It is a delight and a privilege to welcome Nancy Kennedy to Spiritually Unequal Marriage once again.
Originally, from California Nancy lives in central Florida with her husband, Barry. Her two daughters, Alison and Laura, are grown. Alison is married with one daughter, Caroline (age 8 ½). Laura is going to college part-time in Charlotte, N.C. and working full-time.
Nancy works as a features writer and religion columnist for the Citrus County Chronicle in Florida. She also writes books and speaks at Christian women’s retreats. She is a member of Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church in Lecanto, Florida.
I have shared in previous posts here at SUM that Nancy’s book, When He Doesn’t Believe, greatly impacted my heart and marriage. Her work contributed enormously to the healing of my marriage in the early years. As a young woman I struggled to navigate my faith with my unsaved husband and was deeply unhappy and desperately searching for help. It was in the early years that I picked up Nancy’s book from the local Christian book store and found comfort. Her wisdom and practicality filled me with hope and encouraged me to move forward in my marriage and faith.
I thought it would be fun to take a look at a couple of the chapter’s in her book and ask Nancy to expand on a few of the subjects covered.
Lynn: Nancy, we are delighted to have you join us again here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and giving of yourself to serve the Kingdom of God. You honor Jesus with your life and heart.
I was thinking it might be fun for our readers to just get a quick update on your life and marriage. How are you and Barry doing? How are the girls?
Nancy: Barry and I celebrated our 35th anniversary this past May. He retired about five years ago and four years ago this month he had open-heart surgery, quadruple bypass. His heart surgeon was a doctor who was also a member at my church and got to know Barry well. Six months after that Barry had another surgery with the same doctor and then another few heart procedures after that. So, he had a rough couple of years for a while. Oh, and the girls are fine.
Lynn: Nancy, chapter ten, Lord, Hear my Prayer, particularly resonates with me. I can testify to the truth that our motives in prayer are crucial. Can you share with us your thoughts on how we can pray for our spouse?
Nancy: I know more about how NOT to pray than how to. I believe that God uses the prayers of His people, but He doesn't NEED them in order to work in our lives. I think that our prayers are more for us than anything else. That said, God tells us to pray, to ask and believe.
I started out praying that God would convict my husband of his sin, but it was more of a "Get him, God!" Today, I would pray that people would understand how great their sin is in comparison to God's great mercy and grace. That's my prayer for a lot of people, me included, that we would see God's great mercy and our need for it because that's what draws us to Him.
When we pray for our husbands, or anyone, I think God's purpose is to change us, soften our hearts, and also surprise and delight us when He answers.
Lynn: You and Barry have been married for 35 years. Share with us how you remain hopeful over these many years.
Nancy: Just before Barry's first heart surgery he prayed with his doctor! He said he knew it was time, that the day of his surgery might be his last. It was awesome! I was terrified in the waiting room, but I knew that I would see him in eternity. But that was 30 years in the waiting. I kept hopeful all those years because I believe that God is sovereign, that He knows what He's doing (and that He's just not done doing it), that He never says "Oops" and that as long as a person has breath, there's still reason to hope.
Lynn: In Chapter five, Being Perfect vs. Being Real, you talk about the many women who feel like they must always be the perfect example of a Christian in their marriage. At the end of the chapter you offer this; Think on These Things: Think about how easily Christians fall into the “Maintaining a good witness” trap. Can you give us an example from your own marriage where living in authenticity proved more powerful than the pretense of being a perfect Christian?
Nancy: I write a weekly faith column for a daily newspaper in Florida and in it I often express my doubts and confess my sins and shortfalls. I admit freely that at times I don't love God the way I think I should and that I struggle with going to church sometimes. I've had very proper churchy people call or write and scold me for not "maintaining my witness" but I've had more people stop me in the market to say they're not Christians, but that I've shown them that maybe they could be. Too often we show the world that we're uptight and uncomfortable in our own skin as Christians. It makes outsiders think that Jesus makes a person weird. What Jesus should do (and does!) is make a person secure—secure enough to let people see our struggles with sin and obedience. That authenticity is what attracts people to the Lord.
Lynn: One day in heaven, you and I will sit together and share the stories of how our Lord orchestrated the astonishing in His relentless pursuit of our husbands soul. What is one story that shines in your memory?
Nancy: My “pigs fly” memory. I had almost given up thinking my husband would ever want to make a move toward faith. I told a friend, “It’ll happen when pigs fly,” in other words, never. Then came Christmas Eve, I think it was 2004. It was the first year neither of my girls were home for Christmas and Barry worked out of town. I didn’t expect him home until Christmas Day, so I made arrangements to be a greeter at all three of our Christmas Eve services. As I stood in the church lobby area before the second service, out of the corner of my eye I saw a familiar face, but it didn’t register who it was. Barry came walking up, wearing a white shirt and tie (and his sunglasses!), no advance notice, no clues, total surprise. He had never been to my church before and he came that night. He had been planning it for weeks. That night I saw a pig fly. It was a year and a half later that I know for sure he came to faith.
Lynn: Nancy give us an update on your newest book/project.
Nancy: I’m not currently writing any new books and my speaking schedule is blank, so I’m not sure what God has for me. Maybe my season of writing is over or maybe it’s just taking a break. My newest books are “Girl On A Swing” and “Lipstick Grace,” which is a collection of 120 of my columns.
Lynn: How can we, the community of Spirituallyunequalmarriage.com, pray for you?
Nancy: That I will continue to rest in God’s faithfulness to me. I need to tell you all that even though I know for sure Barry is saved, he still doesn’t love church. I go on Saturday nights and he and I take a drive on Sunday mornings and listen to sermons on CD (he does love to hear preaching). So, in many ways, my life is the same. Still, God is sovereign and He never says “Oops” – and He’s not done yet.
You are always a delight Nancy. Thank you for taking time to share your life with us. We love you.
|When He Doesn't Believe: Help and Encouragement for Women Who Feel Alone in Their Faith
By Nancy Kennedy
Share your voice, heart and love in the comments.
Marching Around Jericho is a spiritual guide. As you read through the pages, powerful and transformative instruction and equipping takes place. We follow Jesus as he leads us around the walls, imparting kingdom truths with each passing, finally arriving at the gates of the walled-off city, our spouse’s unbelieving heart. After the circles in prayer are complete, we arrive fully prepared to command the walls to crumble and be removed, making a way for our spouse to step from the rubble of lies and captivity, into faith and freedom!