Author: marriageisacovenant

Marriage Instruction Manual Part II

So there’s only a few weeks between Part I and Part II. We were just recovering from the disconnect of grief we experienced after the death of my father-in-law, when we had to rush our 3-year-old daughter to the emergency room after a lot of weird and unexplainable symptoms were occurring, only to receive the diagnosis of leukemia! (I wasn’t kidding when I said 2018 was the worst year of our lives.)

This chapter in a marriage instruction manual would have to be entitled, “Chapter 13: Dealing With Simultaneous Grief Within Marriage.”


We don’t realize how much we depend on our spouses during the seasons of life. When life is good, we expect them to celebrate with us. When life is sad, we expect a shoulder to cry on. When life is hard, we expect support and encouragement. However, all of that falls under the assumption that they are not in the exact same place we are. We are assuming they have those things to give when we need them. Unfortunately, those assumptions are incorrect when you both find yourselves in the same pit of darkness…a place neither has walked, nor wants to…a place of more questions than answers. Our daughter’s diagnosis sent us both, separately, spinning into that place.

What do you do when you don’t have that spousal support? You can’t blame them, because you don’t have it to give either.

Here’s the instruction part for Parts I & II:

1. Take up your grievances with God, not your spouse. He’s the Dude in charge anyway!

2. Sit tight. Wait for things to turn around. The pressures surrounding you and your spouse will change. Wait for it.

3. Don’t do anything stupid! There’s a reason a lot of marriages don’t survive the stresses and traumas of life. They’re hard. When things escalate, refer back to instruction #2! ⤴️

I wish I could say that everything our marriage experienced in 2012 would prevent any future problems, but that’s not the case. When things got hot and heavy and the pain was unbearable, we, unfortunately, attacked each other. There were fights that I can’t even remember now what they were about, but we survived. What we did learn in 2012 to prepare us for all that we were going through was instructions #1-3.

In these times, it’s proven that our spouse (no matter how strong or wonderful) isn’t our lifeline, that position is only for Jesus! Our answers don’t come from our spouse either. He/She is just trying to figure it all out too…just like you.

Keep in mind, we simply cannot give what we don’t have to give. In the trauma of our daughter’s diagnosis, both my husband and I were severely hurting. We, honestly, didn’t have each other to lean on or look to. However, that’s ok. Those are the times we are reminded that God should always hold that place…in the bad times and the good.

Marriage Instruction Manual Part I

Marriage. Is. Hard.

Even the best of marriages go through difficult seasons.

So hard, in fact, they should come with instruction manuals to explain some of the more difficult roads.

This post will attempt to write a chapter that should be in this handy, dandy manual.

Let’s call it, “Chapter 12: Dealing with Spousal Grief.”

So, 2018 was the most difficult year of our lives. In that year, among so many other losses, my husband lost his beloved father. We knew this day was coming for years. His dad was 40 years older than my husband and in declining health. I just assumed we would face his death together, get through it together, and heal together. What I didn’t expect was the disconnect I would feel from my husband as he dealt with his grief.

When his dad passed, he immediately stepped up and in the role to take care of his mom, but it came with such urgency. He was pushing us to relocate so we could better accommodate her (mind you, we live around the corner as is). He was pushing himself to keep up her place and yard, plus our place and yard, plus all the extra things he thought she required. I want to specify that his mom wasn’t putting undue pressure on him; it was my husband putting undue pressure on himself. Something kicked in; something that became bigger than himself. Maybe it’s a God-given sense of protection a son has for his mother, but it was more than he could handle.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to be supportive and understanding. Keep in mind, I’m now looking back at all this with greater understanding of a whole picture. While I was in it, I didn’t have a clue what was going on! The weight of taking care of the kids now fell on mostly me. Before, my husband helped bathe kids, got them ready for bed, read them a bedtime story, etc. to relieve me of nighttime duty. During this season, he would be gone to his mom’s: taking care of her, seeing to her needs, finding out more stuff he had to take care of. He was exhausted with his new responsibilities, and I was exhausted covering for him during his absence. My best friend was gone, because there was no time to discuss things. We were in survival mode, and while I could understand it at first, I couldn’t understand why we got stuck there. Was this going to be our life now? How can we keep going like this? Where is my husband? We need him too!

After weeks on end on this crazy train, I call up my friend since junior high. Ironically, her husband had lost his dad unexpectedly just a couple of months before we lost my father-in-law. I’ll never forget the hope that conversation brought. After explaining all that I was feeling from all that we were going through, she tells me it has been the same exact thing for her. She told me her husband had been the same way, and was only just now emerging from this self-driven unattainable desire to take care of everything! Whew! Really? This isn’t just me? This is something guys go through? And it’s gonna get better? Ok!

So, after that discussion, I approach my husband with gentle honesty about the “obvious” disconnect I’ve been feeling in hopes we can work through it. Here’s the shocker. Are you ready for this? My husband looks at me with pained confusion on his face and says, “You have been my rock through all of this. I can’t do this without you. I didn’t know you felt this way. I’m sorry.”


Wow, so what I thought was so “obvious,” wasn’t. He had been so busy with the weight of the world on his shoulders, he didn’t even realize he was leaving me out. I wish I could say it all turned around after that night, but it didn’t. It was eye opening for us both, but it would take another few weeks for my husband to emerge as well and realize he’s not Superman and can’t take care of the whole world. He can only do what he can do. But it’s a learning scale, and after the loss of a parent, we’re left figuring out what gaps we can and can’t fill. It’s hard. I just wish there was a manual somewhere that could’ve prepared me for it.

Jenn’s Confession

January 26, 2019:

I have been so fearful of the next treatment phase. I don’t want to watch Ariel suffer. I don’t want to enter the darkness again. I was so full of worry, I didn’t realize until later I didn’t even pray about it…to my shame.

But God knows our thoughts. He understands where we are. It’s almost like choking and being unable to call for help…guess I was just running around flapping my arms desperate for air. Anyway, I’m coming down the stairs for lunch with a heavy heart, only for my eyes to fall on a verse I have posted:

Isaiah 41:10 (NLT) Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

I knew He had heard my chaotic thoughts and He was talking to me. I don’t know how many times I pass that verse and don’t see it, but that day God was speaking it to me. He reminded me that He’s not gone. He’s very much near and Ariel will be ok. We both will, because He’s holding us up with HIS right hand.

These verses we have posted everywhere in our house are very significant. When the enemy comes to attack, we use them to attack back (it is our sword.) But especially in moments like above, God uses them to remind us of His promises to us and to speak to us and to encourage us.

Finally, as if Isaiah 41:10 wasn’t enough to remind me of His presence and goodness, He leads me to Isaiah 55:11

Isaiah 55:11 (NLT) It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

God’s word is everlasting. It changes us. On it, we can depend. I know all that, but sometimes I need a reminder. Figured someone else might too…

Isaiah 65:24 (KJV)

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

I Need A Moment

Sometimes we got no fight left. Sometimes all we can do is lie on the floor and let the fight roar around us. It doesn’t have to mean we surrender. It doesn’t mean we give up. It’s simply all we can muster in circumstances way bigger than we are. In these moments we don’t seek answers. We have no energy to understand. All we need is to be reminded how much Jesus loves us. In these moments He tells us we are loved and priceless. Sometimes we cry. Sometimes we can’t even muster tears. But He understands. He lived through Gethsemane. So He just sits with us. He even has the gall to smile at us. When He knows we can handle it, He whispers (again) all the promises He has for us. We sigh. We know what comes next: He’ll give us strength and help us up, to lead us back into battle. But right now, can we just be here together in the quiet? He smiles even bigger…

Conversation with God

Here’s a typical conversation I have with God. His responses are in bold. Mine are italicized. Regular font would be the narrative of me processing the conversation…

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18

Let me rephrase: Though the business calls don’t come and your house is in desperate need of repair, though your vehicles don’t run and your mom is in the hospital, though your daughter is diagnosed with cancer and your son needs eye surgery, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

I can fill in the blanks of this verse with all kinds of troubles from which we are suffering, but the meaning stays the same:

“No matter my circumstances, I will rejoice in God.”

Wikipedia says, “The major theme of Habakkuk is trying to grow from a faith of perplexity and doubt to the height of absolute trust in God.” That’s what God is doing in my life. I have been perplexed with all that’s happened, while God unctions me to a deeper trust of Him.

I’ve looked around and questioned God’s timing, His allowance of things, and even His word. I wonder how so much bad can happen to those who sincerely want to live God’s will in their everyday lives…who truly just want to show His glory in everything.

Job 2:10 (NKJV) “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”

When God does speak, it’s promises of blessings and prosperity; of provision and comfort. He tells me He sees and understands.

Habakkuk 1:5 (NKJV) “Look among the nations and watch–Be utterly astounded! For [I will] work a work in your days [Which] you would not believe, though it were told [you.]

Well, God, You are on point with that…I am struggling to believe. God, do you see what I see, because it looks dismal down here. Truly, God…

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV) 8 “For My thoughts [are] not your thoughts, Nor [are] your ways My ways,” says the LORD. 9 “For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Well…apparently so…so let me see it Your way…let me only do what You want…

Jeremiah 32:42 (NKJV) “For thus says the LORD: ‘Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them.

So, You are telling me that as bad as all this is (and it’s REALLY bad, God) it will end up being that good huh? That’s gonna be some really awesome stuff, God…

I read a commentary yesterday that said, “Before God blesses someone or gives them authority of any kind, He tests them over a period of time to see if they will be worthy of the blessing or calling.

So I wait. I take one day at a time. I try to roll with the punches and live my life as if I’m in an obstacle course, jumping the next hurdle. I try to keep my mind on the crazy stuff I’ve seen God do…miraculous amazing things…and I wait for Him to do it again.

Christmas Challenge Extended

I want to extend a challenge. Can you take one year and choose to strip down Christmas to the point it is ONLY about Christ? No gifts. No trees. No holiday decor. No Santa. Just Jesus.

Can you let it all go to simply drink in the simplicity of the entrance of the Messiah into the world? He had no pomp and circumstance. He had a stable and a manger. His fanfare were curious shepherds. Angels proclaimed his birth in song. Why can’t we just do the same? Yes, magi brought gifts to Him later, but not to each other. Let’s give Him the gift of selflessness and step out of traditions and follow Him.

Can you leave behind all the stuff? Perhaps participating in this challenge just one year may forever change the way you celebrate Christmas from now on. I admit, it’s hard. People, especially loved ones, are not going to understand. It was hard for us too, but we found something so much greater than all the holiday fun and traditional activities…we discovered the beauty of a simple Savior.

Love to all.

Versions of the Bible…

I remembered something from my stand this morning I wanted to share with standers out there…kinda like a public service announcement:

Not all modern translations of the Bible say God hates divorce.

Malachi 2:16 (NKJV) “For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.”

I remember sharing this verse with my husband during our separation. It seemed to never make a dent. He kept pursuing a divorce, and I was baffled. It wasn’t until after he came back home, when he sincerely asked me about it. He said, “You kept saying the Bible says God hates divorce, but I never could find that.” (What!!??) So we looked it up together only to discover his Bible didn’t say it! He reads the English Standard Version (ESV) and it totally omits that part!


Since then, we’ve discovered other versions leave it out as well, like the updated New International Version (NIV). The 1984 version of NIV has it, but for some reason it was removed in 2011 and the 1984 version has virtually been erased from the internet.

We’re not the kind of people who believe there is only one authorized version of the Bible, but we do take issue with tampering with truth. We still utilize these versions for varying nuances of scripture, but we also feel it’s important others realize vital truth is removed.

Not sure why I felt compelled to write this. As always, I hope it helps someone.


I haven’t known how to start this post. All I know is that I have been walking in darkness. It’s not the darkness of wickedness and sin; I don’t even know how to describe it other than darkness. My daughter’s diagnosis sent me on a journey surrounded by darkness. I looked around and saw nothing else. I couldn’t see which way was up. I couldn’t see anyone else. It was simply…dark.

Before this journey, I would say a child of God can’t walk in darkness, because darkness equates to despair and hopelessness. But, I wasn’t hopeless, nor despairing. Actually, if I didn’t have the promise from God my daughter was gonna be ok, I wouldn’t make it on the journey at all. The darkness would have consumed me. Period. End of discussion.

So, here I was in a paradox, walking in complete darkness, but clinging to hope. It was so dark, I was desperately looking in any direction for a kindness from others or anything that would give a moment’s reprieve from the darkness, like a simple cup of coffee. Yet, God was showing me something in the darkness: He was there too.

We seem to visualize God surrounded by light separate from us while we’re surrounded by darkness. But somehow that’s just not the case. He’s still light, but He’s in the darkness with us. It sounds crazy, but why should I be surprised that darkness doesn’t cancel out the light that surrounds Him? I just couldn’t understand why I was only catching fleeting shimmers of light when I knew He was there, kinda like fireflies on a summer evening. Then He showed me so much I never knew about darkness:

God acknowledged my darkness:

Job 23:17 (NLT) Darkness is all around me; thick, impenetrable darkness is everywhere.

Job 19:8 (NLT) God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness.

You really can feel darkness:

Exodus 10:21 (NLT) Then the LORD said to Moses, “Lift your hand toward heaven, and the land of Egypt will be covered with a darkness so thick you can feel it.”

God sees darkness different than we do:

Psalm 139:12 (NLT) but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

Even God is shrouded in deep darkness at times:

Deuteronomy 5:22 (NLT) “The LORD spoke these words to all of you assembled there at the foot of the mountain. He spoke with a loud voice from the heart of the fire, surrounded by clouds and deep darkness. This was all he said at that time, and he wrote his words on two stone tablets and gave them to me.

Although He can be shrouded in darkness, there’s no darkness (i.e. evil) found in Him:

1 John 1:5 (NLT) This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.

We can trust God knows what’s hidden in the darkness we just can’t see:

Daniel 2:22 (NLT) He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he is surrounded by light.

Job 12:22 (NLT) “He uncovers mysteries hidden in darkness; he brings light to the deepest gloom.

There’s also treasures in the form of lessons that, unfortunately, are only found in the darkness:

Isaiah 45:3 (NLT) And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness–secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.

When God so chooses, He’ll light up the darkness I am in:

2 Samuel 22:29 (NLT) O LORD, you are my lamp. The LORD lights up my darkness.

Isaiah 9:2 (NLT) The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.

Isaiah 45:7 (NLT) I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the one who does these things.

Isaiah 42:16 (NLT) I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.

1 John 2:8 (NLT) Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.

In all honesty, prior to all of this, I felt like God’s light should/would keep darkness at bay. But why wasn’t it? Why was I surrounded by it with no escape, yet with hope? That’s when He showed me there are treasures hidden in it. Was I willing to walk in the darkness to discover them? Well, I didn’t have much choice, did I? But I found comfort in purpose.

I’m thankful to say, I’m not walking in darkness anymore. Life is almost completely back to normal. Our daughter is doing so well. She still takes a lot of chemos and the treatment plan will last over 2 years, but it’s a journey we are on.

So, what did I learn in the darkness? In essence: God can shroud Himself in darkness, but darkness can’t be found in Him. Darkness can be so thick we can feel it, but He can always see through it. God makes the darkness, and even leads us to it. Yet, He reveals hidden things through it. I don’t think all the lessons He wants me to learn have been revealed yet, but I have picked up some treasure along the way: I have learned that every single kindness shown to a person in their darkest hour breathes life into them, giving them strength to take one more step. I’ve learned so many ways of bringing others comfort and demonstrating the love of Jesus. Most importantly, I’ve learned that God is our Light in the darkness, even when we can’t see the light in the darkness. It’s a head scratcher, I admit. What is pivotal, we MUST trust God in our darkness and not ourselves:

Isaiah 50:10-11 (NLT) 10 Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God. 11 But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon fall down in great torment.

And here I leave you with God’s promise:

Micah 7:8 (NLT) Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.

John 1:5 (NLT) The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can NEVER extinguish it.

I don’t understand it all yet. God is very complex. But, I pray it brings someone comfort and hope.


God’s Promises

People sometimes ask, “How do you KNOW you have promises from God?” “How do you KNOW when God tells you something?” These are legitimate questions. God speaks in a variety of ways, but everything He speaks is ALWAYS confirmed in His word. He will NEVER say something that goes against His word! And more times than not, He speaks using His word.

How do we KNOW Ariel is going to be okay? That story has it’s roots in another miracle that I LOVE to share with anyone who will listen. 🙂

It was almost a month to the day after JW came back home. God had restored our marriage. Although the first few months of restoration are VERY hard, it was still the first fulfilled promise God had made to me. I was about to be informed of the second.

JW was offshore and I was journaling in my prayer chair. As I’m writing, I hear, “I’m pregnant.” I stop writing. “Did I just hear that?” I wasn’t even journaling/praying anything about children! Just like now, I had my walls covered with various scriptures of promise God had given me during the days of standing for my marriage. After I’d stopped writing, I looked up and my eyes fell on:

Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

“What?!” Ok, so I honestly ignore that and go back to journaling, only to look up again and have my eyes fall on:

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

“Ok, this is too weird!” I start journaling what I was experiencing because it was just so obvious and REAL. As I’m writing about what is taking place, I look up a final time to have my eyes rest on:

Luke 1:45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord will fulfill His promises to her!

“Really, God, the very words spoken to Mary after You tell her she’s pregnant? Ok, ok, I get the message!”

Needless to say, nine months later we had our first child! 😀 God does speak to us, and in the most amazing ways. We just have to quiet ourselves and listen. I also highly recommend posting God’s word all over the place! 😉

So, back to the promises for Ariel…

I had just gotten back to Ariel’s hospital room after a very serious conversation with her oncologist. Her diagnosis had been confirmed and now came the part where we had to decide to let them “treat” her…the weight of the world was on my shoulders. You have to understand, JW and I had already had this conversation about ourselves. Last year, both of our dads had been diagnosed with the C-word. “Treatments” nearly killed my dad until he finally stopped them. And we just lost JW’s dad a few months ago after a year of “treatments!” We wouldn’t choose those “treatments” for ourselves, but not one time did we ever consider the possibility of having to make that decision for our tiny children!!!! Now, here we were, faced with signing paperwork detailing all the possible side effects from common to catastrophic that gave consent to give those very “treatments” to our baby girl!

I crawled in that hospital bed beside my baby girl and snuggled against her, my heart heavy, my head whirling. “God, what are we to do?” “How can we do this?” “How are You to get the glory in all this?” “We don’t want to follow the world’s way/wisdom…”

It was then that I looked up from that hospital bed and my eyes fell on the underlined words in this verse I had posted on her walls the night before:

Daniel 6:23b So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God.

I looked down and I wondered. Then I looked up again and my eyes rested on the capitalized words from this verse across the room:

Genesis 50:20-21 “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, DO NOT BE AFRAID; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

“God, are You saying we have to go through this? That Ariel will not be harmed by these “treatments?” “God, is this what You are saying?”

All this took place while JW was still meeting with the doctor. I decided then, that as the God-given authority in our home, whatever JW wanted to do, we would do. Just then, the doctor and JW walked in with the papers in tow. He looks at me and says he thinks we should sign the papers and consent to the treatments. I said, “OK.”

From that day on, we’ve had peace in the midst of the turmoil. Peace beyond my belief. Now, just because we have peace, doesn’t make anything we experience less horrific. It is so painful watching your baby girl get bigger and bigger from the steroids given her. It’s hard to see her depressed and emotional from those same steroids. It’s difficult to see her lie around all day long watching movies, because she has no energy or interest in anything else. It’s unbelievable knowing she’s losing her hair. 😦 This is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. Yet, I KNOW God has given us promises, and that is how I make it each day. And each day, brings us closer to the fulfillment of those promises.

Philippians 4:7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Painful Memories

I hurt. The load I’m carrying is crushing. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe. I’m exhausted. I don’t sleep well. I want to turn back time to before my baby girl got sick. I flip through the pictures on my phone, right before her diagnosis and I long so much to be back in that place where we didn’t know. A time when we were happy. No doctors. No hospitals. No blood transfusions. No chemo. None of it. I finally had to change my home screen pic on my phone. It was a picture of all three of my beautiful children the same day the first symptom occurred. I’ve always been so proud of my kids…so grateful, but that pic just caused me pain every time I opened my phone. Finally, my husband found a lovely picture of a 200 year old wisteria tree with purple everywhere. I changed the background, and that picture has brought relief.

Having to change my phone background reminded me of something similar I experienced during my marriage crisis. I loved my husband. I wanted him back home so bad, but every picture of us together only brought pain and questions. “Why did he leave?” “Weren’t we happy?” “What went wrong?” It was driving me crazy. Finally, I went through the whole house turning over pictures of us. I remember the relief it brought. I was still standing for my marriage, just without the constant jabs of pain.

Now, just like then, I believe in God’s promises that everything will be alright. One day, we will have happy days and smiling pictures again. These dark days will not last forever. But for now, I’ll turn the pictures over and cause a little less pain. Just wish I could switch off all the pain and sadness. Unfortunately, that’s what makes us more like Jesus.

Ecclesiastes 7:3 (NKJV)

Sorrow [is] better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.