Have you ever prayed and prayed about something, and it seemed like your prayers were just bouncing off the ceiling and weren’t working? That God was too busy, on vacation somewhere, or didn’t care?
That isn’t true, but sometimes when you pray so hard and nothing seems to be happening, that’s how you feel. I have felt that way many times about my marriage of almost 23 years to Ray.
Ray and I have been through so much together. From day one of our marriage, the enemy Satan has tried to destroy it because of the ministry calling of God on our lives.
Here’s just a few of the spiritual battles we’ve faced:
Financial crises (including our home foreclosing and bankruptcy)
Ray’s career problems
and much more.
Currently the challenge we’re facing is that we’re trying to buy our rental home. We don’t know if the house loan is going to be approved or not, so we may be moving (again!). We’ve had multiple moves in our marriage, and it’s NOT fun–very stressful. Please keep us in prayer and I will keep you posted!
What are some of the problems you’ve faced–and overcome–in your marriage or in the marriages of those you love? With a frightening statistic of almost 50% of marriages ending in divorce, even for Christian couples, it’s hard sometimes to have faith and hope that your marriage will last “’til death do us part.”
The answer is always JESUS.Don’t stop praying! Being a believer doesn’t guarantee you’ll have an easy, happy marriage, but God can and will help you as you cry out to Him and walk in humble obedience to His word.
He’s able to do the impossible in your marriage, healing and restoring it, and making it resemble a beautiful, stained glass window, a picture of Jesus and His spotless, radiant Bride, the Church.
Here’s a few tips from my new book on marriage, Stained Glass & Marriage: Reflections of Light and Hope by an Imperfect Wife:
Forgive daily. This is really hard sometimes, but God has forgiven you and me of so much. We need to extend that love and forgiveness to our spouse. Ask God to help you agape (unconditionally) love your husband or wife, the way God does you. This is a powerful prayer!
Pray for each other and with each other. Prayer can help to divorce-proof your marriage. One great resource I recommend isThe Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. Often as we pray for others, God changes our own hearts, convicting us of sin. It’s also hard to stay mad at someone that you’re praying for! Your prayers are powerful. (James 5:16) God wants you to have a happy, blessed, fulfilling marriage.
Have fun together. Go on regular dates. When you first met him or her, you did fun things together to get to know each other. After you marry, you both get busy, work, take care of the kids, do chores and errands, etc. Make time with each other–without the kids-a priority. Dream again. Go have some FUN!
Learn to communicate well, not just yell (or ignore each other). Ray and I recently attended a marriage retreat in Kansas City, Kansas, taught by Roger and Laureen Traver of Mountain Top Marriages ministry. In the teaching sessions, they have couples volunteer to demonstrate effective communication versus bad communication. You can use “I feel” statements instead of saying, “You always” or “you never,” or express how you are feeling, without attacking, accusing, or blaming. Listening to your husband or wife is an important key because most spouses don’t really hear each other–the words or especially the HEARTmessage. Iencourage you to consider attending the Travers’ marriage retreats. This was our second one and we’d love to attend more.
Don’t give up. Satan is attacking Christian marriages hard today because he knows his time is very short and that Jesus is coming soon. What he’s really after is your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren–your godly seed. (Malachi 2:15) Don’t give Satan or the people giving you ungodly counsel to just go ahead and divorce “to be happy” the satisfaction of your marriage being destroyed. (Even some Christian marriage counselors, family members, or so-called friends will tell you this!) Don’t quit! Too much is at stake spiritually.
These are just a few of the tips I cover in my new marriage book, which compares marriage to the traditional art of making stained glass windows. God wants to make your marriage like beautiful, multi-colored stained glass windows, displaying a picture of Christ and His Bride, the Church.
I’m so happy to announce that this new book is now in print–a physical copy available for sale for you. You can find it here, and please share with your family and friends: https://www.createspace.com/6099550
I’m so excited to release my 12th book, Stained Glass & Marriages: Reflections of Light & Hope by an Imperfect Wife. It’s available as an eBook for your Kindle at Amazon and the official launch date is March 1, 2016.
On March 2, 2016, at 11 a.m. Central Time – 12 p.m. Central Time (12 p.m. Eastern to 1 p.m. Eastern), I’m having a free call, Hope For Marriages. I’ll share about 20 minutes on three important lessons I’ve learned from the painful, almost 23 years of my marriage to Ray, then open the phone line for prayer for your marriage or comments.
You can find out more information about the phone number and code here at the Facebook Event Page. Please be sure to invite your family, friends, and peers!
Ray and I have been married for 22 years…and it’s been hell for both of us. If that offends you, I’m sorry, but that is the only accurate description of what we’ve gone through.
We’ve been to numerous marriage counselors and pastors throughout the years, to no avail. We’ve had years of betrayal, patterns of strife, unforgiveness, deep hurt, and hopelessness that things could ever change between us.
We’ve both wanted to divorce many times because it’s been so hard. Luke 1:37 says, “With God nothing is impossible,” but I think maybe Ray and I are a pretty good challenge for God!
We attend a home church (a small group at our friends’ home) on Sundays, and our friends there recently blessed us financially to attend a marriage retreat they had been to last year, I think out of sheer desperation for our marriage to be healed. It is time.
The Traver’s marriage years ago was just like ours has been presently. They shared openly and honestly about their story. They are lovely, humble, powerfully-anointed people.
Roger and Laureen were married in 1966. They were advised by a Christian counselor to get a divorce after Laureen became emotionally dependent on a man and committed adultery, and Roger was addicted to pornography and an alcoholic.
Laureen thought spending hours talking with this other Christian man would help her learn more about how a man thinks and figure out why her husband wasn’t meeting her spiritual, emotional, and sexual needs. The other man was always there, being polite, gentle, kind, and even praying for her.
In her book Overcoming Mountains of Fear, Laureen writes, “I enjoyed the friendship, the attention and eventually the sexual arousal I felt when I was around him. The deceptive trap was set.I took the bait and fell into an adulterous relationship with that Christian man. Satan used my own lust to lead me into deception.“
They were advised by medical doctors to get a divorce after discovering Roger’s physical disability that caused them to be unable to have sex.
Through commitment, emotional and physical healing, obedience to God’s word, and a brokenness of self and pride, Jesus and the Holy Spirit turned their marriage into a victorious mountain top experience. They’ve brought healing and hope to troubled marriages, saving them from divorce, by teaching couples how to use God’s Word to have victorious marriages.
They began teaching a marriage group in their home in 1984, and now minister throughout the U.S. and in countries all over the world, teaching marriage seminars and using their own books, tapes, and teaching materials.
The marriage retreat
Before we left for the retreat, I had journaled and prayed the scripture Galatians 5:16-25, “But I say walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
In the first session, Roger shared this verse and he and Laureen repeated it throughout the seminar. For me, it was confirmation that we were there by God’s divine appointment. Ray had actually met the Traver’s years ago, and they knew mutual friends of his from Gardner, Kansas. Another precious couple attending the retreat, Bill and Joanie, who are close friends with the Traver’s, also knew these friends of Ray’s well. Small world. Joanie and I instantly connected. I just loved her! My friends Vickie and Jane were there, to my surprise and delight.
As the Traver’s shared their powerful marriage testimony which so closely mirrored our marriage, I knew in my heart that we were in the right place at the right time. This was God!
You have to do the work
After each teaching session, we had homework that we worked on together in our rooms. Exercises of repentance to God, forgiving each other, renouncing spiritual strongholds, tests on our love languages and spiritual gifts, keys to communicating effectively, and more.
The truth is that marriage is hard work…especially Christian marriages! Christian marriages now have the same divorce rate as secular ones, which is a sad testimony to the world!
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” – Matthew 5:13, NIV
Time is short before Jesus returns. Satan is actively trying to destroy Christian marriages and families.
By Saturday night and Sunday morning, I was beginning to feel drained emotionally. Ray is an introvert-converted-to-extrovert, and loves socializing and talking with people. I love people, too, but I’m an introvert. Being around crowds of people for long periods of time drains me. I needed some quiet time alone praying to God, reading, and writing.
Strife was also raising its head again between Ray and me. But through prayer, choosing the Spirit over the flesh, and the Traver’s help, we put strife down and finished the weekend strong.
The key is for us to continue to daily apply the Biblical and practical principles we learned to have a happy, fulfilled, strong marriage. Ray and I decided that we will attend their marriage retreat again, at least once a year. We have to stay alert and look out for the enemy’s evil devices.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8
The Traver’s also offered a parenting class Sunday afternoon, taught at the gazebo outside by their great worship leaders Mike and Dawn, and Roger and Laureen met personally with Ray and me an hour in their room for counseling and prayer. They are both extremely prophetic and discerning, listening carefully to the Holy Spirit and hearing His voice. They spoke the truth to us in love.
One of the things Roger said to Ray which deeply impacted him was that he is a warrior. Warriors don’t give up, even to the death! Ray repented to me in front of everyone in the room for giving up on our marriage and on me. Another thing Roger said which really impacted him is that Jesus didn’t go around praying for people; He went around HEALING people. He listened to what God said and then He did it.
Mike and Dawn said this group of couples had made worship easier. They thanked us for being worshippers of God. They were humble servants and led beautiful worship during the weekend. There was a sweet presence of the Lord there.
On Monday morning, Roger and Laureen and everyone in the room prayed for each couple, giving them encouraging prophetic words. The Holy Spirit’s presence was there, working powerfully among us.
Ray and I left the marriage retreat with softer hearts that had been touched by God’s love and forgiveness, greater intimacy, and rekindled hope. It was a much needed break and time away from the daily routine. We had such a fun, and relaxing time.
Pictures from the retreat
The mountains and lakes in Branson are beautiful.
On the way driving to Branson, you see mountain cliffs beside the highway. This reminded me of childhood summer trips to my grandparents’ house. When I was growing up, in the summertime for about 1-2 weeks, I’d go to my grandparents Gentry’s country home in Forsythe, Georgia (near Macon). I knew we were getting close to their beautiful Victorian house when I saw the red clay cliffs along the highway.
We ate supper at a cafe in Branson, where they had a Friday night special on ribs that had been smoking all day. My husband loves to eat. He is a meat man, so this made him happy.
We stayed at the Bradford Inn in Branson, MO. It has 34 rooms, each with a different design and decor. Ours was called The French Room. “Very pink,” Ray said as we first walked into it, LOL. The room is painted pink with Victorian furniture.
It was wonderful. The bathroom has a jacuzzi tub for two. This was one of Ray’s and my favorite parts. So relaxing. We felt spoiled, and are so thankful to our friends for making this happen! We dream of having a jacuzzi in our own home one day.
There’s a little patio outside the room with 2 chairs, where Ray and I drank our coffee in the morning, admiring the beautiful view of the mountains. This was one of my favorite things that we did together. This made me happy!
Here is a view of the Branson mountains from the top level of the inn.
I’ve been craving the beach lately, wanting to take a pic of my painted toenails in the sand...so I improvised, taking a pic of my toes as I relaxed in the big, comfy chair in our room. Yes, I am easily amused.
Ray and I ate in the public dining area the first morning, and in our room at the little antique table and chairs the next 2 mornings. Included in the price of the Bradford Inn’s stay is a delicious breakfast each morning.
The B&B’s owner cooks the breakfast himself. You tell him how you want your eggs cooked and what you want with it: cereal, oatmeal, waffles, sausage, cinammon rolls, coffee cake, biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit. This was definitely Ray’s favorite part.
The biscuits and gravy and sausage were SO good!
On Saturday afternoon, we had “free time,” where we were supposed to do a homework assignment and then go on a date alone…no double dates.
Ray and I were on a strict budget for this trip, so our date was at Steak and Shake, LOL. They had a special double cheeseburger with fries for $4.99. We are planning to go out for a steak dinner this coming payday. But Steak and Shake’s cheeseburgers and fries were good, and we had fun.
There’s lots to do in Branson, includingthe ziplinewhich looks really fun and theNational Tiger Sanctuary. As I said, we were on a very tight budget, but we did amuse ourselves taking pics by this elephant. Some other people were there, and took the pic for us and we returned the favor for them.
The healing power of prayer
One of the most powerful times during the retreat was Monday morning, when the Traver’s and everyone prayed for each other. I knew we were going to pray for each other at this retreat (our friends had told us this ahead of time, since they went last year), but I didn’t know it would be this powerful! God is so good!
Below from left to right are the senior pastors of the non-denominational fellowship The Barn in Kansas City, MO, Todd and Vickie Bennett, Jane and Jim, and Charlie and Veronica. Charlie and Veronica have 7 children and were extremely entertaining the whole weekend, laughing and sharing transparently about their sex life and their marriage. Their openness brought great freedom to this retreat.
The Traver’s are Spirit-filled Christians and teach on the spiritual gifts, and encourage others to use theirs so there is an atmosphere in their meetings for doing that.
This awesome couple praying below, Mark and Kim, have been in ministry for over 20 years and are in transition, about to move to do missions work in East Africa.
Praise God! Ray and I were able to pray not only for each other this weekend, but also for other couples, using our gifts and giving them encouraging, prophetic words. If you don’t know what your spiritual gifts are, you can take online tests here.
Not everyone at this retreat had been taught about the spiritual gifts and were a little uncomfortable. Sometimes God will take you out of your comfort zone to lead you into a more mature, deeper relationship with Him.
This marriage retreat was such a blessing and I’m so thankful that Ray and I were able to go and renew our marriage. Please pray for us as we work on applying the Biblical, practical principles and tools we learned about at this retreat.
We know that Satan doesn’t want our marriage restored and that he’ll be up to his old tricks, so we have to stay alert, pray and read the Word together, and fight Satan together. He is our enemy, not each other.
Ray and I have a calling from God together to the nations and need to fulfill the purpose God has for our lives. We also want to leave a godly legacy for our children and grandchildren and be an example to others of God’s love, forgiveness, and power.
I highly recommend attending the Traver’s marriage retreats, whether you are a newly married couple, have been married for several years and just want a tune-up, or your marriage is on the verge of divorce and you need a Divine intervention.
Ultimately only God and you and your spouse can heal your marriage. Marriage is really about your relationship with God – obeying Him.
Are you willing to obey? (Am I?) Are you willing to do what it takes and die to self, so that your marriage can be a beautiful picture of Christ and the Church? (Am I?)
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” – Psalm 121:1-2, NKJV