August 2018, Family Life

Family Life

Is Your Marriage Built on the Right Foundation?

Alton and TaShawnda Jamison are the founders of The Empowerment Zone, a ministry designed to “empower people for everyday life” through products, events and messages. In addition, they are the pastors of The Empowerment Zone in Baton Rouge, a church plant that will launch this fall. The Jamisons, who have two children, have been sharing the gospel together for over 17 years. They recently completed their first book, Purpose, Passion & Prosperity: 3 Keys to A Godly Marriage. For more information, visit

The Bible reminds us in Hosea 4:6 that people perish for a lack of knowledge. Marriages are also destroyed for a lack of knowledge. In our current society, people separate and divorce quicker than you can imagine. Marriage has become like cell phone service carriers … if you don’t like the service, you switch to someone else.

I submit to you that knowledge is the main ingredient missing in most marriages. Knowledge of what? Knowledge of the Word and its power. The Bible tells us in Genesis 2:24 that “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Most couples fail because they never become one flesh. One flesh is more than just sharing a house or a joint bank account. One flesh means that we both die to self and join in a way that no one can separate. One flesh means that even on our worst days, we find a way to push through because we our joined together both spiritually and naturally. In a social media society, marriage advice shouldn’t solely come from a Facebook post or an Instagram picture of your favorite celebrity couple. It must come from God’s Word, especially if you are going to build your marriage on a solid foundation. The Word is direct in its command in Joshua 24:15. “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

When the Word of God is paramount in a marriage, then your household will be in order. Why is the foundation of the Word so critical? Well, Jesus illustrates to us in a parable in Matthew 7:24-25. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”

When your marriage and family are built on the Word of God … when the rain, floods and the winds of life come, your marriage can endure. Your marriage may look good on paper, you may have the prettiest kids, a large home and the finest of cars. But if your foundation is not built on God’s Word, then nothing else matters. We are challenged in Mark 8:36 with the profound question, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” If you want your marriage and family to be strong, long-lasting and legacy-making, then exchange the world’s way and embrace God’s way. Storms will come in your marriage and family, but as a friend once said, “The good news about storms is that they all end at some point.”
Be encouraged and start building!

Family Life, June 2018

Family Life: The Divine Trinity, A Model for Marital Unity

Dennis and Jill Eenigenburg

The Divine Trinity: A Model for Marital Unity
By Dennis Eenigenburg*

The most profound and wonderful relationship in existence is found not in a grocery store tabloid, but in the Bible. Here, we find the dynamic and in many ways, mysterious relationship between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Bible presents them as the creators of the universe and intimate companions. The nature of the relationship of this divine society leaves many unanswered questions to our finite minds. On the other hand, the Bible reveals much we can apply to our own relationships. In the following, I would like to focus the application to marriage. The oneness and unity experienced in the Trinity of the Godhead can instruct us in our pursuit of marital unity.

  1. Like the Trinity, husbands and wives, while distinct as persons, have equal value.

In the Trinity: Each member has equal value.
One of the many passages illustrating the equal essence of the persons of the Trinity is Matthew 28:19 known as the “Great Commission.”
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
In the Marriage:  Each member has equal value.
“And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
In many cultures, including our own, women have been treated as less important than men. This attitude often leads to neglect, abuse and disrespect. As men and women we are image bearers of our Creator, and thus, of equal value before God. As a husband, I want to treat my wife as God’s special creation. She is not only my wife, but she is the princess daughter of the King of Kings through her faith in Jesus Christ. In I Peter 3:7, husbands are reminded to “show honor” to their wives as fellow heirs of God’s grace.”

  1. Like the Trinity, husbands and wives have unique, complementary roles.

In the Trinity: The members have complementary roles.
One example of the unique roles within the Trinity is illustrated by their roles in the redemption of mankind, from slavery to sin to the freedom of Salvation. Paul, in Ephesians 1, tells us we have been:
Predestined by the Father. “He predestined us to adoption as sons.”  V. 5
Purchased by the Son. “In Him we have redemption through His blood.” V. 7
Preserved by the Spirit. “You are sealed in Him the Holy Spirit of promise.” V. 13
In terms of the hierarchy of the Trinity, there are also distinct roles. Jesus, in His prayer to the Father, recorded in John 17:18, said this: “As you have sent me into the world, I have sent them (the disciples) into the world.” The one sending is exercising authority over the one sent. The sent one is submissive to the one sending. In the Godhead, there is a voluntary order of authority. Jesus says of the Holy Spirit,“for if I do not go away the Helper (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go I’ll send Him to you.”(John 16:7)
In the Marriage:  The members have complementary roles.
Most of the attitudes and actions that produce a healthy marriage are the same for both husbands and wives. We are to love each other with divine love found in I Corinthians 13. We are to prefer one another as Christ preferred us over His own well-being. We are to pray for each other and speak the truth in love. We are to raise our children in a way that points them to Christ. But there is also a unique role given to each husband and wife. The wife, for example, is given the honor of conceiving and bearing children. Children are eternal beings with great potential to bring honor and glory to God. The husband, illustrating the role of Christ and the Church, has been given the responsibility to lead, love, provide and protect his wife.
“Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church and gave Himself up for her.”  (Ephesians 5:25)
The wife is called to support that imperfect leadership as a way of honoring God. “Wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22) While in many other relationships, women may be in authority over men, marriage is a place where the headship/submission picture of the relationship of Trinity is to be painted.

  1. Like the Trinity, husbands and wives are unified by common purpose of mutual honor and affirmation.

In the Trinity:  The members seek to bring glory and honor to each other.
One of the consistent themes that dominates the purpose of the Trinity is to honor one another by revealing the worship-worthy attributes of each other. One of the words used to describe the way the members of the Godhead honor each other is the word “glorify.  To “glorify” means to “make known or to reveal the greatness of another’s works or character.” Jesus said this about His crucifixion.
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.”(John 13:31)
In the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross, the Son and the Father would be glorified.  In other words, the titanic love, sacrifice and grace behind salvation would be revealed and give creation a cause for eternal praise and worship. Speaking of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “He shall glorify me, for He shall take of mine and reveal it to you.” (John 16:14)
Over and over again, we see the individuals in the Godhead displaying the value and the virtues of the other members of the Godhead.
In the Marriage: The members seek to bring honor to
each other and their Lord.
When we survey the “one another” passages in the Bible, we find that we too should affirm and honor each other. In marriage, this includes being thankful, giving compliments, using words of affirmation and acts of service. Just as the members of the Trinity seek to exalt one another, so should we in our marriages and all relationships.  The real unifier, however, is when husbands and wives make it their common priority to glorify God … to live in a way that reveals the character of Jesus Christ living through them. A couple joined together in a bond of worship and obedience to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit will experience two kinds of oneness, oneness with God and oneness with each other. This oneness brings joy and mutual enrichment to marriage and an impact on the world as they reflect the likeness of their Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus put it this way: “The glory which you have given me, I have given them: that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them, and you in me, they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that you did send me and did love them, even as you have loved me.” (John 17:22-23)
In a world looking for role models, there is no greater relationship to study and emulate than one revealed in the Divine Trinity.
*Co-author with Jill Eenigenburg of The Heart of Marriage.

“Dennis Eenigenburg and his wife Jill lead a ministry called Equipping Network.  Their goal is to serve underserved “shepherds” primarily in third world countries.  One of the tools they use is a marriage seminar they authored called “The Heart of Marriage.”  Since 2012 they have taught pastors and church leaders in 13 countries. In May they taught Heart of Marriage at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Liberia.   Last year they celebrated 50 years of marriage with their three married sons and 11 grandchildren.”

August 2016, Family Life

A Match Made in Heaven

by Lisa Tramontana

Faith Drew This Couple Together

Steven works for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, and Mauree is owner of Baby Boot Camp of Baton Rouge, a stroller fitness class for new moms.
Steven works for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, and Mauree is owner of Baby Boot Camp of Baton Rouge, a stroller fitness class for new moms.

Mauree Harris and Steven Brooksher saw something special in each other when they first met … an inner glow of sorts. It turned out to be a strong faith, something they had in common, something that grew along with their relationship. Both were active in their church, St. Aloysius, and after less than a year of dating, they became engaged. Mauree and Steven are now the parents of three children and recently celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary. They talk about how faith brought them together and keeps them committed to the family they are raising, the love they share, and the life they are building.

Q: What qualities drew you to each other when you first met?

M: I was drawn to Steven the first time I was introduced to him. Aside from his beautiful smile, I was drawn to his confidence, his genuineness and faith. His faith was the most important thing to him, so I knew he was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

S: I was drawn to Mauree’s simple beauty. Her faith was very important to her, and she was also passionate about serving those in need. She was very close with the Missionaries of Charity here in Baton Rouge, and I found that really neat. She had a strong sense of her values and beliefs, and I respected that deeply.

Q: Was there a moment that confirmed you had found the right partner/soulmate?

M: After our first date, I went home and told my roommate, ‘If I don’t marry this boy, I don’t know what I’ll do.’ I just knew! He supported my faith, and I never felt ashamed to share my faith with him.

S: I spent a lot of time praying about our relationship as we got more serious. I asked God for a sign that she was or wasn’t the one for me. We traveled on a mission trip to Honduras together, and that was a big confirmation — seeing her servant heart and the love she had for God’s people. After much prayer, I woke up one morning and knew she was the one. Once I knew, there was no need to wait any longer!  

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about your marriage?

M: Knowing that I’m never alone. It’s such a blessing to know that around 6 p.m., he will walk through the door and I will no longer be mothering three babies alone. It’s a blessing to be able to go out to dinner with my best friend whenever I need it, to celebrate the joys of life together, to tread through the valleys of life together. I can ALWAYS count on him to find the positive in every situation. I often take this for granted, but Steven is always there for our family.

S: The deep companionship that we share. We are very different in the way we feel and think about situations, but we always are committed to communicating through any challenges, and that helps us grow stronger. Also, I think the opportunity for two to become one is powerful. It can be very challenging to accomplish that, but it is a real blessing.

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of marriage?

M: Agreeing to disagree sometimes. We have pretty opposite personalities and ways of doing things. At times it’s a beautiful blend, but other times, it can be difficult.

S: The “dying to self” part. Everyone at some point thinks they’re entitled to take a break, enjoy themselves, do what they want to do. But to be a truly good husband and father, I know that I have to be willing to serve my wife and children, not expecting anything in return. I have to make sacrifices. I have to let go of parts of my personality, parts of myself, so the two (husband and wife) can become one.

Q: You both have careers. How do you keep your life balanced?

M: We hold each other accountable. There are times when one of us has to encourage the other to step away, put work aside, and focus on our marriage and family. It’s not easy, but we know if we put our faith and family first, we will be more fruitful in our workplaces.

S:  We have to constantly keep things in perspective. If we place God first, our relationship second, our kids third, and our lives fourth, we can keep that balance.

QHow do you keep your marriage strong/happy?

M: We take time to be together — just the two of us. We schedule date nights and trips away. These times are good for our souls and for our marriage. We are blessed with parents and good babysitters!

S:  Healthy communication, sacrifice and prayer.

Steven and Mauree Brooksher with their children, Christopher, 6; Marguerite Jane, 3; and Anna Beth, 7 months.
Steven and Mauree Brooksher with their children, Christopher, 6; Marguerite Jane, 3; and Anna Beth, 7 months.

Q: What part does your faith play in your marriage?

M: It is our everything. Marriage and parenthood brings us to our knees at times. We are so thankful for the gift our faith. We know where to turn the minute our feet hit the floor and our heads hit our pillows. Our faith is the bond that holds our marriage and family together. It allows us to experience the joy of one another, to forgive one another when we fall short, and to offer encouragement to one another.

S:  Faith is the center of our lives. Everything we strive to do comes from our relationship with Christ. We strive to make sure He is at the center of our family.

Q: As parents and Christians, what are your hopes/dreams for your children?

M: I pray that their faith directs their paths, and that they live a fruitful and prudent life. I pray that they are able to experience the joys of life daily, that they are always optimistic and positive leaders among others — that their lights will always shine. I hope they are blessed with dear friends and amazing opportunities throughout their precious lives.

S: I hope they will grow up knowing how wonderful and special they are. That they will come to know Christ in a personal way, and that our love and care for them will help them to feel that.

Q: What advice do you have for couples who may be struggling?

M: Make your faith your first priority. Listen to what the Lord says in prayer, not what the world says.

S: I would say, “Be willing to fight for your family and your marriage.” Place it in God’s hands and remember what Scripture says. The church is the bride of Christ and look what Christ was willing to do. He was willing to die. Couples who are struggling should be willing to fight for the gift of marriage.

July 2016, Learning For Life

Teaching Young People About God’s Plan for Love and Marriage

by Lisa Tramontana
The Reverend John Edd Harper.
The Reverend John Edd Harper.

Years ago, the Rev. John Edd Harper was working as a youth minister in a small town in Texas when he came up with the idea for a sex education class. The 8th grade girls and boys he taught seemed a little too worldly, and he believed it was only a matter of time before his students might be dealing with teen pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases.

Yes, sex ed is taught in public schools, but it is often limited to the biology of human reproduction. The moral element is missing, and this can create confusion and conflict.

With the help of a local physician, Harper designed a sex education seminar that combines the physical and spiritual aspects of sexual intimacy in a format appropriate for young people. Eventually, he developed two versions of the seminar, one for junior high and another for senior high. His message was simple: Sexuality is a beautiful, valuable and powerful gift from God that is meant to be saved for marriage.

His first concern was whether parents would be supportive … after all, many parents dread “the talk.” While they might feel relieved that someone else is willing to start that discussion with their children, they also are naturally curious to know about the topics that will be covered. In today’s world, children are bombarded with sexual images and themes from television, social media and the Internet. Just how much information is appropriate?

“I always have a meeting with the parents and explain the material I’ll be teaching, the language that will be used, and the lessons we’re trying to get across,” Harper said. “In all the years I’ve been doing this, only one parent has ever pulled their child out. Most of them realize that this is a very important and necessary educational opportunity. The kids are going to learn about sex one way or another. Isn’t it better that they learn it in a Christian setting rather than on the street?”

young loveTo that end, his students learn about physical anatomy, the reproductive system, their changing bodies, contraception and pregnancy. The next layer of learning focuses on beliefs about sexuality, making smart choices, and being in healthy relationships. Through discussion, Bible study and prayer, the students share their feelings about morality, mutual respect, peer pressure, and the consequences of their actions.

Some students who attend the seminar have already had sex and feel like they’ve made a terrible mistake and it’s too late for redemption. Harper never judges his students, but instead, encourages them by introducing the idea of “secondary virginity” — basically a promise to abstain from sex from this point on until marriage.

“It’s never too late,” he tells them. “God forgives you. You can decide right now that you believe sex is a gift from God and you are going to save yourself for marriage and the right person to share that wonderful gift.”

At one point in the junior high seminar, Harper invites the class to share every slang term they can think of for sex and for certain parts of the male and female anatomy. Understandably, it prompts plenty of laughter and snickering. Then he takes a rose and shows it to the class, saying, “What if I chose not to call this a rose anymore, and instead gave it a new name … a disgusting or ugly word?”

SexEdHis point is that young people are profaning something beautiful when they refer to sex in crude and vulgar terms“It always has an effect on them,” Harper said. “They get it.”

Most important, though, is that the students come away with a new respect for themselves and a deeper understanding of God’s plan as it relates to human sexuality, love, marriage and family.

Harper is a coordinator of the Board of Ordained Ministry, Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. His secondary appointment is as a pastor at Hope Community United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. Harper has been leading human sexuality and morality seminars since 1985. He has served as a youth minister in Texas and Louisiana for more than 20 years. He can be reached at

Family Life, March 2016

It Takes Forgiveness and the Lord to Make a Marriage Work, Bilberrys say

by Mark H. Hunter
Rev. Dr. Jesse B. Bilberry Jr., and his bride of 63 years, Verta Lee Hamilton Bilberry, hold hands while sitting on the couch in their Glen Oaks neighborhood home. photo by mark h hunter
Rev. Dr. Jesse B. Bilberry Jr., and his bride of 63 years, Verta Lee Hamilton Bilberry, hold hands while sitting on the couch in their Glen Oaks neighborhood home. photo by mark h hunter

The first time the Rev. Dr. Jesse Bernard Bilberry, Jr., senior pastor of Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church, asked Verta Lee Hamilton to go out with him she refused.

One of Baton Rouge’s more prominent Christian couples, they celebrated 63 years of marriage on Dec. 23, 2015. He is still preaching at 86, and involved in local, state and national issues of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. She is 83, and only recently, due to health issues, retired from decades of playing the piano for church children’s programs and teaching music at the Louisiana State School for the Blind.

It was 1948. He was a sophomore and she was a freshman at Southern University. They’d seen each other in high school but never met.

He played basketball for Farmerville high, which used the court at her high school in Monroe, 29 miles away. Later they rode the train – but not together – from Monroe to Vicksburg, Miss., to Baton Rouge and back.

They were introduced by a friend of hers who encouraged Verta Lee to date him. After all, he was tall and athletic and was a popular actor in the River Bend Players drama club.

“When I found out he was from Farmerville, I told him, ‘No, I don’t want to go with no country boy!’” she says with a laugh during a visit to their comfortable home in the Glen Oaks neighborhood. “I was a city girl. No indeed! No country boy for me!”

In between classes he worked at the School for the Deaf and she was a music major who practiced piano in a building he often walked past.

“So, I’d speak to him nice, and he’d say ‘hello’ and ‘how are you doin?,’ and I’d say, ‘Okay – but I got to practice now and I can’t do any talkin’,” she says with another laugh.

She even gave him a false name neither can now remember. Maybe it was Doris, she says.

Finally they went on a Friday night date to the movie theater.

“I don’t know if we paid too much attention to the movie,” he says with a big smile and she laughs.

They both became Christians at an early age and regularly attended church.

BRCL Bilberrys family 3 pix mhh-2Jesse is the firstborn son of a Baptist pastor – but that was a problem for her in dating him and later in their marriage.

“I told him when we first started courting that if he was going to be a preacher like his daddy we can cut this off right now ‘cause I don’t want no preacher. I loved dancing!,” she says. “I never smoked, didn’t drink, none of that – but dancing? I do that all day and all night!”

He never planned to be a pastor, he told her. He graduated from Southern in 1951, with a degree in social studies and English.

They got engaged, she was a junior, and he got drafted into the Army. His unit went to Korea but he was assigned to Germany. “They all said, ‘Bilberry – you lucky stiff!’” he says with a big grin.

Upon his honorable discharge and return to the states, he picked her up in his car at school, drove to Monroe, and they got married Dec. 23, 1953.

“I didn’t want a big fancy wedding, that wasn’t my thing,” she says. They had a simple service in her parent’s house performed by his father with relatives as witnesses.

BRCL Bilberrys fireplace mantle portrait mhh-2For awhile they worked in different school systems and had to live apart. She taught music at Jonesborough and he was principal at Tensas Rosenwald High School, a segregated school in St. Joseph, 140 miles away. “That was a rough time,” he said. When a music position opened in his district they got back together.

“She was a good teacher and didn’t interfere with my administration – it was a beautiful thing,” he said. I didn’t know the Lord was getting us ready for another experience.”

He attended LSU for two summers, earning his master’s degree in education in 1957. He was the only black male student on the still-segregated campus.

Daughter Cassandra was born in 1958, and she now runs Mt. Pilgrim’s children’s programs.

They moved to Baton Rouge when he was hired at Southern University as director of the Freshman Complex, then promoted to the High School Relations Office, and then to director of the Admissions Office. She taught music at the School for the Blind, retiring in the 1990s.

They began attending Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church in 1975, and he was voted a deacon. In the early 1980s, while driving to Natchez, Miss., they survived a head-on collision that, he says, clarified God’s call on his life.

“People who saw that station wagon said, ‘Nobody got out of there alive,’” he said, “and I’m standin’ there lookin’ at that station wagon sayin’ how in the world did we come out of that still alive?”

He told Verta Lee that God was calling him to preach and she didn’t like it. “If I’d wanted to marry a preacher I would have,” she said.

“I started talkin’ to the Lord,” he says, ‘If you called me to preach and you hear my wife how she’s carryin’ on if I start preachin’ – He told me and made it plain, ‘you do what I called you to do and leave your wife in my hands.’”

Six months later, while on a SU recruiting trip to Florida, Verta Lee purchased a book for him, “Why the Church Must Teach,” a signal of her acceptance.

“I started reading that book and said, ‘Lord have mercy,’” he says with a big smile.

He was ordained as an associate minister at Mount Pilgrim and was elected by the congregation to the pulpit on Jan. 16, 1984.

“She is an excellent pastor’s wife,” he said. “The congregation loves her more than me!”

When she was asked about it, she sat back and waved both her hands in praise. “Ooooohhh Lord! I didn’t think I wanted to be one but – really – the Lord has really blessed me.”

“He is the pastor and I pray for him every day for the Lord to give him wisdom and the understanding he needs to be able to teach all of us the Bible,” she said.


Cassandra Gail Bilberry joins her parents, Rev. Dr. Jesse B. Bilberry, Jr., and First Lady Verta Lee Hamilton Bilberry on the couch in their comfortable Glen Oaks neighborhood home. photo by mark h hunter
Cassandra Gail Bilberry joins her parents, Rev. Dr. Jesse B. Bilberry, Jr., and First Lady Verta Lee Hamilton Bilberry on the couch in their comfortable Glen Oaks neighborhood home. photo by mark h hunter

“In marriage some things will happen that you don’t like but you have to be strong enough to understand that there are gonna be some times that everything’s not gonna be peaches and cream all the time,” she said. “We are together so we must do things together. If you make a mistake I have to forgive you and if I make a mistake you have to forgive me and let’s go right ahead.”

“You got to have a third person. You got to have the Lord in your marriage – you can’t do it without Him,” he adds. “Marriage belongs to God. He has already defined marriage. I just go by the book.”

Family Life, September 2015

Healing for Crisis Relationship Break-Ups

by Suzette Bowen

Suzette BowenGod made us for relationships. We need the comfort of them, we need the support of them, we need the love within them, and most of all, we seek unity with another. We are built for partnership and God uses relationships to sanctify us, even the broken ones. When the status quo of a relationship suffers an explosion, chaos naturally emerges. Many Christians struggle with their faith during the process of loss, however, in such times, recognizing that God knew you before you were in your mother’s womb and is not surprised by the recent shift, can be comforting.

It will test your belief that He is the all-sufficient one. God never wastes pain and He won’t start with yours. It is in His nature to turn chaos into creation and He knows no other position but to be a strong tower and an anchor that holds. His word can begin to become LIVING WATER as you identify with the lives of Job, David and Joseph. The emotional consequences of the loss can be overwhelming, however, leaning on your relationship with God will stabilize your environment, family, finances and daily living routines. Learn to hear Him. Let Him teach you what He would desire for you in His refiner’s fire.

Understanding the stages of grief (denial, anger, depression, bargaining, acceptance) will help normalize some of the emotional changes. After the break-up, searching for another partner immediately is a natural longing; however, reaching externally for your answers may only lengthen the process and cause you to miss the healing that comes with learning how to partner with God. Allow yourself to feel the pain…sit in it and recognize that is a molting process. Pain wants to be acknowledged, so don’t ignore it, but rather, embrace it.

Learn how to DO YOU! Getting to know yourself better is part of the journey. Often during these times, self-identity questions will arise, such as: “Who am I?” “What is my purpose?” “What is love?” “What brings me joy?” God has an answer for all of these questions and He is right with you through the process. Ask Him for HIS answers for your questions. Learn to date you, laugh with you, cry with you…explore your relationship with yourself. A good start is to use this acronym:

PIES: P-physical stimulation, I-intellectual stimulation, E-emotional stimulation, S-spiritual stimulation. Work on nurturing yourself throughout the week by a healthy dose of your PIES

Recognize the shame-based hidden messages of the past. Be careful not to victimizing yourself through negative internal dialogue such as “poor me”, “why me” , I’m worthless”, “I’m abandoned”, or, “I’m never good enough”. These are childhood messages that will surface during traumatic times. The enemy will bombard you with lies that will need to be combated with the truth of “who you are in Christ”.

A Christian counselor may help you in replacing your old identity with a Christ identity. Additionally, journaling is a recommended practice that can help you express your emotions in a non-toxic way. Ownership is a sign of self-esteem, so locate the areas you need to grow and resist the self-loathing messages. Accept that you must go THROUGH this, you cannot go over it or around it; but be assured that this experience will not define you, nor be your destiny, but rather propel you to your destiny, if you trust God with YOU!

Lastly, find a healthy support network. This may be a time to explore which activities and relationships feed you and which ones take from you. If you are a parent, you will need fuel to keep yourself and your children stable, so find those around you who desire to assist. Also, don’t be intimidated to ask for what you need from your current relationships. Those who really show up for you will be the ones that travel to your next destination. Through this trial, if you trust God and lean on Him and not on your own understanding, He will reveal himself to you and you will find that He stuck closer than a brother and that He provided in the storm. HE IS THE GOOD SHEPHARD. BLESSED BE HIS HOLY NAME.

About Suzette: Suzette Bowen, M.Ed., LPC, is the founder and CEO of Couples Care Center. She is a Christian relationship counselor who has a special interest in assisting couples through crisis. She assists in restoring relationships, however, when an alternate outcome is inevitable, she assists the individual partner in their healing journey. She uses a straight forward approach to address both superficial and core relationship and individual issues. She believes in strengthening what remains in order to encourage those in despair and believes that the truth sets people free.

Family Life, September 2015

A Marital Revival

by Tonya Woodridge-Jarvis

PicutureWe know in marriage that nobody can ruffle your feathers like your spouse.  It is designed that way because the two of you are learning to become one. Normally one personality is a bit more dominant than the other, and it shows. Can you imagine what Mary and Joseph’s marriage was like? Think about the overwhelming love and trust that Joseph clearly had for Mary. Why are marriages not like that in today’s society?

I can go on to name a few excuses, not reasons, but excuses, as to why they aren’t. Are you poisoning your marriage with your emotions? Often times we carry emotional baggage that has never been allowed to heal from past hurt and pain. Meaning, your spouse did something you didn’t agree with in the past, you all had a discussion to end it then, but when something else comes up you replay the last discussion.

That’s one type of poison. Do your co-workers see you more than your family? That’s another type of poison. Marriage is a never-ending lesson. Your marital quest is a journey to the work that God wants to do in you and He has given you an all-star team to do it with.

Like revival (spiritual awakening) in church is much needed, revival in marriage is needed as well. Marital revival means reestablishing the marriage, or awakening it. In Christian marriages we often don’t realize that we are under attack even more than non-Christian marriages. In some recent studies the divorce rate of Christian marriages almost matched the divorce rate of non-Christian marriages.

Why is that? Is God at the center of your marriage like He once was? Sometimes God will take your marriage through the ringer because He wants to draw you closer together. Will you be a survivor through the revival?

Marital Revival Techniques:

  • Acknowledgment of the problem (come clean, be transparent)
  • Seek Counsel to resolve the issues
  • Pray that the change has already taken place
  • Be patient
  • Help another couple the way that you’ve been helped