The Journey

Years ago a woman sent me a collection of writings she had done as she stood. She asked that we not use her name, but was willing to share what God had given her.

We made a little booklet of them and called it A Journey.  We gave her the name Sara. We now have her words available on our website. I believe they will speak to your heart.

Click here to be blessed.

Remembering the Goal

If we were watching a football game, we would expect the players from each team to keep their goal in mind. We would anticipate they would move as one toward that goal. And we would be surprised if one of them took the ball and ran in another direction. It would seem he had forgotten the original objective.

Sometimes standing in faith is a lot like that.

We start out with a goal in mind, usually to see our marriage healed. As we spend time with the Lord, though, we begin to realize that His goal is perhaps a bit different than ours. While we have one objective in mind, He usually has quite another. Yes, He wants to see our marriage healed, but the path that we travel with Him begins to reveal a far more profound goal.

He desires for us to know Him deeply; for Him to abide in us and us in Him. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Various meanings of abide are persist, persevere, to be true, to remain, to tarry, to wait, to continue, and to not recede or flee. Obviously, abiding means remaining faithfully together at all times.

Sometimes as we stand we lose sight of God’s goal. We look for changes in circumstances or signs that we are making progress. Our goal begins to shift from the Lord’s goal. Our time spent in prayer and the Word doesn’t seem to be making a difference. We begin to doubt and to question. How long must I do this? Is it really making a difference? Will my spouse ever come home?

We become like that player with the ball running in a different direction than the end zone. We run to and fro looking desperately for what we desire to see. Our goal becomes the only important one.

Thankfully, Jesus waits patiently at the goal line. His arms are open wide, waiting for us to return to the purpose He has for us.

I have said many times that I would not want to go through again what I had to face in our marriage. Yet, I have always rejoiced that that is what brought me to the closeness I have with the Lord today. His goal for me was so much greater than the limited one I had in mind. His goal to see our marriage healed took second place to His goal for intimacy and my deep abiding with Him. It is His goal for each one of us and it is the goal we need to keep in sight as we stand. Love, Marilyn

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4

Happy Valentine’s Day

I wonder if you can understand how much I love you. I watch you when you don’t know I’m looking. I even stand by the bed at night and watch you sleep. I can’t take my eyes off of you!

I love the way you smile and when you laugh, it brings joy to my heart. I listen when you are talking and always enjoy it when you are talking about us.

You have a special way of bringing joy to my heart. I love the time we spend together, and I never feel it is enough for me. I just can’t get enough of you!

Our lives are woven together in such a powerful way. I love you, today, tomorrow, and forever!  Jesus

The Learning Curve

There is a sign in my office that reads, “When was the last time you did something for the very first time?” Doing what we know how to do is much easier than learning how to do something new. And the older we get, the more we enjoy sticking to what we know.

Yet, it is exciting to face new challenges, to learn new things. Sure, at first we can feel totally lost and a bit confused, but if we keep working at it, we soon learn the ins and outs of our new venture.

So it is with this blog. I had become comfortable with the old site. I knew how to navigate it and how to add graphics to each post. It was easy once I learned the basics. And now I am once again learning new basics. Each aspect of this new venture requires searching and finding answers. It is a challenge, but then I love a challenge!

Marriage is like that as well. Over the years we begin to rest in what we are good at. We learn the “dance” of what to do and what to avoid. Sometimes that works as the years go by. Sometimes, though, the dance is interrupted when one spouse decides to leave the marriage or refuses to grow anymore within it. Then we have the opportunity to learn something new.

I have always said that I hated what happened to our marriage years ago, but I have never regretted what I learned as I walked with the Lord through my stand. Yes, it was hard, very hard, at first. I had to learn to trust the Lord as I had never trusted Him before. I had to be honest about my own heart and my own life before Him. I had to learn to forgive things I had never dreamed I would need to forgive and I had to learn to repent for things I never thought were a problem. The learning curve was tough!

Somewhere in there, though, Jesus taught me how to get my eyes off my own pain and hurt and onto Him alone. I learned to cling to Him during the hardest times and to rejoice with Him with each new victory. And initially those victories were not in my husband’s life or in our relationship, but in my own heart as I grew to know Him like never before and walk with Him in peace and joy.

If we are willing, the Holy Spirit never stops teaching us. Our circumstances change, but He is always faithfully leading us in truth. If we allow Him, each experience becomes a step deeper into the wealth of Christ living in us. Everything we encounter gives us opportunity to be Spirit-led in our reaction. It never ends if we surrender our lives to Him.

We need to throw away our clocks and our calendars. Walking with Jesus is a marathon, not a sprint. It isn’t about doing what we need to do to get what we want. It is about an eternal relationship with Him and it’s worth whatever the learning curve requires! Love, Marilyn

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26

Grandparents’ Day

Yesterday was Grandparents’ Day at our grandchildrens’ school. We look forward to it each year as a special time of learning more about their school and what they are doing. It is also a time in which each grandparent or grandchild gets to share something special about our relationship with each other.

Yesterday we suspected we might see our daughter’s husband’s parents. I had not seen them since the divorce that they had heartily supported and I was not sure how I felt about seeing them now. There were so many things I had wanted to say to them over the months and now I might finally have an opportunity to get things off my chest.

As the day passed, though, and we prepared to leave for the event, the Lord made it clear to me that it was to be a day of love, of forgiveness, and of sweet words. I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage that, but I knew He was right!

By God’s grace it was a good meeting and a time of pleasant conversation. We attended a beautiful chapel service together and then went to the classrooms for a visit.

Our grandson proudly showed us around his classroom and brought us cookies and punch. When it came time to share, he introduced the four of us one by one. He was the only student there with all four grandparents present.

At the end of our time together, the school took pictures of each child with his or her grandparent(s). I felt very strongly we were also to get a picture of him with all four of us. The photographer was obliging, we all smiled, and that was the end of our time together. We hugged each other and walked away.

It wasn’t until this morning in my time with the Lord that I realized the significance of yesterday. The enemy has done his best to destroy a family and to destroy the generational lineage that is intact within it. Yesterday, though, a photo was taken of a young man standing between his grandparents, two families together, forever captured in that photo.

As we stand for the healing of our daughter’s marriage, God provided an opportunity to take a generational stand as well. Two patriarchs and two matriarchs stood together, representing generations united around a little boy. God made what could have been an awkward time into a precious time of love and honor to bless that little boy who continues to stand for the healing of his parents’ marriage.

Lord, we thank You that You are greater than anything the enemy brings our way. We honor You and we praise You for Your faithfulness over each one of us. Thank You for the gift of yesterday and that Your love is constant, never changing. We look forward to the day when as grandparents, the four of us can bless a family that is reunited and healed! Love, Marilyn

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:6

It Is Well With My Soul

Written by my daughter, Cristine.

Two years ago today Chad and I had a difficult conversation that would forever change the landscape of our lives. We had just walked though a long season of struggle, loss and pain that pushed us to the brink. I remember gradually closing the blinds in my room and delicately pulling the sheets over my head as I retreated to a very dark place.

After several days I made my way to my counselor’s office. She had walked through the post-transplant days with the boys and me and had really been a support to us. The only thing I remember about this particular appointment was that we decided to take an intense, 24-month journey together. Slowly and gently, and with great care and compassion, she started investing in my mental well-being. We met regularly, often for back-to-back-to-back sessions where she patiently and loving led me to higher ground.

One of the things that she told me was that my journey should look like a roller coaster; that I could allow myself to really enjoy the good days, but also permit myself to visit the low places on the bad ones. For years I had been trying to live my life in a place of balance; my goal was to be even-keeled. I guess I had always thought that spiking high and diving low equaled instability and I had never allowed myself to live that way…until then.

And so I embraced and relished the good days. At first they were few and far between but thanks to my faith, family, and friends (so many of YOU), those days did present themselves. Ironically, it was the darkest of days that I grew to appreciate.

When depression and pain came knocking at my door, I let them in. I gave myself permission to go to the hellish places and stay there until things were settled. I wrestled with anger, disappointment and anxiety. I acknowledged my severely damaged self-esteem. It was excruciatingly painful but I started living more authentically than I ever had before.

I owned up to my shortcomings. And after working through them, I let them go. But never prematurely. I got really stuck at times, especially when it came to forgiveness. When I uttered the words, “I forgive,” I wanted them to be authentic and genuine. Eventually, the breakthroughs came and they were powerful. Life-changing.

I stand here today a different person. Broken, shattered, and miraculously restored. Far from perfect, but ever-so-willing to keep working and get help when needed. And to share my story of healing with others who are hurting. (Yes, I have been writing…more to come.)

I certainly have not arrived and I realize my journey is far from over but hey, I traveled the first 730 days and I’m still standing. So today, I pause and reflect with gratitude and appreciation. And I celebrate progress. When trials in life come we have a choice: we can be a victim or we can overcome. Overcoming takes energy and effort that I believe can only come from God, attesting that we truly do need Him. And I am proof: He is faithful.

What Is Marriage?

Within the past few years we have seen marriage radically redefined in the earth. God’s design has been so totally twisted that, sadly, it is now considered hate speech to say that His is the only definition of marriage.

As God created life in the earth before He created the man and the woman, Genesis 1 tells us each thing He created had “seed in itself according to its kind.” And as He created, He observed that “it was good.” God’s creative design was not flawed.

Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” and He created a man and a woman and joined them in marriage. He gave them the ability to reproduce and fill the earth. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”

In Genesis 2, God gave Adam the privilege of naming all the animals, of defining them, but He did not give him the privilege of defining marriage. God sovereignly designed that union and people do not have the privilege of redefining it. In Ephesians 5, marriage is compared to the relationship between Christ and His Church. The design of God is very specific and reflects the deeper eternal relationship with His bride. God designed marriage to be a covenant relationship between a man and a woman that brings forth life (both natural and spiritual) and is only broken by death.

So what occurred spiritually that opened the door for the world to believe it could redefine marriage? Could it be that the Church redefined marriage long before the world did? Could it be that a covenant relationship that God designed to last a lifetime was redefined by the Church as a fragile, disposable relationship that could be broken by the behavior of one or the other spouses? Could it be that the Church believes the covenant commitment of our relationship with Jesus is totally different than that of a husband and wife?

The Church speaks for God in this earth. Because of our relationship with Jesus, we are the only legal voice of His authority. What we speak establishes things in the earth. And when the Church speaks something different about marriage than God speaks, then we change the atmosphere regarding marriage in the earth.

It is no small thing that the Church has strayed so far from the original plan of God for marriage. Jesus said, “…in the beginning it was not so.” God’s original plan has been greatly warped by the Church. Lately I have read many writings of people within the Church declaring why divorce is, at the very least, accepted by God and, at the worst, endorsed by God. I even read one the other day that explained why God didn’t really mean He hated divorce when He declared, “I hate divorce.” It took quite a bit of mental gymnastics for him to explain away God’s words. Anyone who has endured the pain of divorce, though, can easily understand why God hates it.

Years ago we read a letter to the editor of our local paper. It was written by a man defending his homosexual lifestyle. At one point in his letter he said he had been in a monogamous relationship for many years and he asked Christians how we could say his relationship was wrong when we couldn’t even stay married to each other for that long. It brought to light the Church’s hypocrisy regarding marriage.

God created man and woman in His image and the covenant relationship of marriage reflects the fullness of God. The redefining of marriage is about more than marriage. It is about the image of God in the earth. For years we have said that those who stand for their marriage covenant reflect the heart of God — forgiving in the face of unforgiveness, loving in the face of rejection, and faithfulness when faced with betrayal.

When the Church endorses divorce, the world is given the message of a God who loves conditionally and rejects those who do not perform according to His wishes. Relationship with Him becomes performance-based. How very much religion has fostered that image of God!

That distorted picture of God then opens the door for further distortion. If God is not faithful, how can you trust Him? How can you trust His word? How can you believe that He created marriage and designed it according to His will? Anything can be anything you want it to be if God’s will is not the bottom line.

We are now reaching the tipping point. A line is being drawn in the sand. Where will the Church stand regarding marriage? What will we be willing to suffer to see God’s original plan defended in the earth? One thing is for sure, we cannot stand on shifting sand. Until the Church is willing to endorse His original design for marriage and remain faithful to His plan, there can be no clear voice for marriage in the earth. Love, Marilyn

“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”  1 John 3:8

Why Does It Hurt When I’m Healing?

Whenever we hear that someone we know is getting a divorce, we immediately want to talk with them. Yet 100% of the time someone close to them insists that we leave them alone. Their reasoning always is, “They are hurting enough already. Don’t make it any worse for them by talking about how Jesus can change things. You’ll just give them false hope.

Recently a friend of ours tried to meet with the daughter of a friend of hers who was going through a divorce and the girl’s parents told her the same thing. It seems that family members are quick to protect their loved ones from any challenge to healing or even the thought that reconciliation could be possible.

We understand that they are hurting and yet we know that left alone, they may not heal on their own. When someone breaks a bone or tears a ligament, there is great pain. The first step in healing is often surgery or, at the very least, the setting of the bone. Sometimes pins must be used to insure proper healing. All of these things are painful and may even seem to add to the initial pain of the injury. To leave the person without these remedies, though, would insure improper healing and perhaps even permanent crippling.

It seems to us that many times this is what well-meaning family members, friends, and sometimes even pastors, do when they recommend that hurting people not be approached with the truth of covenant faithfulness. We realize that when someone is going through the pain of separation and divorce, they are really hurting. To those who love them and want to help them, just getting them through it may seem like the best option.

Many pastors have told us that divorce is the best solution for this particular couple. It is best they end years of pain and get on with their lives. The problem is, what seems like an effective resolution in the short term always produces continual problems in the future.

Case in point – the daughter of a friend of ours divorced two years ago. We wanted to talk with her at that time, but her family insisted we leave her alone. We almost lost relationship with them when we expressed how important we felt it was to see her. The other night we saw her at a party. She shared with us how her life was going. She was unhappy with the shared custody arrangements. The kids were hurting. She was angry. Her “ex” was uncooperative.

Then she shared about her dating life. She initially tried meeting men at church and in social situations, but that hadn’t worked well. Now she is online dating, but the outcome hasn’t been much different. As I listened to her I thought here is a woman desperately seeking peace and fulfillment. She thought divorce would set her free to obtain it all. Instead, she is still dealing with the same issues she faced in her marriage and cannot find the man she believes will change her circumstances.

She is healing crookedly because her wounding was never set properly with the Word of God.

Sometimes we have to be willing endure a bit more pain to ensure we are truly healing. Sometimes we have to look deep within ourselves and see things we do not like in order to have the Lord help us change. Sometimes we have to stop pointing fingers and blaming and start looking in the mirror. Those are painful moments, but if we are willing, they lead to true healing.

I remember when I first began to stand for our marriage and I was so eager for God to begin working on Michael. He really needed help! How shocked I was when the Lord made it clear we were going to work on me instead. I was the one serving the Lord! I was the one who wanted to see the marriage healed! I wasn’t in adultery! Why would God want to start with me?

He started with me because if I didn’t endure the pain of healing my broken heart, if I didn’t endure the pain of looking at my attitudes and behavior, or if I didn’t allow the Lord to remove the dross from my life, I would never have healed properly and I could never have truly loved my husband again the way I needed to in order to stand and intercede for him.

Sometimes facing the truth is painful, but if we trust the Great Physician to walk us through the pain to healing, we can be assured that we will heal properly. He has promised that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Physical therapy hurts. We never want to push ourselves past our place of comfort, but the therapist makes sure we we push through the pain and gain more mobility. Being protected from truth, never produces freedom. Love, Marilyn

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  John 8:32

What About Abuse?

When we talk about standing for your marriage or keeping your covenant, often people in abusive relationships believe we are saying they should continue taking abuse in the name of faithfulness. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Abuse, whether verbal, physical, psychological, or sexual, is one of the many ways the enemy attacks relationship. When you make the choice to stand against the enemy and agree with God, it is important that you separate natural things from spiritual things.

People who abuse others are operating out of their own wounding and many times have been abused themselves. I am not excusing the behavior, but I do acknowledge that Jesus Christ died for that person and wants to see him or her healed and restored just as much as He desires the same for the one being abused.

Many times abuse begins long before marriage. The one being abused grows to accept the behavior and might even expect it to change after the wedding. As you well know if you have been abused, it only gets worse as time goes on.

Whether abuse begins early in a relationship or develops over time, it demoralizes the one being abused. Fear, guilt, blame, and shame accompany abuse. In the cycle of abuse, the one being abused may assume responsibility for the reaction of the abuser. “If only I hadn’t done this or said that. It’s my fault.”

Additionally, the abuser often follows abuse with a showering of attention and/or gifts to reaffirm his or her “love” for the one abused. This can give hope to the abused one that things are changing. Promises that it will never happen again, though, soon disappear as the cycle repeats itself over and over again.

If you are in that type of relationship, you need to seek help. Standing for your marriage does not mean accepting abuse. If you or your children or another member of your family is in physical danger, you need to take measures to get out of danger. There is a huge difference between that, though, and divorce.

The world, and unfortunately many Christian counselors, believe the only way to deal with abuse is to get rid of the abuser. Finding a counselor who will help you reach a safe place and help you heal, but not tell you to walk out of the marriage is extremely difficult. If we were simply dealing with human behavior and the world’s way of handling it, I could understand their point. But we are not!

Scripture tells us that we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus. His blood paid the price to overcome sin. The power of His love and forgiveness are not reserved just for those that we deem “redeemable”, but extends to all through His faith for them. Scripture after scripture speaks of the power we have in the Spirit to overcome and to walk in victory. We are not victims when we are in Christ. We are victors!

I know that what I am saying is not easy to hear, but far too often we have seen people walk out of a marriage without ever dealing with their own issues. Often they walk right back into a similar situation. You are not responsible for the behavior of the abuser, but you can be obedient for yourself and allow the Lord to bring healing and restoration to your life

As you begin healing and growing stronger, you can start to identify the enemy operating through your spouse and learn to take authority over that activity. Again, it does not mean you have to subject yourself to the behavior, but you learn that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. My husband was never physically abusive, but his verbal abuse viciously attacked both our children and me. Over time I learned how to silence those spirits when they were in my presence because they had to submit to Jesus Christ within me. Eventually they had to release their hold on my husband as the transforming power of Jesus changed his heart and life.

So, if you are married to someone who is abusing you, get help. Recognize the difference between finding a safe place and divorcing. Find a counselor who will help you face the issues of your own heart and help you heal. Learn who you truly are in Christ and how precious you are to Him! Grow strong in the Spirit. And then ask the Lord how to stand and pray for your spouse to be set free from the enemy’s hold. Love, Marilyn

Romans 8; 1 John 4:4; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; 1 Corinthians 15:57; Nehemiah 4:14