I very clearly recall the beginning days of our journey down the double-digit prison sentence road. I remember the hard talks about the pain and agony that would come with the territory of being a “prison wife.”
Although the forecast was bleak, it was important for us to be real; and the reality was that our days ahead would be long, lonely and it would take a lot to endure the harsh elements of incarceration.
Aware but not afraid- we continued forward into “the desert” as we termed it.
In the desert, few people are able to survive for long periods of time and the same is true of prison marriages. (In fact, statistics say that less than 4% of them are successful.)
As we tackle each 365 day period, we learn something new about traveling through the desert.
We have learned the importance of timing- because with limited visitation and short phone calls; there is little time to waste on things that are not that important.
We have learned that some seasons are more trying than others. For instance, the summer heat and holidays apart seem to be slightly more painful than a regular day.
And the further we travel away from “life as it used to be,” the more we have learned to NOT take for granted the blessings in life that ARE.
Most individuals who have to spend long periods of time in the desert know about and long to find an oasis, which is a fertile spot in the desert where water is found. These isolated areas formed by underground rivers serve as a place of refuge, relief or pleasant change from what is usual and difficult.
After traveling nearly 2,000 days in the desert, God provided my husband and I with the divine gift of an oasis. It came in the form of a marriage seminar sponsored by Worldwide Voice in the Wilderness and we are truly grateful for everyone connected to that ministry!
For three amazing days, God afforded 22 couples with a moment of rest, refuge and refreshing from the painful realities of marriage separated by incarceration.
He allowed His love to flow through a group of amazing volunteers who waved banners of hope for overcoming.
While every couple had a different need, this experience created opportunities for fellowship, worship, forgiveness and the simple gift of touch. Each one of these gifts literally caused new life and love to spring forth!
I would imagine that once a desert traveler prepares to move on from an oasis, they do so with mixed feelings. While they wish they could stay there and drink forever, they understand that they can only find their way OUT OF THE DESERT by traveling ahead.
I believe this is also the case for each of the couples who were able to partake in this marriage seminar. While we surely would have loved to stay there together for just a little while longer; we understand that the victory is in making it to the other side and that we must continue forward as part of the 3% percent who survive this desert experience.
However, because of this experience, we truly have been revived and refocused for the journey ahead! I am ever so thankful for this oasis experience in the middle of our desert, and today we move forward with new strength.
Thank you Johnny and Betty for allowing God to use you in such an amazing way!