to not stop no matter how much it hurt. I would not give up on serving God. I felt so alone at times and very desperate – in those times, I would read a devotional called “Jesus Calling” and listen to 89.3 FM KSBJ – it would redirect my thinking for a moment. I have never been so determined to do anything in my life and I prayed constantly for God to keep my heart tender. I knew that giving up on God and becoming a hardened person was not at all an option for me. From the beginning I chose to forgive both of them.
I wanted my marriage back, but Danny would not give in to the idea that he was interested in restoration at all. He was set on starting a new life and so, we divorced. I was devastated! I remember thinking “How can someone love you so much and then, not love you anymore?” I could not understand it. All I knew was the Word says “I will counsel you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalms 32:8.
Our Family and friends
Kim: The family, our three children and our parents, were shocked and very broken about the whole idea that we were not together anymore. For our entire married life, we were the ones to host family parties. It made things very awkward to get together anymore. I had a friend tell me, “If your marriage didn’t make it, no one’s marriage is safe.” That is how it affected everyone.
There was a puzzle piece missing from our life. Danny had totally disconnected from being the husband, dad and loyal friend to those we were closest to. He had checked out. Our friends stopped calling because they could not choose sides, they loved us both. I did have one friend that was a constant help – she spoke life to me, I trusted her fully and we would talk for hours. This friendship is was what helped me the most. I ended up moving in to her home. She took care of me during the most difficult time of my life. God used her to speak life to me. She spoke the word to me and prayed for me constantly. She loved Danny too and would talk to him about the Lord – never judging him – always pointing him to Jesus. Everyone in this type of situation needs someone that they can talk to and trust. She kept reminding me of what God had told me and pointed me to Jesus every time she got the opportunity.
The light at the end of the tunnel
Kim: After the divorce, we had things that needed to be sold so that we could move on. One of the things was a house that we had started building for Danny’s parents. They had both passed away and the house was unfinished and sitting empty. We decided that we needed to do the work ourselves because it would be too costly to have a contractor do the work.
A list was made of things that needed to be done and we got started, we worked on it in the evenings and weekends. It was hard because there were not many words between us, sometimes there was anger and other times pure silence, it was pretty brutal. Over time we began to talk about how things used to be. All along, I was attending a Divorce Care group at my church and God was healing my heart. I learned how to pray for Danny and chose to forgive him. During this time of personal healing, I realized that the woman who had taken my best friend away also needed something from me – she needed to be forgiven.
I had been taught that if anything comes between you and God, it is closer to Him than you. That could not happen! I had to forgive her for me to be forgiven. God really spoke to me about how to pray for her and that she, too, needed to be released from the bitterness of what a broken home brings. She was obviously broken somehow to be in a place to justify taking someone that was married.
I had planned it all out, to meet her and forgive her in person, but that never happened. Even though she would not meet with me, I truly forgave her – with God’s supernatural help. I’m not that good to be able to forgive her in my own strength. I have needed to forgive people before, but never anything like this. I asked God and He showed me how He saw her through His eyes. He loved this broken woman and I could not hate her anymore. My heart still hurt, but she was forgiven. Healing takes time – like a deep wound, it heals from the inside out. I had made a choice; I was going to let God forgive through me.
As time went by, Danny and his girlfriend started having problems with their relationship – things were not working out as they had planned. Danny’s heart started to turn because he was realizing that he could one day be alone. He went through very lonely times of great despair. I was there to speak words of encouragement and I kept my sense of humor, too. He loved meeting me in the evenings because I would laugh and he could feel that I still loved him. I could tell that he was dying inside, spiritually and emotionally. He had disconnected from everyone who loved him and was deeply depressed. We started going to dinner and spending time together talking about life, our hopes and dreams. God was healing us. One day, I finally mustered up the courage to ask him if he was still seeing her. He said “no.” I was thrilled! Over time, there were issues that we needed to work through. Hurts were and are still being healed.
Danny was afraid that I would not say yes if he proposed, so it took him forever to ask. He asked me one time about getting married again and wanted to know if I would use the same ring from our first marriage? I immediately responded, “No! “I have earned a new ring,” and he took it from there. On Valentine’s Day, he proposed.
I said, “yes.”
“Yes” was my answer, because I had no need to be with anyone else. I did not date while we were apart and I knew that only God could help me forgive Danny so it was the right thing to do. We were going to put back the pieces. Our family had gone through enough and I felt like a heavy burden had been lifted from me. I did not want to live alone, travel alone and serve God alone. Danny was ready to lead me and love me with the sweetest love I have ever known from him. We were high school sweethearts and knew nothing about love. Now that we had been around this great mountain, we knew what true love really was.
Danny: We had gotten rid of everything we had together except for a house that we jointly owned. The house wasn’t complete and needed to be finished so we could sell it. Kim and I would work on it together at night after work, many nights not passing a word between us. But gradually things begin to heal between us and we became friends again. Valentine’s Day 2016, we were going to go to dinner and I proposed to her before we left, and she said “yes.”
Kim: Our wedding date was set to be the exact day, two years after our divorce. We determined that we were going to have a “do over”. The scripture that says that ‘what the enemy has stolen will be returned seven fold’ was always on my mind. Our wedding was as sweet as I could have hoped for and our children and grandchildren were thrilled to be our wedding party attendants. We went on a beautiful honeymoon and enjoyed every moment.
Restoration (Haggai 2:9)
While I was preparing for the wedding, I asked my dear friend to say a few words and speak a blessing over me and Danny, because she had been so helpful to both of us. God gave her the scripture Haggai 2:9 that says: “The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,” says the Lord Almighty. “And in this place, I will grant peace,” declares the Lord Almighty. This was put on a canvas and we placed it on the platform during the ceremony. It sits in our dining room today and is our hope that when God restores, He does it completely.
The decision was made to not sell the house that we had worked on, but to live in it for a while….and we are still there.
Danny: A friend of mine said that he was glad that I decided to love Kim again and my response was, “The good thing is, I didn’t decide to love her again. God changed my heart. If I had decided to love her again, then I can also decide not to love her. God did this work and the love is stronger than anything man can do.”
Advice for others-Kim
- Don’t ask too many questions while things are raw. My friend gave me some good food for thought during our challenging moments. She said, “Don’t ask a question that you may not want to know the answer to. If you do, then you have to deal with what is said. If you don’t know something, it’s OK, that’s one more thing that you do not have to forgive.
- Always guard your heart, keep it tender before the Lord.
- Work hard at protecting yourself from hating anyone who hurts you.
- Choose who you share personal information with wisely – not everyone is able to forgive easily. If and when you are restored, you do not want them holding anything against the one you love.
- Take care of you! This is a devastating event and your body will suffer if you do not take care of you.
Danny and Kim Shelton today….