Joe and I have always been passionate about building a strong marriage and family- even when we had just begun dating and the future seemed soooo far away. We met in high school youth group, well when I was in high school and Joe was not:) I was 16, and he was 20 for the record! After running in similar circles of friends, we fell for each other fairly quickly and dated for what ended up being 5 years. Those years stretched on forever!
Even in our dating years we faced many challenges that forced us to completely trust God for our future. One of the main difficulties we faced was the stark contrast of our backgrounds. I had grown up in a Christian family and parents with a strong marriage but Joe had grown up in drastically different circumstances. Born to a teen mom and alcoholic father, he had survived poverty, abandonment, rejection, multiple broken homes, multiple years in foster care, and abuse at every turn. We didn’t realize at the time how fresh his hurt and brokenness was. We didn’t realize how young I really was 😉 so in many ways it feels like we grew up and matured together.
In June 1997 we had the wedding bash of our dreams and jumped headfirst into marriage. Although we had prepared, prayed, and thought we were ready, there would be a steep learning curve to making our relationship work.
Twenty years later, we can see that it wasn’t always easy but it has been worth it! And even though God has worked many miracles in Joe’s life, healing from his past hurts would be a life long process that we would have to tackle as a team. Somehow through God’s grace and provision in our lives, we have learned so much about building a successful marriage, much through our own mistakes and being willing to learn from each other. Although we haven’t always gotten it right, we knew building a Christ-centered marriage was goal worth fighting for. That the marriage we wanted wasn’t going to just happen. And we are still a work in progress that’s for sure!
We’re thankful for the opportunity to share what we have learned with those God has placed in our path. That has included being involved as facilitators with Re|Engage (a nationwide marriage ministry program) at our local church where we walk with couples on their journey to biblical oneness. And we love being able to share through the ministry of WBGL in Illinois where Joe is employed. Then out of that God placed a vision for Behind Our Smiles in our hearts and we’re so excited to be a small part of what God is doing in building His kingdom!
Thanks for taking this journey with us!