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War Room movie review: Your prayers are powerful

Miss Clara, the prayer warrior in the movie War Room

Miss Clara, the prayer warrior in the movie War Room

This post contains some spoilers.

‚ÄúWar has been part of humanity in every age‚ĶThere always seems to be something to fight for.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Miss Clara, War Room

This weekend I went to see the movie War Room, which raked in more than $11 million despite showing at only 1,100 theatres in its opening weekend. It was second place to Straight Outta Compton, but surpassed the success of Mission Impossible and No Escape. Praise God!!! I love seeing how God is working today in the media!

prayer closet

Miss Clara praying

The movie is about prayer and faith in Jesus Christ. 

Ray was at work when I went to see it, but he went with me the next day. Our youngest daughter Leah didn’t want to see it, saying it looked “predictable” (for a Christian movie). She was right, it was predictable, but powerful.¬†

And really, there is something reassuring and comforting about predictability. To know that you can always count on God, that He’s always there for you and He hears your prayers. That He doesn’t change. (Malachi 3:6) That God wants to move mightily on yours and your loved ones’ behalf. That God is safe, trustworthy, and faithful, even when we’re not.¬†

“I see in you a warrior that needs to be awakened.‚ÄĚ – Miss Clara to Elizabeth in War Room

I found it interesting that the main character’s name was Elizabeth (my formal name). I related to much of the story in this movie, especially the intense marriage problems, which I share about in my memoir, Promises In The Dark: One Woman’s Search for Authentic Love.¬†

The main character, Elizabeth Jordan, in the movie War Room

The main character, Elizabeth, in War Room

Elizabeth is played by Priscilla Shirer, the daughter of minister Tony Evans, and is a speaker, author of He Speaks to Me: Preparing to Hear¬†From God, and a Bible teacher. I didn’t know this until after the movie. She shares the stage at the Going Beyond and Deeper Still conferences with Beth Moore and Kay Arthur.

Beth Moore, founder of Living Proof Ministries which teaches women world-wide to love and live on Scripture, also played the minor part of Mandy in this movie. Not a coincidence Beth was in this!

I thought everyone did a great job of acting in this movie.¬†The only problem I had with the movie was that their little girl, Danielle (Alena Pitts), played the pathetically sad daughter (because of her parents’ marital strife) throughout the movie.

After awhile, I wanted to scream, “Okay, everyone GETS it! She’s so sad because her parents fight all the time! Let her talk or something!”¬†Otherwise, I thought she did a good job (she’s great at jumping rope, too.)This movie marks her professional acting debut.

Danielle with her mom Elizabeth in War Room

Danielle with her mom Elizabeth in War Room

One of the most powerful moments of Alena’s acting is when Danielle told Elizabeth that she felt like her parents only loved her a little bit, and when her mom protested, she began asking her questions to see if she was even paying attention to her: what was her coach’s name, what colors were her team’s, what award did she win last week? Elizabeth didn’t know the answers, and tears streamed down both their faces. Very convicting for parents.¬†

Briefly, the plot of the movie is this: Elizabeth Jordan, a real estate agent, is in a troubled marriage to her husband, Tony, a successful business man. They seem to have it all with their careers, a beautiful daughter, and a gorgeous home Рthe American dream, right? Their marriage has become a war zone with constant fighting, anger, and bitterness, and their daughter is the collateral damage. 

Clara and Elizabeth

Clara and Elizabeth

Elizabeth finds guidance from one of her clients, an older woman named Clara (Karen Abercrombie –Clara was my favorite character in the movie; she is powerful and hilarious), who teaches Elizabeth to fight for herself, her marriage, and her family with the weapons of prayer and faith in Jesus.¬†

‚ÄúSubmission is ducking so God can hit your husband.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Beth Moore‚Äôs character Mandy to Elizabeth in War Room

Of course, critics are tearing it apart (naturally, it’s a Christian movie!). I read some reviews before I went to see it, and wondered if I’d agree with it, especially Jim Judy’s criticism that the movie had a “potentially dangerous ‘remedy’ to domestic abuse.”

Since I am a survivor of childhood sexual and physical abuse and my daughter Heather and I were physically battered in my second marriage, I don’t condone violence or abuse at all and was interested to see if this review was right on. After seeing the movie twice, I felt that his review was untrue and unjust.¬†

The husband, Tony Jordan, in the movie War Room

The husband, Tony Jordan, in the movie War Room

 

While the husband Tony was self-absorbed and a jerk to his wife (with a wandering, lustful eye), I don’t recall him saying anything abusive to Elizabeth and he never physically abused her.

Spoiler alert: Critics mocked the part where Tony was contemplating having an affair with a co-worker, and threw up, saying that it depicts God as a genie who gives your husband food poisoning before he cheats on you.

“Very few of us know how to fight the right way.‚ÄĚ –Miss Clara, War Room

I get what the critic is saying about this, but the truth is that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and God does sometimes allow things to happen in our lives to stop or hinder us from sinning (because He loves us), or allow painful, difficult things that are a consequence of sin.

I don’t believe God is an angry God ready to zap people in a rage, who are sinning, wanting to just throw them into hell. He is a good God. But He is holy, and He doesn’t want men (or women) committing adultery. He has set you and me apart for His holy purposes.¬†

Beth & Ray Jones

Beth & Ray Jones

I believe and KNOW that prayer is powerful and as believers, we have great authority in prayer through faith in Christ. But I do agree with the Christianity Today¬†movie critic Kenneth Morefield, who wrote that the movie has too easy fixes and Tony’s transformation is so radical and complete, that it’s like he’s a prize given to Elizabeth for praying.¬†If this was the case, my husband Ray would be a very different man in some areas of his life (and I would be very different in certain areas of mine, from Ray praying for me).¬†

‚ÄúIf you want victory you must first surrender.‚ÄĚ – Miss Clara to Elizabeth

Spoiler alert: Some favorite parts of mine for this movie were:

  • Miss Clara, my fave character. The ending with her prayer and words was SO powerful. I cried both times seeing it.
  • Elizabeth taking authority over the devil in her house and telling him to get out;
  • Miss Clara talking to the cops about Jesus and the man who tried to rob her and Elizabeth, eating two helpings of ice cream and getting a sugar rush;
  • Danielle smiling big and saying, “That’s my dad!” after the jump rope contest. While it’s difficult to believe a successful business man is going to trade his career for half his previous salary to work at the community recreation center and be content, I felt this part of the movie was prophetic. That is what God did for us. He humbled Himself, emptying Himself of Divinity to be born here on earth, die for our sins, and raise again so we’d always have a relationship with God. Jesus always showed people, “That’s my Dad!”, as we can do too with God, who works so incredibly in and through our lives.¬†
  • Tony giving Elizabeth what she’d asked for: a foot rub and a big ice cream, fudge sundae with whip cream and a cherry on top. I was craving a hot fudge sundae after this, and went to get one yesterday, eating a little and giving the rest to Leah. It was so good;
  • Elizabeth eating potato chips and drinking a soda in the closet while she prayed;
  • Miss Clara’s victory prayers, and saying, “Devil, you just got your butt kicked!”

Ray thought it was a “good, clean family film.” This is a big compliment, seeing as how Ray prefers movies with machine gun fire, lots of blood, car crashes, or geeky, sci-fi plots.

The power of prayer

The power of prayer

Overall, I give this movie a thumbs up. Yes, critics slammed it, yes, it had predictable parts, and yes, it had easy solutions to complex problems. But its message, that prayer and faith in Jesus is powerful and work, is the truth. Your prayers make a difference; keep praying!

To learn more about the power and authority of prayer, click here for my book, The Hands of a Woman: Everyday Women In Everyday Battles. This has eight women’s powerful stories about prayer.¬†

Did you see the movie? What did you think? Leave your comments below.

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Lost in a Texas storm

my husband Ray, by the plaque dedicated for LeTourneau University's original EMS program

my husband Ray, by the plaque dedicated for LeTourneau University’s original EMS program

This weekend my husband Ray and I traveled to Texas for the plaque dedication service/reunion for LeTourneau University’s original EMS program, of which Ray was a part as a student and working as an EMT for the city of Longview, TX, about 30 years ago.¬†He was so happy to see his old friends there, and longed to spend much more time with them.

Ray has worked so hard and faithfully in the emergency services field for his entire career serving as a Navy corpsman for over 14 years, a fireman and a firechief, a police man and a police chief, SWAT team medic, and a paramedic since he was 18 years old.

Since I’ve been married to him, he’s always done nearly back-breaking work like War Horse, going days and nights for years without sleep, going into work even when he was sick, exhausted, or just needing a break, all to put food on the table for our family.

In my eyes and our children’s, my husband is a hero every day of his life.

Ray’s mom Judy and his stepdad Leonard live near Quitman, Texas, which is close to Longview, and they graciously offered for us to stay with them at their home while we were there. ¬†They live near a lake, which is so beautiful and peaceful.¬†

lake by Ray's parents' house near Quitman, TX

lake by Ray’s parents’ house near Quitman, TX

They have a big back deck with a large bird feeder and a hummingbird feeder. I’d never seen a hummingbird in person before, but this time I did and was so happy! They are so cute!

I’m planning to get me a hummingbird feeder for our house here in Missouri, to put near my sunroom. In this picture below, you can see the yellow goldfinch on the white bird feeder. It was the first time I’d seen one of these birds in person, too.¬†

bird and hummingbird feeders on back deck

bird and hummingbird feeders on back deck

I really enjoyed waking up early before everyone else got up, cooking my egg, and then sitting on the back deck looking at the lake, watching the birds, and praying. The sun was shining through the trees.

I’ve been needing to get away from everything and just relax. This time of peaceful solitude was balm to my soul.

Me by the lake

Me by the lake

The first morning I saw a male red cardinal; each time I see one, I feel it’s God’s “sign,” ¬†letting me know in a special way that He loves me. Interestingly, this often happens on very bad days (although this time was a good day).

Sun shining through trees near the lake

Sun shining through trees near the lake

Ray and his parents would then join me on the deck for coffee, which was so relaxing. Ray’s mom put my coffee in a sunflower coffee cup (I love sunflowers!), which she blessed me with to take home.

My cute sunflower coffee cup

My cute sunflower coffee cup

The first night Ray’s stepdad Leonard smoked ribs for us. Ray was very happy about this, because on the way driving to Texas, Bodacious BBQ (allegedly the best bbq anywhere) was closed by 7 p.m.

Ray’s mom Judy also cooked fried chicken (Ray’s fave dish of hers, which I’ve never been able to master!) and fried fish (which I love!). It was all so delicious!!!

She also cooked breakfast, telling me she enjoyed doing something special for Ray that he liked: ¬†she made biscuits with home-made plum jelly and Mayhaw jelly (a berry I’d never heard of); scrambled eggs; bacon; and fresh strawberries. I’m not a morning person and hate cooking, so Ray was thrilled with this. (I repent in dust and ashes.)

 

Ray, his mom Judy and his stepdad Leonard

Ray, his mom Judy and his stepdad Leonard

Ray and his mom Judy

Ray and his mom Judy

Ray was so disappointed about Bodacous BBQ being closed and about a store in Bogota, TX, running out of hot links when he arrived there. He did get some on the way driving home.

Bogota, TX store where Ray always gets his hot links

Bogota, TX store where Ray always gets his hot links

When the beautiful black woman working at the store asked Ray how many hot links he wanted, he said, “All of them.” He cleaned them out! He also got boudin sausage, another Cajun favorite in Texas.¬†

Ray in line for hot links

Ray in line for hot links

hot links and boudin sausage

hot links and boudin sausage

A girl sitting at the cafe in the store was eating crawfish. Yep, we’re definitely in the south now! I’d never eaten one before and asked her if I could take a picture of them.

I asked her how you eat them and her dad said, “You bite their heads off.” I wasn’t sure if he was serious or not.

It reminded me of the time I visited my sister Maria and her kids in Georgia, and my darling nephew Nicholas said to me with disgust¬†at a seafood place: “Aunt Beth, you don’t eat fried catfish with a FORK! You eat them with your HANDS!”

Ray says you can eat crawfish like lobster or crab and that they are good.¬†I’m not so sure I’ll be eating them at all. Nor did I taste the boudin.

crawfish

crawfish

Paris, Texas is on the way to Quitman, TX. Naturally as a joke, I had to stop and take a picture in front of it. I’ve been to the real Paris, France, twice and would love to go back some day! Our daughter Heather and our granddaughter Annabelle want to go, too.

Me in front of Paris, Texas sign

Me in front of Paris, Texas sign

Naturally, Ray had to act silly taking his pic in front of it. ūüôā

Ray in front of Paris, TX sign

Ray in front of Paris, TX sign

For supper, we ate at a Mexican restaurant in Paris (does that sound like an oxymoron?).¬†It was called Ta Molly’s, and silly me, I didn’t realize until we were inside that its name was a play on words (tamales)!

Ray really wanted to eat Bodacious BBQ,¬†¬†but in my humble opinion, you can never go wrong with Mexican! I thought the restaurant had palm trees outside, but Ray said they are yucca plants. I’d love to get one for my sunroom.

I liked all the live green plants inside the restaurant and the white Christmas lights. 

Ta Molly's Mexican restaurant Paris, Texas

Ta Molly’s Mexican restaurant
Paris, Texas

 

Inside Ta Molly's

Inside Ta Molly’s

Ray was able to go fishing at his parents’ house while we were there. This was one of the highlights of the trip for him. He LOVES to fish.

“And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” ~ Matthew 4:19, NASB

Ray fishing at his parents' house on the lake, Texas

Ray fishing at his parents’ house on the lake, Texas

Ray loves to fish

Ray loves to fish

 

me and Ray on deck by lake

me and Ray on deck by lake

The dedication/reunion

Ray and I got dressed up to go to the reunion. Here’s a good pic of us in front of his mother Judy’s beautiful red fireplace at their house.

me and Ray ready for the reunion

me and Ray ready for the reunion

The dedication service and banquet for LeTourneau University’s EMS program was on Saturday. Here’s Ray with his colleagues. Ray is the first person on the 3rd row in the grey suit, with the military haircut.¬†

Ray and his colleagues at reunion

Ray and his colleagues at reunion

Here is the plaque unveiling at the afternoon ceremony at LeTourneau University, a private, interdenominational Christian university which originally educated veterans coming back from WWII. LeTourneau University recently added a nursing program, hence the dedication to the college’s original EMS program.¬†

unveiling of the plaque dedicated to the LeTourneau University EMS program

unveiling of the plaque dedicated to the LeTourneau University EMS program
LeTourneau President Dr. Lunsford, Glen Butts, and Jack Lanier

The university’s vision statement reads: “Claiming every workplace in every nation as their mission field, LeTourneau University graduates are professionals of ingenuity and Christ-like character who see life’s work as a holy calling with eternal impact. Amen!

On Saturday night, the university served a food and dessert banquet. We sat with 2 really nice couples, one who were missionaries in Peru (the missionary wife met her husband there and married him!) and the other woman was from Canada, living in America now. When I asked if she missed Canada, she said, “I miss the snow.” (Ray groaned at this; he hates snow.)

Ray and I shared some of our missions stories with them about Haiti, Israel, and Africa. 

banquet dinner table

banquet dinner table

 

banquet

banquet

Afterward, they had the dessert banquet in another building and those who had attended the university’s EMS program and worked as instructors and EMT’s for the city of Longview shared both funny and sober war stories.

After this is when Ray and I got LOST IN A TERRIFYING TEXAS STORM. 

Ray’s stepdad Leonard had given Ray short-cut directions to get to LeTourneau University, with which Ray wasn’t familiar (he grew up in Texas and Louisiana, and normally knows Texas roads and highways).

Before coming to Texas, I’d seen weather reports and didn’t have a peace about going there. I’d been caught in a bad thunderstorm cell, driving home after a movie one night last year, and the rain coming down sideways and the lightning striking so fast and close to my car really scared me. I didn’t want to go through that again!

Joyce Meyer says, “Let peace be your umpire.”¬†

Longview had just had a tornado, which totally destroyed Jack Lanier’s house (one of Ray’s colleagues there at the reunion).

I sensed the storm before we went to Texas

¬†I was very concerned¬†that if Ray and I went on this trip, we’d run into a storm(s). It just wasn’t the weather reports; I sensed it spiritually. But my family and my friends thought I should go with Ray, so I went with him in faith, to show my support for him.

Things changed fast

It was a clear night when Ray and I left the university to go back to his parents’ house near Quitman, Texas. Suddenly it began thunderstorming badly.

 The rain was coming down sideways, hard. There was small hail.

The wind was blowing so violently that Ray had trouble controlling our little Toyota Yaris on the road. I was yelling for him to slow down, and he said if he drove too slow, the wind would knock us off the road. 

The worst part was that whole trees had fallen on the highway. It was like an obstacle course.

Ray kept swerving to avoid hitting them, and he did accidentally hit a couple of them. By a miracle, none of our tires were punctured!

I was pleading the blood of Jesus over us and taking authority over the storm, rebuking it. Ray and I were both praying in the Spirit.

I was trying to have faith, but I felt terrified that we’d crash or another tree would fall on top of us.

Later I soberly realized that if we had left the reunion earlier, this is exactly what would have happened and we would have been critically injured or even died. 

Then we got lost.

We were on the right highway, but the visibility was so poor that we couldn’t see the road that had a gate leading to Ray’s parents’ house.¬†

Ray accidentally left his phone at his parents’ house. (He always carries his phone, so this was rare!). I didn’t have Ray’s mom’s phone number with me, just her email address.

I called our grown daughter Heather to pray and alert intercessors to pray for us as we were in real danger from the storm.

The phone cut off just after I told her we were in danger and to pray. I tried to call her back to ask her to call Ray’s mom and have her call us with better directions, but I couldn’t get through again.

We were both stressed out trying to find the road with the gate. Ray said he felt we were going the wrong way and turned around in someone’s driveway.

As we pulled up into it, I saw a big white sign with large letters that said something to the degree of, “Prayer changes things.”

I knew it was a direct sign from God to KEEP praying and taking authority over the storm. God amazes me how He does these kinds of things!

Ray told me to call 411 information for his parents’ phone number. They answered and gave us the number immediately (a miracle!).

Ray’s mom answered frantic. She had messaged me on Facebook that she’d seen the news and a bad storm was coming, and to come back immediately. ¬†She got Leonard on the phone.

They didn’t know exactly where we were, but Leonard was able to determine enough to tell Ray to take a different highway nearby, which was the highway we were much more familiar with. We were able to locate a church on that highway, where we turned that took us to Ray’s parents’ house.

All I could do when we got inside his parents’ house was get on the floor with my head in my hands and praise God for our safety.

I’m not afraid of dying; I don’t want to live and suffer, crashing in a storm!¬†

The storm died down shortly after we arrived at his parents’ house. While we encountered some heavy rain traveling on the way home to Kansas City, MO, it wasn’t real bad. Thank God for travel mercies!

My sister Maria said this when I told her about what happened:

“I think it’s very interesting y’all weathered a storm together but came out unscathed, together. I feel it is significant that you two went through the storm. And were still together. I feel it may be God saying, “I will keep you together, no matter what comes because you belong together. No matter what the storm looks like, I am in control. And you are through the storm.” Not a thus saith the Lord, but that’s why I found it interesting.”

Interesting word, isn’t it?

I’m thankful that Jesus is the Master of the Wind and He can speak peace to the storm. (Matthew 8:23-27)

The storm outside of us in the natural, and the storm inside of us emotionally and spiritually. 

I’m so thankful to be home safe and sound!

Have you ever been caught in a sudden, violent storm? Share your comments below. 

Blog, Faith, Marriage, Parenting, prayer, Spiritual Gifts, Travel

Our Branson MO Marriage Retreat

 

Me & Ray Branson, MO

Me & Ray
Branson, MO

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!

From day one, Satan has tried to destroy our marriage because of the ministry and missions calling that is on our lives. I share about some of the problems we’ve had in my newest book, Promises In The Dark: One Woman’s Search for Authentic Love.¬†

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 retreat was taught by Roger and Laureen Traver with Mountain Top Marriage Ministry, and it was amazing! There were 7 couples attending this retreat.

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.

Roger and Laureen Traver

Roger and Laureen Traver

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!¬†

Laureen & Roger teaching

Laureen & Roger teaching

“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.

 

The fruit

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

Ray, looking glass at Branson mountains

Ray, looking glass at Branson mountains

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, Retreat Worship Leaders

Mike and Dawn
Retreat worship leaders

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.

worship

worship

¬†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. 

Branson, MO

Branson, Missouri

¬†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.¬†

Cliffs, Branson, MO

Cliffs
Branson, MO

 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. 

smoked ribs

smoked ribs

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.

Bradford Inn

Bradford Inn, Branson
The French Room

¬†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.

jacuzzi

jacuzzi

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!

patio

patio

Here is a view of the Branson mountains from the top level of the inn. 

view of mountains

view of mountains

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.¬†

my painted toenails, relaxing in the chair

my painted toenails, relaxing in the chair

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.¬†

Ray loved the breakfast!

Ray loved the breakfast!

The biscuits and gravy and sausage were SO good!

biscuits, gravy,  & sausage

biscuits, gravy, & sausage

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.

Steak & Shake cheeseburger and fries

Steak & Shake cheeseburger and fries

¬†There’s lots to do in Branson, including the zipline which looks really fun and the National 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.¬†

me & Ray by elephant Branson, MO

me & Ray by elephant
Branson, MO

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. 

prayer time for couples

prayer time for couples

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.

Todd, Vickie, Charlie & Veronica praying for Jane & Jim

Todd, Vickie, Charlie & Veronica praying for Jane & Jim

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. 

prayer

Kim and Mark praying for Dawn & Mike

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.

If you’d like to learn more about the spiritual gifts, two resources I highly recommend are The Gifts and Ministries of the Holy Spirit by Lester Sumrall and Step Out and Take Your Place by Krista Dunk.¬†

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.¬†

me and Ray, Branson marriage retreat

me and Ray, Branson marriage retreat

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‚ÄĒfrom whence comes my help?¬†My help¬†comes¬†from the¬†Lord, who made heaven and earth.” – Psalm 121:1-2, NKJV

hills/mountains in Branson, MO

hills/mountains in Branson, MO