This is a double duty post. Today I’m wishing my sister-in-law…well, I should just drop the “in-law” part…a wonderful happy birthday. JeannaLynn is my sister, a sister by the gift of marriage, and a sister of my heart.
And that brings me to the second thing I want to share with her: gratitude. Not for the first time, but for the first time in a public way, I have to thank her for saving my marriage last year. That sounds dramatic, and I am not a drama queen. But that is the truth. A few others who knew we were in distress were helpful, loving, concerned. But it was JeannaLynn who stepped in and did the thing I could not do for myself. She rescued me, and us. And I am forever grateful.
How do you thank someone who does that for you?
You thank them from a depth of gratitude you didn’t know you possessed. You thank them privately. You thank them publicly. You thank them with a humble heart.
All of these things I feel, and all of them I want to share.
The details are not important, and in any case, they are a private matter. The rescue, and the outcome, are the important points of my story. But it isn’t even my story, in particular, that is important. The important thing is acknowledging that this woman is making a difference. She, along with her husband, is counseling, ministering, saving, and bringing relief to couples who have found themselves on the brink: the brink of despair, the brink of divorce.
She speaks as one who knows. JeannaLynn had her own struggles with her marriage. She has known the depths. She’s done the hard work to change her own story, and she understands what it takes to maintain the victory. It is hard-won, and all the clichés that you regularly hear apply: you can’t take it for granted; you have to work at it every day; no relationship is immune from the toll of stress and life challenges.
JeannaLynn is a nurse, and for many years has focused on the area of obstetrics. For several years now she has taught childbirth classes at a local hospital, combining the roles of caregiver, mentor, teacher, and surrogate parent to the women who attend her sessions.
A few years ago, she decided to become a Life Coach, and she’s completed the coursework and testing to become a certified provider of coaching services. That dovetailed nicely with the work that has become her passion. Married to a minister, over the years JeannaLynn and Richard, her husband, had developed a marriage counseling ministry, working with church members who were in crisis in their relationships. A couple of years ago, they decided to do counseling full-time, and the rest, as they say, is history.
JeannaLynn and Richard work as a team, and they have been so effective in their ministry that they have a growing list of clients whose lives have been forever changed, and changed for the better, by their efforts. They step into lives and listen, teach coping skills, teach respect and value and honor. They are friends to marriages, not taking sides, but supporting both spouses in moments of turmoil. They share their story, acknowledging that relationships take tremendous energy, commitment, and focus. They also encourage couples to find the fun again, to prioritize each other, to understand that it is not easy to stay together. But it can be so rewarding, beyond belief.
In our situation, it was our unique relationship with JeannaLynn that made our progress possible. She knew us, knew our story, and was able, without taking sides or expressing judgment, to encourage, instruct, and be with us through the refining fire. She physically came to our house and spent several days, patiently listening, passionately lobbying us to see the big picture, to see each other with different eyes, to be true to ourselves, and to recognize that we could do that and hold on to the good that was between us.
We allowed her in. But she was willing to come in, and she did it with grace and honesty, with courage and respect.
Last year we were lost, and she helped us to find each other.
On the surface, we don’t look very different. But when you’ve been lost, and now you’re found, you sing in your heart. You appreciate differently. The smallest things are joys again. Old is new, and what was hard is soft.
Once I took a lot for granted. Now I take nothing for granted. I am humbled to think that I have another chance at happiness, and another chance to get it right. And for all the work that I have put into this renewal, and for all that Rob has done, I know who is at the heart of this opportunity. Thank you, JeannaLynn, from the bottom of my heart. And may this birthday be the beginning of another year of blessings, impact, and excitement as you witness the daily miracles of lives changed and hearts rescued.
JeannaLynn and Richard can be contacted at WGHJ.