God made a way
The trials for Kathy Hughes were many and varied, but nothing was too big for God, who walked before her and provided just what she needed to get her through.
Bonnie Jordan/Living Stones News
Through illness, divorce, financial ruin and raising kids, Kathy Hughes always sought God’s help, and He was faithful through it all.
“There is hope even in the darkest moment,” said Kathy Hughes, 60, from Duluth, Minn., as she set down her coffee cup and settled into her story -- a story that included nearly dying as a child, the loss of her marriage and home and seeing her son slip into the grip of drug abuse.
But in every dark moment while she prayed “God, show me the right path,” Hughes found He had already made a way.
As a child, church played an important role in her family’s life, but Hughes’ first faith experience came at age 7 while she was expected to die.
Lying in a hospital bed and severely ill with rheumatic fever, a doctor took her mother into the hall to tell her that Hughes probably would not live. Hughes overheard the doctor’s words. Her mother returned to the room, tears in her eyes. As she stood before a window, struggling with her emotion, a young nurse came into the room. She wrapped her arms around Hughes’ mother and comforted her.
Frail and weak, 7-year-old Hughes’ heart stirred. She prayed, “God, if You please let me live, I want to be a nurse like that nurse.
“It was the beginning of my faith and my nursing desire,” she said.
God honored her prayer and healed her. She missed a lot of school due to her illness, but she eventually got involved with Youth for Christ and became a nurse. In 1977 she met her husband with whom she had four children. Life was good.
Then things changed.
“One day, March 27, 2003, my husband left for a seminar in Texas,” Hughes said. When he didn’t call home, she tried to reach him. “For two or three days I tried calling him and he didn’t answer.”
As the days went by, her worry grew, and she started calling around. She even contacted her husband’s employer but got no answers.
She prayed, “God, You have to let me know what’s going on.”
Shortly after that, she received a call from one of her husband’s co-workers and his wife, who said, “We will be there for you, take care of you, and help you with the kids.”
Hughes was incredulous. “What’s going on? What’s this about?”
The co-worker said, “We can’t stand this anymore. You have to know.” He told Hughes her husband had gone away with another woman.
“I was speechless, helpless for a moment,” she said.
But three weeks earlier God had given her a strong desire to get into His Word.
“I couldn’t stop (reading the Bible),” Hughes said. “There was never an issue of not enough time or having interruptions.
“So, when this happened, I lost hope for a second. God’s Word surfaced. I knew I’d be OK, even though I didn’t know what to do,” she said.
Hughes’ first move was to get outside support, something she urged anyone in such a situation to do.
“I called a friend because you can’t walk this alone,” she said. She didn’t offer a lot of explanation, just told her friend, “I need prayer. Mike is gone.”
As the days passed, Hughes was finally able to speak to her husband. More details emerged.
“Every week something was revealed,” she said. “The whole time my prayer was -- and still is -- show me Your will. Show me if I’m on the right path. Give me wisdom and evidence of the decision being the right decision.”
But as more facts came to light, and Hughes continued to pray for God’s guidance, she knew divorce was inevitable. She said, “I didn’t want a divorce but knew it had to happen.”
Hughes got into Divorce Care, a faith-based, 12-session program offered through area churches to provide support and tools for making good choices both emotionally and financially.
According to the website DivorceCare.org, “DivorceCare is a friendly, caring group of people who will walk alongside you through one of life’s most difficult experiences.” Some of the tools they offer are ways of finding a support team, means to build a foundation of healing, daily encouragement, bookstore resources and a personal study program.
Rebecca Haapanen, children’s pastor at Duluth Gospel Tabernacle, previously led a DivorceCare group at her church. She found that the DVD studies are always “spot on” to the needs of individuals looking for direction and support at a time of great emotional and sometimes physical need. Men or women who are looking for help may be heartbroken and devastated, but Haapanen said, “You’ll find people that understand in a way that you never thought possible. It’ll meet your need at the very moment you need it.”
One of her favorite pieces of the program is the daily e-mail. Haapanen said, “Word on the street is that no matter what you’re going through that day, it will always somehow minister to you.”
She also described the group as being very fluid. During their study they might pause to pray for someone going through a hard time or someone they don’t even know yet. Haapanen said, “For instance, we’ll be praying for the people (who might then be) getting a note on their table (that their spouse has left) and they will show up to class next week.” She said such occurrences happen regularly.
“(DivorceCare) was very helpful to me,” Hughes said. “As I went through each step, my heart’s only plea was that I use wisdom, even if it seemed difficult or unreal in a divorce.”
Her faith was further exercised when she lost her home. Her daughters lived away at college, and Hughes had no choice but to move with her two sons from a 3,700-square-foot home to a 900-square-foot apartment in a much less desirable area. It was hard on her 12- and 16-year-old sons who didn’t know the reason for their parents’ breakup.
On the day of the move, her youngest son disappeared. Later she found him in his bedroom at their old home. He’d taken a garage door opener with him and used it to return to his old room.
Taking him to the apartment was hard. Hughes said, “He wouldn’t go in. He wanted to sleep in the car.”
Overwhelmed, she told God, “I can’t do this.”
But God reminded her, “You can’t, but I can.” That night her son finally came in.
Hughes went into the tiny bathroom and looked out the window. She was startled by the view. Stars glistened over Lake Superior and the lights of the bridge looked spectacular. Hughes said, “God affirmed that He’d give His peace at a most difficult time.” She said that view reminded her, “He’s still up there. He cares about you.”
Hughes said that bathroom window became a family joke. Whenever someone wondered where mom was, another would say, “She’s at that window again.”
Faith in God’s guidance and constant presence continued to lead Hughes and her children. Though she was terribly hurt, she refused to become bitter over the divorce, loss and uncertainty, and she didn’t want to become angry. She acknowledged that Christians are sometimes caught in sin. Referring to her former husband, she said, “He’s God’s child as much as I am. I try to keep that perspective.”
Her credit was ruined, and Hughes didn’t see how she’d ever have her own home again. But God again planned a way for the future she couldn’t see. After college, her older daughter, Allison, bought a house. Shortly afterward, Allison left for a mission trip in Guatemala. Since Hughes’ lease on the apartment was about to expire, her daughter urged her to move into the house. When she returned, she told Hughes, “I’m being called (by God) to Guatemala. I know I’m supposed to be there.”
So Hughes rented her daughter’s home. Eventually her daughter married and moved to another state. In a phone call, she asked Hughes, “Mom, do you just want to buy my house?”
“God was always ahead (of us) and knew our need and prepared the way,” Hughes said. “(He brought) the apartment, the house, people, strength to go through it, even the right legal help and financial covering.”
But her most fearful trial was yet to come. Experiencing the heartache of infidelity, divorce and its aftermath, Hughes’ heart lay heaviest for her children as they processed the situation. Each one reacted differently. When her youngest son withdrew and eventually began using and dealing drugs, she continued to pray for wisdom and guidance. Another journey lasting several years began.
Hughes felt God prompting her not to reprimand, but to be available and to pray. In October 2010, her son called her to say he wanted out of his situation and asked her to pray for him. Hughes replied, “You got it.”
In October 2011, he called to remind her that he’d been drug-free for one year. He thanked his mom for her prayers.
“It wasn’t me. It was God. Through every single journey I’ve been on, God has been so good,” Hughes said. “How can I feel so strong when I should be so weak? It’s an almost indescribable strength.”
Hughes is a walking example of 2 Corinthians 12:10 – “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Hughes recently shared her faith story at Salem Covenant Church in Duluth where she attends. She said others facing divorce should remember “to keep the peace as much as possible, avoid bitterness and to walk every step of the way in prayer for wisdom.
“I pray that my kids will seek God in times of anger, loneliness, fear, rejection,” Hughes said. “I wanted to show my children that God’s love is with us no matter what happens, and that we can count on Him through everything.”
Both Rebecca Haapanen, children’s pastor and former DivorceCare group leader, and Kathy Hughes have been through the DivorceCare program and suggest that if you, your children or someone you know are experiencing the heartbreak of divorce and its aftermath, help is available.
The DivorceCare program is produced by a nationwide church group called Church Initiative. According to its website, www.DivorceCare.org, new sessions start regularly all over the country. You can find sessions near you by visiting the site.
Several churches operate DivorceCare groups in the Twin Ports. The Duluth Gospel Tabernacle Church in Duluth runs the program in recurring sessions, and anyone, church member or not, is welcome. They’ve just begun a new session, but anyone is invited to join them at any time.
If you’d like to invite Kathy Hughes to share her testimony of faith and encouragement with your group, please feel free to contact her through her church, Salem Covenant, at (218) 624-4859.