Monday, March 29, 2010

Marriage Mondays ~ My friend Cindy

Welcome to Marriage Mondays! I hope my new gal friends from The Chapel in North Canton are joining us today! This weekend I had a sweet time of refreshment with these wonderful women at their retreat in Sugarcreek, Ohio. Our theme was "Passport to Peace," and we considered God's plan for His followers to know peace, as revealed through the Sermon on the Mount. My friend Kristi was my host, and it was great to be together! Kristi is in the middle of a challenging 2 week series of posts called "Redeemed." Thanks to Danielle, Natalie, Bettye, Kristi, Patti, and Peggy for the joy of serving with you!

Today I'm excited to have my bloggy friend, Cindy from She Sparkles, guest posting for me. I wish she was sitting on my couch sharing a cup of coffee with me, but inviting her to my "blog home" is the next best thing. I have been so challenged and inspired by Cindy's past testimony and present joy. I know you'll enjoy meeting her today as she shares about some real challenges and real hope in this adventure called "marriage."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Hi there! I’m Cindy from She Sparkles. I am a blessed mommy to 4 adorable kids, married to one of the greatest guys ever, and passionate about living a full, passionate life with Jesus! I’m thrilled to be hanging out at Come Have a Peace today on Marriage Mondays! :)

First, I should let you know ~ I am not a marriage expert. :) I am just a simple girl, head over heels in love with Jesus and my man, trying to build a strong marriage and enjoy everyday life with my family. Thankfully, by God's grace, my husband John and I will celebrate 10 years together this August! (Can I get a "woo hoo"?!)

I wish I could tell you it's been 9 1/2 years of pure bliss ~ but, unfortunately, I'd be stretching the truth! In fact, a few years ago, we went through a very challenging season that almost ended our marriage.

For today’s Marriage Mondays post, I’d like to share part of that journey with you. My hope is that our marriage story would be a reminder of God’s faithfulness in the midst of difficult times (because let’s be honest…marriage can be hard sometimes…Amen?! :)

The verse that I clung to during this difficult time is Proverbs 18:10....

The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are SAFE.

It was Fall 2003. To give you a snapshot of our life...our kids were ages 9, 2, 10 months, and I was 8 ½ months pregnant. I was working full time as a ministry leader at my church. It was a huge job overseeing 2700+ kids and 1000 volunteers. John was a stay at home dad, which was also an exhausting job!

I was at a low place - emotionally, physically, spiritually.
John was at a low place - emotionally, physically, spiritually.
Our marriage was at a very low place - emotionally, physically, spiritually.

John has struggled with depression in the past, and for this season of our life, it was rearing its ugly head again. And for me, as stresses, worries and fears were pursuing me – I was running….but to all the wrong things. Not to bad, illegal things – but running, stuffing the pain... none the less.

Finally, one day I just couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t keep up the fa├žade that everything was ok. I couldn’t handle the stress, the tension of our marriage, the ministry pressures, baby stuff – I was just done. Have you ever been there before??? Just done. I remember saying to John one night– "I have to get out of here! I can’t take it anymore!!" So he tucked the kids in, and I left. I drove around for awhile, ended up at a bookstore and finally….Stopped.

I bought a journal, borrowed a Bible and finally Stopped running and Acknowledged my needs to the Lord. I wrote for hours in my new journal. Not long, poetic things…but more like,

“OK God, here’s my reality ... (like He didn’t know (smile))
My job is overwhelming
My marriage is overwhelming
This pregnancy is overwhelming
My life is overwhelming
I need You, I need You, I need You!!”

And then after dumping on the Lord, I began to Fill my mind with Truth. I wrote things like…. “God You are a Delivering God! You have delivered me from so much in my life, You can deliver me from these troubles too. You are a Loving God. Infuse us with Your love. You are Powerful. Reveal Your Power to us!”

I left the bookstore that night feeling so much better, so much lighter. Expecting God to show up.

And He did...just not how I had pictured it. In fact, sometimes as we pray, things get harder before they get better. But it doesn’t mean the Lord isn’t working!! For our family, within a few days –

John went away for 3 weeks to an inpatient treatment facility to work on his depression. (For 3 weeks, while I was 8 ½ months pregnant).

The church allowed me to go on a paid early maternity leave so my work responsibilities were gone. It also meant I had lots of time at home and couldn’t "run" to my job to get away from the pain.

The Elders put together a plan of round the clock meals, child care, cleaning, snow shoveling – you name it… Do you know how humbling it is to have random people coming in and out of your home, when you really just want things to be “normal” again?

I started seeing a wonderful Christian counselor to help me sort some things out. It also meant dealing with some hard stuff and looking at places where God really was calling me to grow.

I cannot even imagine where we would be today if I would have kept "running" during this season. It wasn’t until I


Acknowledged my need for the Lord and cried out to Him,

Filled my mind with Truth, and

Expected Him – that God showed up. And show up He did!!!

God has used that very difficult season to strengthen our marriage and our family in unbelievable ways!

My husband John (who, by the way, is very comfortable with me sharing this part of our journey if it might bring hope to anyone struggling with depression, or journeying with someone who struggles with depression) –

John is in a good place emotionally, physically, spiritually.

Our marriage is in a really great place.

I’m in a healthy place.

Our family is in a healthy place.

By running to the strong tower, God provided the safety and security we needed to get through a very difficult season.

S - Stop

A - Acknowledge

F - Fill

E - Expect

Your turn!! How about for you?? When marriage troubles, worries, or the stresses of everyday family life pursue you – where do you run????

May I remind you of the Powerful Words of Proverbs 18:10....

The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are SAFE.

Let's pray....Oh Lord, Thank You that You are our Strong Tower. That You desire us to run to You. Please Fill our hearts and our minds with the TRUTH of Who You are and what You are able to do!! Show us Your goodness and Your Power and Your Love. Strengthen our marriages, Lord, and protect us from the enemy and his schemes. May we experience all that You have for us. In Jesus' Powerful and Life-changing Name. Amen!!!

If you write a post you'd like to link today with Marriage Mondays, I would love for you to: 1) click the MckLinky on the end 2) link back to this post 3) mention MM with a link in your post and 4) leave a comment. Feel free to copy the button

7 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Courtney (Women Living Well) said...

Cindy - Powerful post! Thank you so much for your transparency!!! And praise the Lord for the way he works!!

When we have a disagreement that is beyond me, I get out my journal too and I write the word of God in it - I like to write out I Corinthians 13.

Thank you for what you shared Cindy.

And Julie - you were RIGHT by where I live this past weekend - I wish I had known - I would have dropped by to meet you! Maybe next time :-)!
Much Love,

Kristi Stephens said...

Beautiful post, Cindy! I've been in that moment of desperation, journaling frantically in a coffee shop, too. :) God is good to hear and remember His people - He will never leave us alone in the battle.

Theresa said...

Cindy, thank you so much for sharing this. It was very encouraging. I've been in the same place that your husband was, struggling with depression, with my husband on the road for work about 20 days out of the month. Home with 4 children who we are homeschooling, 1 with extensive needs.

It was only by God's grace and soaking in His word that I felt hope and grabbed onto Him as our family walked out of that time.

Thanks again. :)

Sarah said...

awesome post!!! sometimes acknowledging that we need Him is the hardest part. we get wrapped up in the i can do it on my own. what a blessing that we have a God who is constantly here, ready to listen.

Sarah said...

awesome post! what a blessing that we have a God that is constant, always ready to listen.

Denise said...

Thank you so much for your post. Very encouraging!

Sonya Schroeder said...

What a great post Julie! No matter how long we are married we can always learn things from God to make it in His image.

Thanks for sharing

Serving with Joy,