Monthly Marriage Miracle Story–Remaining In His Love

Once again I am posting a marriage miracle story. The story is true, but the names have been changed. I pray that Judy’s story will encourage you to love your husband, even if he has difficulty receiving God’s healing. This is only possible as we love with the love of the Lord and as we “remain in His love.”

A friend of mine who has encouraged me often to love my husband and allow God to heal my soul when he hurts me has troubles in her own marriage of 35 years. Here is what Judy writes:

 “God has sustained me for this very long journey of walking alone emotionally. I believe Dave came to salvation about two years ago, and that has made a difference!  He is alive in Christ now, but he has so much emotional wounding he never dealt with because he didn’t want to see it and feel that horrible pain of trauma all over again. I have been able to often enter into God’s sufferings as I felt the distance of Dave’s heart and his not caring and not even trying to connect. Isn’t that just what agony the Father feels as we ignore His heart reaching to us?

 “It takes a person who is willing to allow God to show them what’s under the memory cloud—to lift the ‘lid.’ For me it’s to be a wife who can help him feel safe to lift the lid of his own pain. It feels often like I am playing a mother role with the broken-hearted little boy who got stuck at age five emotionally where he was first abandoned.

“What that looks like in a conversation might be like this:.

 “‘Dave, you said you have felt judged by me for the last 20 years or more…’

 “Even though his belief systems about me is a projection of his own mother’s volatile temper, yelling, screaming, never ever affirming his worth, not even touching him. Dave grew up with no tenderness and I am through his lenses, a copy of her. (This friend is one of the most tender, loving people I know.)

 “‘Wow, Dave that must have been a very sad and lonely experience for you. It would be very hard to love someone that you believe is judging you.’

“‘(Dave’s reply) ‘Yes, it’s been 20 years of rejection from you. And I have not loved you either. You are impossible to love.’

 “Hearing that I could launch into all the pain I’ve experienced, but of course Dave cannot see or feel my sadness—only his own. Narcissism is so normal for wounded people who don’t trust or praise or respect anyone. Pain internally causes such a personal disassociation from others around himself. This is challenging. I could not love this little boy apart from Jesus!

“Now I am supposed to ask forgiveness from him for my part in not being able to see his fragile heart (of course I can’t say fragile.)

“‘Dave, I am so sorry that I made you feel alone…( taking the blame even though I know I’ve been doing back flips to try and reach him and that his anger and extremely disconnected behaviors have been traumatic for me. (the trauma of neglect)

I feel like a barren desert except I do have water from Jesus, and His love sustains me.

“And I have come alive to my emotionally charged being, aware of my sadness and loss, so I must apologize to him and respond to his pain as though I didn’t have any of my own. (Help Lord!)…I need Jesus continually to empty out the bitterness for all the disappointments in my soul. I married 35 years ago not to be alone. But I have been so alone…

“This last weekend Dave and I went to a marriage communication intensive… I believe it will be next to impossible for Dave to ‘cross over’ to me when he is so captive to his own pain. He is yet in prison over his own non-dealt-with childhood pain…As Dave can face, embrace and release his own pain first, then his spirit can be filled with a different message.

I’m compelled to put my hope in God’s rescue–that He will turn it all around,

that God will bring everything in our marriage into alignment with Him!”

Judy also wrote these practical things she has done: “God has showed me that my husband has an impaired judgment of me—that God has to show him who I really am.” She added, “God has revealed I need to have an attitude of ‘I don’t receive that’ when he belittles me. And I try to see where he does good and speak to him about that.”

Not too long after my friend wrote the above, she sent me this little note: “I have such a big praise report about our marriage! The Lord gave Dave a new understanding and revelation about our marriage as he prayed with a prayer warrior (who specializes in helping to release people from the effects of trauma—my words here). It has been a God turn around all the way! Hallelujah! I have a kind friend/husband, and I’m amazed at the miracles happening in our prayer life.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Monthly Marriage Miracle Story: Loving An Angry Husband

Once again I’m posting my Monthly Marriage Miracle Story. This story is true, but the names have been changed.

A gentleanswer (2)

Wives who are married to angry husbands have a big challenge. When a husband lashes out angrily, it can lead to deep hurts, resentment, and angry or passive/aggressive retaliation from the wife. Many times a wife can feel justified in lashing back because of the cruel words of her husband.

But God has a different way. Linda learned to continue to love her husband–even though he was such an angry man–when at times she felt like walking away. Over time God has rewarded her for remaining loving and for repenting when she reacts in an ungodly way. If we run to God in the midst of a husband’s angry tirade, God draws us closer to Him, and we can sense His love–even when we don’t feel loved by our husband because of his anger.

*****

Linda, like me, felt angry because of her husband’s angry attitude toward her. She described him this way: “a Marine for twenty years and very controlling; he criticizes me a lot and rarely says a kind word.” Although her husband, Frank, proclaims to be a Christian, she said, “He was saved when I met him, but he has stayed a baby Christian.” She told me he often says to her, “you and your morality.”

When I first spent time with Linda, she erupted with negative comments about her husband because the anger over his unkindness had built up. Linda said, “This is what my mind tells me: you’re not loved; you’re not appreciated.”

When I talked to Linda about what God taught her in regard to her husband’s anger and how He helped her to be a gentle wife, she quickly came up with these insights from the Lord:

–“Be strong. Do what you know to do. Don’t give up. I am with you. Don’t fear.

–“You are not responsible for the choices Frank or anyone makes. You are to walk your walk. Do you trust Me, child? It’s easy to see another’s fault and not your own. You are not to judge. Jesus taught love, grace, and mercy. Lay down your rights to be offended, to judge, to condemn, to make your own decisions.”

–“The Word says, ‘Take up your cross and follow me.’ The cross = Jesus = lay down your life.

takeupyourcross (2)

–“The hardest part is unconditional love.”

Linda shared with me that when Frank starts ranting angrily, instead of reacting negatively, she sometimes sings, “Jesus loves me; this I know…” which reminds her how much Jesus loves her when at the moment her husband is not acting in a loving way.

Linda said her negative attitude often became the problem. She realized “self-righteousness is still ‘self.’” This came about when she compared herself to her husband. “The Lord says, ‘Don’t do it.’”

One day Linda came home late from an outing and Frank expressed his anger—loudly. As she lay on her bed and felt her own anger, the Lord whispered to her that, although her husband’s delivery proved not the best, she failed to call and communicate she would be late. She apologized to her husband for that.

Not long ago Linda came to me and said joyfully, “Frank complimented me. He said, ‘We have a beautiful home here, and I have a pretty wife, and she still wants to keep me.’”

Linda also said that Frank quit drinking—something he had done for a long time, which helped with the anger and other issues.

galatians692

God continues to set Linda free from bitterness about her husband’s anger. Soon I’ll be launching my Hearts Set Free podcast, where I will tell you more about how to be set free from anything that is keeping you bound, so You can love like the Lord and become all He created you to be. I will speak about issues connected to marriage and every relationship in our lives, including our relationship with God.

My first podcasts will center on grief since dealing with grief and loss often gets us stuck in various aspects of bondage. If you send me your email address, I will send you a free list titled, “Ten Keys To Being Set Free.” My email is emcreasman@aol.com. I look forward to helping you even more on your journey of being set free.

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Monthly Marriage Miracle: The Power of Appreciation

Once again I’m posting a story of a marriage miracle. This was written by a friend whom I will call “Marcie.” (I change the names in the monthly miracle stories, but they are all true.)

This story means a lot to me because I have tended to be critical of my husband. Marcie reminds us that miraculous things can happen when we turn our negativity into gratitude.

I pray you will apply this story to your marriage, and/or pass along to other wives who are struggling to love their husbands in hard times.

The Power of Appreciation

My husband was not working and money was getting tight.  The thinner my billfold became, the more stressed I became… and the more critical.  In the early weeks I was encouraging… “You will find something soon, you are so talented.”  As weeks stretched to months my words got sharper, “How hard are you trying?”  “What are you doing with all your time?” “I can’t stand lazy people!”  Then I started hitting him with scripture: “He who doesn’t provide for his family is worse than an infidel.” (See 1 Timothy 5:8)

Needless to say, my husband did not find any of this motivating! Worse, I began to think of my husband as a loser.  As my respect eroded, so did his self-esteem.  I was unknowingly making him less employable by putting him down.  When he began to see himself as a loser, the poison of my words was becoming fatal.  All my accusing fingers pointed to him as the problem.   I was clueless that my negative thinking, and subsequent criticism, was the real problem.  Out of the abundance of my judging heart, my mouth was spewing.

About this time I read an article about living in the appreciation room.  I can’t recall the author to credit them, but I can recall their point: we can live as critics and bring condemnation on our spouse, or we can live as supporters, focusing on attributes we appreciate.  When we choose to dwell in appreciation of our spouse, we de-emphasize their negatives and…their positives grow.  When we choose to live in the appreciation room—our focus transforms our thinking, our words, who we are, and to whom we are married!

Convicted, I stopped the flow of mouth poison and asked God to show me how He sees my husband.  I put down my judge’s gavel and began to pray for him, and became impressed by a man who loves his children, who is devoted to me, who cares for others and who seeks God.  As my new attitudes reflected my gratitude, I watched Mr. Loser become Mr. Incredible.   We wives really do have the power to make or break our men.

My super-hero husband is now fully employed, but I had already learned to appreciate him while the bills were stacking up.  My new perception created a healthier reality in which he could flourish and maximize his potential.  And I am getting to live with that happier result in Appreciation Mansion, a great place to stay.

 

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Monthly Marriage Miracle: Contentment

Here is another marriage miracle story.  This miracle may not seem like a big one, but if a person does not learn contentment, it can hurt a marriage and even end it. Judy could have remained unhappy because of what her marriage lacked, or she could have even gone looking elsewhere for that something she longed for. Instead, she did what Philippians 4:11 speaks of: “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” NIV

Even if you are in the midst of battling a sense of feeling a lack of contentment in your marriage, the good news is that you can learn contentment. Go to the Lord, and let the contentment lessons begin.

How One Wife Learned Contentment

Judy learned contentment in her marriage, in spite of one major issue: her husband’s lack of romance. Very romantic with his previous girlfriend, her husband, Dan, tried to explain the reason, “I had more money then.”

Judy’s former fiancé exhibited romantic ways.

“It was hard not to compare them,” she said.

Judy tried to communicate her need for romance to her husband: “I explained how I felt and hoped it would be different. I told him a romantic husband would make a special dinner. Also, he knew I loved the beach. He could pack a special lunch and take me there. I wanted surprises. Instead I had to tell him, ‘I want to go to the beach.’”

She came to this conclusion: Would I really want the romance of my old boyfriend who was not the solid Christian my husband is? Dan is a steady rock I can depend on. He’s never changed in that. He’s a man who has loved the Lord and loved his family.

“On our first Christmas together, he gave me a splatter screen for cooking. He knew I wanted one, but he could have given me something romantic. He didn’t.”

The good news Judy proclaimed is this: “He did give me daisies—my favorites—this past Valentine’s Day” (their 43rd Valentine together.)  Other years he just gave a card.”

Another truth which helped Judy be content in her marriage despite the lack of romance: She realized her husband loved her with how he served her.

“My husband has always been willing to mop a floor or change the beds,” she said, something other wives often envy.

Although Judy wanted Dan to express his feelings of love in more romantic ways, she learned, “These are his expressions of love; I need to watch for these.”

Judy states, “One of the most loving things he did was take me to see my ‘other mother.'”(Judy came from an abusive home, and this was her mother substitute.) He drove me 2800 miles, so I could see her after she had her leg amputated.”

“The key to contentment,” says Judy “is acceptance; this is who he is.”

Judy adds, “It’s important to learn to live with who you have rather than chasing the dream of who you’ve wanted.”

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Thinking About George Floyd: What’s Your Black History?

Lately, like many Americans, my heart breaks over what happened to George Floyd. It brings back to my memory an injustice against blacks I witnessed years ago. There was no death or physical violence involved, but there was still damage done.

I’m posting here a story I wrote about the traumatic event, which comes to my mind again and again, especially when racism is in the news. This story was first published in 2007.

After the story I’ve added “The Rest of the Story.” This contains some thoughts that have come to me over the years, which I haven’t yet shared. The Lord has told me that for me healing comes as I write about difficult issues. Often healing comes for others as well, as I write what the Lord lays on my heart, and they read it and are encouraged. I do pray for complete healing in me, in the three young men in the story and for all those who have been mistreated because of the color of their skin and even for those who have done the mistreating of these precious souls that God loves. We all have sinned, and I praise God that He is a God who delights to show mercy. (See Micah 7:18)

This verse also comes to mind in regard to the racial issues in our country: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV).

I pray that you will take the time to read all I have written here. Then I pray you will ask the Lord, “What’s my part? What should I do?”

*****

What’s Your Black History?

Black history month has come and gone. But I’m still asking a question of my family and friends:  “What’s your black history?” What I mean is, “What were you taught about African-Americans?”

Then I tell them some of my black history.

Looking Back 

I grew up in a “lily-white” area southwest of Chicago. I didn’t see black people every day. As a child, I heard talk of people leaving their neighborhoods in the city because “colored people moved in.”

I remember warnings about driving through black neighborhoods— especially at night. I’d ridden on the elevated trains with my parents, but some of my relatives warned against doing so because of “all those colored people.”

One memory stands out from my youth. I was maybe 10 years old and was swimming in a public pool in the next county on a hot summer day sometime in the 60s.

“Why are there hardly any people here?” I asked my father.

“Because colored people swim here,” was his shocking answer.

Some days, as I see the terrible effects of racism continue in our country, I feel ashamed of having been born white.

On one particular day at my large, mostly-white church a number of years ago, my then-teenage daughter invited three black male friends from her high school to Sunday school. She left them for a little while to go to the bathroom and when she returned, her friends were surrounded by security guards. One of the guards shouted at them, “You don’t belong here!”

Why? Because certain people saw three black youth dressed differently than their own teenagers and concluded they were part of a gang.

When these young people walked around in the book store, as one lady told me indignantly and “took more than one piece of sample candy,” people concluded they were thieves. When these teens who were poor, and therefore hungry, looked in different classrooms for cake they’d seen someone eating, it was assumed, “they’re casing the joint.”

Instead of doing what the Bible says “Love one another as I have loved you,” (John 13:34), frantic calls were made to security to deal with criminals on the premises.

These young men were gracious, despite their treatment. What broke my heart even more as they saw me crying was when one of them said, “Don’t feel so bad, Mrs. C. We get treated this way all the time. We’re used to it.”

I had to face a fact, though. If I’d fully embraced the lies I’d been taught, I might have reacted the same way others in my church acted. I thought back to times in my recent past when I crossed the street if I saw a black man coming and how I avoided entering a checkout line if the clerk at the register was black.

The ladies from my church, whom I knew as loving, caring Christian women, denied acting out of prejudice. No apologies were ever offered.

If I’d asked those involved in that incident, I suspect that the answer to these questions would have been “never.”  “When was the last time you hugged a black person, entered a black person’s home, or invited a black family into your home?”

 Changing Course

When I asked these questions of a friend recently, she said, “I don’t have the opportunity.”

I used to think the same thing until I prayed about the issue. Then God opened doors. He opened my heart too.

My daughter brought scores of black friends home from school. Sadly, they told me other white parents wouldn’t let them in their houses.

Then I was invited to teach Sunday school to teens at a black church, and I accepted. After befriending some ladies who were members of another black church, I was invited to speak at a women’s retreat there. I joined integrated clubs and groups and attended integrated church services. As a Hospice volunteer, I started to choose black patients to care for. Not long ago I spoke in a black church at a black friend’s funeral about how she had impacted my life. At that moment, I thought how racism could have robbed me of that.

I discovered if you truly seek racial reconciliation, you will find it. And once you integrate your life, you’ll have to confront racism – in those around you and in your own soul.

One Sunday, a member of our church came to the pulpit after attending a Promise Keepers event. He talked about being raised to use the ‘n’ word, and in his profession as a policeman it was common practice. He went along with other officers even though as a Christian he knew it was wrong. That evening, choked with tears, he confessed before the congregation his racist attitudes and actions. The beauty of the moment reached a poignant peak when a black man, a fellow Promise Keeper who was visiting our church–walked forward and put his arm around him while he confessed his racist sins.

I plan to keep asking, “What’s your black history?” even as I continue to deal with my own—not just in February–but every month of the year.

*****

The rest of the story: The above article was published in The Lookout in 2007, at least five years after this incident happened. I also had this piece posted on CBN.com sometime after that. Several years ago, as articles about racial issues were in the newspaper, I had a shortened version of this piece in the Tampa Bay Times in the letters to the editor section.

Although this trauma happened to me and these young men approximately 18 years ago, whenever stories about injustices against blacks come on TV, I think back to that day. I find myself feeling regrets. One is that I didn’t tell the senior pastor what happened. (He retired from the church and moved away not too long after this incident.) He said he cared about racial issues, but back then I felt distrustful of people and their view of blacks, so I felt certain he would take the side of those who ordered these young men to leave, especially since one of them I believe was a close friend of his.

I did talk to a black pastor at the church the same day about what happened. He told me how he had to be careful of how he dressed, and that not long before he had faced racist attitudes while visiting a white patient in the hospital. He didn’t act surprised by what I told him. I also talked to an associate pastor who was apologetic and said, “You should invite the youth back to the church. Dinner will be on us.” They weren’t interested in going back.

I did take them back in the early afternoon on the day they were told to leave. As I approached the church building, one of the ladies (she was quite elderly) who called the security guards earlier shouted to someone, “They’re back. Call security again.”

It was as if I was invisible. I told her they were my guests. She didn’t care. So I talked to the security guard who arrived, with the three teens present. This particular security guard was Hispanic, and stated, “Their kind don’t belong here.”

“What do you mean by that?” I asked. “Do you mean poor people? People who aren’t upper, middle class whites?”

She didn’t answer my question, but stated, “They were in parts of the church where young people don’t belong.”

Our family of four had been attending the church for many years, my children had attended the school attached to the church, where I also worked as a substitute teacher. My daughters had never been told there were parts of the church where youth don’t belong.

I could not convince this person that these youth were not evil. I wanted her to see how funny, kind, and gifted they were. Two of them (brothers) had a kind, loving mom and dad as well as a stepmom. The other had a loving mom. All of these parents worked hard to support their children, even though they had financial issues and lived in a rough neighborhood.

This security guard never addressed these young people or looked at them. She acted like they weren’t standing there as if by doing so, she could cause me to take them away quicker.

I did talk to another security guard later—a middle age white male. He said that he had worked in the inner city and loved black youth and had no problem with them being on the property. Apparently, he had reacted to the hysteria (racism) of those who had called security and went along when the youth were asked to leave. The youth group leader said he enjoyed having them in the Sunday School class.

One reason people got worked up is that not long before the book store had been robbed—not by black youth—but by well-dressed, upper middle class youth who attended the Christian school. I heard that they had walked out of the store with a large jewelry display case. What I surmised is that workers in the book store were so distraught about this previous thievery that they thought getting rid of these black youth (perhaps believing all black youth are thieves) would prevent further losses in the church bookstore. On that day, when I talked to a worker from the bookstore on the phone she said when she saw them in the store she had asked them if they had any money, and they said they didn’t, so they didn’t belong in there.

“And how many times have you asked my daughters that question?” I asked. “Or anyone else?”

“Besides, I didn’t react negatively to them because of the color of their skin but because of how they dressed,” she said.

“That’s wrong too,” I answered.

One of the young men wore a doo rag. She possibly thought it was something he would suddenly use to cover his mouth and then would pull out a gun and say, “Give me everything in the store.”

Another wore one of those sleeveless undershirts some call a “wife beater.” They were not going into the church service—just the Sunday School—and our church had a casual dress code for youth. Another had his pants sagging. Not long after, many of the white youth in the church wore the same style. I don’t think any of them were kicked out of the church.

Ironically, not long after this traumatic incident, I attended the women’s Bible study at the church, and the subject was racism. Beth Moore talked on video about how racist her grandmother was. During discussion time, I went to the front and told how badly I and the black youth I worked with (at the black church where I taught Sunday School) as well as my daughter’s friends were treated out in public and even in our church. I didn’t give details, but one of the people who called security sat near me. She said nothing to me after I spoke.

The Lord has not given me permission to leave, so I’m still a member at this church. So is one of the people who initiated the call to security that day years ago. I confess I tend to avoid her, but some days I’m filled regret that I didn’t go to her and talk more about the issue. I guess I wasn’t up to hearing more excuses and having shame dumped on me for bringing such inferior youth (because they were black) to our pristine, mostly white church. I did realize along the way that some blacks are allowed on Sundays—those who dress and act white. Also, females who wear their African garb, and missionaries.

I do know that I need to completely let go of bitterness toward this person, which sometimes suddenly wells up in me again. What comes to mind is “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” I do keep her in my prayers, and God has brought me lately, now that I’m retired from day job, back into the women’s ministry where I see her and interact with her.

A couple of years ago as I was reliving the trauma of what happened that day because of more stories in the newspaper about injustices toward African Americans by the police, I asked in a small prayer group meeting at the church, “Can we pray against racism in our church and in our country?”

I was shocked when my prayer was censored.

“There is no racism in this church,” one of the people in the group insisted.

Ironically, one of her closest friends was among those who had my daughter’s guests kicked out of church.

“There is no racism in society either,” insisted another member of the prayer group. “There are just evil people.”

She was Hispanic, and apparently thought I was only talking about blacks and saw them all as evil. On the way out of the room, a man in the group who also had worked with black youth and brought them to church, said he often saw racist attitudes from white church members.

I regret that I didn’t go back and try to pray my prayer again. I didn’t tell my trauma to this group. I figured most would probably be on the side of kicking out my guests. When I mentioned in the group that I had suffered various traumas while attending our church, one of the people said, “You just need to let go of all that.”

One thing that the Lord reminds me of is that what happened was years ago, and even though that prayer group wouldn’t pray with me, I have prayed and others have prayed with me. And I have a prayer request that says, “Please end racism in this church and in our society,” on the prayer board in the church prayer room. I also have a prayer request there that says, “Lord, please integrate this church.”

On Sunday, I put these two prayers on the new “prayer wall” on our church’s website:

“Please join me in praying that all of us in this church and in the body of Christ will examine our hearts and ask God to remove any racist attitudes or mindsets. Also, pray that racism will not exist in any form at our church and that all will be truly welcomed, and that we will become an integrated church with people from all races and colors worshiping together. Pray that we as Christians will live integrated lives.”

Prayer #2: “Please join me in praying that God will intervene in the unrest in various cities in our country—that the violence, looting, and fire-starting will stop. Pray also for the family of George Floyd for comfort and peace from the Lord. Also, pray that many will come to know Christ through this crisis.”

The church website is set up that each time someone prays the prayer which was submitted, an email comes that says, “Someone prayed for you.” Receiving those emails has been such an encouragement.

I believe by faith God is answering these prayers I and others have prayed. I see some new black attenders on a regular basis at our church, and at certain events, the church is integrated.

Not long ago, the Christian rapper, LaCrae sang at our church.  I felt encouraged when I saw so many black youth and their parents present on our church campus.

Not long ago, these words were on a sign outside our church: “All are welcome here.”

Every time I saw that sign, I felt a little sad and wondered, Is that really true?  It wasn’t true back on the day my daughter and I came to the church with three black youth. Maybe things are different now. I’m praying by faith that it’s so.

As far as the three youth from years ago, our paths have crossed again. One of them suffered a fall and has an injury that keeps him in a wheelchair. Unfortunately, he is unable to work. He is always happy to see me, and he does have a relationship with the Lord. Another of the youth struggles with mental health issues, but is overcoming them and has worked steadily for two years. The Lord has given him beautiful hymns. The last time I saw him he had a real hunger for the Lord.

The other young man whom I only hear about from their sister and who is a brother of youth number two, works full time and would say that Jesus is his Savior. None of them attends a church, as far as I know.

I have regular contact with their sister, who wasn’t there on that sad day and came for the first time on a different day. She was not kicked out of the church, and she attended a number of times.

“It was your church that got me started on the Christian path,” she has told me more than once. These days she is a leader at her church.

When I talked to her yesterday, she said, “First, it was your unconditional love that got to me. You invited us into your home, and you fed us. We never were treated like that before.” Then she said, “Going to your church meant so much to me. I really felt the love of God there.”

I pray that everyone who walks through those doors and the doors of my home—no matter who they are—will say those same words.

“Glory” by John Legend and Common

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEFRPLM0nEA

 

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Hearts Set Free Marriage Miracle: Julie’s Story

Here is another marriage miracle story to remind you that God is able to intervene–even in seemingly hopeless situations as we turn to Him in the midst of hard times. The story is true, but the names are changed.

My friend, Julie, sent me this story of how she maintained the heart of a servant instead of withdrawing love and staying angry when her husband made a bad financial decision. The key statement in this story is: “I chose to go to the Lord.” Sadly, many wives don’t, and hard times become worse and sometimes destroy a marriage.

Julie’s husband died a number of years ago, but I ponder the results if she had taken a different path and refused to submit to the Lord during the hard time in her marriage and/or chose never to submit to her husband again. “She could have said, “I won’t submit or consider any further leadership from my husband because of the horrible decision he made,” or she could have chosen divorce. I rejoice that she chose God’s way.

 

My husband, Leonard, had gone into a venture with another man unbeknownst to me– until things fell apart. The partner had made a bad investment without checking with my husband. We lost our savings, our property, and almost our home—which we were able to sell at a loss and get out from under that. This failure devastated my husband, which affected his health. He had to go to the hospital, and then he lost his job.

Needless to say, I was upset. But I chose to go to the Lord. He gave me two Scriptures to hold to: the one that says He would restore what the canker worm had eaten—(See Joel 2:25) and “I was young and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” (Psalm 37:25 NIV)

In the middle of this, our precious daughter was getting married. She is such a lovely Christian inside and out, and I wanted a nice wedding for her. I remember driving and crying and feeling despair. I learned when you are really in need, our Father is always there. I couldn’t find a dress to wear, and then I remembered I had bought a fancy dress for my sister the year before, and it turned out to be in the color my daughter had chosen. What was more miraculous was my sister is 5’2” and I’m 5’5-1/2.” It looked perfect on me. My daughter bought her own dress, and all the women of the church helped make food for the reception for 200, and then wouldn’t let me pay them. Another friend had access to silk flowers and he brought them and I used them to make the room look like a garden.

Through the years I have held onto God’s promise, and I now have a lovely, modest home with no mortgage.

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Monthly Marriage Miracle-Joan’s Story

Here is another monthly marriage miracle story. The names have been changed, but the story is true. I know God works miracles in marriage because he has worked so many in ours. Often our relationship seemed hopeless, but calling out to the Lord changed so much–especially my perspective on our marriage as I embraced God’s view of my husband and of our life together. Sometimes miracles take a while, but as I and Joan were willing to wait, God came through.

After I talked to Joan on the phone to get her story, I saw how the faith she developed for her marriage involved waiting. She did not see a change in her husband until after 30 years of marriage.

Joan’s Story of Perseverance

Joan was someone who persevered. The primary difficulty in her marriage was that her husband, Mark, “was working, working, working.” She said, “He felt guilty—that he wasn’t doing enough—because of his background.”

She expressed she felt disconnected from him. He remained involved with their four children, but had nothing left for her—no intimacy—all because he stayed bound by fear and anxiety. Even when at home Mark worried about work. He said, “Don’t talk; I’m planning for tomorrow.” Day after day Joan had to deal with the fact that her husband was emotionally unavailable because of his high stress job.

“I was lonely and frustrated” she said, “I didn’t believe in divorce; I believed in covenant.” But what I said was, “I don’t think I love you anymore, and I don’t think I can stay in the marriage.” Joan said she felt like she was pushing a loaded wagon uphill. It felt too hard.

“He sobbed when I said I didn’t love him. We went to counseling where he ended up talking about his job. He had insecurity. He thought he was going to get fired but they were actually pleased with him. He was bound by perfectionism and insecurity. He was obsessed with his performance. I didn’t try to change him. I focused on the children, and we drifted apart.

“Things really began to change in recent years when Mark was invited to a seminar where he learned about rest. He’s changing. He’s resting finally—at the age of 65–even though he’s still working. Things changed in both of us. God showed me that I had too many activities and that I needed to find the proper timing for communication. Now I make a point to spend time with him instead of just with the children and my friends. After 40 years of marriage we’re learning how to communicate and enjoy each other. We walk together for a long time. We talk about practical things and about life.

“The Lord used other men to speak to my husband. They would say, “What does the Lord say?” Now he has embraced “take no thought for tomorrow…” (See Matthew 6:34) And he’s into rest and trusting the Lord. I made a decision along the way to stay—no matter what—even if he never changed, although I believed he could.”

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Monthly Marriage Miracle: Beth’s Story

One of my passions is to help couples find healing in their marriages, (since I found healing in mine) even when their minds tell them, “It’s impossible.” Once again, I’m posting a marriage miracle story. This story is true, but the names have been changed. I pray that during this Corona Virus “stay at home” time that your marriage will become stronger than ever. And if your marriage is already thriving, please pass this story along to a couple you know that is struggling. Remember that our God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV.)

Here is Beth’s story: The Power of Forgiveness

My husband, Greg, and I met at the age of thirteen, dated off and on in high school, and married in May of 1978, one month shy of my turning nineteen.  We were young, too young, and crazy in love.

He was in the Air Force and stationed at Eglin AFB in the Florida Panhandle. Our marriage and this move took me away from my parents and family for the first time. I was the oldest of 4 kids and was the 2nd self-appointed “mother” in my family. I knew I would be very homesick, and I was.

During the second year of our marriage, the Air Force sent my husband to South Korea on an unaccompanied tour (meaning that I could not go). So, I returned home for the year that he was away, got a great job at a bank, and had our first little home built.

He returned to the States to a new home, but to his old job in management at a grocery chain.  This was, I believe, somewhat disappointing but somehow familiarly comforting. So, there we were, right back where we started, and living in our little house, both working all of the time, and not sure what the future held or what we wanted. After four years, we decided that it was time for a bigger home and we wanted to move to a different area of town, so we found a lot and had another home built.  This, we thought, was where we would start our family. A lot of our friends were starting to have kids, and by this time we had been married about six years.          Well, the having kids part didn’t come easy for us, and in fact we struggled with infertility issues and all of the stress that goes along with that.  At the same time, my husband was becoming more and more disgruntled with the grocery business and needing a change.  At the same time, I had just completed schooling to become a medical transcriptionist, and was recruited by a local hospital, as I was at the top of my class.  So, while I was looking forward to a new career and exciting new things, it was the opposite for my husband.  Looking back, I can see this was a nearly lethal combination as far as our marriage was concerned.  I’m not sure if this was the first time he strayed, but it was the first time I figured it out and confronted him.  It was absolutely devastating to me, and I nearly fell apart.  We separated for a few weeks, talked, tried to re-group, and eventually decided that if we were to make a fresh start we should sell everything, leave our jobs and move up north where my sister and husband lived.  It was a plan, and that is exactly what we did.

At this time, we were not going to church, in a relationship with the Lord, or seeking help from anyone to get us through.  We just knew that we were determined to stay together and work things out.

I can tell you that the next seven years were a series of ups and downs, joy and disappointment.  My husband was determined to stand by me and was remorseful for what he had done.  However, I could not forgive easily and I definitely could not forget.  I tried, I prayed, and I wanted to erase it from my memory.  I now believe that my unforgiveness caused me more pain than the infidelity itself.  I also believe that we should have sought counseling together following such a traumatic event, but we didn’t.  Years later, I went by myself, thinking there must be something wrong with me.

We will tell anyone that marriage is a work in progress, but when we take the holy vows of marriage, God wants us to stay together if at all possible…and that’s what we had…the possible.

We did finally get pregnant, though it took 10 years, both of us having surgery, etc.  We had our daughter when we had been married 16 years.  She was and is a miracle and, as we like to believe, evidence that we did the right thing by working at our marriage.

We got ourselves to church and in relationship with the Lord.  We started to give Him the attention he deserved and living a life made easier by knowing Him.

We still are working on our marriage, and there will never be a time that we won’t be working at it.  Living life with someone is not easy, especially when they make horrible choices.  I still pray every day for peace and understanding regarding those choices.  I’m not perfect, and I’ve made bad choices, too. We are all flawed in some way.

Our advice for a lasting marriage is simply this – be willing to give more than you get, love more than you are loved, and forgive more than you are forgiven. The willingness is the secret!”

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Corona Virus Crisis: Winning Over Invisible Enemies

During a recent TV news report, someone referred to the Corona Virus as “an invisible enemy.” Right after this man uttered those words, I thought of other invisible enemies that people battle during this worldwide crisis: fear, discouragement, depression and more.

At times lately as I watch the TV for too long, I start to allow these invisible enemies to interfere with my faith in the Lord— often without realizing they’re creeping in. Thoughts of many “what ifs” try to sneak into my thought life. If I let them stay, the final outcome of each one ends in a catastrophe.

I find myself turning to Facebook where I’m blessed by encouraging words from brothers and sisters in the Lord. Some of the themes have been: there are still things to be thankful for during this crisis, although so much about our world has changed, nothing about God has, and God will bring good out of this bad and already has as people reach out to help and encourage others.

I’ve been so blessed by Christian singers whose concerts have been cancelled or who just want to bless others who have done live concerts on Facebook from their living rooms. As I sang along, I felt so connected to the body of Christ and to all the people in the world and truly had a sense of “we’re all in this together.”

Today I’m thinking of a song which has meant a lot to me lately. It’s called “Waymaker” by Leeland. The first time I heard the song, the words that caught me beside the chorus were “Even when I don’t see it You’re working. Even when I don’t feel it You’re working. You never stop. You never stop working.”

In this crisis, I can be tempted to think, God’s not working to end all of this. When that thought tried to invade recently, another one came: He may not seem to be changing what’s going on with this disease right away, but He’s working to change us, to encourage us, to draw us near to Him. He’s also working in those who because of this crisis may choose Christ as their Savior.  

As I reflected on other times of crisis in my life, I realized He didn’t always end the negative circum-stances when I wanted Him to or break through loved one’s hardened hearts in the huge ways I longed for Him to do, but He worked on my heart to give me a proper perspective and strength to make it through.

As I think of invisible enemies that try to defeat me during crisis times, something else that’s invisible comes to mind: the faithfulness of God.

No matter what trial, trauma, or tribulation I look back on, I see God’s faithfulness—at times even in the midst of my lack of faith.

During this time of uncertainty, I’m determined to keep my eyes open for God’s faithfulness, even in the midst. He’s been faithful in the past, and since He doesn’t change He’ll be faithful again. I sense His faithfulness right now, which is not about preventing all of this or ending it this moment, but about His providing to help us through it.

Now that I’m spending much more time at home, I can spend more time alone with the Lord. I can seek Him to refresh and restore me and bring me to a place of rest.

As I seek Him, He keeps the promise He made in Psalm 34:4: I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” (NIV)

I remember during other personal crises, I thought This is the worst time of my life. But if I’m honest I also could say, “That was the best time of my life.” Why? Because I felt closer to God than ever before. As I drew close to Him, He drew close to me. (See James 4:8) He reminded me who He was and whose I was and assured me of His love, despite my broken heart and the sense that I had no control over all that was happening around me. He’s doing that again.

I’m seeing that I can allow invisible enemies besides the Corona Virus to take over, or I can choose to allow God’s invisible faithfulness now and over the years to remind that what’s going on doesn’t surprise Him, scare Him or stump Him. Once again He’s calling on me and all of us to trust Him. When He allows all that we tend to trust in besides Him to be removed, we’re faced with this question, Do I really trust God?

I declare right at this moment my answer is, “Yes, Lord, yes.” I think of Job who said in the midst of His horrendous crisis, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15 KJV).

Today I’m determined to keep track of all the good God is bringing out of this bad—both in the physical world and in my own heart and in the hearts of those around me.

A verse that God gave me in the midst of self-pity during a crisis in the past comes to mind, “I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me” Psalm 13:6 NIV.

Singing praises certainly helps to slay those invisible enemies!

“Way Maker” by Leeland

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXQGTInPpZU

Here’s another song someone pointed me to in recent days:

“Through It All” by Andre Crouch

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB2pPCydEjs

 

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Monthly Marriage Miracle Story

God has healed my marriage, and I love to tell people about His miracle-working power. I also like to hear from others about how God worked a miracle in their marriages. Here is another story of a marriage miracle. The story is true, but the names have been changed. May you too believe God for your marriage miracle.

The Compassionate Wife

coupleonpath

Beverly embraced the virtue of “a compassionate wife.” This year she and her husband, Jason, mark 40some years of marriage, quite an accomplishment considering their many hurdles. Jason entered the marriage with a negative self-image and after dealing with the sense that both of his parents rejected him. Poverty governed his younger years, leading to shame when people came to his home.  Emotional issues lingered. Over his married life, he stuffed his anger and turned inward. At times he voiced suicidal thoughts.

“Codependence made me think I was responsible to rescue him—to pull him back from the edge of the cliff,” said Beverly.

Over time, she learned simply to say compassionately to herself, “He has a problem,” It reminded her she didn’t cause nor could she cure his issues.

She frequently encouraged her husband to seek help from a counselor, but he refused, so she went alone to one who told her, “Get outside of your marriage house and look inside through the window and get perspective.” This helped her accept her husband, and her expectation of change ceased. She came to view acceptance, which is part of compassion, as a gift from God.

“I learned to see my marriage and even my marriage problems as a gift,” she says. She saw that “whatever he had been through was what brought him to the place he was in our marriage.”

Beverly, an adoptee herself, dealt with abandonment issues, which enabled her to empathize with her husband’s abandonment in childhood. Her attitude toward Jason became: “There but for the grace of God, go I.” When issues came up in their marriage, she kept in mind both their backgrounds of rejection. She discovered unconditional love as her husband’s biggest need from her

Out of compassion, Beverly prays for her husband. “I picture Jesus, my Shepherd, in the green pasture of the 23rd Psalm. I take my husband by the hand. I walk out to the meadow, the green pasture, and I place my husband’s hand in Jesus’ hand knowing that He is sovereign. He loves me, and He loves Jason more than I do. He has a plan, a hope, and a future for each of us. As I walk away, thanking God for how He is working in my life and in my husband’s life, I experience a feeling of peace.”

The sudden death of a friend at age 48 increased Beverly’s compassion for her husband.

“This could be my last day. I want my last words to Jason to be loving words. I want to give him a loving embrace. I want to finish well,” she relates.

Beverly sees signs of healing within Jason as he plays with his first grandchild. She observes him experiencing deep joy. She learned the joy of compassion sufficient to place unconditional love above being loved.

Posted in Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment