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Letting Go

Letting Go

By Christian Zapata

Have there been times in your life or in your marriage where it has been difficult to let go and allow the process to flow naturally? Have you felt the “need to be in control” be a factor in preventing a bigger blessing from occurring?

My wife and I were married on July 23rd, 2005, at St. Daniel the Prophet Catholic Church on Chicago’s Southwest side. In front of God, our family and friends, we professed our love for and our eternal commitment to one another. After an amazing reception filled with music, dancing and laughing our wedding day was over and our marriage began.

Prior to our wedding, we both were in the process of completing graduate studies and after graduation we were fortunate in obtaining gratifying careers in our fields of study. Joanne was employed as a Spanish high school teacher and I, a Family Therapist. One month prior to our wedding day, we purchased our first home. It was a fixer-upper, but it had character and we felt we could make it our own. We were off to a solid start with this marriage thing. We had completed advanced degrees, found gainful employment, and purchased our first home, all before our wedding day. Things were looking very good for us. As the years went on, Joanne and I both worked tirelessly in our careers, getting settled and receiving several promotions. We spent much time going out on date nights and at least once per year we planned very nice vacations. Together we saw the sunrises from the beaches of Santorini in the east and the sunsets from Cabo San Lucas in the west.

For about six years we felt we had everything we could need or want. But after many conversations, going back and forth, we realized that our lives were missing a very important piece: children. I guess we figured that we had gotten lucky that we had not had children so far since we were both heavily involved in our careers, volunteering and church. In typical Zapata family fashion, we decided to plan this out as well. We decided that the best time to have kids would coincide with my wife’s school schedule so she could be at home all summer long and my work schedule would not be so hectic. It made perfect sense in our minds and on paper. But as the weeks went on, nothing happened. No baby.

We started to get worried, seeking out medical advice about how to proceed. After navigating through the complicated HMO insurance process, we found ourselves sitting in the physicians’ waiting room of a fertility specialist. Honestly, the first appointment was a blur for the both of us. The nursing staff and doctor were talking about hormone injections, egg retrievals and AA quality embryos. We left the appointment feeling overwhelmed, scared and wondering if this was the right thing to do. We spent several days praying individually, together and seeking spiritual direction from our Priest. We were asking existential questions like, were we not supposed to have children? Or were we putting our will before God’s? After days of reading information packets, Google-ing everything we could find out about infertility, praying and engaging in a very affirming meeting with our Priest, we decided to move forward with the process. We were excited, but simultaneously nervous.

We began the first round of IVF and were asked to come back in three weeks to see if the embryo survived the transfer. These were the longest three weeks of our lives. The day arrived and the nurses completed a pregnancy test. They returned with disappointing news; no pregnancy. The doctors did not give us an exact reason why it did not work, but they recited a litany of statistics as a way to offer solace.

We started the second round of IVF and it was recommended that we increase the embryo transfer to three instead of one. The doctors again recited the statistics of multiple pregnancies and their accompanying risk. Despite this knowledge, we so longed for children of our own, we proceeded anyway. Again, we waited three weeks and upon return to the clinic, we heard the long-awaited, good news; congratulations you are pregnant… with twins! I don’t remember the drive home. We must have floated the entire way home. Having tried for so long and getting negative results and then finally hearing those magic words created such a feeling of joy and contentment that we thanked God for having His hand in the process and creating this opportunity for our family.

We were asked to come back two weeks later to check on the “babies.” During this two week period we spent all of our time online and in baby stores looking for two of everything. The feeling was indescribable. Our hopes and dreams had just been multiplied by two. At the next doctor visit, the nurse came out with a solemn look on her face and said, “sorry, but they didn’t make it.” Again, I don’t remember the drive home. The news was so devastating that we barely spoke a word to one another in several days. We were not angry at each other; we just were in our own worlds dealing with the shock and disappointment. We felt we had hit bottom and had no motivation to do anything else. Tensions were high in our home and neither one of us wanted to say the wrong thing to upset the other. It felt like we were walking on eggshells.

It was in this darkest moment where God shined the brightest light for us. It was in our moment of feeling out of control that we realized that we needed to fully surrender this process and truly leave it in the hands of God. We came to the self awareness that despite our prayers and saying we had faith; we really were the ones driving the process. My wife and I had many conversations about who we were, what we believed and ultimately who we wanted to be as individuals and as a family. We struggled a great deal in being able to fully “let go and let God.” Our entire lives had been defined by what we were able to accomplish by sheer will and determination. It was in our most broken state that we finally felt the most complete as a couple. During this entire process we were reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your understanding, in all ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

About Christian A. Zapata

Christian A. Zapata is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and he received his MSW (Masters of Social Work) from the Jane Addams College of Social Work. Christian has completed post-graduate training programs from both the Chicago Center for Family Health in Marriage and Family Systems Therapy as well as from the Illinois Child-Parent Psychotherapy Learning Collaborative through the Erickson Institute in Child-Parent Psychotherapy. Mr. Zapata has over thirteen years of experience providing multi-cultural therapy services to children, adolescents and adults. Mr. Zapata currently serves as the Social Work Supervisor for Friedman Place where he manages programs and provides therapeutic services to adults who are blind or visually impaired.

Christian A. Zapata
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30 Day Devotional

This resource can help you and your family encounter Scripture together and make deeper connections with God and each other. This has been designed to be used during the month of July, but you can use it at any time. We suggest you begin Day 1 on a Sunday because some activities are designed around the weekend and Sunday worship. God bless you!

Family Bridges App

Books too “last century” for you? This customized app will give you access to resources to manage your own growth or even take the journey with a group of friends. What are you waiting for?

Marriage and Migraines

Marriage and Migraines

By Judy Oates & Steve Holt

Have you ever faced a circumstance or a crossroads in your marriage that required a very difficult decision? Maybe you are in that place now? Can you commit to allowing prayer and the peace of God be your guide?

I woke up with a horrible migraine, a chart-topper.

No, not today Lord, It’s my anniversary!
Of course, You know that God but please! Steve deserves a nice day. WE deserve it, God, Don’t we? A fun night out… an intimate evening together. Please, Lord, take the pain away.

Steve brought me coffee and flowers. With a kiss, he wished me a happy anniversary. He showed no signs of disappointment that I didn’t feel well and we might not be able to celebrate as planned. And this was a big anniversary. It was like our first and our thirtieth, even though it was our twelfth. Both Steve and I had been in previous marriages, so our combined time married totaled 30 years. Our marriage to each other was twelve years old at this point, but we had had a major setback in the past year. We’d been to hell and back dealing with the pain of infidelity and the healing only God could provide. Quite literally, my husband was moving his things back into our house that week. It was a new beginning for us, one blessed by a great measure of wisdom granted by God.

Things started out easy for us. He knew I struggled with chronic “daily” migraines, which actually means 15 days or more a month, and that’s about how many I have each month. I had been plagued all my life with migraines, first diagnosed at age 5. As I’ve grown older, they’ve become progressively worse. I had just been diagnosed with a heart problem, as well, and had just begun a regular heart medication routine. With it my, my body went through a lot of changes and everything got worse. Each year that went by, I had more physical problems. He became a caregiver more than a husband and lover. For my sake, Steve retired early to support me emotionally and physically, and to assist me in traveling around the country seeking medical help – trips which consumed much of our time and energy and left us feeling drained, worn out…and that’s not even considering the side effects of the medications.

As Steve became more of a caregiver than my husband, we both started to recognize that the roles were changing – but by the time we did, we were fighting a lot and didn’t know what to do to fix the mess we were in. We blamed everything on my health, but the truth be told, the problems ran deeper than that. Our communication was poor and we were no longer praying together. I think we both just wanted something or someone to blame. Fortunately, God knew us better than we knew ourselves – and had a plan to help us learn.

My immediate thought, when asked about marriage and prayer, is that we wouldn’t have the one without the other. I don’t know of a reason I would want to try. We have a loving Heavenly Father who knows and loves us completely, He wants the best for us individually and in our marriages and He knows us better than we know ourselves. He has a plan for our future and he has the power, wisdom and strength to see that plan through. He has the ability to work all things together for our good no matter what our perception is. He will guide us with His peace (or through our own lack thereof) if we will only enter into a relationship with Him – and we do that by asking His forgiveness for our sins and entering a relationships with Him and getting to know Him through Bible study and talking with Him, or in other words, prayer.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

About Elsie and John Radtke

John and Elsie worked through the former experiences they each held and forgiving themselves. As they forgave, they were able to move forward and experience a new beginning. Forgiveness is a journey. It does not mean forgetting, excusing or tolerating. Forgiveness will allow you to exchange the feelings of resentment and bitterness carried over from past experiences to peace and gratitude. Click on this program to embark on a journey of forgiveness.

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30 Day Devotional

This resource can help you and your family encounter Scripture together and make deeper connections with God and each other. This has been designed to be used during the month of July, but you can use it at any time. We suggest you begin Day 1 on a Sunday because some activities are designed around the weekend and Sunday worship. God bless you!

Family Bridges App

Books too “last century” for you? This customized app will give you access to resources to manage your own growth or even take the journey with a group of friends. What are you waiting for?

Our God of Second Chances

Our God of Second Chances

By Elsie & John Radtke

What will you do today to show your spouse the importance they hold in your life?

Marriage for a lifetime is an expectation that every newly married couple shares. While the challenges of marriage and family life have yet to reveal themselves to the newlyweds, they will face these things together with the hope of satisfactory outcomes. Unfortunately, this does not work out for all couples. Both John and I had married with the clear intention of having it last forever. That was not to be so.

The effects of alcoholism and mental illness impacted each of our previous marriages in ways that did not allow either of us to stay in the respective marriage. The decision to end each marriage was full of torment, doubt and extreme sadness. Where had the love and respect gone? Why had we allowed it to disappear and force us to make choices that tore our hearts apart? The children we shared with our former spouses now found they were living in two worlds of strained relationships and financial jeopardy. It was not the dream either of us had for our family.

As divorced parents, we learned to navigate the tumultuous waters of single parenthood. In some ways life became calmer but it also was missing a depth of intimacy with another adult. Eight years after my divorce and two years after John’s divorce we met at a church leadership training event for Divorce Ministry. Not looking for a relationship, it took a few months before we chanced an outing. Only after a few weeks of frequent “outings” did we begin to understand that we were dating. It was my fifteen year old who told me that I now had a boyfriend. Odd, this was not part of my plan at all.

After three or four months of seeing one another a couple of times every week, I began to think it was too cumbersome to be a single mother with three teenaged children and to sustain a relationship with this man. I took my concerns to a meeting with my spiritual director. I told her I wanted to end the relationship and keep things in my life uncomplicated. She looked me right in the eye and challenged why I felt this way since I was obviously having a good time with this man. I made a list of my excuses to her and she gently took my hand and said, “Why do you think you are not worthy of the love of this man?” I felt tears come to my eyes with the stinging truth of her statement. She urged me to stop thinking so much and to let God work in our lives. I was holding on too tight. I was also still punishing myself for the divorce.

I thought about what she said. I prayed to God to help me receive this love if that is what was best for both of us. In time, that is what happened. After a year and a half of dating, we became engaged and married six months later. We had a second chance of a loving and good marriage. God was clearly in the center and we both trusted each other and him.

Between us we have six young adult children and knew that our decision to marry might be a challenge for them. They firmly told us that we would not be The Brady Bunch. We decided to marry in the chapel of an orphanage we help support in Miatcatlan, Mexico, near Cuernavaca. We pulled together our resources and flew all the children to Mexico. We toured the area, spent time with the pequeῆos at the orphanage and celebrated our marriage in the chapel there surrounded by our children, a few friends and many of the 850 orphans who resided there. It was beautiful and memorable for us all.

Having just celebrated our fifteenth anniversary, we are grateful to be together. Our children respect the marriage we have modeled for them. It has not been easy, but when God is in the center of the relationship, there is better success. We have been blessed.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

About Elsie and John Radtke

John and Elsie worked through the former experiences they each held and forgiving themselves. As they forgave, they were able to move forward and experience a new beginning. Forgiveness is a journey. It does not mean forgetting, excusing or tolerating. Forgiveness will allow you to exchange the feelings of resentment and bitterness carried over from past experiences to peace and gratitude. Click on this program to embark on a journey of forgiveness.

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30 Day Devotional

This resource can help you and your family encounter Scripture together and make deeper connections with God and each other. This has been designed to be used during the month of July, but you can use it at any time. We suggest you begin Day 1 on a Sunday because some activities are designed around the weekend and Sunday worship. God bless you!

Family Bridges App

Books too “last century” for you? This customized app will give you access to resources to manage your own growth or even take the journey with a group of friends. What are you waiting for?

That Darn Argument!

That Darn Argument!

By Eunice Reed

My husband and I purchased our home when we were 22 at the urging of my husband’s boss. He was so insistent that he even referred us to a realtor. Our realtor really liked us and, seeing we didn’t have enough for the closing costs and down payment, put her own commission towards our home purchase under the condition we would pay her back in full in one lump sum whenever we had the money. Shortly after, the company I worked for laid off half of the staff in my department. I was among the ones to lose my job. In time I got another job and we slowly saved up the money we needed and payed our realtor back. Of course, this meant no furniture purchases for a while.

One day after a big argument with my husband I was really angry. Tired of seeing an empty living room, I drove to RoomsToGo and purchased an entire living room set, complete with tables. I hadn’t discussed this with my husband and proceeded to put it all on the credit card, breaking our no credit card debt rule. Of course, after I calmed down, it was too late to cancel my purchases, so a day before the furniture was to be delivered, I sweetly and lovingly informed my husband of what I had done, to ease the shock. I was looking forward to having my living room furnished, especially after waiting so long, so part of me was very excited the day the furniture came. I quickly realized, however, that measuring the pieces would’ve been a good idea. This set was big, and while it would’ve been okay to have a gigantic sofa, all the other pieces were just in the way. Every time I looked at it, it bothered me.

What I Learned

Shortly after the arrival of our brand new furniture, my husband and I went out. Imagine my reaction when, upon our return, I discovered black paw prints on all the pillows and cushions of our white & beige-striped sofa. The cat had gotten into a charcoal bag in the utility room and proceeded to walk all over the sofa with his dark, dirty paws. The stains never came out, so I kept them forever covered with a sheet. My husband – who is a very intense guy – never said anything negative about my “impulse buy”, but patiently scheduled the payments so we could pay it all off by the time our first daughter was born. Whenever I wanted to do something fun, we simply couldn’t because so much money was going towards our payments. This really set the tone for the rest of our marriage because even though my husband remained calm and didn’t lose his marbles, I never derived any pleasure from the monstrosity in my living room. I learned to wait until we agreed on something before any big project or purchase. No argument would ever push me to do something like this again.

This has been the backdrop in my mind while waiting for God’s intervention so many times in our lives. Psalm 27:14 says:

Wait for the Lord. Be strong and don’t lose hope. Wait for the Lord.”

Isaiah 30:18b says:

“…Blessed are all those who wait for him to act!”

Oh how hard it is to wait, but oh how worth the wait it is.

About Erik and Eunice Reed

Erik and Eunice have been married for 29 years and have 3 children finishing college and beginning their careers. Erik has been Director of Technology for a government agency for over fifteen years and is the founder of DblEdge Software. After working for over a decade in office automation Eunice made the decision to stay home with her children. She has recently founded MiPropertyValue.net and writes a blog on property and home-related issues.

Family portrait of Eunice and Erik Reed
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30 Day Devotional

This resource can help you and your family encounter Scripture together and make deeper connections with God and each other. This has been designed to be used during the month of July, but you can use it at any time. We suggest you begin Day 1 on a Sunday because some activities are designed around the weekend and Sunday worship. God bless you!

Family Bridges App

Books too “last century” for you? This customized app will give you access to resources to manage your own growth or even take the journey with a group of friends. What are you waiting for?

When the answer is “No, Not Now”

When the answer is “No, Not Now”

By Peter & Heather Larson

We learned a valuable lesson of God’s faithfulness as we began the journey of becoming parents. We had been married a few years and decided we wanted to start a family. Both of us were used to working hard, accomplishing goals, and getting the results we wanted and expected. We assumed that becoming parents would be no different. We had so much to learn…

It didn’t take too long before Heather was pregnant and it seemed like our plan was right on track. She began reading every book on expecting a baby. We knew at our first doctor’s visit that we should be able to see a little peanut-sized baby and to hear his or her heartbeat. When the ultrasound technician moved the wand, she found the tiny birth sack, but no sign of a baby. We learned later that this is called a “blighted ovum”. To us, it just meant heartbreak, fear and confusion.

We were shocked! So much hope and anticipation immediately melted into a heap of mixed up feelings. We went through many stages of grief, and not always at the same time. Initially, Heather was just angry at God for allowing such a thing to happen. How could He not give her the desire of her heart? I was numb, but still trying to be hopeful and take comfort in the fact that many couples experience miscarriages with their first pregnancy.

The fact that we weren’t experiencing the same reactions at the same time allowed us to hold one another up and grow deeper through this trial. Unfortunately, the lesson that ‘we are not in control’ didn’t end there. The next two years brought two more early term miscarriages and waves of discouragement rolling in like the tide. By this time, I was feeling mad at God, but Heather was beginning to experience God’s presence and comfort in new and deeper ways.

On one particularly difficult day, Heather was thinking “God just doesn’t know what it’s like to be a mother and lose a child.” Then, of course, she remembered Jesus. God knows so much more about the loss of a child! We realized that God could use these circumstance to show himself more deeply to us. Even if we are not in control, He is! Heather found Psalm 71 to be a great source of hope. Verses 20 and 21 jumped off the page and into her heart, renewing her with hope and reminding her that God would not leave us in despair.

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once more.”

Psalm 71:20-21 (NIV)

About Peter & Heather Larson

The Larsons have been married 22 years, and have 3 children (17,15, and 14). Peter is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, working on the team building the Gloo growth platform, and Heather is a certified Marriage Coach with Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored program. Together, they have co-authored four books on marriage and parenting with the Arps.

To learn more about their, see www.Gloo.us, www.hoperestored.focusonthefamily.com, or www.bridewellcoaching.com

Peter & Heather Larson
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30 Day Devotional

This resource can help you and your family encounter Scripture together and make deeper connections with God and each other. This has been designed to be used during the month of July, but you can use it at any time. We suggest you begin Day 1 on a Sunday because some activities are designed around the weekend and Sunday worship. God bless you!

Family Bridges App

Books too “last century” for you? This customized app will give you access to resources to manage your own growth or even take the journey with a group of friends. What are you waiting for?

How Big is Your Family? (Healing from Abortion Wounds)

How Big is Your Family? (Healing from Abortion Wounds)

By Anonymous

How big are our families? Do you see the lost and the hurting – the results of widespread abortion throughout our extended families, our community, our culture? Do you have grieving still to be done?

Do you have children? Do you love and seek to protect them? Did you have them when you were ready? Perhaps none of us are truly “ready” for parenthood when it comes, and we all dream of becoming parents with the right mix of ingredients – the right spouse, enough money, physical strength, and wisdom to care well for the fragile lives entrusted to us.

For far too many of us, our parenthood stories begin first with an abortion – a denial of our call to parenthood, even of our very humanity. So our true families are bigger than we see around us, and therefore contain an element of tragedy. Here’s my story of my bigger family – and how God has made it bigger in His love, if not in the number of children I can now hold.

I learned I was pregnant at age 18 – in college, after breaking up with my then-boyfriend, at the county health department. There was no way I could face becoming a mother then – or so I thought. I was broke, I had already rebelled extensively during my teen years to that point, and telling my parents that I had made yet another mistake – and so enormous – was unthinkable. So I froze. Not literally, but emotionally and intellectually. This could not be happening! If I just denied it, it would go away! Well, maybe with a little help from the medical clinic a friend told me about. I was thinking just enough.

So it was decided. I told my now ex-boyfriend that I needed some money. Not too much, in retrospect – only a few hundred dollars to get rid of “the problem.” A few short weeks later, I was lying on an exam table with people taking care of “it.” Then I was home. The subsequent discharge smelled awful, like rotten tuna – as if something . . . died. I continued to deny the horrible truth of what I had done. It was over (well, at least the physical part). And those little inklings of maternal instinct and that faint belly swelling? Oh, it was over now – onward with my studies, and no more thoughts of “it” (except when my mind would wander).

But “it” had happened – I had had a baby, a human life growing inside me, flesh of my flesh. I finished college, went on to grad school, and then – I was faced full force with the extent of my grave sin. Yes, I had rejected God’s capability to fully care for me no matter the circumstances, and I had played God myself – deciding matters of human life and death.

As I began to grasp the gravity of my sin, I came to believe that I was too bad, too horrible, for God to ever accept me as His child. But God is so gentle, and all-sufficient. He drew me close in steps of faith, with loving friends and a strong church around me, and showed me so clearly how no sin is too great for Jesus’ redeeming salvation. I came to understand that Jesus died on the cross FOR ME – to take the punishment for all the people who have had abortions and who have done and thought all sorts of other things that fall short of His holiness, goodness, and righteousness. I am His – and so was my unborn child.

Fast forward – I am now married, with two born children. I love helping pro-life organizations and living out my Christian faith. I’m so thankful for my forgiving and supportive husband. I’m still too ashamed to tell my born children that they have a sibling waiting for us in heaven. How could they ever forgive me? But we walk in grace and faith, and with the assurance that one day God will wipe away every tear. I long for that day. And in the meantime, I yearn to share God’s message of incomparable love, redemption, provision, and hope for all – born and unborn, guilt-ridden and free – as our society continues to grapple with abortion’s evils and deep consequences.

I love the Lord, for He heard my voice;
He heard my cry for mercy.
Because He turned His ear to me,
I will call on Him as long as I live.
The cords of death [or other trouble] entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, save me!”
The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the simple hearted;
when I was in great need, He saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.”

Psalms 116:1-7

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30 Day Devotional

This resource can help you and your family encounter Scripture together and make deeper connections with God and each other. This has been designed to be used during the month of July, but you can use it at any time. We suggest you begin Day 1 on a Sunday because some activities are designed around the weekend and Sunday worship. God bless you!

Family Bridges App

Books too “last century” for you? This customized app will give you access to resources to manage your own growth or even take the journey with a group of friends. What are you waiting for?

What Comes Your Way

What Comes Your Way

By Mike & Debbie Henderson

If you have received bad news or have gone or are going through a difficult experience, you may be wondering how you are going to get through it.

The morning of September 11th 2001 was different for so many people in so many ways, but for my wife and I it was a life changer. The news of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers was dominating the news and our office calls. It is a day we will never forget.

In all of the craziness of the day and for all its meaning, I will never forget the phone call from my wife. It was around 11:00 AM on that somber morning. My wife called and said. “Mike, the doctor just called, I have breast cancer”. As the tears welled up deep inside, all we could do is cry.

There were a lot of things we didn’t know. We didn’t know how bad it was and we didn’t know if it was life threatening, so we just cried. Those moments seemed like eternity for both of us. Inside my world was crashing down.

The news around the world shook me and caused me to wonder what was going on, but the news of my wife’s cancer was more devastating than anything either of us had ever faced before. It was during our conversation on the phone that my wife and I had determined that we both wanted answers.

I sat in my office chair trying to comprehend the news of my wife and cancer. I prayed and I prayed and then I would cry some more. My wife, at home, was doing the same thing. We were stunned. We both struggled inside.

I remember feeling inside that I had to let my wife go…a very difficult thing to do. As I was contemplating releasing her over to the Lord, a sinking feeling overwhelmed me. I remember praying, “Lord I don’t understand and I don’t know why but I give my wife to you. I don’t know what you have in mind but I am going to trust you for this moment.” I opened my bible and this verse jumped off the page at me. It is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (The Message Bible),

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”

It was comforting to me to realize that others have had to face this same problem also, and in some cases, so much more, and they came through it okay.

The days and months passed. I was at my wife’s side the whole time as she went through six months of chemotherapy and three months of radiation treatments. Admittedly, some days were harder than others.

I remember one day in particular when my wife had her third chemo treatment. She was lying in bed, hurting and unresponsive. She said, “Mike, I can’t do this anymore.” I could sense her desperation, so I laid down next to her and said, “Honey, let’s look at the clock and let’s try to make it just five minutes.” After we had made that first five minutes, we would do it all over again. We must have looked at the clock some 20 times that day. HE helped us get through a very difficult day

The 1 Corinthians 10:13 verse that jumped out at me hung on our refrigerator door for over a year. It was always there as a constant reminder to us the Lord Jesus was with us. It was so comforting to know that He promised we will never let us be pushed past our limit, even when everything inside says you are.

Today, my wife is cancer free. Praise God! I thank the Lord for her and for what HE has done in our lives and in the lives of my children. What we as a family learned during that difficult time has changed all of us.

About Mike & Debbie Henderson

Mike and Debbie have been married 41 years, have two children and four awesome grandchildren, ages 7,4,3,and 1. Mike, with the full support of Debbie, has been the Senior Pastor for the K-LOVE and Air1 radio networks for 17 years. They are listener supported ministries with 10 associate pastors on staff responding to our listeners’ needs all around the country and the world.

To learn more, visit www.Klove.comwww.air1.com and www.crisisresponse.org

Mike and Debbie Henderson
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30 Day Devotional

This resource can help you and your family encounter Scripture together and make deeper connections with God and each other. This has been designed to be used during the month of July, but you can use it at any time. We suggest you begin Day 1 on a Sunday because some activities are designed around the weekend and Sunday worship. God bless you!

Family Bridges App

Books too “last century” for you? This customized app will give you access to resources to manage your own growth or even take the journey with a group of friends. What are you waiting for?

Resolving Conflict

Resolving Conflict

By Bill Ferrell

Where are you in your marriage/significant relationship? How are you at resolving conflict? Do you move towards one another in a healthy way in order to address issues, or do you avoid conflict?

I picked my wife up from the airport as I did every Thursday night. She travels for her job and this was part of our weekly ritual. This reunion was always a highlight for both of us.

As we drove through Chicago to our home, we reconnected. She told me about her day and I told her about mine. I described a conversation I had with the neighbor. It involved a rabbit and a rotten oversized tomato. She laughed. I laughed. We felt connected. Ah – life is good.

Once we got home she went to the pantry to get some Trader Joe’s biscotti. She loves their biscotti. She swung the doors open, looked in and suddenly a perplexed expression crossed her face. She looked at me and asked, “Did you buy the biscotti this week?” “No,” I said.

She looked back into the pantry and stood there for a minute. Silently. As quickly as we had connected earlier – it felt like we were suddenly disconnected. Without saying another word, she walked up the stairs and to our bedroom.

I was confused. What happened? Why the sudden shift? I may be a little slow but I have been married long enough to know that something was not quite right. I traced back the order of events since I had picked her up. We had hugged, talked about our kids, discussed the weekend ahead, I told her the rabbit and tomato story, we came in, she looked into the pantry, and then that’s when it happened.

The sound of silence.

That was my first clue. Actually, it was my only clue. But that was enough. No biscotti. I know she loves her biscotti, but it couldn’t be that. Or could it?

I stood in the kitchen and looked at the clock. It was 10:30 p.m. I had a decision to make. Do I go upstairs and try to work this out with her tonight – whatever “this” is? I know from experience that it will take time and work.Or do I follow her lead, keep quiet, shut off the lights, and go to sleep? I knew the answer before I even seriously contemplated the question.

I went upstairs and waded in. It took a few questions to get to the core issue of her upset. And it wasn’t the lack of biscotti. No real surprise there. That was just a “trigger” for feelings she had experienced in our marriage for years – feeling neglected and unloved.

So I sat on the bed and listened. I worked at not being defensive or critical. The end result was that she felt loved and valued and we re-established the connection we had before. But it was actually even stronger.

Previously, I had spent too many years of our marriage avoiding conflict, which had damaged our relationship. I had been fearful of what might happen if I had addressed difficult issues head on. So I had chosen the path of least resistance. The result was a marriage that lacked true intimacy.

One day while reading the Bible, God spoke to me about how I had been in my marriage from this Scripture passage:

Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

God was encouraging Joshua to be the leader He had created him to be – and not to fear. There was no need to be afraid because God was with him.

This is not your typical marriage verse. And yet it was exactly what I needed to hear. I needed to be strong and courageous in order to be the husband God had called me to be. I needed to reject passivity and take the initiative to resolve conflict.

In the last six years we have worked hard on our marriage. It has required trusting God through some very honest and difficult discussions. There has been a lot of pain – but it has been pain with a purpose.

Along the way I have constantly been encouraged to be strong and courageous because God is with us. The result is a marriage that is far greater than anything we ever could have imagined.

About Bill and Leslie Ferrell

Bill and Leslie have been married for 31 years, have 2 children and 2 adorable grandchildren: ages 1 and 3. Bill has been in vocational ministry his entire adult career and is currently the Executive Director of Pinnacle Forum – a ministry to marketplace leaders. Leslie is the CEO of Big Idea, Inc., the makers of Veggie Tales. And she does love her biscotti!

Bill and Leslie Ferell
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30 Day Devotional

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