It was not Iris’s idea to attend a Mighty Oaks Women’s Program. In fact, she was going through a divorce and the last thing she wanted to do was help her husband by attending a “program”. She was checked out. Done. Ready to move on from the pain and hurt that had taken the place of her happily-ever-after dreams for her marriage.
Somehow, despite her stubborn will, her husband Marc signed her up and convinced her to go. He had already been to a Mighty Oaks Men’s Program and had been radically changed. He wanted to save his marriage. He wanted his wife to understand his pain and suffering that led him to make the poor choices he made. He didn’t want to explain away his faults. He just wanted her to understand. He just wanted to reconnect with her.
Iris was still searching for a way out of attending as the date approached for her to attend the program. She felt work was her best excuse. Then, a week before the program, her arthritis got so bad that she had to take a medical leave. Looking back, she can see that this was God’s way of ensuring that she attend.
With no excuses left, she went to the women’s 5-day program. She arrived at the ranch in central California intrigued but also determined to not do another thing for Marc. She wasn’t there to make things better for him. In fact, she wasn’t sure why she was there at all. It wasn’t until day three that a shift took place. Iris explains it in her own words.
“Kathy told her marriage story. I wasn’t the only one. She and Chad had been through a similar experience and they made it through. It put me in my place. After her testimony, they told us to have some quiet time with just Jesus and us. Really allowing him to speak to us. At first, I thought it was silly. I remember telling God, ‘I know you restored Chad and Kathy but how can you restore me and Marc? We are too far gone.’ I started to pray after and suddenly I felt a calm come over me I clearly heard Jesus say I will heal your marriage. I remember crying my eyes out not knowing how He was going to do it. All I knew was that I had to allow him. That day I was able to call Marc and the rehab he was in, in Oklahoma, and told him for the first time in almost 2.5 years that I loved him and that I was willing to fight for us.“
As the week went on Iris learned how PTSD works. She was able to understand how her husband was processing life and how to communicate with him. She was given tools to use when she got home that could improve her marriage. As she implemented them healing began to happen in her marriage.
Iris walked away with something else she needed. A network of women she could lean on. Women who understood her trials and could pick her up but also hold her accountable. Some of these women are now her best friends.
Iris is now a group facilitator at Mighty Oaks Women’s Programs, helping women just like herself. She also serves military families in her local church. She explained why she does this, “Chad and Kathy have a heart to give back. They developed a team of people that gave me solid teaching, tools, and support. Through their example and the example of the other women going through the program with me, I learned to be open and allow God back into my life. The fact that they were all so open and raw made me feel like I wasn’t alone. God used their stories as a vessel to draw me back to Him and to save my marriage. I had lost my way and God used Mighty Oaks Programs to lead me back. I now want to serve to help give that back to others.”
We are happy to report that Marc and Iris did not get a divorce. They are happily married with two kids. Marc serves with Mighty Oaks and has recently graduated from the Fire Academy. You can watch a video of Marc and Iris’s Story here.