Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Episode Resources

Watch this interview between Nancy and Barbara Rainey.

Leslie Basham: Is there a painful issue in your marriage? Barbara Rainey reminds you how much hope there is when you trust your marriage to the Lord.

Barbara Rainey: Nothing is impossible for God! Therefore, my marriage is not impossible, my situation is not impossible. God will come through if we trust Him and ask Him and invite Him in. He will give us what we need.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Monday, June 6, 2016.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: What a joy it is for me to have, today, Barbara Rainey back with us on Revive Our Hearts. She's been with us a number of times before. Our listeners love hearing from Barbara. I love hearing from Barbara.

I love the new resources she comes up with, her writing and her ministry. She's been a long-time friend, along with her husband, Dennis. Together they are the cofounders of FamilyLife Today, and FamilyLife Today had a lot to do with birthing Revive Our Hearts.

In fact, the early years of our recording were done in the studios, in Little Rock, Arkansas, of FamilyLife Ministries. So, Barbara and Dennis have been friends, and I'm just delighted that you get to hear from her today as we talk about a new book that I think, Barbara, is my favorite, so far.

You've written a lot of great books! We're going to have a great conversation about this book. I just want to tell you, the book is about marriage, and I am all ears, having now been married for just over six months. So I'm reading this book in a way I probably wouldn't have read it before, and am just so grateful for it.

Thank you for joining us, Barbara. Tell us a little bit about your family (for those who may not be familiar with you). I want them to get a feel for who you are and why your season of life would enable you to write this book on marriage.

Barbara: Dennis and I have been married forty-three years, and we have six children. Five of them are married, and from those five children we have twenty-two grandkids. Every time I say that, it just kind of makes me still be so surprised. It just kind of takes my breath away, because I think, How did that happen?

It happened so fast. It's just amazing!

Nancy: I just want to know, if you had to, could you give us all their middle names?

Barbara: No, absolutely not! It would be a challenge. I would have to think very carefully to make sure that I got all the first names right—and in order.

Nancy: Twenty-two. That is amazing! And maybe some more at some point?

Barbara: Oh, I think so. I don't think we're finished with twenty-two.

Nancy: Wow. What a heritage; what a blessing!

Barbara: Yes, it really is. It's a lot of fun. It's hard to keep . . . I forget a lot of birthdays. I don't know what they like and what they don't like, because there are so many, I can't keep up with them. But it's fun.

Nancy: And you and Dennis visit from time to time. I know you made a trip not too long ago and made the rounds of the grandchildren. What a road trip that had to be!

Barbara: Yeah, it's a challenge because most of our kids live away, so we have to make intentional efforts to go see them and spend time there, so it takes a good bit of planning.

Nancy: Well, you've written a book now on marriage, and I just think this has to be your lifetime work—your magnum opus. This is a beautiful book called Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife. It's a hardcover book. It's just gorgeous, from cover to cover, inside and out.

I found myself not able to put it down. In fact, here's the copy I was reading over the last few days. I've got all these little Post-It notes stuck all the way through it, things I wanted to remember or mark or note. So my copy's now heavily marked.

So much wisdom and insight, and it's practical. It's really, really honest. Barbara, I just want to thank you for being willing to share . . . and Dennis, I assume, had to be willing, too, for you guys to share out of your own journey, out of your own marriage.

Barbara: He was.

Nancy: Dennis used the word "raw" last night. I think there are moments when you read this and you just think, They can relate to people who are reading this book! This is not a picture-perfect marriage. It's a journey, like it is for all of us.

But here's the other thought I had as I read this book. I thought, This is not only helpful, but it is hope-filled. I just came away with so much hope for any marriage, no matter where it is. So, thank you! What a gift this is to women, to the body of Christ.

It's not only going to be a gift to these women, but it's going to be a gift to their husbands and their children and their grandchildren.

This is what we're going to talk about over the next several days. We have this resource available in our Resource Center for a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. This book is worth a lot. It's a treasure. It's a jewel.

For those who'd like to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts and help us be able to minister to more marriages with resources like this, and interviews like this one, contact us at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959 and let us know you'd like to make a donation to the ministry, of any amount, and we'll be glad to send you Barbara's book.

I hope lots and lots and lots of our listeners . . . I hope every woman or every woman who someday hopes to be married will get a copy of this book. I don't say that very often, but I am saying that about this book.

Barbara, you've been working on this book for a number of years.

Barbara: Yes, this book has been a long time in the making. I started thinking about it a long time ago, feeling like there was a need for a book from a woman to other women on the topic of being a wife.

The seeds were actually planted (even though I'd kind of been thinking about it) in 2001. Both of our sons got engaged and got married the same summer, in the summer of 2001. At the first son's wedding, my second son's fiancée asked me, "Would you share some things with me about how to be a wife?"

I thought, Oh, my goodness! I was honored. I was amazed that she had the courage to ask me. She didn't even really know me at the time. She lived two states away, so it wasn't like I could call her and we could go get coffee.

But I was so thrilled that she cracked that door open a little to a relationship with me that I thought, I'm going to walk through that door! The easiest way for me to do that was to begin to write, by email, just some letters that told stories about what I had learned in my years of being a wife.

These aren't theories. These aren't, "Here Are Ten Things That You Can Do." These are just life lessons that I'd learned over several decades, by that time.

Nancy: And don't you wish you'd had a woman to speak into your life when you were a young wife?

Barbara: Yes, and just encouragement that, "Yes, it's okay. It will be hard; everybody encounters hard patches," and how you get through those kinds of thing. It's less about, "Here are ten things to do," or "five things to do," and [she brushes her palms off each other] "Done!"

It's more about an encouraging, "Here are some of the things that I faced, and here is how I got through those and how God sustained me in those times, and He can do that for you, too."

Nancy: So, you called it Letters to My Daughters. You have daughters and daughters-in-law. Tell about the format of the book, and how you came to that.

Barbara: So . . . I started out in 2001 doing these emails to my daughters. I just wanted it to stay in a letter format, because I didn't want to come across as though I were preaching to them or teaching them. I wanted it to feel like I was literally writing my daughters, or their friends, a letter.

I dedicated the book to my daughters, but also to a bunch of their friends who are either getting married or are married already . . . and then, friends that I have that are their ages, too. So, I wanted it to feel like we were sitting down and having a cup of coffee, as I shared my stories with them—not like a lecture or a sermon or something like that. So, letters helped me keep it conversational.

Nancy: And it really is. You feel like you're sitting down and hearing from a friend. I felt, as I was reading this book, like we got to sit dow, and if I'd had some questions as I'm in this early season of marriage, I felt like you were just able to pour into my life.

A lot of the things that you're talking about are things that most of us who've been around the gospel and the Scripture for any period of time, they're probably not brand-new, but they are things that when you're figuring out how to apply them in the laboratory of life, it's a little different matter sometimes.

Barbara: Yes, it is. And really, God is the One who created marriage. We know that, right? But sometimes we think we have to make it work. We forget that not only did He create it, but He's also the One who makes it work.

It's talking about the principles of Scripture and how those apply in marriage. It's about how God wants us to take what we know about Him, and what is true about us in our relationship with Him, and work it out in our marriages, day after day, year after year.

Nancy: If you had to give what we call an "elevator speech" . . . You're getting on at the first floor and somebody says to you, "Tell me what you do. . ."

And you say, "I'm an author."

"What have you written?"

"Well, I've just written a book called Letters to My Daughters."

Say we've got from here to the fifth floor on the elevator, tell me what the book is about. What would be your elevator speech about this book?

Barbara: That's a great question. I should probably plan one of those!

Nancy: You gave us a great one last night at dinner.

Barbara: Did I?

Nancy: When we asked you what would be the "take-away" from this book. 

Barbara: Well, I will say (and I may not say it the way I said it last night) that I want to lift our vision again. I want women to see that marriage is holy, marriage is good, and God has a beautiful thing He wants to work in our lives in marriage.

God is the Divine Artist, and He's given us a canvas in marriage. He's given my husband some paintbrushes and me some paintbrushes, and He wants us to create something in our marriage that will reflect something of Him to the watching world.

I really believe that every marriage, in its uniqueness, has a different message to tell—some facet of who God is that only we can show. So, I want to lift our vision, lift our eyes, and help us see that it's a beautiful thing, because we've been so surrounded—and still are—by divorce and by couples who are failing, and it's sad! It makes all of us think less of marriage. I want to lift marriage up and help us think more of it again. I want to help women say, "This is worth fighting for; it's worth hanging in there. It's worth the seasons of winter to get to spring again."

So, my hope is that this book will encourage and strengthen marriages all over the world, to say, "This is worth fighting for!"

Nancy: And, no doubt, there are some listening in this room (and over the air today) who are in a winter season. They're thinking, Talk about two different paintbrushes. We have made a mess of this canvas! This is disastrous; this looks hopeless. This is no masterpiece.

Just speak a word of hope into their hearts at the beginning of this conversation, that would maybe give them a reason to want to keep listening.

Barbara: Well, I remember those seasons in our marriage. I remember many times when it felt dark and it felt bleak and it felt too hard, and it felt to me like, "I don't know that I have what it takes to get through this season. I don't know how to get through this season."

And yet, I chose in those moments to believe that God was big enough, and He was sufficient, and He was going to give us what we needed to get through it. I have to tell you that one of my favorite verses, that I have quoted for decades at our Weekend to Remember marriage conferences, is Luke 1:37.

This is when Gabriel came to talk to Mary and tell her she was going to be the mother of Jesus. And he said to her, "Nothing is impossible with God." And I hung on to that in lots of seasons in our marriage—and not just in marriage situations and marriage circumstances, but also with our kids. There were lots of times with our kids, raising our children, that I felt it was impossible. I wasn't sure what to do. I wasn't sure how we would survive, how we could get through this. And that verse was a rock to me, it was an anchor to me in lots of circumstances of life: "Nothing is impossible for God."

Therefore, my marriage is not impossible; my situation is not impossible; this person's heart is not too hard, mine is not too hard. God is big enough, if we wait and let Him and invite Him, He can do miracles!

Don't we all want to see miracles! Right? Well, He will do the miracles if we will invite Him and then wait for Him to work. I think we're way too impatient. I think we're way too ready to quit and give up and say, "Well, God didn't come through . . . so . . . done!"

And I want to encourage women not to do that, not to give up, because God will come through if we trust Him and ask Him and invite Him in. He will give us what we need.

Nancy: I want to take just a moment and stop and park on that thought, "Nothing is impossible for God!" I want you to think about the most impossible situation that relates to your family. It may be a marriage, it may be a child, it may be something with extended family or in-laws, or whatever.

Just think about that situation. It came right to your mind, I know it did. And then I want you to say with me, just affirm that truth of God's Word: "Nothing is impossible for God." Let me hear you say it.

Ladies: Nothing is impossible for God!

Nancy: And you may be listening to this broadcast in your car or as you're jogging (you may be listening to the podcast). I want you to join us in saying out loud, "Nothing is impossible for God."

And you know, this may be a verse that you just cling to, hang on to, and take with you through this day and the days ahead, and just begin to affirm the truth of God's Word. "Nothing"—even this—"Nothing is impossible for God!"

And you'll find that, as you counsel your heart according to the truth of God's Word, that truth takes over and emotions/feelings become servants to the truth. Nothing is impossible for God. And Barbara, I caught that message loud and clear as I read your book, because you restated it over and over again.

Barbara: I did. I mentioned it a lot. One of the things I love about that verse is that, God in His kindness and grace, didn't just say it one time. He said it eight different ways, and I list all eight of those verses near the end of the book.

It's not just that nothing is impossible for God, but nothing is too hard! He says it in different ways. I just love that He cares for us so much that He gives us that message in different ways, and speaks to us in different moments.

Those eight verses are all listed in there, because I need every one of them in my life, and I know you do, too.

Nancy: And we need that in different seasons of life, because maybe God's taken you through one difficult patch and then you come into another, and you get blind-sided. You think, I wasn't ready for this. I wasn't expecting this.

And isn't that what happens in marriage? There are expectations that are built up in our "Disney" culture, and life just isn't like the expectations, and so we get disappointed, disillusioned, frustrated. "I didn't think that . . ." This is where we're living, and this is where we need to lift our eyes up and say, "Nothing is too difficult; nothing is too hard for God."

So it's learning to bring God into this relationship—not just when it's beautiful and flourishing and looks like a masterpiece, but learning to bring God into it when it looks like a mess, or it looks perplexing. or you can't see the answer.

And what we're talking about in relation to marriage applies to every area in which we're walking. I know we have single women listening to us, in this audience and over the broadcast, for whom the impossibility seems to be dealing with this single season of life.

"Nothing is too difficult for God! Nothing is impossible for God!" Whatever that means, that it will glorify Him and make a masterpiece out of your life. That is what He's about. And sometimes the masterpiece that He's making isn't just fixing our problems, but it's changing us.

You talked about that, Barbara, in a lot of different seasons of your life. You talked about how, in your marriage, God has used the pressure and the problems to change you.

Barbara: Well, He does. I think one of God's purposes in marriage is to change our lives. I have to say that I am a very different person than I was when we got married forty-three years ago. I was very, very shy. I was very quiet.

I had a lot of issues from my background and my past that took years of God working out in my life, slowly, one by one. I think God wants to do that with both husband and wife in marriage. There is much healing, there's much transformation, that He wants to accomplish, and marriage is one of His favorite tools for doing so.

So I believe that God's purposes are accomplished in our lives because marriage is about redemption and God is about redemption. He works. He does what He does best—which is redeem and restore and transform—and He does that in the context of a marriage relationship.

Nancy: And He's using it as one of His tools to sanctify us, to make us holy, to make us like Jesus. So this is about something much longer term and more weighty and magnificent than just about getting through the immediate crisis.

Barbara: Yes. I tell a story in my book. Think back to the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, years ago. We all became real familiar with the term, "reporters embedded." Do you remember that term? What that means is that the Army allowed reporters to come in and be embedded with a particular group of soldiers.

That reporter would travel with them, take photographs, interview, and then write a story afterwards. I think marriage is like that. I think God has "embedded" marriage in every culture around the world to be a witness for Him, to be a reflection of Him, to be a representation of who God is—first of all to your family, but to your neighborhood, your community, to your extended family, and that culture. So when I think about the world and I think about marriage, God's got marriages in China, and He's got them in Iraq, and He has them in Africa and places in South America and all over North America. 

Nancy: . . . and in Little Rock, and in Niles, Michigan. 

Barbara: Exactly. God created marriage to reflect who He is. Scripture says that marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church, so there's something much bigger and much grander and much more glorious at stake than our personal happiness.

All of our marriages are something that God wants to use to represent Himself to the people in the places where He's embedded us. So, yes, I agree totally. Our marriages have a much higher purpose and a much higher calling than just our happiness and just to produce some kids and just go through life.

Nancy: Interestingly, what I picked up as another thread through your book is that as you and Dennis have worked through, plowed through, pressed through some of those hard patches and found God's grace and humbled yourselves and learned and you've grown and wrestled through those hard places—the takeaway for me was, now forty-three years into marriage, God has put you in a sweet place. It's not without challenges  still, but that it's been worth it. You're experiencing a joy and a happiness that you maybe never anticipated when you were young marrieds.

Barbara: Well, actually, I would have to say we did. I think all of us, when we get married, we long for that comfort of being with another person who "gets us." We feel accepted. We all long for that, right? We want someone to know us and still accept us. Our fear is that someone will know us and then reject us, but our hope for marriage is that we can be known and accepted and loved for who we are.

I think that's what we all get married for in the first place. What surprises us is that it takes so long to get there. We feel it initially, it's good initially, but it takes a long time for that to become normative in the relationship because you're bumping in to sin, you're bumping into differences, you're bumping into different preferences, and all of those things that you have to make adjustments to.

So, yes, we are at this place now that really is sweet. As you said, it's not without difficulty, but we're in a place where because we know each other so well now and because we've survived lots of challenges and lots of difficulties that there is that comfort level that we got married for, that we longed for in the beginning, that is now present.

We are at the "finishing each other's sentences" stage of marriage. Sometimes that's not fun, because we go, "Oh, yeah, I knew that about you." But most of the time it is good, because we know each other so well that there's that comfort level that I think we all long for.

Nancy: So, there's a happiness, a sweetness, that comes from having pressed through and persevered and maybe having endured the hard places over the long haul. And you think of how many marriages don't ever get there either because they don't have the Lord bringing His grace into the marriage, or because they don't endure long enough to get past the hard patch and to get to the sweet place.

Barbara: Honestly, it makes me really sad that people are missing the joy of God's redemption in their lives. And when you think about all of the divorces that all of us know, we all know tons of people who've been divorced—whether we know them personally and up close (family members), or whether we've just seen it. That impacts us. It impacts all of us. And so, it does really make me sad when I think about how many people are stopping too soon—way too soon. And so, therefore, they don't get to taste that sweet fruit.

If you think about an oak tree, it takes years and years and years—decades—for an oak tree to become this grand glorious thing that God created. The same for fruit: it takes a long time for fruit to grow and develop. The same for fine wines: they must be aged for years and years. If you cut any of those processes short, you miss what God intended it to be in the beginning. Marriage is the same. Too many are cutting it short; too many are quitting too soon; too many are not hanging in there and enduring.

"Enduring" isn't a very fun word. We don't like that word so much. But God talks about endurance, He talks about it in James, and He tells us to endure because there is fruit in enduring to the end.

Nancy: And I hope that's giving you hope already, as we begin this series, as you think about that difficult place in your life, that difficult relationship, where your marriage is right now.

Maybe, like me, you've been married just about six months, or maybe you've been married for decades, and you're wondering, Where are we headed? How are we going to deal with this? How do we deal with these challenges?

Maybe you're in a really hard place right now, and I hope that what you're hearing is, "There is nothing too difficult for God. Nothing is impossible for God." I hope that your heart is encouraged to press in there, hang in there, endure. 

I hope that you know that along the way there are some resources, there are some tools. There are tools that God gives us in His Word that will help form the pathway to that marriage becoming a beautiful oak, a masterpiece, the work of art that God intended.

I want you to join us for the rest of this conversation with Barbara, starting tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts. Join us again. We're not going to get to talk about all of this amazing book on this series, but I want you to be able to read all of it. The book called Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife.

Remember it is available to you from our Resource Center when you send a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, so we can keep speaking hope and help and encouragement and grace into marriages around the world.

It's a beautiful book by Barbara Rainey, and as I've said, I want every married woman—or every woman who thinks she may ever be married—to have a copy of that book. It's our gift to you, our way of saying "thank you" to you when you support this ministry. Be sure and join us again for Revive Our Hearts, with Barbara Rainey.

Leslie: That's Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth talking with Barbara Rainey about her new book, Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife. To get a copy, call with your donation of any amount. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

That's also where you can see parts of this conversation between Nancy and Barbara on video.

When a couple is dating, their differences can be fascinating to one another, but once they're married, those differences can drive a couple apart. Barbara Rainey will show you what to do when you discover how different you and your mate really are. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Before we're done, Nancy asked Barbara's husband, Dennis, to tell us what Barbara is really like behind the scenes! Let's hear his response.

Dennis Rainey: There's a whole lot more behind the woman than you'll get in here. I like to say of Barbara, wherever she goes, she makes things beautiful—both in terms of art and just things that are beautiful—but also in terms of truth. She's a student of theology and has been for our entire married life, and is a very good thinker, a critical thinker. And she has been a great friend and wife.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.