When Christine Met Brad

Today’s guest post is from Christine Leeb who has a burning message to share about marriage. Just when they thought theirs was over God stepped in. 

 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
Our journey together began in college in the fall of 1996. He was the Graduate Assistant for the marching band and I was on the dance team. The first time I saw him, I thought he was the cutest guy I had ever seen. It didn’t matter that he was wearing a Huckleberry Hound t-shirt, khaki shorts with white socks and sandals, he had the most amazing blue eyes. I was instantly smitten.

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At good ‘ole Eastern Illinois University—what’s with all the crackers?

Our relationship was not pretty. In fact, anyone who knew my husband and I when we first started dating would have voted us “The Couple Most Likely to be Divorced”. I’m sure that some of our friends that knew us are shocked that we are still together today, and frankly, so am I. I say this, not out of disrespect for marriage, but because we didn’t do anything right from the beginning. Even as a dating couple, we were a disaster.

We loved each other, but we didn’t do it well. There was a lot of breaking up, a lot of fighting and finally after 4 years of dating and an ultimatum later, he finally proposed. Why? Only God knows. Ultimatums are not a good way to start out a marriage. Regardless, less than 6 months later, on July 8, 2000, we were married,

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Marriage for us was not easy. In fact, a book describing our marriage for the first 8-9 years would be called What Not To Do For A Successful Marriage with a subtitle–Whatever Brad and Christine are Doing, Do the Exact Opposite! This was difficult for us because my parents had been married for 30some years and Brad’s parents had been married for over 40some years at the time. So why couldn’t we do it?

No one ever told us how hard marriage was. It was frustrating.
There was definitely love there. There was definitely friendship. There was definitely common ground. And when things were good, they were really good, but when things were bad, they were really bad. In 2009, our marriage completely fell apart. It all happened right after a 4 year struggle with infertility. Right after we miraculously got pregnant with our beautiful boy, Ben.

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That was when our marriage almost ended in divorce. It’s embarrassing to admit it, but it’s true. Now, our marriage is stronger and better than it’s ever been, but we can’t believe how close we came to ending it…to giving up. Don’t ever doubt Him! Brad and I get teary-eyed just thinking about the fact that had we not fought to save our marriage, we wouldn’t have had two more blessings added to our family! Thank God, for not giving up on us!

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Even though it seemed to us that Ben came at the worst time in our marriage God knew that it was the perfect time. He always does, right? God knew that if He blessed us with a child at the exact same time that our marriage was about to end, we would fight to save it.

And, so, we went to marriage counseling. I remember feeling embarrassed that we had to go. I didn’t even want to tell my parents. When I did, though, my dad says (in his Mattoon, IL southern accent–yes, we Illinoisans have a southern accent) “Well, I’m sure you’re mother and I needed marriage counseling, we just never went to marriage counseling.”

The first two or three maybe even four of our sessions were just Brad and I talking and yelling at each other while the counselor just sat there with his mouth open. For over a year we continued to go to counseling, and we made progress, but trust me, it got worse before it got better. It seemed that for every step forward that we’d take, we would take 100 steps back. It felt hopeless. It felt like we were never going to move forward and heal. I wanted to give up, but I didn’t.
At this point either one of us could have left. Either one of us could have given up, but we didn’t. We never gave up on us! We kept trying to make it work! It was tough. It was not fun to hold the mirror up to our faces and to really take a good at ourselves and see how much we had hurt each other. But we both faced our demons head on, and we were ready to get it all out! Look out!!!

So much came out during these sessions. We realized that we lived over 8 years with a marriage that was not God-centered. It was a marriage that was not protected. Because of that, the enemy attacked our marriage in every way. The enemy seeks to kill, steal, and destroy every marriage. We had so much brokenness that we didn’t even realize it. We struggled with jealousy, selfishness, lack of trust, disrespect, lack of communication, lack of time together, lack of making our marriage a priority, depression, oh—and, don’t forget the 4 years of infertility thrown into the mix, and the list goes on. All of this mess built up into 8 years of resentment, lack of forgiveness, and anger towards one another. It was ugly.
I will never forget the turning point for us: I got so angry at him one night that I screamed and screamed at the top of my lungs about how mad at him that I was. After that, I’m convinced that God said: “Ok, you’ve said your piece. Now be quiet.” He shut my mouth for eight days. Yes, eight days. We didn’t talk to each other at all. Instead we wrote letters. We wrote and wrote—page after page. We got everything out. Thousands of words. Miles of hurt. Eight years of questions. Eight years of pain. Eight years of destruction. Out. FINALLY—-We were free. Praise the Lord. There was hope.
Not to say that things were perfect from then on, but it was a start—a fresh start! A start to freedom. A start to a healthier communication. A start to an amazing NEW friendship and love. A start to rebuilding a marriage with a foundation of trust. A start of a new marriage with God in the center just the way He intended marriage to be!
In June of 2010, Brad and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. After a year and a half of literally starting our marriage over and building it from the ground up, we chose to celebrate our fresh start in a big way. We traveled out to Napa California.Napa Vacation 2010070

We wore our wedding attire and we renewed our vows on a hot air balloon ride over the valley. It was beautiful. It was amazing. It was heavenly. I could feel God smiling.

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Even after almost 16 years together, we are still working on our marriage. Marriage is always a work in progress. We, as individuals, are always a work in progress. Brad and I thank God for pursuing us, changing us, and loving us so much that He used our past to help us build a better future. He helped us to grow closer to each other and to Him. And we are now able to set an example to our children as to what a healthy marriage should be. We are so thankful that God never gave up on us. He kept trying. But that’s not all there is—we had to never give up too. We had to keep trying too.

WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU

No matter what your struggle is- obviously for me, it was my marriage. For you, it might be your marriage too or it might be something else. No matter what your challenge is, just know that God will never give up on you and He will always keep trying to find new ways to pursue you. In any way that you feel hopeless, may God bring you hope.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12: 12
Together, Brad and I came up with a list of 10 tips that have helped us to have a healthier marriage. We pray they help you too…

1. Put God at the center of your marriage. Even though we have different religions, we still pray together. Pray for each other. Pray! Pray! Pray!
2. Grow together. Be willing to learn from each other.
3. Communicate. Don’t let little things turn into big things. Find out how you both communicate best. And Listen!
4. It is not your job to make each other happy. We are in charge of our own happiness. Instead, show each other unconditional love, encouragement, respect, and support.
5. Laugh together. Find the humor in little things. Always be on each other’s side.
6. Be honest—even if it’s not what the other person wants to hear.
7. Admit when you’re wrong. More importantly, tell your spouse when he’s/she’s right (even though it doesn’t happen that he’s right very often…hehe.).
8. Sometimes some things just don’t need to be said.
9. Don’t let solvable problems be the robber of your time, energy, thoughts and joy.
10. Find something you both enjoy doing together. Be willing to try new things together and get involved in each other’s interests. Be silly and have fun together!

Banana Peel CHRISTINE LEEB is The Real Mom–she has a messy kitchen, loses her patience with her kids, hides brownies from her family, and keeps motherhood real through 4Real Moms—an organization encouraging moms to be real while helping them be the best moms God created them to be. She is a speaker, writer, and Christian Life Coach. She is the author of In His Light: Facing Fear with Faith and three ebooks: Best In-Home Date Nights That Don’t Involve the TV, Blessed in the Mess: 10 Ways to Find Balance in Motherhood, and 22 Ways to Love Your Husband Like a Boyfriend Again which has an on-going 14-Day Challenge for wives to take– JOIN NOW. www.4realmoms.com
By | February 26th, 2016|Marriage, Uncategorized|4 Comments

When Bill Met Loretta

It was 1963 and Bill was a Senior at Hub City Bible Insitue in South Dakota. When he met Loretta he knew she was the one. She was a petite blue eyed beauty who had plenty of boys pursuing her, but Bill didn’t let that stop him and he asked her out. Loretta decided to give Bill a chance and their relationship grew and grew. Being at a conservatie Bible school there were very strict guidelines about how much time a couple could spend “courting” and those hours were logged. Bill and Loretta were supposed to limit it to one hour a week, but they couldn’t bear to be apart that often so they decided they would spend their time together studying in the library. It was just the loophole they needed in order to see each other more.

Things began to get serious and it was time for Bill to meet Loretta’s family. Loretta’s family was of German descent and they went to a German church where it was customary at the time for the men to sit on one side and the women on the other. However the service was in German and Bill didn’t speak German. So yet again they found their loophole and they convinced those in charge they needed to sit together so that Loretta could interpret the service for Bill.

At this point they had been together for over a year and they were still spending their days “studying” at the library. The library was a special place for them. It’s where they really got to know each other and Bill cherished the significance of those moments enough that he thought it would be a great place to propose. So one day while they were at the library he asked her to marry him using a game of hangman. Of course she said yes and they began to plan a wedding.

Loretta wanted to make sure the day was perfect. She made her own wedding dress. She had family and friends enlisted to help with all the details. They even hid their car in a grain elevator so no pranksters (like Bill’s brother for example) would try to do anything to it. Then on October 23 , 1964 before their family, friends, and church they became husband and wife.

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They immediately began their ministry together. Everything they did was to build the kingdom and give glory and honor to their savior Jesus Christ. They were married for two years before they had their son Kendall and then a couple years later Jonathan. After 8 years Loretta wanted to try once more for a daughter. She convinced Bill that they were certain to have a baby girl this time. Soon enough they were expecting baby number 3. The nursery was decorated and the hospital bags were packed with all things pink and finally little David was born. That’s right . They had their third son.

It might not have been what they were expecting but God had blessed them with three healthy boys that grew up as strong leaders who serve the Lord. Loretta eventually had three wonderful daughter in laws that she was very close with. She and Bill also had the joy of getting to be grandparents to 11 grandchildren. Sadly, one of their granddaughters was still born and went to be with Jesus at birth. It was difficult for the family to experience this loss, but they clung to each other and to the word of God during this trying time.

Bill’s favorite Bible verse was “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal Isaiah 26:3.

That verse and the supernatural peace of the Holy Spirit is what carried them through many trying times, like when Loretta was diagnosed with breast cancer. Bill had to become her caregiver and it was season of testing, and trusting in God like never before . Everyone was praying diligenty in the midst of this hardship, and miraculously Loretta had an incredible turn around. She felt whole and was able to garden and cook and do all the things she loved doing. Her well being came at the perfect time because unfortunately this season of testing wasn’t quite over yet.

In the summer of 2015 Bill had an aneurism and it was Loretta’s turn to care for Bill. Due to a terrible fall off of a ladder along with his deteriorating health, Bill ended up in a nursing home. They never enjoyed being apart and it felt dark and lonely. Bill  wasn’t supposed to leave the nursing home at all until he was completely approved for discharge, but once again they found a loophole! Loretta convinced the medical team that it would be nice for Bill to step out just briefly since they knew he was on the mend. The staff approved this request and so they snuck off together. Bill took off his neck brace and back brace and those two crazy love birds managed to have a patriotic photo together that day for the church directory.

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Soon after that they were both back home going to church and having meals with family. Loretta was getting to paint the granddaughters nails and share stories with them while Bill was tinkering in the garage with the boys. They had been married for over 50 years and in ministry together that whole time. They were blessed and they knew it. Then when they least expected it Loretta’s health took a turn for the worse, again. Then one morning as Loretta was lying in bed under the careful watch of the hospice nurse, the nurse pulled Bill aside and told him that she thought she had about 30 days to live. Bill told her that he felt like she would be gone by the coming Saturday, 5 days from then. The nurse argued a bit wanting Bill to hang on to all hope, but Bill stood his ground. Then Bill looked her in the eye and said “and I will be going home shortly after”. He shared this with everyone from his son’s foreign exchange student to the pharmacist. He was insistant. The nurse was concerned and warned the family to watch him carefully for possible suicidality following Loretta’s death. Bill’s sons felt that although he implied heaven when he said he was going home, maybe he really just meant his own house. Five days later Loretta passed ways just as Bill had said.

It was a sad day for everyone. Loretta was a light that had impacted so many and now she was gone. The family mourned while at the same time celebrating her homecoming.

Bill went back to working on projects in the garage and spending time with his family. It was his first time alone in 50 years, but the peace of God was with him. Then a month after Loretta’s passing Bill had a sudden stroke that took his life and he too went to be with the Lord. It may have been unexpected to the family, but Bill knew it in his heart and spirit all along.

Bill and Loretta had a commitment to Christ and to each other that is the rarest of treasures. The legacy they leave behind is one that is evident in their families and will trickle down for generations and generations to come.

When Loretta passed away on October 17, 2015 they used that patriotic photo for her obiturary, but Bill was cropped out. When Bill passed away on November 18, 2015 they used that same photo and this time Loretta was cropped out. However, if you look really close in Loretta’s photo you’ll see Bill’s shoulder in the corner and if you look close at Bill’s photo you can spot some of Loretta’s hair. They were in eachothers obiturary photos. Just like they managed to be together in the library, or in the old German church, or the nursing home, they found their loophole.

By | February 25th, 2016|Marriage, Uncategorized|7 Comments

When Amanda Met Les

Today’s post is a real treat as Amanda White shares the story of how she met her husband and embarked on their journey of serving God together. They are just too cute!

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My husband says I picked him up.

I say I’m just friendly.

We both went to a local community college. We had to park in the commuter lot and walk through the woods to get to the first building on campus. We had both been sitting in our respective cars waiting till the next class. I heard the music in his car and was pretty sure it was Jars of Clay. As a Christian music fan of the early 90’s, I could spot Jars a mile away.

Finally, we both got out of our cars and he was walking a few paces ahead of me. That was when I noticed his shirt. It was a concert shirt by the band, Dakoda Motor Company. Now, if you’ve ever heard of this band, it’s because you were in the throes of Christian Music culture like my family and I were. We went to all the festivals, stayed after concerts and collected every CD that the Christian music industry put out there.

Dakoda Motor Company was one of our indie faves!

I ran up to this Christian-music-fan and said, “Hey! Is that a Dakoda Motor Company shirt?” (He says THAT was the pick-up line!) and we started talking. I asked him what his major was. He said, “Religion.” Well, as any good Christian knows, religion is the word Christians use when talking to non-Christians about their major when they are really studying to be pastors or missionaries. Religion is a nice and basic word that won’t require a lot of eye-raising if you’re not a Christian and you run across a guy who wants to be a missionary as a college student.

I knew his game. So, I said, “Oh, yeah? What do you want to do?”

He said, “Be a children’s evangelist.”

Well. That one stopped me cold.

Because that was actually what I wanted to do, too.

My mom had been involved in full-time children’s ministry at our church almost my whole childhood. I was on puppet and drama teams, worked in children’s church every Sunday and really and truly couldn’t think of anything else I could do with my life. The evangelist part of it was just because I thought it would be fun to travel and be on the stage every night.

So, my next sentence probably really was my pick up line: “Me, too.”

I think we basically dated from that second on.

A few days later he called (I think there’s some guy rule about waiting two days before you call a girl.) and we began to meet for lunch at school, did homework together and essentially began planning our lives together. Because how often do you meet a guy who wants to do the same really weird job as you?

It was three years later that we were married. We moved into some government apartments in north Georgia and worked out the outlet malls while we went to a (different) Christian college. We spent our internship in Oklahoma working at one of the country’s premier children’s ministries. We started traveling around with our little truck and trailer to churches doing “kids crusades” with puppets and music and magic tricks and object lessons.

We spent the next seven years being Les-and-Amanda. We traveled all over the country–from Colorado to New York, to Georgia to New Mexico. We lived in five different states, worked at two churches, visited 35 states and half that time didn’t have a home to call our own. We were nomads doing exactly what we said we’d do the first three minutes we met.

When we had our first baby, a little girl named Lydia, our mission was still the same–tell kids about Jesus. But the kids turned to KID and our world revolved around leading this one little girl to Jesus. We ended up moving back home to Atlanta, lived near our parents and volunteered at a local church. Today, we have two kids and my husband doesn’t do puppets or travel as his daily job, but he empowers me to be at home with our kids leading them to Jesus. He owns three businesses, climbs roofs and makes sales so I can write and help parents lead their kids to Jesus. He sings in the elementary department at our church each Sunday–leading kids in worship to Jesus.

It’s weird how our lives move and change. We have the same passion for kids and God. It’s just moved into a different stream. We don’t just hop in our truck and drive to a new state and meet new people anymore. But we still get to work hard together every day–on daily marriage stuff, on raising our kids and preparing for our future as a family and couple.

Sometimes I forget our story. I don’t always like to look back to when I was a teenager and early twenty-something because let’s face it, that’s not the wisest years of your life. But when I do look back, I am amazed at how God’s finger has been writing our story–how God brought us together at that certain time and place, to meet and to connect and to one day form a family for Him.

And clearly, I’m thankful to Dakoda Motor Company for making music and concert tees!

 

les amanda

 

 

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Amanda White is a stay-at-home mom of two who blogs at ohAmanda.com and is the author of Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands and A Sense of the Resurrection an Easter Experience for Families. In her former life, Amanda was a Children’s Pastor — overseeing, organizing and developing ministry for kids in nursery through middle school, but now that she is a mom, her “skills” are used up on her kids!
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By | February 24th, 2016|Marriage, Uncategorized|5 Comments

When Amanda Met Michael

Today I am kicking off the 2016 How We Met series of love stories with a  guest post from Air Force veteran Amanda Huffman. She will be  telling us the story of how she met her husband in the military.

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Michael and I met for the first time at a football game. We were actually volunteering for the Reserve Officer Training Program (ROTC) we were both a part of to help raise funds for activities throughout the year, but it was for a college football game, we were helping park cars. I was assigned to the Purple lot and he was the leader. It was his first time being a leader of a parking lot and when we were sent to the lot no one really had a clue what was going on. Huffman (my hubby) was receiving instruction from the people coordinating traffic and a group of us stood not knowing what to do. I asked one of the girls do you know his name, she said I think it is Huffman, I yelled “Hey, what are we supposed to do?” He made a hand gesture, which I now know means, I don’t know, just wait. Somehow, we got the point and we waited for further instruction and eventually got to our spots and began parking cars.

A few months went by and our paths crossed again. This time we were on a military base visit (Nellis Air Force Base, near Las Vegas). His friend was my flight commander and so our paths kept crossing and it culminated with a group of 13 wandering from casino to casino down the Las Vegas strip.

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A few months later, I signed up for a trip to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. I signed up to go because a guy I liked was going. My future husband was coordinating the trip so when he called to ask what tours I wanted to do I tried to find out what my crush was doing so I talked to him a lot to try and figure out what my crush was doing. The trip ended up being a great experience. Michael and I talked and at the end of the trip he thought I might be the one. I still had no clue.

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A few weeks later we ended up going to see Passion of the Christ with a few other guys and he walked me back to my car and we set up a “date” to help me learn a military maneuver I was struggling with. Driving to our “date” I remember wearing my love potion shirt and being so excited, nervous and confused. I wasn’t even sure I liked this guy and I was finally happy with myself. I had decided over Christmas break I was tired of trying to pretend to be someone so people would like me and just was free to be me. The trip to Lawrence Livermore was in February and we saw the movie in March. Each day our paths would cross, sometimes strategically by me, other times by him. We ended up spending a weekend in mid-March at an Army training that I am unsure how I got signed up to. The one thing I learned was how happy I was to be in the Air Force training program and my feelings for Michael started to grow. We spent all of our downtime together talking and getting to know each other and by the end of the weekend we were officially boyfriend and girlfriend.

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I think it is funny that our paths crossed over and over and most of the time it just went unnoticed, but it was meant to be. We finally got the hints we were given and ended up together and then were never apart.
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Michael and I got married March 31, 2007 in his hometown. He was already officially in the Air Force and I was about to graduate college and follow him to New Mexico. I served in the Air Force for six years before separating to stay at home with our now two sons. We have lived in New Mexico, Ohio and now California. We have had so many amazing adventures together and life is so much more than I ever expected.

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Amanda Huffman blogs at Airman2Mom www.airmantomom.com with stories incorporating life experience from motherhood and daily life while occasionally throwing in memories from her Afghanistan deployment. Her blog is a source or encouragement and inspiration to others on their own life journey . You can follow Amanda by liking Airman to mom on Facebook page, or following her twitter.

 

Thank you for sharing your story Amanda and more importantly, thank you to you and your husband Michael for serving our country.

 

By | February 22nd, 2016|Marriage, Uncategorized|8 Comments

How We Met 2

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I am pretty excited, okay EXTREMELY excited about the 2nd annual installment of “How We Met”- a series of love stories. I’ll be kicking it off on Monday, but before that I wanted to take a look back at last year’s couples and give an update of what’s gone on since this time last year. I’ll give you a hint. It starts with a B and ends with abies!

Karin and Cameron (the couple that were found to be compatible in a Lifespan development class)12565401_10153815637325930_1320024551978135448_n are expecting their first baby! They are having a girl and she is due in a couple weeks. Congratulations to them. I can’t wait to get the text when that sweet little bundle arrives!

Kailei and Brad (the couple that met in preschool) had a baby last March and her name is Kymri. Kailei emailed me recently and says “She has made our life even sweeter and we have loved every minute of being parents!” Congratulations to them too. She’s beautiful.

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Andrea and Mike (the couple who met at the gym) ALSO had a baby! Solomon James was born November 3rd. He is their 8th boy in a row which the Doctor said is extremely rare. He sure is a precious little bird.

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Nancy and Richard (the couple who met in the school parking lot) have a new grand baby! It’s my sweet Elle.
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She is the 7th grandchild and my sister in law is due any day now. That will make 8 grandkids in 8 years for the Weavers.

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The next baby is a boy so it will be 4 and 4!

Anyway, I couldn’t help but share the baby news I have from these lovely Messy Mom contributors. Be sure to come back on Monday when “How We Met” returns.

By | February 19th, 2016|Marriage, Uncategorized|3 Comments