A Scarlet Letter Covered by His Love

A Scarlet Letter Covered by His Love

by Satin Pelfrey

When I introduce myself as flawed and messy, it’s because I’m truly just that. My past is tattered with two failed marriages, physical and emotional abuse, and adultery. I used to be in church ministry, attended regularly, and was betrayed there as well.  I’ve made mistakes I’m not proud of, hurt people I never intended to hurt, and been wounded by people I trusted far more than I should have.

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When Your Mother-In-Law Tests Your Ability to Forgive

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My husband and I have been traveling back and forth to Pennsylvania to visit my mother-in-law who has been seriously ill. At 90 years of age, Nadine went into the hospital to get a pacemaker. Up until that time, she was a healthy, strong-willed person with a sound and alert mind, still able to drive her own car. Complications set in and she was eventually placed in a rehabilitation center.

Despite the fact that I did everything I could to please her, and to be the daughter that she never had, Nadine never accepted me. Her only son Michael, now my husband, entered the Navy when he was just 17 years old. When he was discharged, he decided to stay in Virginia rather than to return to his hometown. I met him two months later. Despite the timing, Michael’s mother blamed me for his decision, saying that I wanted to keep him away from her.

I liked Nadine immediately when I first met her!

She was very friendly and outspoken. However, she kept calling me Barbara. This lasted for approximately six months. Whenever I asked Michael why she called me that he would respond, “Oh don’t mind her, she’s just getting old.”  I found out later that Barbara was Michael’s distant cousin and high school sweetheart, whom Nadine had wanted Michael to marry. Nadine told me that she thought the reason that Michael didn’t move back home was because of Barbara. Ok, so which is it?  Is it my fault or Barbara’s? 

When Michael and I became engaged, I showed Nadine my ring. She responded, “Why, that’s bigger than mine!” Her comment surprised me because it sounded like jealousy. This bothered me; I had a problem ignoring it.

Michael and I were engaged for about eight months when, one night, Michael said, “That’s it, we’re getting married tomorrow!”  We eloped without telling anyone. When we arrived back home, we shared the good news with our parents. At a time when family was supposed to be happy for us, Nadine was devastated. She once again blamed me, this time for robbing her of seeing her only child walk down the wedding aisle in church.

It seemed Nadine didn’t like anything I did.

She didn’t like me having a job. Then, when I quit, she didn’t like me being at home. She didn’t like me teaching my children responsibilities (chores) around the house and she certainly didn’t like me raising my children in my newfound faith. She once shouted at me, “I don’t care what the Bible says!  I only care what my church says!”

Nadine didn’t like the way I cooked food or cleaned the house. She certainly didn’t like the car I drove. She even stood in the hallway of her home, shaking her finger in my face, and told me that she didn’t care anything about me; she only cared about Michael. I had gotten to the point where I would become physically sick whenever we would make a trip to visit with her. I would try to talk my husband into leaving me at home, but he wouldn’t hear of it.

I prayed, “How long do I have to turn the other cheek Lord? How many times do I have to keep on forgiving her?”

Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV) says "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.". That means that when the enemy of our soul comes to us and replays all of the horrible things that another person has done to hurt us, we are called to forgive them.

Forgiveness is a choice that each one of us has to make.

Over the years, I had developed the mentality that this woman was too big for even God to do anything with. But after spending time in prayer for her, I could see that she was hurting inside and desperately needed the unconditional love that many of us search for in life. God loves her and cares about her just as much as he cares about me. God gave me a compassion for her that enabled me to look at her through His eyes.

I made the choice to let go of all bitterness, resentment, and un-forgiveness that I had developed toward my mother-in-law over the years.

It was only when I began to pray for God’s mercy and forgiveness to be upon her that I started to see a change in her attitude toward me. By the time Nadine became sick, I was able to look at her and repeatedly think to myself, she’s not bigger than God, she’s just flesh and blood.

For the last six months, Nadine has allowed me to pray for her and she has even said the prayer of salvation with Michael and me. On a recent visit, she told me, “It’s nice that you pray for me like you do.”  When I kissed her on the cheek and said, "I love you." she replied, "I know you do." On another visit Nadine turned to me and said, “I have accused you of many things these past years, but I was wrong.”My first thought at her statement was that of astonishment.My second thought was, “Why couldn’t this moment have come years ago?

If you’re having difficulty with your mother-in-law, begin praying for her today.  Take the promises of God from the Bible and claim them for her. Remember, she’s YOUR mother-in-law.  Don’t let the devil steal what belongs to you!

Post script:At 91 years old, Nadine died on February 25th, 2013.She will be missed by many people but especially by me.However, I know that I will see her again when I leave this earth to be with our Lord and Savior.


Martha has been married for 41 years and is a mother of 2 grown children, grandmother of 3. She has ministerd to children, ages 7-9, for 18 years. She also ministered for 9 years in Victorious Overcomers Support Group. Her body was healed of cancer and her marriage saved from divorce by the power & mercy of the One True Living God! She is the author of Unforgiveness, Cancer, and Healing coming out soon. Click here to follow her on Twitter.

photo credit: ny156uk via photopincc

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The Skin You Live In Book Review and Giveaway

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My husband and I were among the first on line to get a copy of The Skin You Live In: Building Friendships Across Cultural Lines because we have the privilege of being members of Dr. David Ireland’s 6000-member mega church in NJ. Having been a member of several multicultural congregations over the last 15 years, it seemed like an important book for me to read. I know from almost a decade of attending Pastor Ireland's church that he truly desires racial reconciliation and longs to see diversity—not only in the pews as he ministers on Sunday morning, but in the Body of Christ as a whole.

Are you a Christ Follower but find that you do not want to sit next to a person of another race?

Do you cringe at the thought of your son or daughter bringing home a person of another race or culture…especially if the relationship may be romantic?

Then this book is for you.

On the other hand, maybe you think, "I've got this one covered, I am not prejudice."

This book is still for you.

 Each of us should ask ourselves, “Do I feel uncomfortable with others who are different than me?” And if so, “Why?”

This book helps you to do just that.

 The book intentionally asks hard questions, such as:

* Am I cross-racially attractive?

* Do I unconsciously reject people of other cultures?

* How do I develop strong interracial relationships?

* What skills are needed to have a safe interracial conversation on race?

I found this book to be an easy read despite its sensitive topic.

It reads like a well-written dissertation with plenty of examples of race/cultural conflict and resolution. Most of the steps shared in this book are basic Biblical relational principles that we, as Christians, should be walking out in our life; act neighborly, share common interests, be warm and inviting, offer mutual respect, and respond with kindness. The real-life stories included persuade the reader that racial reconciliation is important as well as necessary. The practical steps, while fairly simple, are helpful as well. A couple of these are: offer hospitality, go on social outings, and practice honesty in relationship.

Dr. Ireland points out that reconciliation starts with stepping out of your comfort zone.

He explains we can really only do this through grace. You can't talk about race reconciliation without talking about its most important element – forgiveness. In Ths Skin You Love In, Dr. Ireland does a wonderful job of talking about why forgiveness is necessary, as well as breaking down what it is and what it is not. A general prayer of forgiveness is included in the book to get the reader started in the process of letting go of past hurts that may prevent furthering relationships.

The book ends with Dr. Ireland sharng his story about the hate and discrimination he experienced as a result of his race.

Then he accepted Christ and it healed him of the pain of victimization. "I emerged from my dorm room as a new believer in Jesus and as a man healed of prejudice and confusion over how I would live and connect with others in our pluralistic and multicultural society."  His firsthand experience encourages the reader that race reconciliation is possible.

I would’ve liked a little more insight into the actual process of forgiveness and how it is walked out in everyday life. I believe unless forgiveness takes place, it can be extremely difficult to put into practice the suggestions provided, whether it’s opening up your home or having vulnerable conversations. From experience, I know for healing to take place it’s important to allow the Lord to search our hearts and expose specific places where we've have been hurt or walls have been built. So I highly recommend downloading the study guide here. It provides a prayer that addresses a particular offense or offender. I have learned over the years that forgiveness is an ongoing process that often requires repeated prayer. Over time, the layers of unforgiveness are peeled back and healing begins. To go deeper into the matter, I wish the book included the steps victims can take to repent of judgment and vows that they may have made due to their experiences.

Even though Dr. Ireland shares his personal story, I wanted to hear more about the nitty -gritty of his experience. I felt as though the book was missing a more in-depth account of his journey through victimization to healing. Was it really as easy as Dr. Ireland states? Did it take one prayer or did he have to forgive multiple times? Those details could help me and others through our journey.

This book will touch and transform each one who reads it differently, based on their personal experience.

Even though I thought, "I've got this one covered…", as I read, I allowed the Holy Spirit access to "ping" my heart in the areas where subtle discrimination was buried. I repented of stereotypes and judgments and have had transforming conversations with my husband and friends.

There is no doubt that in a quest to unite people to people and people to God, Dr. David Ireland has poured his heart into this book.

The Skin You Love In is an essential read for anyone looking to improve relationships with others, whether of the same race or not.

For more information on Dr. David Ireland and the other books he has written, visit .

Today we are giving away a signed copy of the book. Click here and you will be redirected to the right place.

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Staying Married When it's Hard

Staying Married When it's Hard

by Martha Wentz

Growing up, I remember hearing people say, “The wife is always the first to know when her husband is cheating on her.” Of course, that never made any sense to me. I would question, “If a wife knows that her husband is cheating on her then why doesn’t she just make him stop?”  

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