The Transforming Power of God’s Love
Adam and Laura Brown tell how attending a Weekend to Remember® conference planted a seed of hope in their marriage that continues to bloom even today.
About the Guest
Adam and Laura Brown tell how attending a Weekend to Remember® conference planted a seed of hope in their marriage that continues to bloom even today.
Adam and Laura Brown tell how attending a Weekend to Remember® conference planted a seed of hope in their marriage.
The Transforming Power of God’s Love
Bob: Adam and Laura Brown experienced a communication breakthrough as they were attending a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. Here's Laura.
Laura: I remember just sitting there—first of all, before we even got into the love letter and just talking on a level of communication that we had never spoken on—I mean, already it was like walls were down; and we were talking. It wasn't just about everyday things. We were really communicating with one another. When the love letter came, he opened it up; and he really poured his heart out for the first time—I think, ever, in our marriage.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, March 30th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll hear today about the spiritual breakthrough that transformed Adam and Laura Brown’s marriage.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. I think it takes couples by surprise, often, early in a marriage, when they realize, “Things aren’t working out the way I figured they’d work out.” They really weren’t anticipating that marriage was going to be the challenge that it winds up being for all of us.
Dennis: You know we've been listening to a story that I think is all too common in many marriages. Laura and Adam Brown join us again on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back.
Laura: Thank you.
Adam: Thank you very much.
Dennis: You all had been married for three years. You're marriage was off in a serious ditch. In fact, it could be said you were in one ditch, Adam; and, Laura, you were in the other ditch.
Bob: I think the ditches were in different states.
Laura: Yes. (Laughter)
Dennis: Well, at one point—
Bob: —they were.
Dennis: They were in different states. You'd had counseling for nine months. A friend put a Weekend to Remember brochure in your hands, and your parents paid the way. So, Adam couldn't use that as a copout not to go; or in your case, Laura, you couldn't use it as a copout not to go—
Dennis: —because you weren't that much in love with your husband at that point.
Laura: That's right.
Dennis: You went to a Weekend to Remember in what town?
Adam: Portland, Oregon.
Dennis: Portland, Oregon, City of Roses.
Dennis: On Friday night, you didn't start with a lot of roses; but you heard material that you began to identify with that brought a lot of hope. You went to bed that evening thinking, “Well, maybe this really does have some answers for our marriage.” Do you remember what took place on Saturday morning as you woke up and went downstairs to the ballroom with—what 600, 700, 800 people—maybe 1,000?
Adam: Eight hundred people. Yes, I remember just kind of wandering in, finding our seats, and kind of cracking the books open, pen ready, wanting to hear what they had to say for today.
Bob: You were anticipating—you were excited because things were making sense from what you'd heard on Friday night; right?
Adam: Yes, I was waiting for the next word—just kind of, “Warm up the pen, and let's get going.”
Bob: Were you feeling the same—pretty excited?
Laura: I was excited because I knew that for the first time, on Friday night, people were relating to what we were going through. I knew that these people really knew what they were saying. What I loved about it, too, is that I knew that they were speaking—because they knew the truth out of the blueprints out of the Bible. So, it was real truth, it wasn’t just—you know what I'm saying?
Laura: So, I was excited, too, that day to come and learn. Now, they had said that they would talk more on Saturday about the resolution, how we could fix these—but there was actually going to be some solutions to these problems that we had heard about on Friday night.
Bob: In fact, on Saturday morning, we start things at the Weekend to Remember by talking about the fact that the Bible is the place that we ought to look for a purpose and a plan. We begin to walk through what God had in mind when He invented marriage in the first place, what His purpose is—that He wants us to mirror His image, multiple a godly legacy, and mutually complete one another—have companionship in marriage. We talk about the fact that there is an enemy in every marriage.
Do you remember when that idea got introduced—the fact that there is an enemy—and it's not your mate? (Laughter)
Adam: I remember—when they say, “Turn to your mate and repeat after me, ‘You are not my enemy,’” I remember looking at her—and there were a lot of laughter—of people saying that through laughter—and I remember really looking at Laura and saying, “You are not my enemy.” Really, that was kind of one of those first—kind of the barriers were broken down; and through the course of the day, it just set the day off right.
Bob: Did you believe that, that she was not the enemy?
Adam: Yes, I believed that she was not the enemy.
Bob: Did you believe that he was not the enemy?
Laura: That was the first time I think I said and really believed, “You are not my enemy.”
Dennis: Had you been believing that, though?
Laura: I had been believing he was my enemy.
Dennis: How had you been treating him because of that, then?
Laura: I had been treating him as my enemy.
Dennis: In what ways?
Laura: Not showing him unconditional love, holding back so much of what I could have offered him—
Dennis: Withholding forgiveness?
Dennis: You mentioned that.
Laura: Yes, definitely—not having a forgiving spirit, not even really showing him—you know, not showing him God's love, flowing through me.
Bob: We move on in the Weekend to Remember to talk about the fact that God, not only has purposes for a marriage, but He's got a plan for a marriage that we are to leave father and mother, cleave to one another and to become one flesh. Then, we come to a point where we talk about where the power to do that comes from. I mean, you can have a purpose, you can have a plan; but you can't do it on your own.
That's the point, Dennis, where we present the message of the Gospel. That was an important message for both of you.
Dennis: Yes. I have to ask Laura, “Did you know, at this point, that Adam was not a follower of Christ, not a believer in Christ?” or, “Did you think he was a Christian?”
Laura: No, I knew that he wasn't. I had never seen fruit come from that decision that he had made. I remember just pleading with the Lord, “Open his ears. May he hear”—and just—yes, looking out of the corner of my eye, and he was crying.
Adam: It was the middle of November, and it was like the Fourth of July to me. The visual—I’ll never, ever, ever forget the visual of us being one mountain top, God being on the other mountain top, and the valley of sin that separates us, and the cross being that bridge. That, right there, was just the icing on the cake for me.
I was making connections. I understood full well what the speaker was saying. When they said, “Bow your heads and pray this prayer,” I was almost saying the words quicker—just as he was saying it, a word behind him. It was, “Hey, I can do this. This is the answer.”
Dennis: How did you tell Laura?
Adam: I wrote it in our love letter. I didn't share anything with her throughout the rest of the day, but it was within the love letter that I expressed to her that I had accepted Christ at the conference.
Bob: You know, it's interesting because, at the point that you had tears coming down your face, we were really only halfway through the message. After we talk about how a person comes to faith in Christ, we also talk about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of a marriage and how a person can learn to walk in the power of the Spirit rather than walking in the patterns of the flesh—that have been characteristic. That message started to connect with your heart; didn't it?
Laura: Yes. The fact that I had always thought that I could change everything with Adam, that I had held this control, that I had never released myself to the Holy Spirit, you know—I was not living a Spirit-filled life.
I had really not allowed the power of the Holy Spirit to come and change me and to realize that I could release my control over Adam and that God would have to change him. That was just truly—I remember just hearing that and soaking that in—about the power of the Holy Spirit.
I do have power, and it is only through the Holy Spirit. It was just really during that message that—although I wasn't hearing it for the first time or accepting the Lord for the first time—but it was hearing that that I realized that there was nothing I could do on my own strength. There was nothing—no matter how hard I tried or what I did, I couldn't change Adam; it had to be God changing him.
Dennis: It’s interesting, listening to your story. I can’t help but smile; here’s Adam making a decision to come to faith in Christ—that’s going to change his life—and here’s Laura making a decision to yield to the power of the Holy Spirit who is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. Her life is about to change, too.
Bob: Well, I had to smile, too, because what you identified as kind of that besetting sin issue in your life—wanting to keep control over what’s going on. You understand, don’t you, that that is common—and probably, it’s common for a lot of wives who want to make sure that everything around them is safe and secure. The only way they know how to do that is to try to keep it all under their control. When the reality is, if it’s under your control, you can never feel safe—
Bob: —and secure.
Bob: It’s when you can let go and say, “Lord, I’m going to trust You.” It feels a little scary, but it’s where real safety and security is found. Isn’t it?
Adam: A word picture that we use for that conference was—at the time, God was a piece of luggage, or Jesus was a piece of luggage, on our roof rack in our car. On Sundays, when we needed God, we’d go back and get the piece of luggage down and come back. Really, at that conference, we just said, “God, here is the steering wheel to the minivan. Take us to where You want us to go. You lead, and we’ll follow.”
I remember them talking—I remember writing in my book a triangle that had God at the top of the triangle and Laura and I on either side. For the longest time, we were trying to grow to each other—laterally to each other. That word picture of—if each of us grow closer to God—that, ultimately, brings us closer together. That was just like something that is still so engraved in my mind. Almost, I remember it on a daily basis.
Dennis: As you all were just talking, I couldn't help but think about Galatians, Chapter 5. It says, “But I say to you, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh, for the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, for they are in opposition to one another so that you may not do the things that you please.
“Now, the deeds to the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissentions, factions, envyings, drunkenness, carousings, and things like these of which I forewarned you. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
You know, we've really got an excellent picture here of how we all are really alike. I mean, there's nobody listening to your story, who can't identify saying, “You know, well, gee, I’m not a sinner like Adam. He really is that dirty dog we were talking about earlier.” But we really have a picture here of before Christ and after Christ—before walking in the Spirit, according to the flesh, and after walking in the Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit. That's what God desires for every couple.
You mentioned that you read your love letter to Laura on Saturday night during your date. Do you remember that date? Do both of you remember that date?
Dennis: It has to be a big-time date.
Laura: Oh, yes, it was great.
Dennis: We have a date night at the Weekend to Remember, Bob.
Adam: That’s right.
Dennis: I'm sure you do a great job of this when you speak; but we always try to set it up, as speakers, saying, “Now, you've heard a lot of stuff over the last day-and-a-half. You know, don't call home, don't read a newspaper, don't spend time with other people—just the two of you go out and just talk.” For you, it was a life-changing dinner because you talked but you also read her your love letter.
Dennis: What happened?
Adam: We were sitting in our favorite restaurant—and this was about a half-hour away from the conference hotel. It was a fondue restaurant where you were guaranteed a long meal. I remember sitting across the table, and reading it to her, and having to take many pauses to gather myself so I could finish the story because I was emotional about it. Reading my love letter to her—I remember, for the first time, actually repenting of the things that I had done and asking for true forgiveness and saying, “We can make this work,” and “Let's make it work.”
Laura: I remember just sitting there—first of all, before we even got into the love letter and just talking on a level of communication that we had never spoken on. I mean, already, it was like walls were down, and we were talking. It wasn't just about everyday things. We were really communicating with one another. When the love letter came, he opened it up; and he really poured his heart out for the first time, I think, ever in our marriage and was, like he said, truly repentant.
When he shared on there, that—I remember him saying, “We cannot do this, but that God can do this because I have made a decision for the Lord. I have decided to let God take control of my life, and there is no way that I can do it without Him and that with God's help we can do it.”
I remember specifically—“not that we can do it, but with God's help—because I have made that decision.” I just remember sitting there, just crying, and crying, and crying. I mean, people in this restaurant must have thought we were horrible people, but I remember for the first time just looking at him and feeling true love. I think for the first time—even when we first got married, yes, I loved him—but this was love that said, “I can love you, despite everything we've been through.”
You talk about in Galatians—it was really, truly, it was only the Holy Spirit that was allowing me to love him like that, that I had peace, and patience, and joy, and true forgiveness for him for the first time. I knew that God had done an incredible work in him and in me, and that we would never be the same.
Bob: You knew that? I mean, I'm thinking, “Trust,” here. I'm thinking, “Three years,”—I’m thinking of some of the patterns. He’d come back; you’d brought him back into the house. You’d had hope before. Wasn't there a little voice in the back of your head going, “We'll see how long this one lasts?”
Laura: Not at that dinner, no. I knew that God is a God of miracles, and I really believed that He chose to do a miracle in our life. I knew it was a miracle that if Adam was ever going to accept the Lord—that was a miracle right there. God had already done the greatest thing to soften my husband's heart—that he accepted the Lord. I knew that it would get better from there.
Bob: I don't know if you remember whether there were any other significant things you heard that weekend. You know, we talk about communication, being better listeners, doing a better job of expressing yourself to one another. We talk about sexual intimacy. We talk about what a wife and a mom's role ought to be in a marriage, what a dad and a husband's role ought to be. We talk about conflict resolution. We talk about how you can bless your mate, even when you are locked up in conflict. We talk about leaving a legacy of spiritual vitality to the next generation. I don't know if any of that soaked in or even made an impression. Do you guys remember anything that stood out?
Adam: I remember the talk on sexual intimacy and really realized how much I had hurt Laura with regard to that. That was something that I needed to, not only win her trust back, but also treat her more like God wanted me to treat her and had design for that. That sunk in, as well, as the whole idea of praying together and reading the Bible together on a daily basis.
Leaving the conference, we never attended another marriage counseling session with the counselor. We said, “We've got all the tools we need. Let's just apply them,” and we did. We'd drive to the office, and we would be praying together. We got Moments Together at the conference and started reading through that book—and just giving an opportunity for us to keep that level of communication very deep and not just getting lost in the daily routines.
Laura: I remember about learning how to be a wife and a mom. That really impacted me—just knowing that I do have a role as a wife and a mom. It's a God-ordained role. I remember just soaking up all of that and learning about the importance of date nights—just still date him, knowing that this weekend could just be a weekend—but you really need to take everything that you learn at the weekend and apply it and do it every single week.
Bob: Did your marriage, after the conference, just go—now, the road had been bumpy and now it's just smooth sailing from here on? Or did you find there were some twists and turns along the way?
Laura: Well, of course, I think there were some twists and turns and the fact that I really needed to learn to trust him. He needed to work on regaining my trust. So, although there—there really was a complete change in our lives—and we knew that we weren't going to be the same—there was still the trust issue. That's a lot of years that we went through of me not being able to trust him. We did have to work on those issues.
Bob: I’ve said that to a lot of couples at this weekend. I've said, “The weekend can be powerful. It can be transformative, but most of you took longer to mess up your marriage than one weekend. You can’t expect a drive-through fix on everything. You will leave the Weekend to Remember with some tools and with some hope. If your heart's open, if your ears are open, you can leave with hope and with tools. Then, you've got to go home and do the hard work of applying the tools and making your marriage what God intends for it to be.”
Dennis: You also leave with something that most couples don't have, and that's the big picture for what marriage is all about. Marriage is about representing God on this planet to your children, first, then, to your community and to the world. You also have a big picture that every marriage is either moving towards oneness or isolation.
What happens, Bob, I think, as you just said, marriages come to the Weekend to Remember, they have the twists and turns in the road, and they hit some bumps; but they can go back to something that they got together, a common vocabulary—a common understanding of what God's doing in your marriage. You realize, “She isn't my enemy,” “We are isolated right now because I'm angry at him. Now, I’ve got to forgive him.”
Personally, I just appreciate both of you, Adam and Laura, for allowing us to listen to a story of heartache, of drama, and yet of redemption—great redemption—because both of you were responsive to Jesus Christ and ultimately obeyed Him. Thanks for sharing your story with us.
Laura: Thank you. Thank you for having us on.
Bob: I’m thinking about the number of couples who are just like where you guys were, and many of them are attending one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways this spring. We are hosting these in cities all across the country, and couples who find themselves—they don’t know where to turn. They don’t’ know how to fix what has gone wrong in their marriage—they’re finding help, and they are finding hope at the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
If listeners are interested, they can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com, click on the link that says, “Weekend to Remember,” look to find if one of these events is being hosted near where you live, and then, sign up to join us. Be a part of the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway when it comes to a city near you this spring.
If there’s not a city near you this spring, where the Weekend to Remember is happening, you can do what Adam and Laura have just done. That is, you can host an Art of Marriage® video event in your community. You may think, “Well, our marriage needs help.” You know what? Host one of these events and invite other couples to come join you. All of you will benefit from the Art of Marriage video event.
It is six sessions. It’s designed to be a Friday night/Saturday event, and these have been hosted in cities all across the country this spring. In fact, if you don’t think you’re up to hosting one, just go to FamilyLifeToday.com, and click on the Art of Marriage link. There may be one of these happening in your community in April, or May, or June. You can simply attend an Art of Marriage event.
If you don’t’ see one nearby, host it—invite friends over to your house, or to your church, or wherever to go through this material together. Again, all the information is available at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click on the link for the Weekend to Remember or the link for the Art of Marriage. Find out how you can attend one of these events or how you can host an Art of Marriage event. FamilyLifeToday.com is the website. If you have any questions, call us. 1-800-FL-TODAY is the toll-free number, 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. Ask about the Weekend to Remember or about the Art of Marriage when you get in touch with us.
Now, today is the last weekday for the month of March—our last opportunity to remind you that, this month, we have been praying and asking folks to consider becoming Legacy Partners, here at FamilyLife Today. We’ve heard from a lot of you over the last couple of days—thanks for calling or for getting in touch with us and signing up to become Legacy Partners. We’d still love to hear from you today. We’re hoping to have a new Legacy Partner in every city where FamilyLife Today is heard. We’ve got a thermometer on our website that is keeping track of how we’re doing toward that goal.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information. You can sign up to become a Legacy Partner; or if you have any questions, call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, a Legacy Partner is somebody who makes a monthly contribution to help support the ministry and defray the expenses associated with this daily radio program. We’d love to hear from you—again, FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY for more information. Thanks for praying for us, and thanks for considering becoming a Legacy Partner.
We hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us on Monday when Randy Newman is going to be our guest—not that Randy Newman—not the singer, but an author who has a great new book on how we can share the Gospel with our family members. Some of the hardest people to share Christ with are the people we are related to. Randy has some thoughts on that. He’ll be our guest on Monday. Hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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