Is there really hope for every marriage?

Sometimes at FamilyLife we receive requests for help and in our flesh  we’ll wonder, “Is there really hope for this marriage?” Consider one wife who contacted FamilyLife with this email:

“I am unsure if you can help with this question but my husband and I have been married for just over a year and have some very serious issues. These issues showed up before marriage but, of course, have only seemed to get worse. 

I grew up in a verbally and physically abusive household and so did he. I can be very harsh with my tongue and say things that my husband doesn’t like by saying he doesn’t make enough money or cursing at him. 

He tells me to stop it and if I don’t he becomes very aggressive and will block me leaving the room, push me, spit in my face, grab me by the hair, and start calling me names and telling me how I need to respect him.

I am definitely not innocent and am trying to work on taming my tongue but am very concerned about my husband being physically aggressive as he seems to not be able to control himself in these moments. I am also concerned as we have an infant son who I am scared will learn that this is normal behavior. Any advice on what we should do to resolve these issues would be greatly appreciated.” 

It would easy to simply shrug our shoulders, shake our heads, and give a trite answer like, “We’ll be praying for you”, but in our hearts not really believing anything will change. 

But praise be to God who is still in the business of changing hearts and rescuing souls! He is still “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…” (Eph 3:20, ESV)

One of FamilyLife’s ministry advisors responded to the wife who wrote in. And although we don’t yet know the rest of her story, we do know that God has transformed marriages like hers in the past, and by faith we know He is able to do it again.

Parenting is…

After previewing FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting™ this couple is imagining what they hope their kids will say at their 50th anniversary celebration.

Recently on FamilyLife’s Facebook page, a question was posed: What one word would you use to complete the phrase, “Parenting is…”? We received hundreds of responses. Some of those included: challenging, crazy, heart breaking, rewarding, adventurous, fulfilling, hard, sanctifying, fun,…etc. etc. 

How would you answer that question…either from experience or observation?

The point is that for many of us the parenting journey is many things at different stages of the journey. The waiting and expectation of your first child may have been filled with excitement and anticipation. Or perhaps you were filled with worry and doubt. The toddler, elementary, adolescent, and teen years only bring more adventures and questions.

There are joyous times full of laughter at the things our kids say and do. And at other times there are moments of frustration, fear, and bewilderment as we wonder, “why is our kid doing/saying those things?”

For the last 2 months I’ve had the opportunity to travel all around the country meeting couples, with kids at different ages, as they previewed FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting™ resource (due to be released next May). And in each city, I met couples who were grateful for the wisdom and teaching found in the series.

One father astutely observed that in each of the teaching sessions, the speakers who were younger described the ideals they hoped to be teaching their kids, while the older couples were describing the mistakes they had made in their parenting. Depending on where you are in your parenting journey, you may feel full of hope or full of regrets. Our goal with this series is not to heap condemnation on parents, but instead to give parents practical help, a jolt of hope, and new vision for parenting their kids in light of eternity. We want you to know that it’s never too late to start making the right decisions in your parenting; God is able to redeem the time the enemy has stolen.

Remember Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Now that’s parenting. Don’t give up, keep doing good, because you will reap a harvest!

Haiti 2017 Missions

Meet Elianna:

She’s a mother and grandmother that Anna and Danielle met on their Haiti trip. Her daughter and grandkids live with her.

The team was able to plant some trees at her home. To talk and laugh with her. To be with her.

Meet Gloria (girl in pink):

She’s about 11 years old. Danielle met her and her friends as they were playing by the small pool of water near their home. It’s the same water where they bathe and wash their clothes.

The team played with these girls and other kids in the neighborhood. They laughed, They hugged. They were with them.

Mission of Hope:

And this is the church that the team was serving while in Haiti. Everything they did was in service to the organization/church that would be there long after they were gone.

So what’s the full impact of our girls traveling to Haiti for a week? We may never know. We do know that they went to be the hands and feet of Jesus. They planted trees that would provide shade for the Haitian kids for years to come. They painted homes to breathe fresh life into their humble homes. And they went and were with them. Jesus called us to “…go into all the world…”.

So now what?

And one mission trip at a time our girls are starting to catch the vision for what that Great Commission is calling all believers to. I can see their eyes being opened to a world beyond what the typical American teenager experiences; school, music, tv, movies, Netflix, social media.

They are getting to see other cultures. Cultures that Jesus gave his life for. They are getting to see that the Church of Christ is spread out beyond the walls of the building we attend on the weekends. There are believers all over the world lifting up the name of Jesus and proclaiming his good news to those around them.

And little by little, I can see that they are becoming more and more aware of how God is weaving their story into His Story. I pray that they will always know their purpose and place because they know Him.


View many more photos from the team’s trip to Haiti here.

Cru17 thoughts and pics

One of our favorite aspects about being on staff with Cru is the biennial All Staff Conferences held in Ft. Collins every other year.

This year the them was “With…”; as in “with the Lord”, “with each other”, “with our partners”, “with you”.

We don’t do ministry alone. We work with other staff members who are with us on the same mission. And all of us couldn’t do what we do without our generous partners who give to enable the work and your prayers which prepare the way for us in the spiritual realm.

The main takeaway I took from this year’s speakers and messages is that the mission to spread the gospel is more important now than ever. And as an organization we must do everything we can to make sure there are no obstacles to us accomplishing that mission. 

Now more than ever we must be like Paul and “become all things to all people, that by all means [we] might save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22) Jesus is coming soon!

We are so blessed to be in ministry with a team of partners who give and pray so that others may be introduced to Jesus.


See more pics of Cru17 taken by Cru staff on this flickr page.

Summer Colorado plans

 Worship 2 years ago with 5,000 other Cru staff at Cru15.
Worship 2 years ago with 5,000 other Cru staff at Cru15.

I recently posted a story of what God is doing through one CEO to invest in the lives of his employees by sending them to a Weekend to Remember.

That is your fruit too because of your financial and prayer partnership with us. Together we are playing a significant role in retelling great stories of how God is transforming lives. 

This year Deborah and I celebrate over 6 years on staff with Cru! God has so blessed us throughout these years and we truly believe that our best years of ministry are before us! 

That’s one reason why we are so excited about our US Staff Conference in Fort Collins, CO this summer (July 14-26th). As we gather with over 5,000 fellow U.S. staff and hear from our leadership, we anticipate that God will broaden our perspective for the world, equip us to be more effective in our ministry roles, and enable us to go forth to bear even more fruit. For our family, this required ministry training costs about $5,500 including transportation, conference fees, meals and lodging for 12 days. This works out to about $2.50/mile from Arkansas to Colorado, and back home again. 🙂 

Would you join with us by sponsoring 20 miles ($50)? 50 miles ($125)? 100 miles ($250)? or 500 miles ($1250)? 

It is such a privilege to know that we are not in this ministry alone. We can’t thank you enough. 

A CEO invests in the marriages of his employees

Frank Kelly III is a CEO on a mission. While in college, a friend invited Frank to a Campus Crusade for Christ Bible study. And one of those nights, God got a hold of his heart. He began to live his life to find ways to connect others with the Christ he now followed.

When Frank and his brothers took over his father’s business they decided to offer the Weekend to Remember® as an optional benefit to any of their employees, vendors, and associates. He realizes that “an employee in a healthy marriage is a happy employee. Plus, we get to introduce them and their family to Jesus!” In the last 20+ years, he estimates they’ve been able to send over 250 couples! 

Recently I had the privilege of capturing Frank’s story, and some of his employees, for videos that will be featured on a soon-to-be redesigned website for our Weekend to Remember Corporate Sponsorship Program. Our hope is that many more CEOs, business owners, and companies will invest in the wellness of their employees by sending them and their spouse to one of our getaways.

Once the website redesign goes live I’ll be sure to let you know in case you’re a business owner/leader; or in case you’d like to encourage your work to consider investing in their employees in a unique way.

Thanks for your giving and prayers that enable us to capture stories like these and share them with others.

Deb’s Foot, Summer Missions, and one more Prayer Request

Here’s a couple of items to praise God about, and some prayer requests for our family at this time.

Will you join us in praying for these 3 things?

1. Deb’s foot – You may have seen our previous email or social posts about Deb breaking her toe a couple weeks ago. Good news, no surgery needed; just a few more weeks of wearing one of those super fashionable “broken foot” bootsPray for a complete healing before our summer travel in July.

2. Haiti Missions Trip – Praise the Lord, both Anna and Danielle are now fully funded to go on the Haiti mission trip with our church. Thanks to all who prayed and gave to make that possible. Their trip will be June 21st-28th. Pray for receptive hearts to the Gospel, and for safety and health for the whole team doing the trip.

3. Pre-married Couples small group – In addition to our work with FamilyLife, Deb and I have become more involved with the marriage ministry at our church. For the next 5 weeks we will be co-leading a group for pre-married couples. Many of the couples will be forming a blended family. Pray for wisdom for us as we share God’s blueprints for marriage and family. Pray for these couples as they do the hard work of working through issues that will need to be addressed as they enter into a marriage covenant.

Do you also need prayer? Send us an email by clicking on the “Pray for me, too” Button!

Life in the Blender

I grew up in a home with my mom and my dad, and although it wasn’t perfect, they stayed committed to their marriage vows “until death did they part.” I grew up being taught that marriage was a commitment between one man and one woman for life.

Deborah and I entered into our relationship wanting to honor God and thus didn’t live together prior to marriage. We saved our first kiss until the minister said, “you may now kiss your bride.” We encourage every young person to pursue God’s design for marriage and family for their lives.

Over the last couple of decades blended families have become more and more commonplace, even among Christians. And while we know that blended families get formed in a variety of ways, many of them happen after a divorce and then remarriage. This saddens and confuses us, leaving us wondering how it became so commonplace.

But then a few years ago (15+ years into my own marriage), Deb told me, “Abe, you realize that you grew up in a blended family, right?” And she was right.

My mom was my father’s 2nd wife. He had 5 other kids in So. California from his first marriage. Because we were in Wa. state, my dad didn’t have a lot of interaction with his ex-wife or kids on a regular basis. But there were times when things that happened in his first family impacted the actions my family.

There are 100 million Americans who have either a step parent, step sibling, or step child. In fact, 40% of all families in the US are blended families. A few years ago FamilyLife launched a department dedicated to ministering to the needs of those 100 million people: FamilyLife Blended.

Deb and I are still strong advocates for God’s design of one man and one woman committed for life because the biological/nuclear home is the best environment for making disciples from one generation to the next.

But having said that, I’ve learned from FamilyLife Blended Director Ron Deal this key principle:

Stepfamilies done poorly produce more generational and societal chaos, and faith shaping hazards. BUT…stepfamilies done well are a source of grace for couples & children, generationally redemptive, and a picture of what God has done with us bringing us into his family.

If you now find yourself in a blended family relationship, or you know someone who is, I’d love to share with you more about FamilyLife Blended and the resources that we offer. Give me a call. 🙂

Or you can visit FamilyLife Blended’s website, or pick up a copy of one of their many resources.

find these resources and more on FamilyLife’s website.

deb and I recently hosted the “Blended and Blessed” Simulcast at our church for blended families.

The greater work

 “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” —Oswald Chambers

There’s been a number of messages, devotionals, and podcasts that I’ve listened to recently that have driven this message home to me in the last 3 months. 

Prayer over my wife, our kids, our ministry, our finances, our community, our nation, and for the spread of the gospel is much more important than any “work” I try to do in my own strength. 


Lord, help me to focus on the greater work that you are calling me to. May I never confuse the details of the work I can do for the greater work you are wanting to do in me.