Without Love

This week I was reminded once again that taking a strong covenant stand requires great love. It all began last Christmas when it seemed that our daughter’s temporarily away husband might end up being alone for Christmas. We told her he was welcome to join our family if that was okay with her and if he wanted to.

As it turned out he had other plans, but the incident brought out heated reaction from many who heard we had been willing to invite him. We understand this reaction as this has been a journey of frequent forgiveness for us. It would be so easy to take up an offense for our daughter and, on many occasions, I have. Every time, though, the Holy Spirit has convicted me of my hardening heart and has always brought me to a place of forgiveness and love. Michael and I truly love him and pray for the day when their family will be reunited and healed.

This week in talking with a friend, we were reminded again of how bitter one can become against the spouse who wounds our child. Our friend was angry, bitter and had nothing good to say about his daughter’s “ex”. He begrudged him any good thing and wanted him to suffer for being an unfaithful spouse and divorcing his wife. We realized this man’s words and actions are totally devoid of love and forgiveness. Without love a covenant stand just becomes harsh and legalistic.

1 Corinthians 13 is a challenge to all of us who stand firmly for a marriage covenant.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (My preaching is harsh and irritating.) If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (Standing in faith without love is useless.)  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (No matter how much I give up or suffer, without love it is empty.)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (Not walking in love can make me proud of being the better person.) It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (Love compels me to turn to Jesus, not the ears of another when I have been wronged.) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (Love keeps me from getting even and empowers me to forgive.)

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. (What I know and what I understand will change, but God’s love is constant.) When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. (Children see their own needs first. The mature can place the needs of others first.)  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (God is working strongly on my behalf even though I cannot always see it.)

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (True agape love can only come from God. It far surpasses our human ability to love and is the kind of love that transforms hearts, my own being the first one that is changed.) Love, Marilyn

Peter and the Sword

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus faced His upcoming sacrifice for our sins. He knew what lay ahead and asked His disciples to pray with Him, but they were tired and had eaten a big meal so they fell asleep. There in the garden alone Jesus spoke with His Father, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

Scripture tells us that an angel was sent to strengthen Him. In His agony  His sweat fell as drops of blood. Something powerfully supernatural was happening in that garden, but those who loved Jesus missed it because they were “doing their own thing”.

Jesus went to wake them and said, Are you still sleeping and resting?… Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.” And then a great multitude arrived to take Jesus. There were people with swords and clubs as well as a large number of Roman soldiers fully armed. They came in the flesh to take One who walked in the Spirit.

So Peter, who was now awake, decided he needed to do something to save Jesus. Facing a huge crowd of heavily armed people, He grabbed a sword and struck a servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Not only did he not accomplish anything positive, but he was now in big trouble. Not only had he taken a Roman soldier’s sword, but he had harmed a servant of the high priest. At the very least he was facing imprisonment, at the worst execution.

Sometimes when we are standing we can be a bit like Peter. God is moving in the spirit realm, but we do not see it. Then, in a moment of desperation, we take matters into our own hands and do something foolish. We try to manipulate circumstances or people. We do or say things we immediately regret. In most cases, we make matters worse, not better.

But Jesus, in the midst of all He was dealing with at that moment, reached down and healed the ear of the servant. He saved Peter from the consequences of his actions. And then He said to him, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”

In other words, God has a plan and your actions are not part of it. Put away your ways of the flesh.

Thank heaven we have a Savior who can bring healing to the things we have said or done in the flesh. On our own we are no more able to bring healing to our marriage than Peter was able to defend Jesus again a raging crowd. Our small fleshly response is so inadequate for the problems we face.

Lord, help us to keep our eyes on You and what You are doing in our life and in that of our spouse. The next time we are tempted to take matters into our own hands, may we remember Peter and the sword. Let us not feel we need to help You accomplish what You are doing. Love, Marilyn

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord… Jeremiah 29:11


Resurrection Day

It’s Resurrection Day – the day we remember Jesus’ victory over death and the grave. So much happened on that cross. Even when we think we understand it, I have a hunch we only scratch the surface of all He did for us.

How triumphant the enemy must have felt when Jesus died. How he must have believed he had killed the one he feared so much. How pleased he must have been that Jesus was no longer going to be a problem for him. Once again he would be free to steal, kill, and destroy without opposition.

And how terrified he must have been early on that resurrection day when Jesus rose triumphantly. He must have realized that he had been  completely defeated. His hold on mankind had been broken over everyone who received Jesus and followed after Him. He must have realized that day that no matter what he did from then on, there was always going to be one group of people on this earth who walked in miracle power through the name and the blood of Jesus. There would always be one group of people who were not subject to his lies and his schemes.

He knew that day that all he could do with that group was try to convince them that they were no different than anyone else on the earth. He would work to persuade those who followed Jesus that no matter how much they believed or they stood on the Word of God, it made no difference. That was all he had left to try.

He certainly has tried to convince me many times that nothing was changing, nothing was happening when I prayed. But I know the power of my risen Savior! His Word is true and He has overcome the enemy and all his schemes. My physical eyes do not need to see what my spiritual eyes do. Jesus is truth and life! He is faithful and He has overcome!

This Resurrection Day I encourage you to rest in Him and what He has finished. You may not be seeing what you want to see with your natural eyes, but then neither did anyone who watched Jesus die on the cross. Those who loved Him were deeply grieved and those who hated Him rejoiced.

Neither reaction, though, reflected what had happened there. What appeared to be loss was truly the greatest gain of all.

You are part of the one group of people on this earth that the devil knows he has lost his hold over. Remember that the next time he lies to you. Love, Marilyn

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. Colossians 2:15

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.