Overcoming Holiday Challenges

Perhaps the hardest time of the year to be standing for your marriage is during the holiday season. Not only is it a time that makes you feel more alone than usual, but it is also filled with memories of much happier times. Difficult as they may be, though, the holidays do not need to overwhelm you. There are many things you can do to walk in victory during these challenges days.

First of all, focus on what you do have, not on what you miss. Your life is filled with daily blessings from the Lord and as you allow those blessings to loom bigger in your life than the loss you are feeling, you will begin to develop a much healthier attitude. I just got an app for my phone that is called a Gratitude Journal. Each day I can write down what I am thankful for that day. There is rating system from one to five stars and a place to put a special picture from that day. It is fun to look back over a time period and see all the special ways that God blessed me.

You don’t need a phone app to do the same thing. Each evening write down the blessings of that day. When you face a particularly challenging moment, pull out your journal and give thanks for all that God has done for you. Can you walk? Can you talk? Did you enjoy the warm sun on your face? Did you see a beautiful flower or enjoy the smile of a stranger? Did you have food on your table? Did your child hold your hand? Every day is filled with God’s special moments of blessing. We just need to focus on them.

If you have small children, remember that this is a very precious time of year for them. (Actually it is for the older ones too.) Do not let your emotions override the joy of the moment. When I was a little girl we lived with my aunt and uncle while my dad was stationed in Korea. Just before Christmas my uncle died. I missed him very much, but what I remember as even worse than his death was that the next day the tree came down and Christmas ended. I couldn’t understand why all the presents were put away and all the lights and decorations were removed from inside and outside of the house. When I asked why we weren’t having Christmas, the adults reacted as if I were disrespectful of the dead. As a child I missed my uncle, but I could not make the connection between his death and the end of Christmas.

Your children already miss your spouse. Do not make Christmas a time of mourning or drawn out discussions of what it would be like if he or she were home. Help them enjoy the moment. Infuse the time with love and joy and if they want to talk about their missing parent make sure you keep it a discussion of their feelings, not yours. If they cry, comfort them with hope and peace. You will probably shed a few tears of your own, but try to keep the focus on them. They do not need to feel responsible for your joy and peace.

Remind them that Christmas is all about Jesus and that He will never leave them or forsake them.

If time with your children is divided between you and your spouse, send them as ambassadors of love to the other home, not as spies to the enemy camp. The pure heart of a child, unhindered by adult motives or directives, can touch the hardest of hearts. Trust the Lord to cover them and keep them. And if they come back home with glowing reports of the fun they had, remember they are children and Christmas is a very special time for a child. Do not make them feel guilty for enjoying Christmas, no matter who they were with.

Why not start some special new tradition that you and your children can enjoy together? Service to others is a wonderful way to take your mind off your own needs and it’s a terrific way to teach your children the true meaning of Christmas. Volunteer as a family to help with a Christmas outreach. Incorporate each child in age-appropriate activities. Teach them to reach out from their own need to help meet the needs of others. That is a lesson that will last them a lifetime.

If funds are a challenge, check out church Christmas programs in your area. Most of the time they are free to the public. Watch a good Christmas movie on TV, pop some popcorn and snuggle together in blankets and pillows and have a family movie night. Make gifts for each other instead of buying expensive presents. Or offer a gift of service to each other. Even the smallest child can help a sibling pick up toys or some other easy activity. Have older children read a story to younger ones.

While I was standing our daughter made three cassette tapes for her younger brother who couldn’t read. She read a book on each tape and then placed a matching colored dot on the book and the tape that accompanied it. She not only read the story, but also told him when to turn the page and made comments about things in the book that he liked. For almost two years those were his favorite tapes and books. Plus it gave us a sweet keepsake from their childhood.

There really is no end to what you can do to overcome holiday challenges. Keep your eyes on Jesus and your heart filled with His promises and His joy. Remember the story of Christmas is all about God’s promises fulfilled. It is about a couple who overcame the challenges of travel right before the birth of their baby. It is about a baby born in a stable because there was no room for Him in the inn. It is about poor shepherds who were chosen to be the first to hear the good news. It is a story of faith and power. It is a story about God standing in faith for those He loves. Love, Marilyn

If you have ideas or suggestions for standing during this season, drop us a comment that we can share with others.

“The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.” Isaiah 9:2

“Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

What To Do With the Pain of Betrayal

Over the years I have met many people whose spouses betrayed them in adultery. 99.9% of them are divorced. Most of them explained to me that they divorced their spouse when they discovered the betrayal because they felt they could never trust him or her again. In this group of divorced people I have found one thing to be universally true ~ no matter how long it has been since they divorced, they are all still hurting from the betrayal.

When we discover that the person we love most in the whole world has rejected us for someone else, we have several options.

Decide that we don’t have to take this kind of treatment and end the relationship.

  • Stay in the relationship but make him or her pay dearly.
  • Stay emotionally detached so we can’t get hurt again.
  • Find someone and have our own affair.
  • Forgive and get our heart healed.

Of all the options, those who chose the last one seem to be the only people I meet who are not still carrying hurts and anger. Forgiveness and healing are truly the only road to a healthy life.

I have always felt the initial question to someone whose spouse has committed adultery should not be, “Are you going to stand for your marriage?” I believe it should be, “Do you want to be healed?”

When people ask me how I can talk about all that happened with our marriage and not still be hurting, I share with them that when Jesus heals, He heals completely. It is not anything extraordinary that I did or anything that is special about me. I simply submitted my broken heart to Jesus and walked closely with Him as He taught me what true forgiveness is. I was devastated, hurt beyond words, angry, and periodically in despair. There was no superhuman strength within me personally. It was all His strength and His healing.

I truly believe there is no shortcut past forgiveness.

You cannot decide to just get on with your life and hope for health. Forgiveness is the key that unlocks all the other doors. Personal healing comes when you release the hold that betrayal has on you. And I believe it is not just a one-time deal. I had to forgive over and over again and repent over and over again when my heart began to harden once more. When we make a decision to forgive, Jesus walks through the steps of what true forgiveness means.

Feelings or emotions seem to be the last to conform to true forgiveness. Many times people are waiting to “feel” like forgiving. Forget it! That is the last thing you are going to feel when you are in a thousand emotional pieces. Choosing to forgive when nothing within you feels like it is what starts you on the journey.

I have heard it said that forgiveness releases all claim for the wrong and I believe that is part of it, but the end result of forgiveness, I truly believe, is compassion and blessing. As your own heart is healed by the Lord, He can then begin pouring His compassion into that healthy vessel.

The compassion of the Lord is what brought Him to tears over Jerusalem. His compassion for the lost nailed Him to the cross. When His compassion for your spouse begins to flow through your heart, you will see with new eyes of understanding. Your intercession will come out of a desire to see your spouse set free and walking with the Lord. You will desire to bless, not out of a need to receive in return, but out of a heart that overflows with God’s love and compassion.

Whatever decisions you make about your broken marriage, I pray that the first one is to forgive and be healed. There simply are no shortcuts past that road. Love, Marilyn

“Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.”  Psalm 103:1-4

It’s Not Just for You

Something very special happened yesterday. And the Lord did it in the most unusual way.

I have always been a bit uncomfortable when the people we are with in a restaurant ask the waitress if she is a Christian when she first walks up to our table. I am equally uncomfortable when people ask the same question of salespeople in a store or a stranger on a bus. I’m not saying they are wrong and I am right or that I am wrong and they are right. I’ve just never been comfortable with the approach.

I’ve always felt that God puts certain people in each of our lives and gives us the privilege of living our lives before them. We are given positions of influence in the lives of people we know. I know that many lead people to the Lord on planes and in lines at the store, but I have always had a burden to make sure those I lead to the Lord are discipled and mentored in the faith.

I once led a woman to the Lord on a plane after she and I had been engaged in lively conversation for a while. I got her address and phone number and called her as soon as we both got home. I found a Spirit-filled church near her and put the folks there in touch with her. I called her and followed up with her for six months following her acceptance of Jesus to make sure she was getting grounded in the faith and discipled in the Lord. Guess it’s just the way the Lord has wired me, but I can’t bear to just have someone say a prayer and then walk out of his or her life.

Which brings me to the special thing Jesus did yesterday. For a little over a year now I have been getting a manicure twice a month as a special treat. Not only have I been blessed with beautiful nails, but the Lord has given me a whole new sphere of influence.

Here is where my hesitancy to jump on people about Jesus comes in. I have shared where I am with the Lord and have shared bits of our testimony with my nail tech. She had a very hard marriage and has been divorced for many years now.

When you have a standing nail appointment you get to know the woman right before you and the one right after you pretty well. A couple months ago a new woman started coming for her appointment right after me. Since we overlap about 20 minutes, we talked and I learned a bit about her life. Divorced several years ago she is still struggling with emotions and hurts. I asked the Lord what I was to share and He told me just to get to know her and to hear her heart.

Yesterday the topic of Tiger Woods came up and both women said they thought his wife should divorce him and take all she could get. Immediately my nail tech said, “But that’s not what you would recommend, is it?” She had heard my heart about marriage healing!

She shared briefly with the other client about our marriage healing and our ministry. Then the client looked at me and asked, “How could you do that? The pain of betrayal is just too much.” And the door opened wide!

I truly believe if we wait for the Holy Spirit’s timing and follow His leading, He takes us to places that are so far beyond what we could personally ever arrange. For several uninterrupted minutes I was able to share the depth of what God had done in my own heart and then in our marriage. I told her, “It was not me. I couldn’t do it, but Jesus could.” With tears in her eyes, she said, “I have known that depth of relationship with Him. I have heard His voice like you said you did.”

There was a noticeable softening in her face and voice as she said, “I used to share Jesus like that at work but no one seemed to understand me. I need to start doing that again.”

 There is nothing that thrills my heart more than to see another person activated in their faith and energized in their walk with the Lord. The first week I met this woman she was swearing a blue streak. This week she determined to renew her walk with the Lord and begin sharing His life with others again. Don’t ever underestimate how God wants to influence those He places in your life through your life.

In the end I said to them both, “You never know what God wants to do with your life. Sometimes when we are going through something very painful, we think it is all about our own survival but it isn’t. It is about what God wants to do for others through you.” And today I encourage you with those same words. Love, Marilyn

“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Revelation 12:11

Life and Death

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that what you are doing is not making a difference. Two things happened this past week that once again confirmed the power of standing in the gap.

The first one involved a young couple we know. They have been experiencing a lot of financial difficulty during these trying times and, as usual, financial pressures put a good deal of stress on their relationship. They had separated a couple times in the past few months and those around them were beginning to speak about a possible divorce. We hate hearing those words spoken by or about any couple and so we contacted them. We did not just want to talk to them about their marriage. We knew they needed to feed their children and pay bills and so we gave them a financial blessing as well as words of encouragement.

We reminded them that neither of them is the enemy and that their one enemy wants to destroy their lives and their family. We encouraged them to stand together during these stressful times and walk in unity with the Lord. And we prayed for them.

We saw them this week and it was hard to believe they were the same couple as before. They were standing so strong in faith and shared several miracles they had seen in just the past week. God has provided a home for them and other financial breakthroughs are coming. They were giving Him glory and praise and we were so blessed to see the change God had made in their hearts and their lives. She gave me a big hug and said, “Thank you for being there for us. Your words of encouragement meant more than you know.”

Sometimes a few words make all the difference in the world.

The second situation involves another young couple. They worked with us in the ministry for many years. The Lord had done miracles in their own marriage and they had a heart to reach out to other couples. Through their lives many were touched and changed.

A few months ago we read on her page that they were divorcing. We were shocked. We had seen her just a short time before that and had talked about a number of things but not once had she mentioned that they were having trouble. Her posting made a statement about her husband changing completely from what he had been before.

They knew the truth. They had taught it to others. They had stood and fought with others for their marriages and homes and yet when the heat was on, their marriage was taken out. It broke our hearts but the real tragedy had not yet come.

This past week someone showed us a picture online of the husband. I will not go into detail but it was obvious that he was not serving the Lord. How he got where he is I do not know. But I do know that’s not where God wants him to be. What gripped me most, though, were his eyes. They had always sparkled with life, actually twinkled. But now they looked dead. I couldn’t stop staring at them. It was as if someone had taken out his soul.

In the past few days as we celebrated Thanksgiving and remembered once again all the blessings God has poured out in our lives, I couldn’t stop thinking about the second young couple. I kept wondering, what if she had stood? What if she had stood in faith, believing what God says about him? What if she had fought the enemy on his behalf? What if she had been his chief intercessor? What if she had told the devil he couldn’t have him?.

What if she had believed that their covenant was stronger than the lies of the enemy? What if she had believed that God is more powerful than the devil? What if she could have loved him when he was unlovable? What if she could have seen him with eyes of faith? Would his eyes look so dead today?

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are not making a difference. The love of God, the compassion of God, the power of God, and the victory of God are in your prayers. Don’t give up. Don’t abandon your spouse to the circumstances of his or her choosing. Stand firm and draw your strength from the Lord. Those who have made poor decisions and surrounded themselves with impossible circumstances need those who stand in the power of God. Don’t give up! Love, Marilyn

“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.” Proverbs 24:11

Life After Adultery

I thought about you a good deal during the summer. Attending the Covenant Keeper’s convention in Tulsa again reminded me of the brave warriors who are standing in faith for spouses and families across this nation and beyond. During those days there and since then in letters and emails, many have asked me about what to do after a spouse returns home from one or more adulterous affairs. It seems this is a good time to address that issue.

First of all, for a woman the betrayal of adultery is not so much sexual as it is emotional. To have your husband share his heart, his life, and his very soul with another woman is much more painful than the fact that they had sex together. For a man the pain of the sexual betrayal of his wife is much more painful. It is hard in this short space to cover all aspects of life after adultery, so I will address a few pertinent points.

The betrayal: When adultery is discovered, one of the first things a spouse realizes is how much he or she has been lied to. You remember dates and times and stories that you now know were not true. You wonder how you could have been so dumb to believe what you had been told when the truth should have been so obvious. Your emotions roller coaster from the depths of pain and despair to an anger you didn’t believe was within you. The person you love most on this earth not only chose someone else over you but played you in the bargain.

The rejection: Once the full realization of what has happened hits you, you begin to wonder why you were not enough. What was wrong with you that your spouse had to find someone else. You begin mental comparisons and try to figure out what that person has that you do not. Your self esteem hits rock bottom and you may even wonder if anyone ever would want you.

The anger: Anger takes a lot of energy and so it usually is not the first emotion to surface in a woman. Men, on the other hand, usually experience anger much more rapidly when a wife is unfaithful. I remember I used to fluctuate between wanting to die and wanting to kill my husband and the woman he was with at the moment. One night I threw an entire box of glasses at the garage door because I didn’t know what else to do with the rage I felt in my heart. Anger and frustration often seem to travel hand-in-hand as the inability to “fix things” sets in.

There are many more emotions and reactions to adultery, but for now I want to focus on what happens when a spouse leaves the adulterous affair and comes home. I want to stress that these are ideas and suggestions. You need to ask the Lord what He wants for you and follow His voice in your life.

Sometimes a couple feels that returning to a “normal” sex life in their marriage will help with the healing process. More often than not, this is not the case. For one thing, if you are still feeling insecure about your ability to please your spouse, this can turn into a time of real performance. Instead of expressing deep love for each other, it can become a time of “I’ll show you how great this can be.” That motive is never a satisfying or lasting basis for physical intimacy. On just a practical basis, in this day and age, a spouse who has been sexually active outside of his or her marriage should be tested for STDs before physical intimacy resumes in the marriage.

Secondly, if other issues have not been addressed, trying to cover them with sex is not going to help your relationship. Trust is a biggy. It has been broken and trampled upon in your marriage and it must be restored again. Rushing into a physical relationship will not help build trust. In the Song of Solomon three times (2:7; 3:5; and 8:4) it warns to not awaken love too soon.

We often recommend to couples that they begin “dating” again. Go out together, to dinner or a movie, go for walks in the park. Spend time together in places where physical intimacy is not encouraged. Learn to like each other again. TALK to each other. Rekindle your romance. Encourage your spouse to pursue you, to win you over again–not in a manipulative way, like holding out a carrot for good performance, but out of a genuine desire to love and be loved at a much deeper level.

Hopefully during the time you were standing for your marriage you walked through healing with the Lord. The wounding and rejection of the adultery can be fully addressed long before a spouse comes home. If that is not your situation, then spend time with the Lord and allow Him to heal any remaining wounding in your heart. Your renewed relationship needs to be built on a healthy foundation.

And last, but not least, place your trust for change in the Lord, not your spouse. Jeremiah 17:5 says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength…” If you base the rebuilding of trust in your relationship on what your spouse does or doesn’t do, you will probably be disappointed. Plus you will put severe pressure on your spouse to perform correctly in order for the relationship to continue to heal. It is not by might or by power but by the Spirit of the Lord that your marriage will heal.

Trust God to work in your own heart and in your spouse’s. God is bigger than the problems and it is His overcoming power that will bring change to each of you and to your marriage. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” As you rebuild trust in your marriage, you need to lean on the Lord, trust in Him, and not try to figure it out yourself or place the burden of performance on your spouse.

The enemy will work overtime during this time of restoration because he does not want to see the healing occur. If your spouse is late, if you can’t locate your spouse, if anything out of the ordinary happens, your mind will begin painting pictures of what could be happening. Don’t go there. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). You have authority over your thoughts. Don’t let them run wild.

Keep your eyes and your heart fixed on the Lord and trust that He is working in your spouse to change him or her from the inside out. Walk in love and faith. Give God time to accomplish His will within your lives and your marriage. Love, Marilyn


Don’t Sit While You Stand

What are you doing while you are standing? What occupies your thoughts? Where do you focus your energy? Where do you find your peace and contentment?

These are important questions when we are standing. The point of standing is not to be consumed by standing. Your spouse should not be your focus. Your marriage healing should not be your focus. You should keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith.

An amazing thing happens when you focus on Jesus. You begin to build a solid, deep relationship with Him. When I first began standing, it was all about me–my pain, my rejection, my heart’s desires, etc. The more I walked with Jesus, though, the more His life became my life and His vision became my vision. The love that compels Him began to compel me. The compassion that moves Him began to move me. The desires of His heart became the desires of mine.

People who are focused solely on the healing of their marriage are hard to be around. They are like an open pit that sucks in every bit of life around them. I think we are all there at some point but that is not where we should remain. No one who is in love with Jesus and is walking closely with Him comes off as a needy person. Those who focus only on themselves are a walking mass of need. People begin to avoid them because there is no way they can possibly meet that need.

Ask yourself a question. What is the focus of your daily life? Is it calling out to Jesus to meet your need? Is it telling others how much you love your spouse and desire to have him/her with you again? It is making sure others know you are suffering? Or are you focused on Jesus? Are you at peace? Do you share with others how wonderful He is and what He has done in your life?

Scripture tells us that out of the abundance of our heart, our mouth speaks. Whatever is in your heart will come out your mouth. If you are focused on yourself and on your lack or pain or emptiness, that is what will come out of your mouth. That is where your heart is. If, though, you are focused on Jesus and His tremendous life within you, that is what will come out of your mouth. When your heart is grounded in Him, life will easily flow from your lips.

Your life should not be put on hold while you wait to receive what you are praying for. “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

That is how we are to wait: actively serving our Lord, focused on Him. Look at what happens when we wait like that. We are strengthened. We do not grow weary. We mount up and fly over circumstances like the eagle.

So how are you waiting? Are you sitting and waiting or are you serving the Lord with all your heart? Are you counting the days and wondering when God is going to answer your prayers? Or are you so in love with the Lord and with walking with Him that He will be the one to tell you when your prayers are answered.

Before you can live that way, though, you must settle something in your heart. Do you have a marriage covenant that is broken only by the death of either you or your spouse? If you truly believe that, then time is not an issue. You can put away the clock and the calendar and stop wondering “when.” You can focus on Jesus and His plans for you. You can serve Him with all your heart. You can fall more deeply in love with Him with each passing day.

If, however, you have a plan B somewhere in the back of your mind, then time will be very important to you. What happens day to day with your marriage will consume you and your focus will remain on you and your needs. You will always be wondering if your marriage is really going to be healed or if you should get “on with your life”.

I want to be as blunt and honest with you as I can. When we stand we all go through a time when we are broken and crushed by the circumstances of our marriage. We all need healing in our own hearts. That is where most of us start. But that is not where we should remain. If you believe that Jesus is strong enough and powerful enough to heal your marriage, then you must also believe He is able to heal your own heart. If He is able to turn the heart of the king, then He must be able to minister to your heart and bring you to wholeness in Him.

You must become a whole person in Jesus no matter what you do with your life. Your spouse is not going to heal your heart. Your spouse cannot make you whole. Seeing your marriage healed will not bring you fulfillment. So you must stop putting all your emotional energy into your love and desire for your spouse.

If your heart is broken, you need to allow Jesus to bring you healing before anything else. Your own healing is key to your stand. Then out of your wholeness in Him, you can serve Him with all your heart. Instead of sitting while you stand, you can run and not grow weary! Love, Marilyn

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.” Psalm 37:7

“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!”  Psalm 27:14

Consider Leah

Have you ever thought much about Leah? Just think what her life must have been like. (Genesis 29:14-28) Jacob wanted to marry her younger sister Rachel, who was “lovely in form and beautiful.” He worked seven years to win Rachel, but Laban instead gave him Leah, his older daughter, who had “weak eyes”. I’ve always had a bit of trouble understanding how Jacob didn’t know the difference at the wedding, but have chalked it up to lots of veils.

At any rate, when Jacob discovered he had the wrong daughter, he went to Laban and pleaded for Rachel to be his wife. Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.”

That must have been some week! Leah spent her first week of married life with a husband who couldn’t wait for the week to end so he could get the woman he really wanted.

“Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah.” Then scripture says, “When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son.

When Michael found out I was pregnant with our third child, he left me and said he didn’t want the baby or me. As my time of delivery grew near, God gave me that scripture. It was how He told me I was carrying a boy. Then He said that his name would mean healer and that he would bring great healing to many in his life. I had to take a baby book and read through name after name to find the one that meant healer—Jason, God’s child of promise!

As Leah continued to have children, Rachel remained barren. One can only read between the lines that Jacob probably spent a lot more time with Rachel wanting to conceive than with pregnant Leah. Her life must have been filled with loneliness and rejection.

Leah’s story may have been a sad one, but it ended well. Rachel died in childbirth and was buried by the side of the road, but when Jacob was dying he gave instructions to be buried where Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there he buried Leah. In the end, God honored Leah’s position as Jacob’s covenant wife and she was buried alongside her husband in the family burial grounds.

Today maybe you feel like Leah (or maybe Lee if you are a guy), unloved and unwanted by your spouse. Jacob was very overt in his desire for another woman and very clear in his rejection of Leah. No doubt you too have experienced similar treatment.

Yet God remembered Leah and blessed her and honored her. You need to look to the One who truly knows who you are and loves you and desires the very best for you.What your spouse thinks or believes right now is not the end of the story. Just as with Leah, God sees where you are today and the condition of your relationship. He is more than able to bless you along the way.

I have always loved the story of Leah. It gave me hope when things were dark and seemed hopeless. It showed me that God’s love is greater than man’s rejection. And it demonstrated to me that generations can be blessed by the Lord through one person’s faithfulness. Love, Marilyn

“For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.” Deuteronomy 30:16

“He has taken me to the banquet hall,  and his banner over me is love.” Song of Solomon 2:4

Does This Make Sense?

This week my husband, Michael, said something very powerful to me. We had just received an email from an apostle in the Body of Christ who is helping restore a man to ministry. This man divorced his wife and married another woman with whom he was having an affair before the divorce. Now that he’s remarried, the Church’s goal is to get this man back into ministry as soon as possible.

Michael said to me, “Isn’t it amazing. If he and his first wife had decided to stay together and get their marriage healed, he would have been removed from ministry for several years to be disciplined and rehabilitated. Since he divorced his wife, though, and married the other woman, his slate is now clean and he can get back to ministry as soon as possible.” He shook his head and added, “It just doesn’t make sense.”

How sad and how true. The Body of Christ seems very confused regarding marriage and divorce. While faith for physical healing is preached world-wide, seldom do we hear a sermon about standing for a marriage and seeing it healed. There are any number of teaching series available on DVD about faith for finances, but only a few about faith for marriage healing.

Free will is sometimes preached as stronger than the power of God in a relationship. It seems that the will of the sinner is somehow sacred and not to be opposed. It makes me wonder why we pray for someone to be saved. Maybe they don’t want to be saved. After all, they have free will. Why do we oppose it and pray that they receive the Lord? Could it be that we know that is God’s will for them? Is it not just as much God’s will for a spouse to return to his or her covenant partner?

Do you know that “free will” in the Bible only refers to an offering? Everyone’s will is aligned either with God or with the devil. No one’s will is in neutral, waiting to line up somewhere. When we are born into this world, our will is aligned with Satan. We live in our sinful nature. When we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we align our will with His. Every person is in one group or the other. Why would we then not want to pray for those whose wills are aligned with the enemy?

Scripture tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds. The Contemporary English Bible says, “We live in this world, but we don’t act like its people or fight our battles with the weapons of this world. Instead, we use God’s power that can destroy fortresses. We destroy arguments and every bit of pride that keeps anyone from knowing God. We capture people’s thoughts and make them obey Christ.”

When our spouse is caught in the enemy’s trap, we stand in the gap and intercede for strongholds to fall and for our spouse to agree with God’s will. We walk in faith, seeing the unseen as more real than the seen. I remember God telling me to consider my husband a prisoner of war held in the enemy camp. I needed to intercede for him so that he might be set free from captivity and be able to make his own decision for Christ. People told me there was nothing I could do because he had a free will, but God showed me that his will was not free but was aligned with Satan. He could not fight for himself and so I needed to fight for him.

Why does the Body of Christ believe that the spouse who wants to leave the marriage has more power than the one who wants to stay? Why does the Church honor the wishes of the prodigal and ridicule the wishes of the one standing? Why is the one who dishonors his or her covenant considered more sane and more stable than the one who remains faithful to it? It is because the Church has bought the lie that divorce is the answer to a troubled marriage.

I remember years ago in Washington we heard that in 1920 a book was written in Germany by a couple of doctors that declared that the compassionate thing to do was to end a life that was substandard. From that time until World War II, doctors in Germany were indoctrinated with this philosophy so that by the time Hitler made plans to exterminate certain groups of people, all he had to do was convince the doctors that their lives were substandard. It was falsely believed that it was more compassionate to end those lives than to allow them to continue living in a painful state.

Unfortunately, the Church has received this same philosophy regarding marriage and now believes that the compassionate thing to do is end a marriage that is in trouble. Healing takes time. Healing is painful, and sometimes it seems better to end the suffering. Ending marriages that are in pain, though, only perpetuates pain. It may seem like a quick solution, but in the end the aftermath lasts for years and years. Taking the time to heal is so much better in the long run.

So why am I writing all this to you? You are standing and you believe that God wants to heal your marriage. I just want to encourage you that you are not alone and that, even though the deck seems stacked against you at times, God has given you faith and grace for this hour. Don’t be discouraged.

We sense that a new season is beginning and that many will come to understand covenant in this season. We know that before the Lord returns, His Bride must understand covenant. So stand strong and trust the Lord. Don’t try to make things happen – trust the Lord to do them. You are a true hero of the faith! Love, Marilyn

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”  Ephesians 3:14-19

No Magic Formula

Sorry about the long hiatus. We had a little problem that shut us down for a while. Please make sure the person you are forwarding the blog to wants to receive it. Sending it to your spouse is probably not a good idea. Angry spouses tend to report that as spam.

Many times people think that if they just say or do something, it will be the key to a spouse changing his or her mind and restoring the marriage. I have received many emails saying that I don’t make it clear what I did to get my husband to come home. If you are looking for an answer like that, this is probably not going to help you much.

There is no magic formula or specific thing to do that will make the difference for your marriage. I would hope that those who follow this blog regularly would understand that the key is your relationship with God. You cannot change another person. You cannot be obedient for someone else. You can grow closer to the Lord and learn to hear His voice ever more clearly.

No human being is your answer. In fact, it is idolatry to make a human being more important or having more power than God in your life. Your fulfillment, your peace, your contentment are not based on whether or not your spouse is with you. You have all those things because the Lord is with you.

When David returned to Ziklag and found that his whole family had been taken from him, scripture tells us but David “found strength in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6). That is the only place you will find strength at any time in your life, let alone when you are standing and fighting a battle for your home.

We must each learn to run to Him and find our answers in Him and Him alone.

When Jesus went to the cross, He bore all our sins and suffered the judgement of them all for us. He took other things to that cross for us as well. He suffered betrayal through a phony kiss from someone He loved. He was brutalized and shamed publicly. He was abandoned by all but a close few. Not only did His body suffer indescribable torture, but His soul also bore the pain and suffering that others inflicted upon Him. He bore all of that so that we might not have to.

So, when we are faced with betrayal, with shame, with abandonment, and loneliness we can turn to Him. He has borne them all for us and in Him we can find total peace. Some feel that the restoration of a marriage is the final goal but we can personally tell you that only leads to deeper issues that God wants to resolve in each of our lives. Marriage is a constant working out of God’s plan for both of us and requires healing and adjustment, growth and adjustment, and challenges and adjustment.

Marriage is never static or settled. One of us is always growing and changing and that requires the other one to grow and change as well. We are constantly adjusting to what God is doing within each of our lives and our relationship. What I learned while I was standing is what ministers to us today. Our peace is not in each other. Our total joy and fulfillment are not found in each other. Our relationship grows and flourishes in proportion to how much we draw on Jesus and allow Him to work on our hearts.

Once, one of us stood for our marriage. Now we stand together. And together we face the same attacks and the same schemes of the enemy that he has used since the Garden of Eden. Reconciling your marriage will be of little benefit if you have not learned to rest totally in Jesus while you stand. Many times we see couples reconcile only to break up again. Why? Many times it is because the one standing thought that the answer to prayer was having his or her spouse come home.

No, your answer to prayer is your own transformation in Christ. The more you draw into Him, the more you will find peace and joy in all circumstances and the less you will look to people to be your answer. God wants your marriage and family to be restored but God’s plan is so much bigger than just that. God sees generationally. He sees the beginning from the end.

When God gives an answer, the blessings go out as ripples in the water. The center may be where the miracle occurs, but the ripples continue to bless lives through the generations. Your answer to prayer will also be the answer for many, many others as what God does in your life goes out into the lives of others.

Far too often the Church short circuits the work of God in the hearts of His people by finding answers for them in people. “Forget that first spouse. God has someone better for you.” And the real tragedy is that a person is once again made the answer and the cycle begins again.

How much better it would be if all God’s people could be helped to understand that the reason we get into trouble in life in the first place is because we thought a person would fulfill us in some way – perhaps a spouse, or a child, or a parent, or a friend. And yet, in the end, everyone of them fails us in some way or another. God gave us the desire for relationship and gave us people to relate to but His plan was that we would find our fulfillment and our identity in Him and Him alone.  Love, Marilyn

“For in Him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28

“And the peace of God, that transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

What About the Children?

So many of you have asked me about our children during my stand – how did they deal with it, what about them being around the other woman, their relationship with their dad, etc. As I share my experience I recognize that it is not the same as yours. I pray that you may find some answers and some encouragement as you seek the Lord for your particular situation.

When Michael became involved with the first other woman, our daughter was eight and our son was five. I was pregnant with our third child. Along with telling me he didn’t want me around anymore, he also told our children that he never wanted them and wished they’d never been born. The devil really does fight dirty.

Every child is different and every one of them reacts individually when faced with a crisis like that. Our daughter was very emotional, crying most of the time and deeply wounded by her dad’s rejection. Our son internalized everything and I mistook his outward calm for inward well being. On top of that, at five years old he became the man of the house.

I didn’t realize it at the time but I began to rely on him to take care of things my husband had done such as take out the garbage. We had a very steep driveway in our home in the mountains and one of my most vivid memories was looking out the window and seeing my little five-year-old struggling up that long, steep driveway with a full garbage can. I ran out to help him and he said, “It’s okay, Mom. I can do it.”

That was his heart toward me, always protecting and taking care of me. Our daughter healed just as openly as she had grieved, but our son is still healing to this day.

Pay attention to the one that seems to be doing so well.

When our third child, our second son, was born he was severely demonically oppressed. The enemy had attacked him in the womb with the rejection by his father. When Michael learned I was pregnant he had declared he did not want the baby. He spoke words of death over our child and those words wounded him and allowed the enemy an opening to oppress him. Eventually we learned how to get him set free, but that is another story.

The Lord impressed upon me that no matter what my husband was saying and doing, he still had the authority that God had given me as the head of our home. If I truly believed God was going to heal our marriage, then I needed to prepare our children for the return of their father to their lives. If I dishonored him to them or if I allowed them to dishonor him, then I would be contributing to their lack of respect for him. Yet, on the other hand, he had said terrible things to them and had hurt them tremendously. I didn’t know how to deal with that and yet help them to continue loving and honoring him.

As usual, the Lord has answers for us when we pray. As I sought Him, He reminded me of His command, “Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12) If I did not teach my children to honor their father, then I would be cursing them with the effects of dishonor to parents. But how would I help them love and honor him when he was treating them so terribly?<

Again the Lord gave me wisdom. My children were young and yours may be older, so this is what the Lord spoke to me. It may not be what He would have you do. You must ask Him for your own answers.

For my children, though, the Lord gave me the perfect answer. I sat down with them and asked, “if Daddy were sick, what would we do to help him?” They answered as little children do with various things such as get him a cold cloth or see if he needs some medicine. Then I said to them, “Daddy is sick, but it’s not his body that is sick. It is his mind. He doesn’t look sick but inside the devil has made him very sick and so he says and does things that are not like your real daddy. We need to help Daddy just like we would if he were sick in his body.

They thought about that for a minute and asked some questions that related to his words to them and his behavior toward them. Then they said, “We hate the devil. He’s made our daddy sick.” God had helped them to see who their real enemy was. How many Christians never realize that truth!

From that day forth we cried together and prayed together for Daddy to be healed. Eventually each child had to forgive him in their own time and maturity, but for that season we reached a place where they could relate to what was happening and love and honor their father.

When Michael came home, they ran to greet him. I believe their love for him was part of his healing. Marital discord and separation break the hearts of children. They should never be used as weapons in the war between Dad and Mom. They should never be used as spies or as secret agents when they are with the other parent. Children’s hearts are pure and when they learn to hear the voice of the Lord, they will listen to Him.

I don’t want to minimize the trauma of sending your children to the other woman (or man). It tears our hearts out to have our children go into the enemy camp. But remember, none of that is of their choosing. They didn’t want you to separate in the first place. The enemy is a terrible foe and he fights dirty. He will try to get to your children and he will use any means he can. You need to help your children learn the truth of God’s Word. You need to teach them how to hear His voice. He speaks to children so clearly and their hearts are so open.

There is only one enemy and he is not your spouse or the other person. Satin is the enemy. Teach your children to recognize him and his ways. You do not have to use names or people as examples. Those who know how to recognize the truth will detect the lie easily. It is when we argue against our spouse as loudly as our spouse argues against us that our children become confused as to who is telling the truth.

Let this time of standing become a spiritual classroom for you and your children. Show them the love of God. Let them see you returning good for evil. Let them see you loving when you are not loved. Let them see you forgiving and blessing. Let them hear you speaking words of honor and love for your spouse. When the Lord is shining through your life, they will clearly see the difference when they are with those who are following the enemy. The lessons they learn in this season will last a lifetime.          Love, Marilyn

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

“From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2