Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Look What God Did---The Big Thirty!!!

Being goofy last New Year's Day. Maybe they'd had one two many dips into the chocolate fondue pot?

Thanks to my sis-in-law Anna (pictured above with Dad and Colter) for most of these great photos!

Today marks a very momentous day in my family. Thirty years ago today, my folks, Allen and Cindy, said their vows in a mountain meadow next to my mom's family's cabin, with all of their family and friends watching.

Many of those thirty years were very tough as they struggled with their differences and hurts; Dad carved out his own furniture business from the ground up, Mom raised three kids without much help. There were family losses and trials and the day-in, day-out difficulty of just paying the bills and reconciling different family backgrounds. A couple of times in my childhood things got so tough in their relationship that they were separated for a short time. It was hard on us kids to hear them fighting.

Things weren't too bad in high school and the many activities that come with having teens kept my folks fairly busy. But when their two oldest kids left home, all of a sudden a lifetime of hurt escalated into what we thought was the end. What my Mom and Dad didn't realize at the time is that they were on the crazy cycle and they didn't know how to get off and were so weary from years of fighting. Dad was unloving because he felt disrespected and Mom was disrespectful because she felt unloved. The cycle was too ingrained in their lives to stop it, so they thought, and they couldn't live in it any longer, especially as Christians, whose marriages are supposed to model the love Jesus has for His people. They felt like their marriage was the ultimate hypocrisy.

Meanwhile, I was in my second year of marriage and carrying our first child. My parents final separation drove me to tears many a night and I continually felt caught in the middle of their anger towards one another. As I considered my first child's coming birth, it was devastating to imagine having to take the baby to multiple grandparent's homes and to think of dealing with the possibility of them remarrying or being bitter, etc.

I often listened to Focus on the Family broadcasts while I cleaned house and one day they had Emerson Eggerich on talking about his new book, Love and Respect. I felt God nudging me to buy it for them. My parents had been reading tons of books and were counseling with a pastor, but nothing had gotten through to them yet.

Mom ended up swinging by the house to get the mail at Dad's house and found the book first. She took it to her place she was renting and read it. She was blown away! She was excited that Dad was going to read it next and since it came from me, instead of her, he was more receptive to reading it.

It's hard to say exactly what happened next, except that God used this book to open their eyes to their sin and to show them why they were constantly having problems. It was the 2x4 they needed across their foreheads. Dad was hit with the message that no matter how disrespectful your wife is, you must love her unconditionally. Mom was hit with the "new concept" which is rarely, if ever taught, even in churches, that a wife must respect her husband unconditionally, even if she feels he hasn't earned it. They both were amazed to realize the differences between men and women (he speaks blue, she speaks pink, he has blue hearing aids, she has pink hearing aids, etc.) and the ways that men and women can better understand each other and show love and respect to one another, as the Bible commands.

What a joy it was, just 2 weeks before Alathia Joy was born when my parents reunited and my Mom moved back home. My Dad's Men's Bible Study group was so happy for them, they offered to clean the log house top to bottom with him in preparation for her homecoming. If you know my Dad and how messy he is, you will realize what an awesome gift that was! I don't think he used the dishwasher once in the entire 3 months he lived alone! He mainly subsisted off of Campbell's Chunky soup and elk steaks. Those godly guys had the place sparkling for Mom and shortly thereafter both of my folks came out to Minnesota to visit their first new grandchild. We ended up moving back to Wyoming later that year when Ali was a baby.

Ever since God saved my parent's marriage through the book, Love and Respect, I have seen a major difference in both of them. Dad is much gentler, Mom is more respectful, and both of them speak well of the other and seem to enjoy one another's company, which are things that were absent throughout my growing up years. They are free to be the fun people they truly are now that the stress and tension of marital dissatisfaction is gone and they are facing and dealing with their own sin and pride. They have counseled at least 4 couples in trouble in the last few years, and have used the Love and Respect DVDs and book to show couples how to get off the crazy cycle and start living Biblically in their marriage. Our church and their church have hosted several Love and Respect Bible Studies and numerous copies have made their way around our town.
My kids get to visit Grammy and Boppa's house and see them enjoying a life together, and my brother and I have been encouraged to guard ourselves against making the mistakes our folks did in our own young marriages. My parents hope to continue to minister to couples in trouble throughout their lives and to continue passing out the book Love and Respect.

This week, upon hearing that they will have a 30 year anniversary, many folks are saying, "Congratulations! You made it! What an accomplishment! You've done good!"
But we know better!
My parents and I know that if God hadn't intervened they would have been divorced long ago. It is only the grace of God, His amazing work in their lives, that has preserved their marriage and blessed it! It is only by God's grace that any of us succeed in marriage or experience joy in this life!

If you are struggling in your marriage, I highly recommend you read the book Love and Respect and if possible, attend the conference, which I hear is wonderful. The movie Fireproof, which portrays a marriage in trouble and how the gospel can change people, is incredible. Watch it!

Join me in praising the Lord today that my parents are still married! They will celebrate their anniversary by going on a backcountry pack trip on horseback for a few days. Freezing mountain temps at night, the possibility of snow, the threat of Grizzly Bears, having to dig out your own toliet, and being many miles from the nearest vehicle isn't my idea of a good time, but they both love extreme wilderness camping and will have fun!


Randall and Rachel Beita said...

Wow! Isn´t God amazing! Stories like this give me hope.

I loved the fireproof movie!!

Heather said...

Congratulate them for me. And praise the Lord for His faithfulness!

Risha said...

Congrats to your parents and praise be to God! Thank you for sharing their story. I also love the principles of the book "Love and Respect." And "Fireproof" was fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Yea Lindsey,
I remember this time with you and I remember when you told me they were coming back together.
Praise God for healing and it's amazing what they can do for other couples.

Yey Mom and Dad Brown froma Wisconsin accent!!!!!!


Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing "real life" stuff. It's refreshing in blog-world, where we're tempted to put our best foot forward. Our families (as we) are NOT PERFECT! It is so much more helpful and encouraging to read one real life entry than ten "aren't we happy?" ones (Not that those are bad, but I sure find the tough stuff encouraging now and then!).

Praise God for His infinite mercy!

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