I was born in Sioux Falls, SD. The Grand Weaver started my life with a Christian family, attending a Wesleyan Church. My mom and dad were faithful in training. I accepted Christ at vacation bible school when I was about 9 years old.
The fabric of my being was argument (ask my mom). I wanted to be a lawyer when I was in 4th grade. We moved to Wisconsin when I was in high school and college (UofW) there. In 1982 I married my high school sweetheart, Sandra (Sam). We had Aaron in 1983. I graduated from University of Wisconsin (Oshkosh) in 1985. I was accepted to Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, MI. Prior to moving to Michigan we were involved in church. But, church hypocrisy was the enemy’s door crack for a foothold on me.
I was a striver. After watching a worship pastor and lead pastor arguing harshly, I felt licensed to bail on attendance. I saw little consistency and few living the way they said they believed. I was trapped in the truth of Romans 8:4: Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires. My priorities were skewed.
I was working, going to law school, and responsible for a toddler. I set goals: get a law degree, pass the bar exam, obtain a job, become a partner, drive a certain car, have a certain salary, attain notoriety in the legal community, enjoy vacations, home, lake cottage, make good investments, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, I had no Godly focus nor priority in my marriage. I was selfish.
I graduated law school in 1988. I stayed in Lansing. Our 2nd son, Adam, was born right after the bar exam. My practice focused on divorce and family law. I sincerely came to believe that marriage was an obsolete institution. From 1986 to 2005 (almost 20 years) I saw one couple reconcile. I viewed my role in family law as a gladiator – fight for the best deal and get paid. I was convinced when a divorce client sought help an irreconcilable rift in their marriage existed. I described the rift like falling off an 800 foot cliff – they wanted out. They would look up at 800 feet of tattered rope and never risk climbing it.
In 2005 I felt I had fallen off that 800 foot cliff. I separated from my wife and sought divorce. I got my apartment and freedom (so I thought). I could do anything at any time I wanted. I thought I was so brilliant, educated and knew best. So very clouded. During the divorce process, my wife had turned back to her spiritual priorities. She was kind. I remember her saying to me: I don’t want a divorce – but I want you to be happy. So, if our divorce will enable that then I want you to be happy.
We were divorced in 2007. During that 18 month period I was not happy. I was constantly tormented. I did not sleep. My wife was gracious and fair as we discussed our assets and divorce related issues. While not on a right path spiritually, I prayed what I coined my “simple prayer.” I asked forgiveness nightly for all the wrong things I did that day, and I prayed for peace. Night after night I rolled and rolled restlessly in bed, watching TV or videos on the phone until the wee hours in the morning. I would then get up after about 2-3 hours of sleep and try to function. I was exhausted, drained, and vulnerable. I had no peace – no answer to my prayer. So I thought.
With the foundation enabled by the Lord and my parents, I knew what I needed to do – I needed to repent. I bent a knee in my apartment in the fall of 2007. I remember praying: I can’t do this life my own way anymore, Lord, I am doing it your way. That re-dedication prayer revealed the hound of heaven’s presence. What I believed was an unanswered simple prayer for peace was actually an answered prayer through the grace and faithfulness God promises to his children. I have never had sleepless night since 2007.
I saw Romans 8:4 come alive in my life . . . “but those who live in accordance with the spirit have their minds set on what the spirit desires.” What the Lord had in store for me I could not have imagined.
I started dating my ex-wife in the fall of 2007 – the grand weaver was at work again. I was drawn back by her kindness which at the time made little sense. The diamond I sought was in my own front yard. She, too, felt her prayers for our marriage to be preserved were left unanswered. But, his ways are not our ways. Hers were answered, just not in her time. She was happy we were together again. But, she felt we needed to do something different to avoid falling into unproductive routines.
In early 2008 she asked me to attend a Mark Gungor, Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage event (LYW). We attended. I left motivated, moved, and convicted. I was the woman at the well – I had to tell everybody about what I learned. I was educated, in family/marital law, and experienced, yet had no real truth nor tools to help marriages, especially my own.
I was blown away by the tenets. I have been involved in over 1000 divorces. There are amazing statistics: 45-50% divorce rate for 1st marriages, 60—70% divorce rate for 2nd marriages, and as high as 78% for 3rd marriages. You would think we would get better at it with experience, but our society just does not do marriage very well. We can do better – especially as Christians.
It is often our differences that draw us to each other. Couples don’t understand the differences. During the LYW event the audience is asked rhetorically: What does your spouse love most about life? Personally, I really had no clue. A very quick program called the Flag Page Test guides identifying what one loves about life. How does that change the marriage paradigm? As spouses, we simply commit to give our spouses what they love most about life. Simple. But, if we do not know what that is, then we are usually wrapped up in getting from our spouse what we love the most. And, if you don’t know what they love about life, then often times you are stomping on the very thing they love the most without knowing it.
We were remarried on 7/9/08 – almost 11 years ago, by the grace of God. We started a marriage ministry as presenters for Mark Gungor’s Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage.
Back to the grand weaver. I was in a real pickle with a marriage ministry. I am a divorce lawyer after all. That made no sense to me. I could not be involved in divorces while engaged in marriage ministry, could I? I started looking for a new job. I was looking through a Christian College employment ads right after a devotional. The Lord spoke to me: WHO EVER TOLD YOU TO QUIT BEING A DIVORCE LAWYER?
I immediately thought, well I can offer last ditch hope for every divorce client that comes through my office. I prayed for opportunities to offer hope or the gospel message. After 11 years, now, I know that everyone who comes into my conference room is there for a reason – to be given a message of hope for their marriage, but also the gospel. I get to pray with clients. I have partnered with God, the Son, and Holy Spirit to be part of the grand weaving of hope for over 40 couples now, and myriad others who I call friends and brother/sisters in Christ. I am blessed – the lawyer that Jesus loves.
My practice has turned into something different than I could have dreamed. Sometimes we ask: Lord, what is my purpose? What am I called to do? What if we just cast our care on him, and do exactly what we are doing now – just for a different reason? 1 Peter 5:7.
Knowing my role has freed me. The freedom I thought I would get with my separation only confined me and provided no peace. The commitment to Christ and doing life his way has provided peace, purpose, and freedom in daily walk. I get to partner with clients and the Christian community, including RZIM. RZIM has been such a wonderful guide for my questions, doubt, faith, and purpose – thank you for the prayers and encouragement.
I conclude with a marriage message for those reading this: Do you know what your spouse loves about life? If not you can learn. What a blessing it is to be instrumental in providing to them what they love most. And, you don’t have to change who God made you to be. Most importantly, treat your spouse as well as we are commanded to treat the ungodly: Colossians 4:5-6: Live wisely among the ungodly . . . let your conversations be gracious and attractive at all times. God-bless.