When I walked down the aisle as a twenty-two year old bride, my vision for our family was one of hope, I longed to be used by God to shine a light in a dark world. I wanted to have a marriage that reflected His love and drew others into His presence. Sadly, our reality became anything but that. Instead of offering hope to others, I quickly lost all hope. I felt trapped, scared, disappointed and depressed. I look back and I remember times when I didn’t believe that our home would ever get to a place of peace. I longed for equanimity, a balance in the storms of life. I was battle weary from years of fighting, crying, broken dreams and promises.
Darrel and I both grew up in church. We searched to find a couple who could model godly marriage for us. We are called to be salt and light and yet so few “Christian” homes look any different from the homes that do not profess Christ as Lord and Savior. Something is dreadfully wrong with this picture. I wanted MORE for our home! I wanted to walk and talk like Jesus so that our neighbors, friends and family members could SEE HIS LOVE when they watched us interact. Try as I might, try as Darrel did, that was just not happening in our home.
Darrel and I had been married for almost ten years when we attended our first Life Partners Christian Ministries marriage seminar. The church we were attending offered the seminar in the fall of 2005 and for us, it was a last ditch effort. We had tried every form or counseling, attended various marriage seminars, read a slew of books and had many others offering us counsel and advice. Nothing worked. I would attend ladies small group meetings, ladies Bible studies, ladies retreats, get pumped up for a day or two and then I had to return to that same dark reality. My heart was breaking and I could no longer see hope that things would ever change. Instead of being a shining light in a dark world, I felt like the darkness of depression and defeat was choking the life and light from me.
When we attended our first seminar, I did not expect much. Hope was gone. We had tried everything and nothing had worked. Why would this be any different? I vowed that I would not cry. I was tired of crying. I was tired of feeling pain and being left with my broken, bleeding heart left open and exposed. I felt such shame every time I would cry, wondering who saw me and what they were thinking of me. I decided I would not cry at this event. Great plan, right? I held it together, sat in my seat, took deep breaths…until Travis and Carol Turner began to share their testimony. There was no stopping the floodgates that opened up as they poured out their hearts and shared the real, raw truth of their past. They didn’t just share about the pain, though. They testified of God’s power, His grace and the miracles of His healing in their marriage and home. I saw a woman who glowed in the presence of her husband, she was at peace and she was safe. I wept because I saw the very thing that my heart was crying out for. Would we EVER get there?
In 2006, Darrel and I enrolled in a three year discipleship program with Life Partners, Christ Quest Institute. We were challenged to dig deep into the Word of God and understand His design for marriage. We were taught more about the human spirit and how to minister to the depths of other’s spirits. We learned to name the emotions we felt in the circumstances of life and realized that God created us to feel deeply. Tools were placed in our hands, and we began to grow in our awareness of God’s character, His goodness, His faithfulness. The goal? To change the way we act, think and speak, so that we become more Christ-like. We were given weekly accountability in our walk with Christ and with each other. Along the way, in the midst of real life struggles, a tiny seed of hope began to grow in my heart. We studied His word, line upon line, precept upon precept.
We “graduated” in 2009 from the three year program, but for us it was just the beginning of our journey. We started over, at the beginning. The same truths were taught but we now heard them with new ears, open hearts. Week by week, month by month, steady and sure, the truth is penetrating our hearts and changing our home.
We still mess up. Every day we see our need for God’s grace. Every day we stumble. But now we have tools to help us get back up and carry on. When offenses come (and they always will), it takes us a matter of minutes to find resolution. It used to take days or weeks. Most conflicts were never dealt with. I see Darrel applying God’s ways, rather than relying on his own understanding. We have been blessed to share more of our journey with many others, along the way. We welcome the opportunity to share with you, too. Just ask!
We have found a home with Life Partners. We feel safe being real and sharing the ups and downs of life with the men and women He’s brought together. This weekend, we helped to host a brand new seminar, “The Journey to Oneness.” On April 16, we will be taking a group to PA to participate in the same seminar. Also in April, a new Christ Quest Institute class will begin here in Harrisonburg, Virginia. We welcome YOU to join us on this journey. If you are married or hope to be married one day, this opportunity is one you do not want to miss. His plan and design for marriage is a beautiful one. He wants us to walk in the fullness of oneness with Himself and each other. His plans for us are good, He wants to give us HOPE and a FUTURE!
To register for the “Journey to Oneness” seminar in Manheim, PA, go to the link below. Please let us know if finances are an issue! Partial scholarships are available. Also, let us us know if you need a ride to the seminar.