Calling All Prayer Warriors
Dena Johnson MartinDena Johnson is a former single mom to three amazing kids: Blake, Cole, and Cassie and wife to her high school friend, Roy. She strives to follow Christ each day and to lead her children to do the same. She delights in taking the every day experiences of life and turning them into biblical lessons for her children. Dena's daily prayer is simple: Lord, my life is yours. Live through me. Love through me. Parent through me. Let me decrease that you might increase. Dena is the founder of Dena Johnson Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people find beauty through the brokenness of this life. Her heart's desire is to use her own pain to point others to the power of God who redeems every hurt, every pain. You can contact Dena at Dena@denajohnson.com. You can also find her blog at Dena Johnson Ministries.
- 2018 Aug 16
It’s hard to believe Roy and I will soon celebrate our first anniversary.
Our year has been…indescribable. There have been incredible moments of joy. We have enjoyed the companionship. It’s been great to watch him bond with my kids, to see him step up to the plate as the dad my kids have always wanted. He has surprised me repeatedly with beautiful roses and sweet surprises. We have laughed and enjoyed each other. He has loved me as Christ loves the church.
We have also experienced a tremendous amount of pain and heartache. There’s a lot I can’t go into, but some of it I have shared…including the death of his dad. While we know he is now victorious over his cancer, enjoying the presence of his Savior, there’s a huge void in Roy’s heart.
But for all the pain and loss we have experienced, Roy’s special needs daughter has suffered more. Without ways to adequately express her pain and grief, she turned to behaviors. Drastic behaviors. Behaviors that made her a danger to herself and to others.
After fighting for months to find help for his daughter, the decision was finally made to place her in a treatment facility where they could use behavioral techniques and medication to help her cope with her emotions. She’s been there for six months, and there has been some progress. She is still fighting her demons, but our visits have been mostly pleasant.
We learned last week she will be coming home soon. Honestly, neither of us was prepared for the sudden change in treatment plans; we anticipated a few more months to prepare and be ready for her return. But here we are.
As we prepare for her return, would you pray with us? Would you pray for us? Can you pray for…
Faith over fear. Roy’s daughter’s return comes with so many mixed emotions…one of which is definitely fear. I can’t even begin to describe the environment in which we lived for six months as we fought to find the right help. We never knew what would set off a tantrum, what the tantrum would consist of. And NOTHING we did ever settled her down.
I know perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). I know faith is the opposite of fear. But to be honest, I am struggling to reach a place where my faith is stronger than my fear.
Can you pray for God to strengthen our faith?
A united front. The therapists we have met have stated they are used to working with divorced couples because these types of behaviors often drive a wedge between the parents. These behaviors are so extreme few couples survive them.
I knew our lives would be impacted by her physical and mental disabilities. I knew it would be difficult to adjust to needing a babysitter if we wanted to be alone. I knew it would be a change to be stuck at the house after she went to bed. But nothing could have prepared us for what we experienced.
Roy and I rarely argue, but we’ve had our share our fights over how to proceed. We love each other dearly, but also recognize the severity of the problems we are facing. We want to do everything we can to be united, to protect our marriage from being a statistic in the face of a mental health crisis.
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 3:12
Wisdom and direction. The future is uncertain. We are searching for options, for resources. We want what is best for his daughter…and we want what is best for our family. We want those choices to be compatible, to be the same.
We also know there may be difficult decisions to make. The entire situation is unfair and unclear. We want more than anything to have God guiding our steps, for Him to illuminate the path and make us both see clearly what is best.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105
Protection of our family. I don’t even know where to start with this one. Maybe it’s physical protection. Maybe it’s emotional protection. Maybe it’s all of the above…and more.
As before, we don’t want to lose our family. Please just pray for God to protect us.
The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10
Intimacy with the Father. I know from experience the joy of intimacy with the Father, a gift that often comes through the trials of this life. I know the joy of walking so closely to the Father you can actually feel His presence, hear His sweet whispers. I know the joy of getting to know the Father in ways you never dreamed possible…all because we choose to walk closely with the Father through the refining fires of this life.
That’s my prayer for Roy, for me, for my kids as we walk through the upcoming days. Please pray He will be near. Please pray He will do a mighty work in us so He can do a mighty work through us.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
Healing for Roy. I can’t even start to understand the pain Roy must be feeling. I’ve only told you the tip of the iceberg from his year. The loss. The pain. The grief. I can’t even start to comprehend what he must feel, how he must hurt.
I also know our Father is the God of healing. I know He’s the one who can pick up the pieces, put us back together, make us better than before. I know He’s the one who brings beauty from ashes, who makes beauty out of a broken life.
And I trust Him to do just that for Roy.
Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. Hosea 6:1
Grace and compassion to abound. Roy always says the military teaches you to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves, but they never teach you how to turn that off. They never teach you to care for yourself, to make sure you are in a good place.
Roy is a passionate, loving man. He also wants to be the rock for everyone to lean on. I go along thinking Roy is doing just fine, but underneath he’s hurting. He’s lost his dad. His daughter is fighting horrible demons. He’s been hit with wave after wave of loss. And he usually hides it all really well.
I never want to forget his pain. I want to make sure I am always reminding myself what burden he carries, the immense pain he is suffering. He rarely talks about it, so I have to constantly tell myself to look at things from his perspective. When I can stop and see things from his point of view, it often pulls me out of a downward spiral of negative thinking.
I need eyes of compassion and grace when I look at Roy. I need words of love and empathy when we talk about these things. When I look at him, I need to see the pain that is below the surface.
Christ to be our solid rock. Neither of us has ever been in a truly Christ-centered marriage, and we both want Him to be our solid rock upon which our lives and marriage are built. Honestly, we are simply trying to figure out exactly how that looks. And, when your life is hit by wave after wave of pain and grief and loss, it’s really hard to take time to figure it all out.
We are seeking to pray together regularly. We are trying to take time to spend with one another alone…without all the kids clamoring for our attention. We are trying to find the church where we should plant our lives, our family. We are looking for a group of fellow Christians to do life with.
Please pray for God to give us a vision of what a Christ-centered marriage entails...and the discipline to follow through.
I can’t even start to tell you all just how much you mean to me…every single one of you who reads this blog and utters a prayer for us. You all have walked this journey with me, shared your hearts with me. You have been the answer to so many of my prayers.
So today, I come to you humbly asking you to be my mighty prayer warriors. For when two or more are gathered in His name, He is with us. And we need Him now.