Updated: Feb 10, 2020
Because sometimes God takes you half way across the world for a divine appointment, to bring you to the one He created specifically for you and destined for you from the beginning of time...
We find great joy in hearing the many stories of how people met, and how God who brought them together used their lives as a testimony of His mercy, love, and power. Every story is unique and beautifully woven together by the hand of God. Here is but a glimpse of ours and how God worked, in spite of us, to put Himself on display...
It was "love at first sight," well, at least I (JR) liked to think so!
The magnificence of God is that He shows up in ways you never expect. Like 80 people on a last minute mission trip to China with no passports and no money...
12 years ago Becca was attending one of the largest college ministry's in the nation called the Mill. I (JR) lived in Denver at the time but would drive down with friends to Colorado Springs on occasion to attend what was at the time the largest college and 20 somethings gathering in the nation. One Friday night, the pastor made an announcement that they needed 80 people to go to Beijing, China within one week on a mission trip to meet a prior commitment another group could not fulfill. Neither of us had ever seen each other before being that there were thousands of college and 20 somethings that attended the Mill. Little did we know, God was stirring a fire in both our hearts to go. I had no idea how I would make it on this trip, as I had no passport, I didn't even have my birth certificate. In fact, Becca, and 12 others did not have a passport, not to mention we had no funds and no time to fundraise. Now, if you've ever traveled overseas you know how long it takes to get your passport; an expedited passport takes a minimum of at least two weeks! But here we were, 80 of us saying yes to the call, having no idea how we were going to board a plane within a week, except for an absolute miracle and total trust in God.
"The magnificence of God is that He shows up in ways you never expect. Like 80 people on a last minute mission trip to Beijing, China with no passports and no money."
When God gives vision, He matches that with His presence and His provision!
My birth certificate was shipped from New Mexico overnight and passports were printed in just under 4 hours. Our church received an out of the ordinary offering for $350,000 the next Sunday morning! Not a single person had to pay out of their own funds. Friends, when God is involved, NOTHING is impossible. The lives that would change as a result of faith and obedience blew our minds! Little did I know, this trip would empower, revitalize, and strengthen my walk with the Lord. It was this great step of faith that would lead me down a path that would reveal one of my life's greatest treasures.
"He who finds a wife finds a good thing!"
After arriving in Beijing, I was introduced to the most beautiful, passionate, God-fearing woman I had ever seen. Talk about underserved favor! Becca was unlike any woman I had ever met. I was drawn to her and made every excuse to be around her. Honestly, the closer I tried to get to her the further away she ensured a safe distance. It was intriguing, so much that four years of chasing this dream felt like only four months; well, at least from my view point! On the other hand, she will tell you those 4 years seemed like an eternity!
To say our relationship was "picture perfect" would be nice but if it was, that picture was pretty messed up and messy.
Becca and I came from very messy backgrounds, to put it mildly...
My dad was murdered when I was just 5 weeks old and I lost my oldest sister unexpectedly, 14 years ago. She and her incredible husband were the only Godly example of marriage I had known. After the death of my sister, my family fell apart and sunk into deep grief, pain, and great rebellion. Both surviving sisters divorced, one left her husband and recently married a woman, leaving our family in shambles. My mom, who was the only spiritual rock left in my life suffered a severe stroke that threatened to take her life. I was left to figure life out on my own. Growing up without a dad and going through great loss and tragedy, I often struggled with control and was left to learn everything the hard way. I watched as my friends dads cheered them on at my basketball games and helped them through college. My journey into manhood was quite skewed, which led to poor choices and many difficult and challenging seasons.
Becca grew up in a fear driven violent home, with a manipulative and angry father. Her father was a recognized leader in their church at the time but behind closed doors he struggled with pornography and verbally and physically abused her mother in front of her. She would go to bed most nights shaking and in tears, consumed with fear. For 18 long years, she lived in the midst of a dark lie and was forbidden to share the damaging nightmare she was living in at home. After countless threats of divorce, her dad left her mom her senior year of high school and filed for divorce. It was a violent ending with the police involved. Loads of abandonment and pain came flooding in her heart. The poor example of hypocrisy and anger she grew up with sadly took her down a path of bitterness and rebellion. At the age of 19 she received some devastating news and was was told by doctors she needed a hysterectomy and that she would never be able to have children.
Broken, hurting, lost, angry, and helpless were but a few words that described the both of us...
Needless to say, we entered our relationship with loads of baggage, confusion, hurt, and un-resolved pain. But the same God who brought us together, ugly baggage and all, is also called the “REDEEMER” and He had plans to use that for His glory.
Sadly, our marriage almost ended as soon as it began.
We had little to no clue or any help of how to "DO" marriage the right way, God's way. Neither of us has ever seen what a healthy, God-pleasing marriage looked like. We stumbled around in our fleshly tendencies of how we were raised, which only ended up being destructive and damaging. The last 12 years together (4 of those dating, and over 8 married) have been a very tough and challenging journey, but something we both have always had deep down inside of us, was a sure fire determination to be the first in our family to deal with our past and stay married "until death do us part." Following a very damaging verbal war (the kingdom of self colliding with the kingdom of self) one Easter morning, we came to realize the intensity of our GREAT need...and our GREAT pride. We had to make a choice. Do we take the easy out, as so many do today, or do we seek wise counsel and pursue help, hope, and healing? Do we "seek first the kingdom of God" or let the kingdoms of self and self rip us to pieces?
By the grace of God, we made the decision to get help and proclaimed, that "divorce is not an option," because truth be told, God gets zero glory from divorce. The Lord showed us that standing by this decision would miraculously impact thousands of future generations to come, far beyond the present realities. Not only did we desire to stay married, but we were determined to do marriage in a healthy God pleasing manner, and do it Gods way. We knew that thriving in marriage wasn't common, but with God, ALL things are POSSIBLE... nothing too hard for Him! The Lord began teaching us through our beloved counselor/coach, Dr. Browning that doing things our own way, in the flesh (we like to call it selfs-way) would ALWAYS fail and that continuing down that dead-end path, our odds of staying married would be near impossible. But, if we kept Jesus in the middle, and "humbled ourselves under the mighty hand of God," healing would happen! "He is our refuge, our strength, and a VERY present help in times of trouble and with Him at the center "ALL things are possible." Matthew 19:26 and Mark 10:27 have been one of our life verses ever since:
"Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
In fact, impossible is where God begins and we were what seemed to be, an impossible case...but God gets more glory from making the impossible possible.
We had every single odd and statistic against us, so much that even a pastor told us while we were dating, "I don't think it's a good idea for you guys to get married." To his credit, our timing was definitely a bit off. We were a mess, an impossible case at best, and we desperately needed help. But friends, this is why there is hope when you choose to put God in the middle, for even those that have little to no hope left! Through the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, LOADS of godly biblical counseling, fervent prayer, and constant submission and reliance on Christ, God has took what was messy and broken and made it wonderful! As Pastor Brady often says,
GOD TAKES THE MESSY AND THE MESS-UPS AND TURNS IT INTO A MESSAGE. -Pastor Brady Boyd
While I would like to say it was this epic overnight transformation....it wasn't.
Becca and I had to make a choice and that choice was not based on our feelings, as feelings constantly change -- and God never once says to let your feelings guide your choices. It was a choice we made that no matter what, we were going to start fighting FOR each other and not against each other. We knew our actions and the way we treated each other were grieving the heart of God; we had to crucify the flesh (self's way) and our old way of doing things (Galatians 5:24). The bible says it perfectly in Romans 8:8:
"those who are in the flesh CANNOT please God."
and Romans 13:14:
"make NO provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires."
God isn't making a suggestion here, its a command and if our desire is to please Him with our lives, marriages, and families we have to choose to come to a place of total submission and reliance on Him. We must crucify self's way and give no room for the flesh and its evil desires but instead, PUT ON the heart of humility, the heart of Christ.
After all, we bring our car to the car dealer for service, since they know best how to fix what they've made. Same thing with God--the Inventor and Creator of marriage. He's always waiting to redeem our messes and turn us into that message!
Refuse to let the enemy steal, kill, and destroy.
The enemy had stolen enough from us in our lives and family and selfishly we allowed him to continue this destructive pattern for far too many years. There came a point where we both got fed up and said: "let him who steal, steal no more!" (Ephesians 4:28). We refuse to allow the enemy to kill, steal, and destroy another 1000 generations because of our choices. It was time to submit to the Lordship of Christ and allow Him to do the heavy meddling in our lives. It was a choice we had to make and still have to make daily.
One moment at a time…One thought at a time…One choice at a time—cooperating with the Holy Spirit, letting Him align our hearts, minds, souls, and wills with Christ. THAT IS WHAT VICTORY LOOKS LIKE. -Dr. Browning
Never in a million years did we think we would be leading a ministry gathering of married's and that God would entrust into our care special couples so precious to Him. But over the past few years, God has placed inside of both Becca and I a deep desire to fight for those so weary on the battlefield and many on the brink of giving up; to be a voice of truth in the darkness, to impart hope to the hopeless, and minister strength through scripture, prayer, and encouragement to the many that are feeling helpless.
This my friends, has become our greatest mission and ministry; the ministry of a God-pleasing, God-glorifying marriage and and A HAPPY, HEALTHY, AND THRIVING family.
Our hope for you.
As you embark on this journey with us, our prayer for you, is that:
God would turn your heart to the ministry of your spouse and family. That He would empower and equip you to be all that He has called you to be as a husband/wife and give you a unified vision and mission!
God is calling us all to say yes to living and doing marriage and family His way, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit and the good news is, He hasn't left us alone to figure it out! He has given us His Holy Spirit who promises to lead and guide you into ALL truth (John 16:13). Scripture says He is our:
What more could we possibly need? He is the master builder who restores, renews, revitalizes, and rebuilds marriages. He sets them upon an immovable strong foundation.
Friends, God is for you and for your marriage and as He says, "if He is for you who can be against you?" He is fighting for you, and all He wants is for us to be still, waiting upon Him and His ways that a far higher and better than ours could ever be. He's waiting for us to invite Him into our messes, then watch Him "Make all things beautiful in His time."
If you feel lost, confused, broken, weary, heavy, dry, or without hope; RUN first to your Prince of Peace, your Wise Counselor, your Mighty God. He will give you the wisdom you need in abundance (James 1:5)! Remember, apart from God we can do nothing but with God, nothing is impossible! When He is at your side, you will not be shaken or moved. He wants to take the impossible things in your life and make them possible, if you'll let Him.
Speaking of impossible... I must mention this... God took what was impossible with doctors and man and miraculously worked wonders on our behalf. Becca gave birth to 3 beautiful miracles that we never thought would be possible. ("Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him")...but that's another story for another time.
Now, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Romans 15:13
How can we believe and stand in prayer with you, watching Jesus turn your impossibles into miracles? He's still in the miracle working business, you know!
We would love to hear your story! Please feel free to share it with us.