I remembered the beautiful spring wedding…

Their relationship had known struggles, but they had worked through them…

The beautiful smiling bride whispered ‘this is the happiest day of my life’…

The groom beamed as they pledged their love and commitment to each other…

In the presence of family…friends…and God…

Smiling…hand-in-hand…

They walked into the future.

The minister had prayed over this new union and requested that everyone present pray for the newly married couple. He knew…

In all the beauty of the day…

Lurking…

Was the liar…the deceiver…the invisible enemy…who hated…

The love, happiness, and joy this young couple shared…
He hated the family God would give them…
The children they would be blessed with…
He hated everything God had planned…

The Bible warns us satan is the destroyer…roaming the earth to devour us…like a lion…

So ‘from that day forward’…

The enemy began slowly…unnoticeably…putting his strategic destructive plan into action…to devour their family…

He didn’t care that it might take years…that would just be more pain he could cause as he sat back and watched his plan unfold…

He was hoping…to destroy a family…he had a target…

While they were celebrating that beautiful wedding day…he was plotting…scheming…strategizing…how deep he could hurt them…

It turns out…very deep…

As I visited with this young couple recently, now years past the wedding day, they told me they would soon be separating. There were still ‘details’ to work out…living arrangements…children’s schedules…visits…

My heart broke…as I remembered the joyful young couple on their wedding day…

What happened?
The enemy…

He had filled them with anger…dissatisfaction…hurt…sadness…broken promises…blame…hateful words that left deep wounds…

His strategy…his plan to attack and destroy…was about to become his victory.

I listened to their words…I saw tears roll down the young woman’s face as I reminded them of their wedding day and her words…

I prayed for God to give me the right words, to let them see they had an enemy and it wasn’t each other…but that’s how the devil plays the game...

I know…because I remembered…
Feeling just like them…

Years ago…I let the enemy begin fill my mind and heart with his lies…

His deception…became my perception…my reality…

Like my ancestor Eve…the enemy crept into my thoughts…subtly…constantly…questioning…planting seeds of dissatisfaction…discontentment…

Does your husband really pay enough attention to you (you DO all the planning for everything you do together)? Didn’t he forget an important date (perhaps he doesn’t care about you any more)? Doesn’t he spend more time golfing that he does with you (there are other men who would spend EVERY moment with you)? Maybe you aren’t really that important to him? He can’t even stay awake during a movie…maybe he thinks you’re boring? Wouldn’t someone else make you happier? You DO want to be happy don’t you? Wouldn’t someone else buy you flowers more often? Wouldn’t someone else live JUST for you? Wouldn’t someone else be more fun? The enemy finally worked his way up to the really big question…he knew he couldn’t ask it first thing…he had to strategically enact his plan with smaller questions until he could get away with the big one…

…the one that would destroy our marriage…the one he had waited to introduce in my mind…

Wouldn’t you…really…be better off…without him?...

The enemy’s plan…always bringing ‘those things’ that he knew hurt me…keeping ‘those thoughts’ in the forefront…letting everything good fall aside. Until I didn’t really see any good…

So, I did what anyone listening to the enemy would do…

I became consumed with selfish (it's all about my feelings) pride...and...

I began to DELIBERATELY look for my husband’s every fault…every flaw…not putting the lid on the pepper…leaving ONE fork in the sink…or the bedroom window open ¼” too much…letting his cell phone ring out loud in a restaurant…

Oh, how the enemy loved that period in my life…
I let every thought be under the enemy’s command. My words spilled out in hurtful ways…all the time…

I asked my husband to leave several times, but he always apologized trying to make things right…but soon…

The enemy would be back to his old tricks…and I was only able to find fault…after fault…after fault…

Then one day…I felt tired…of fighting…being angry…being mad…feeling hurt…

The enemy slithered around me at that moment and whispered…’You really just want out…’ This statement known to Eve as ‘offer the apple to your husband’.

Offer him the way out…let him take a bite out of the apple…

I was quietly sitting in our 1875 bank building we had restored together. When my husband entered the room I told him, it was time…for this to be over. And for once…

He didn’t apologize…he simply stated that perhaps I was right. I had made this request so many times. Perhaps…he said…it was best…we move on…he would leave.

He quietly got up and walked out of the room…

I sat there…on an old wooden bench we had purchased at an antique street market. I loved the old bench. It was worn, weathered, and it always looked like a comfortable place to sit. I remembered back to the day we bought the old bench…a super-hot Midwest summer day. When I initially saw the bench I couldn’t decide if I really wanted to pay the price they were asking…so I left it. A few hours later…I mentioned how perfect it would fit into our remodel and at my husband’s request (so that I could have the bench I wanted) we literally walked for 30 minutes…in the hot sun…in mid afternoon…to again look at the bench. We bought it. We then drove through very crowded streets to pick it up. I was thrilled with it. I knew it was meant for me.

As I sat on that old bench…photographs, snap shots of what would be our new future…separate…begin to develop like film in a black and white camera…how visits with our children could be done…would our children and eventually grandchildren need two birthdays to accommodate each of us…what would Christmas look like…who gets Christmas and Christmas Eve…we would never chase fireflies together with our ‘maybe’ grandlittles in the future…no crazy sleepovers with new grandlittles…we wouldn’t laugh together holding our grandlittles when they were born…

Separate…would be different…

I looked around the room…I remembered some tense moments during our remodel. It was us against a 145 year old building…I remembered how my husband painstakingly carried drywall up two flights of narrow stairs for a new ceiling…that took days to hang. We had debated over the chandelier, but it looked beautiful sparkling in the afternoon sun. He had picked the right one. I recalled the day we purchased the old door (really old – from the 1800’s) at an estate sale for $20.00 and how we made it fit the opening for the doorway. My husband had spent hours trying to make it work. It looked beautiful. We were a great team. We had talked about traveling…doing more remodeling…dreams….

What happened?
The enemy…

He had slowly closed those doors…bringing only his questions of a better life and future…separate… to the forefront……until nothing felt good about the relationship…

I had been unsuspecting…but that day…sitting on the old bench…God opened my eyes and my heart…

To what I was going to throw away…

The film that was being processed in my mind…were things I would never get to see…moments in my future the devil wanted erased…

The enemy tried to tell me I would be happier without my husband, but the fact is…

God knew differently…

The enemy didn’t have my best interest at heart. He would watch his plan unfold and then sit back and laugh at the destruction and hurt that would touch everyone around us…including us.

I began…earnestly… to ask God to help me deeply love the husband He gave me. Not just love, but with all my heart. A deep love like Christ has for us. Like the bench I was sitting on, I prayed to see the worn and weathered relationship as something to cling to and appreciate rather than run away from. To be ok living with comfortable and stop chasing the enemy’s dangling carrots of something better. We had paid a high price for the bench…were we willing…to pay the high price and investment…to save our marriage?

To again feel joy in doing life together…instead of tearing that life apart…

While I consider my husband the greatest restorer of our many remodeling projects…

God was the ONLY ONE who could restore our relationship…

And He did…
And…it wasn’t easy….

But we were persistent in pressing into God…
Looking for the good, offering forgiveness, bearing one another up, and being united in our souls…loving the comfortable, forgiving the words, and remembering the good…

There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude to God for opening my eyes on the old bench that day…showing me a ‘mind’s eye film’ of the future…and planting just a mustard seed of faith that God had a better plan…

One that wouldn’t destroy…wouldn’t devour…wouldn’t harm…and wouldn’t steal the future He had planned.
A future that would heal…
If we submitted everything to Him…

I saw this young family facing the same struggle…
I prayed with them…

I asked them to stop the hateful words…that takes away the enemy’s main source of ammunition…
Seek Godly counseling…
I then asked them to meet together for just two minutes a day, setting aside their busy schedule of work and parenting…to pray for each other. A simple two word prayer…

Because God will listen…
And God will honor their requests…

It will take time, patience, and perseverance…BUT GOD
Will restore and heal the brokenness.

I know…

Because I learned the lesson on the bench of what saying ‘Good-bye’ really looks like.

The enemy wants it to look glamorous…

But it might be saying ‘Good-bye’ to God’s perfect plan…a film role that you will never live…memories that you will never cherish…
The enemy would love it if we missed…God’s perfect plan for our marriage, our family and our life…

To God be the glory for all the pictures of my ‘life’s photos’ that I have got to see…despite the attack from the deceiver…

Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. 1 Corinthians 14:4-7

Amen.

Shelly Thompson
Publisher, The Notebook Café

Want to read more about the enemy’s destruction of marriage…C. S. Lewis authored a book called The Screwtape Letters. He exposes the enemy’s schemes…the secret's out. In this book you’ll stumble upon a mysterious series of letters between two demons tasked with securing the demise of their human "patients." The Screwtape Letters will open your eyes to the devil's schemes — and to the One who has overcome them. Here’s an excerpt of how the devil attacks marriages specifically…read the letter of how the enemy plots to destroy their human “patients” devouring a family and a marriageread more here.


Are you looking for the perfect place to hold your next women’s group or meeting? The Café is Open…click here to find out more.

The Notebook Cafe & Co. first book release, Entwined. Now in its second printing, you can order Entwined here…click here to learn more.

Mark your calendars for The Notebook Cafe 3rd Annual Women's Conference on Saturday, September 30th, 2017. Based on the story of Esther, Fearless Faith for a Time Such as This | Rise Up 2017 Tickets go on sale May 1st! Click here to learn more.

C. S. Lewis authored a book called The Screwtape Letters. He exposes the enemy’s schemes…the secret's out. Here’s an excerpt of how the devil attacks marriages specifically…click on the photo above and read the excerpt from The Screwtape Letters on how the enemy plots to destroy their human “patients” devouring a family and a marriage

The Notebook Café -- Inspired Words for the Journey is an online cafe community of readers looking for inspiration and encouragement in this journey. Shelly Thompson is Publisher of The Notebook Café and author the book , Entwined by The Notebook Café & Co. Publishing. Shelly has a passion for writing what God places in her heart. Taking a giant leap of faith she left the corporate world to pursue a dream God gave her of developing a monthly inspirational faith based online reading café. Today, The Notebook Café reaches almost 30,000 people each month. She has found the road in unknown territory is not always easy, BUT GOD always finds a way to bring about what He has promised. Shelly has also developed The Notebook Café Annual Woman's Conference each October. Shelly lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband. They spend time with their parents, three daughters, seven grandlittles, and many weekends working on home renovation projects…that thankfully never seem to end.

By Shelly Thompson

Publisher, The Notebook Café 

The Notebook Café



 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 
So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

                                                         Matthew 19:4-6 (Italics for emphasis)