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Intersection Column | Confronting the Elephant in the Sanctuary



by Janine Rosche


When I wrote the first draft of With Every Memory back in 2016, I’d been married for nearly fifteen years. Marriage to my college sweetheart was so much more than I’d imagined it would be. Like so much more. More arguments. More misunderstandings. More moments where we seemed to be two opposite people seeing opposite things and wanting to handle hard moments in opposite ways.


At the time, our family was living in Colorado and planting a church. Everything about our lives was dedicated to honoring God. And yet, I felt I had to keep my marital struggles hidden.


Why? I’d learned that the current American church doesn’t handle failing marriages well. Rather than offering advice about solid, research-based resources, we are often told to pray harder, try harder and refrain from saying anything to anyone that may paint our spouse in a bad light. Or, as one Christian marriage conference leader advised when a woman asked how to get her husband to fight for their relationship, “Give him more [physical attention] so he’ll feel more love for you.” So not helpful.


Right and left, I witnessed my Christian friends’ marriages end in divorce. It was always shocking to those around them. I knew right then that something was wrong. Amazing men and women of God were desperately hurting, alone and without any support from the church during the hardest time of their lives.


Do you know who was always happy to give advice to me about my marriage? My friends who weren’t involved in church. They cared about me. They cared about my husband and my children, so they were more than willing to provide suggestions on how to move forward. As a family life educator, I knew those suggestions weren’t always the healthiest for me and my situation, but they were the only ones I’d been offered.


The characters Lori and Michael Mendenhall were born out of this realization. What happens when a happy, loving couple goes through marital struggles as a result of ordinary trials and extraordinary tragedy? As you’ll see in With Every Memory, there are plenty of people in the characters’ lives who would like nothing more than to see their marriage end. In fact, it sometimes seems their daughter Avery, who has issues of her own, is the only one pushing them to fight for their marriage.


Honestly, throughout this story, I want to give Lori a hug. She and I have a lot in common. No, I was not a teen beauty queen, but we both have found our identity in our roles as wife and mother. Because of that, when home is falling apart, there’s such guilt and shame.


My day job is literally teaching people how to have healthy marriages!


That’s why in this novel, I wanted to explore what happens to a woman who feels like a failure in the one thing she believes she’s called to do. I doubt she and I are the only ones with this heartache. My hope for the readers of this novel is that they won’t feel alone in life’s struggles, especially if they ever have or currently are struggling in their relationships.


My prayer is that couples wouldn’t be afraid to reach out for help before struggles begin. That’s what family life education is for, after all. And amid struggle, marriage and family therapy is the best option. Therapists and counselors are trained to respect all spiritual beliefs, but you can also find one that specifically works through a biblical worldview. I also pray that couples wouldn’t be afraid to speak to their pastor, small group leader, accountability partners and friends in the tradition of Matthew 18:15-20. Yes, some marriages will still end in divorce, but at least people will feel loved, prayed for and supported by the church before, during and after.

How are my husband and I doing? Thanks for asking! We’re doing much better. We’re still two opposite people seeing opposite things, but now we have learned to handle hard moments in not-so-opposite ways. And how are Lori and Michael? You’ll have to read With Every Memory to find out!


If you’re struggling in your marriage, you can find a licensed marriage and family therapist in your area at the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists website.

 

About the Author

In addition to With Every Memory, Janine Rosche is the author of the Madison River Romance and Whisper Canyon series of novels. Prone to wander, she finds as much comfort on the open road as she does at home. This longing to chase adventure, behold splendor and experience redemption is woven into her stories. When she isn’t traveling or writing novels, she teaches family life education courses, produces The Love Wander Read Journal and takes too many pictures of her sleeping dogs.

 

About the Book

One year after her family was in a car accident that killed her teenage son, Lori Mendenhall returns home with a traumatic brain injury to a life she doesn’t recognize. Her once-loving husband is a distant workaholic. Her once-bubbly daughter, Avery, will have to accept help from Xander Dixon, her twin brother's best friend and the boy who relentlessly teased her for years. With every memory that returns, Lori can't help but wonder if the life she can't remember is one she'd rather forget.

 

Did You Know?


According to Kevin Eikenberry, author of many business leadership books, there are five faces to complacency in the corporate world. Perhaps these same truths apply to the Christian experience as well.

  • The Champions: Why change the tried and true? “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18 NASB).

  • The Resigned: What’s the point in striving if the effort won’t bring you closer to the goal? "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14 NASB).

  • The Comfortable: When life seems good, why change? “These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NASB).

  • The Tired: How can I climb to the heights when I can’t even manage the first step? “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9 NASB).

  • The Lazy: Why push any harder than what is necessary to get through the day? “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 NASB).

The Lord will teach us to avoid complacency, for as He breathes in us, we are being continuously changed and readied for eternity.


-Linda Wood Rondeau, Lessons Along the Way

 

Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore


“A bookstore is one of the few places today that make me feel a sense of ‘all is well,’ removing the chaos of social media while showing me complete thoughts rather than screaming headlines.”


-Angela Breidenbach, Queen of the Rockies

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