Excerpt for Rescue Your Family by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Rescue Your Family

by Julie Musil

Copyright Julie Musil 2018

Smashwords Edition

To Devin, Blake, and Garrett--

my personal Rescue Heroes

Table of Contents

Chapter 1--Genesis of Rescue Your Family

Chapter 2--The Invitation

Chapter 3--Strugging in Your Marriage? Some Resources for You

Chapter 4--Don’t Try to Figure it Out

Chapter 5--Be Kind? Are You Serious?

Chapter 6--Need Comfort? Just Ask

Chapter 7--Get Yourself Off Your Mind

Chapter 8--Kitchen Table Counselors

Chapter 9--Growth in the Dark Places

Chapter 10--Love is a Choice

Chapter 11--How About a Little Justice?

Chapter 12--Do It Afraid

Chapter 13--A Time to Grieve

Chapter 14--Battle Weary

Chapter 15--Don’t Waste Your Pain

Chapter 16--Count Your Blessings

Chapter 17--Who’s On Your Mind?

Chapter 18--Good, Worthy, Loved

Chapter 19--Forgiven

Chapter 20--Oops?

Chapter 21--Letting Go

Chapter 22--Fakebook

Chapter 23--Scars Tell Stories

Chapter 24--Just Keep Swimming

Chapter 25--The Secret of Love

Chapter 26--Fighting Against? Or Fighting For?

Chapter 27--Fear Not

Chapter 28--You Are Not Alone

Chapter 29--Call On Your Warriors

Chapter 30--What’s the Point?

Chapter 31--Are You Full of It?

Chapter 32--Why Me? Why You? Why This Trial?

Chapter 33--Every Storm is a School

Chapter 34--Goodbye, Nest

Chapter 35--Replace the Dirty Water

Chapter 36--Hit It and Quit It

Chapter 37--Thankful for the White Space

Chapter 38--After the Drought

Chapter 39--Who Encourages the Encourager?

Chapter 40--Give It a Rest

Chapter 41--PEAS on a Beach

Chapter 42--Quiet Love

Chapter 43--Change Your “Why” to “How”

Chapter 44--Forgetting the Past

Chapter 45--Something New

Chapter 46--Forgive, Pray, Forward

Chapter 47--Final Thoughts


Genesis of Rescue Your Family

Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. My marriage story began when I met my husband in the snack line in middle school. We started dating three years later, when I was a sophomore in high school and he was a senior. During our “middle” he became a firefighter; we got married, built a home together, and raised three sons. Our ending is still being written.

Out of respect for my ex-husband, I’ll keep most details of our situation private. But I’ll tell you this: several years ago his heart turned away from me. He moved out of our home, leaving our sons and me dizzy with confusion, grief, and despair.

Since that time, I’ve been on a wild, painful, and surprisingly beautiful journey. As I’ve traveled this journey, I’ve heard story after story of first respoders’ families fracturing and falling apart. Firefighters leaving their wives, firefighters’ wives having affairs, another police officer or sheriff filing for divorce, military couples drifting apart. Why?

I’m not an expert on statistics, and I’m not a therapist. I’m simply a firefighter’s ex-wife with a voice and a longing to see families restored. This book was written out of my deep desire to help other families hold it together.

Why the title, “Rescue Your Family?”

First responders have a calling. Their jobs are extraordinary. They go to work and see things and do things the rest of us can’t imagine.

They rescue others.

My goal is for first responders to not only rescue others, but to be willing to rescue their own families.

This wish is for every husband and wife who are struggling. We each have a sacred responsibility to do all that we can to keep our families together.

In the coming chapters, I’ll share with you what I’ve learned along the way. I’ll share resources. I’ll encourage you and offer hope. But in the meantime, know this:

If you’ve felt your relationship unraveling and you’re powerless to stop it, I understand.

If you’ve felt lost and alone, I understand.

If you’ve felt unloveable, worthless, and deeply flawed, I understand.

If you’ve felt responsible for every single thing wrong with your relationship, I understand.

If you’ve felt as if every relationship around you is thriving except yours, I understand.

If you’ve felt bitter and angry, I understand.

If you’ve felt confused and scared, I understand.

This book is not just for first responders and their families; it’s for anyone who needs it.

Your marriage, and your family, are worth rescuing.


The Invitation

I’ve always been rather quiet and private about my faith. It’s not that it was a big secret, it’s just that it wasn’t on the top of my “share with everyone” list. I grew up going to church, but drifted away in my later teen years. It wasn’t a conscious thing--it was simply a matter of magnifying other things and people.

That quickly changed a few years ago when my ex-husband--who I’d been with since I was 15 years old--left me. My world was completely rocked. It’s still rocked, to be honest. If you’ve been through this, you know the deep, gut-wrenching wounds I’ve experienced. If you’re going through this now, I understand your pain. 

I was desperately searching for answers. I’m an avid reader and writer, so I gravitated to what comes naturally to me: reading, writing, and research. I began listening to podcasts that poured goodness and hope into my wounded soul. My faith, which had been on the backburner for decades, moved to the front.

This started happening while I listened to a podcast featuring Kimberly and LeRoy Wagner, who were sharing their marriage miracle story. For someone like me, who was so deeply wounded and searching for answers, it was balm for my soul. I ordered Kimberly’s book, Fierce Women, and read through it in two days. Their marriage miracle, Kimberly’s book, and her blog, were the seeds planted in my heart that began my spiritual journey.

I don’t know what your faith life is like. Perhaps you’ve been so disgusted by faith, and people of faith, that you’ve automatically tuned out this chapter. Or maybe you’re like me; you’ve grown up with faith, but let other things and other people take its place. Maybe you’ve had that “something is missing in my life” feeling, but can’t pinpoint the cause. Or maybe you’re on the fence about faith, and don’t know what it’s all about. No matter where you are on this spectrum, I ask you to do this one simple thing: invite God into your circumstances.

Pray. Invite God in. If you’re thinking of walking out on your family, pray. If you’re married to a first responder and you’re fed up with being alone and second in line to the job, pray. If your marriage is unraveling and you’re powerless to stop it, pray. If your husband or wife is cheating on you, pray. If you’re the spouse committing adultery, pray. No matter where you are and what your role is in the status of your relationship, pray.

For me, healing began once I invited God into my circumstances. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m nowhere close to where I used to be. It’s a journey, but it all begins with an invitation. It could be simple words like this, “God, I don’t know what’s going on here. I don’t understand why I’m going through this pain. But in the midst of this chaos and turmoil, I’m inviting You in. Please help me.”

I truly hope you’ll invite God in. Right now.


Struggling in Your Marriage? Some Resources for You

Before I dig deeper into my own journey, I wanted to offer some resources for struggling marriages. My hope and prayer is that you and your spouse would make a commitment to work on your marriage, no matter how impossible it seems.

Two willing partners--that's all you need to begin the journey of healing and restoration.

"What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." Mark 10:9 (ESV)


Hope Restored: This faith-based marriage intensive has a high success rate. Their site says that of those surveyed, "research shows 84.6% of couples are still married two years after attending." It also says, "The Hope Restored marriage intensives have helped more than 3,000 couples in crisis find hope for their marriages." Read success stories here.

Operation Heal Our Patriots: From their web site: "Operation Heal Our Patriots gives wounded veterans and their spouses the opportunity for spiritual refreshment, physical renewal, and marriage enrichment. Couples participate in Biblically based seminars that help strengthen their relationships with God and others and enjoy the beauty of God's creation with outdoor activities at our Alaskan wilderness lodge. We continue to support these men and women after their initial stay, keeping their spiritual needs and marriages a priority." Also faith-based, operated by Samaritan's Purse.

Chris Kyle Frog Foundation: Founded by Taya Kyle, wife to "American Sniper" Chris Kyle. Taya Kyle said her goal with the foundation is to "provide respites for military couples--as well as veterans and first-responders such as police and firefighters." She goes on to say, "The divorce rate is so high in that group...I really felt the thing I knew most about and was most passionate about was marriage. If we can just help the marriages survive--and not just survive but thrive."


Firefighters for Christ

Marriage Today


In my commitment and determination to save my own marriage, I've read many books on the subject. I'll list five here:

The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman

From this Day Forward: Five Commitments to Fail-Proof Your Marriage, by Craig Groeschel

The Imperfect Marriage: Help for Those Who Think it's Over, by Darryl and Tracey Strawberry

The DNA of Relationships, by Gary and Greg Smalley

Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs


Save the Marriage

Focus on the Family

In the coming pages, I’ll share plenty of links and resources that have calmed my heavy heart and helped me move forward in uncertain territory.


Don’t Try to Figure It Out

I was praying, asking God to give me something, anything, that would calm my overactive and confused mind. I mean, seriously, what happened to my life? What happened to the future I thought I’d share with my husband? How in the world did I end up here?

God spoke to me with an impression on my heart. What He pressed on me had such a profound affect that I immediately grabbed my phone and wrote this note:

Eyes on Jesus

Trust Him

Don’t try to figure it out

Those three instructions reminded me of something I’d read in Joyce Meyer’s book, “Battlefield of the Mind.” If you haven’t yet read that book, I highly recommend it. Honestly, that book helped me leap over some major hurdles in the beginning of this journey. I still refer to the dog-eared and highlighted pages.

Joyce Meyer tackles this subject with the famous verse from Proverbs 3:5, Lean on, trust in, and be confident of the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.

Meyer goes on to say, “In other words, do not rely on reasoning. Reasoning opens the door for deception and brings much confusion.

“I once asked the Lord why so many people are confused and He said to me, ‘Tell them to stop trying to figure everything out, and they will stop being confused.’ I have found it to be absolutely true. Reasoning and confusion go together.

You and I can ponder a thing in our heart, we can hold it before the Lord and see if He desires to give us understanding, but the minute we start feeling confused, we have gone too far.”

Her words were difficult for me to absorb at first. You see, I’m always trying to figure things out. When my ex-husband walked out on me, I spent so much time trying to figure out why. What in the world would make a man do such a thing? Was I cruel? No. Was I a monster? No. Was I hideous? No. Why? Why? Why? I even stopped seeing a certain therapist because she kept asking me, Why? As if I had a clue.

After pondering the words in the book, I actually felt something strange: relief. I was relieved that I didn’t have to try to figure it out. I didn’t have to keep digging and digging until the whole mess made sense. There was no way it would ever make sense to me, and trying to make sense out of the non-sensical caused me a lot of grief and frustration.

This verse is also a good reminder: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8 (ESV) And this one: For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33 (ESV)

Whatever your situation, wherever you are in your relationship, there may be something much bigger at play. Try practicing what God placed in my heart: Eyes on Jesus, trust Him, and don’t try to figure it out.


Be Kind? Are You Serious?

Confession: there have been times when I’ve been nasty and rude to my ex-husband. Especially after he left me and our three sons a few years ago. When I’m hurt, I come out swinging.

I used to be easily offended, angered, and made bitter. Perhaps you’d look at my situation and say, “I don’t blame her. Look at what he did to her and her kids.” And to be honest, I sometimes feel a certain satisfaction in that.

I’m not innocent, I'm not perfect. I’m normal.

Soon after I invited God into my circumstances, I learned of this scripture: “Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” Luke 6:28 (NLT)

Bless him? Pray for him? God, are you serious? You expect me to be cordial to him in the midst of all the wreckage he’s left behind?

*Sigh* Yep.

Notice I didn’t say, “Accept what he did as ok,” or, “Stand in line to get trampled on again,” or “Trust him.” Good grief, no. None of that.

God asks us to bless those who curse us, and pray for those who hurt us. It’s a way of following Jesus’ example. But you know what else? He asks us to do it because it brings us peace. I’ve learned that when God asks us to do something difficult, like be kind to someone who’s deeply hurting us, it’s not because he’s a cosmic meanie who’s trying make us crazy. It’s because He loves us deeply and knows what’s best for us.

Let me be clear: When I say being kind, I mostly mean that I’m prayering for my ex-husband, despite his actions. I fiercely protect myself and my sons, and that won’t change. One of the biggest hurdles for me in this area is to just keep my big mouth shut. There are a lot of things I want to say, but for me, it’s generally easier and most beneficial to say very little or nothing at all.

Here’s something to consider:

Does God love you? Yep.

Does God love the person who’s caused you so much pain? Yep.

Here are some truths I’ve learned:

Hurting people hurt people.

The person who’s hurting you can reject you, but he can’t reject your prayer.

Holding a grudge against someone hurts you more than the other person.

Praying for your person can bring you peace.

I may sound like a completely crazy person, and believe me, sometimes I feel like I am. But I’ll share with you what I now do. And I definitely do not have 100% accuracy with this, lest I sound like I’m wonderfully spiritual.

When a negative, angry, or judgemental thought comes into my mind about him, I turn it around. I bless him and pray for him. Is it difficult? Yes. Do I sometimes neglect to do this, and instead marinate in anger? Yes. Remember that part about me being human?

I invite you to try it. Whenever a negative, angry, or judgemental thought comes into your mind about your person, turn it around. Pray for your person. Pray for healing in their mind, heart, and soul. Ask for them to be blessed.

If you need help with what to pray, Kimberly Wagner wrote a great blog post about How to Pray for Your Man.


Need Comfort? Just Ask

I vividly remember the moment it happened. I was alone in my car on the freeway.

I’d just spent the day with my sisters and their families. Spending time with them brings me a lot of joy, but it’s bittersweet. I love them all dearly, and we’re so close and have so much fun together. That’s the “sweet” part. The “bitter” part is that my ex-husband is no longer a part of this loving and fun group--by choice.

I’ve been with my ex-husband since I was 15 years old, but I’ve known him since I was 12. He’s been a part of my amazing family for a very long time. He was even best friends with my sister’s husband since he was 11 years old.

In the early days after he left, when I was with my family and my ex-husband was not, I felt a strong and uncomfortable feeling of loss. A poor comparison would be the “phantom limb” phenomenon.

And so it was on that day, alone in the car on the freeway, when sadness overwhelmed me. I began weeping uncontrollably. I cried so hard I could barely see the lanes in front of me. As I cried, I remembered words Joyce Meyer had spoken in one of her teachings. (I wish I remembered which one so I could share it.) While talking about comfort, Meyer said something like this: “If you ever need comfort, just ask God. Say, ‘God, I need your comfort.’”

What did I have to lose? Right there in my car, I cried out, “God, I need your comfort.”

Suddenly, I stopped crying. My shaking body that had been wracked with sobs was still. Warmth and peace came over me. I can only describe it as supernatural. God’s comfort came to me the moment I asked in my desperate need--in my moment of deep despair, sadness, and loss. 

It was proof that I wasn’t in this alone. For a short time after my husband left me, I felt alone. Thankfully I realized I’ve never been alone--God was always with me, even when I didn’t acknowledge Him, thank Him, or ask His opinion. He’s there for you, too, right now.

I’ve learned that God never promised to keep every storm away from us, but He does promise to walk through the storms with us. He was there to wrap me in comfort--all I had to do was ask.

Have you ever felt absolutely alone? Have you ever desperately needed comfort? In your time of need, I urge you to simply ask God to comfort you.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 (ESV)


Get Yourself Off Your Mind

Do you spend a lot of time with yourself on your mind? Me, too. I mean, seriously, I have myself on my mind way too much.

After my husband left home, I felt such deep despair. Like I mentioned in earlier chapters, I invited God into my circumstances and began a spiritual journey that I wouldn’t ever take back.

I was attending a local church at the time, but I’d only go maybe once every two or three months. Besides my family, I didn’t even know anyone else who went there. It’s a big church, and I never attempted to make it smaller by joining in.

Shortly after my husband walked out, that changed. As I began seeking God, I felt a strong desire to get plugged in to the church. I joined a Life Group, which is a small group that meets each week. I started volunteering at the weekly homeless outreach. I went on a short mission trip. I volunteered in the church office. I volunteered at church services and special events. I helped with the pre-teen group.

Joyce Meyer has an excellent series based on the verse Psalms 37:3, “Trust in the Lord, and do good.” I love this teaching of hers because it’s such simple advice. When you’re struggling, when you’re confused, when you’re hurting, when you don’t know what to do, just trust God and do good.

The first part of the verse, “Trust in the Lord,” is a biggie, and it’s something I struggle with every day. The second part, “and do good,” was newer to me. I’ve often volunteered at my sons’ schools and for sports teams, and I’d even volunteered at our church to package meals for their “million meals” endeavor. But this time I yearned to do more.

When our hearts are hurting, it’s easy to turn inward. It’s natural to isolate ourselves and to dwell on the negative aspects of life 24/7. But it’s not healthy.

Believe me, stepping out to do these new things was difficult. Showing up for Life Group as the only single person was daunting, but now these folks are some of my closest and most dear friends. Going on a mission trip alone, without knowing another person, was also daunting. But I made lasting friendships on that trip. Helping with the homeless outreach was intimidating at first, until I realized it’s not about me. It’s about helping the other person who’s down on their luck.

Connecting with your local church is a great way to meet new people who are kind, compassionate, and comforting. Volunteering to help others is a productive way to get yourself off your mind. When I’m chatting with a homeless man about where he spent the night before, my own problems become smaller.

Whatever it is you’re going through, whatever the condition of your wounded heart and soul, I’d like to challenge you to step outside your comfort zone. Get plugged in, and do good. The people you’re there to help may think you’re a lifesaver, but truly, they’re saving you. 

We’re all blessed with certain gifts that we can use to help others. What’s your gift? How can you use it to help others?


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