When Billy and Lisa came to the marriage getaway a few years ago, they were cynical, disengaged, and disconnected (in Lisa’s words). God met them at the getaway and transformed their marriage, but this wasn’t the first time God had reached them.
After accepting the Lord in his 20’s, Billy says his relationship with the Lord was everything. “God helped me overcome the pain, the shame, and the bondage I was in.” Billy, his wife, and two children attended a church and his children went to a private school. Deeply connected and surrounded by a Christian community, Billy was married with two kids and continued to make God his priority, but a few years into their marriage, his wife began refusing to go to church. He remembers that although he didn’t agree with her decision, and he was frustrated by it, he dealt with it. Until she decided she also didn’t want the kids to go. In conjunction with recent financial hardships, the couple began arguing consistently and eventually, Billy’s wife sat him down in front of their two children and told him she wanted a divorce.
“I was feeling like a failure. I failed my family. I feel like I let them down. I took a lot of the blame. Although both my ex-wife and I were in on this, we both had our part, but I took the blame on myself,” says Billy.
Lisa grew up in a Christian home and remembers accepting Christ at a very young age. She married a man who she describes as “loosely a Christian” and about 7 years into their marriage she learned he was unfaithful. She decided to forgive him because divorce was not an option for her, but a year later she learned he had continued to have an affair, which at that point she knew her marriage was over.
“It was one blow after another. He said he didn’t want children, which would’ve been nice to know when we got marriage. After we divorced he married quickly, which was painful to hear. And then even more so to find out his new wife became pregnant. So with that betrayal, obviously I had trust issues.”
We’re older, and were just like ‘this is me. This is what you’re getting.’
Fast forward just a few years and both Billy and Lisa had mutual friends that were dying for them to meet. However, neither of them was interested. Scarred from their previous relationships they were hesitant, guarded, and unprepared to start dating. Reluctantly, they finally accepted the blind date offer and both admittedly say it wasn’t necessarily love at first site, but they enjoyed their time none-the-less. A few months later at a party, they met again and that was the day they began to see each other differently.
Through laughter, Lisa remembers the beginning of their courtship. She said, “We courted for about 2 years. Definitely, our past and what we were coming from was put on the table pretty quickly. I think a lot of that had to do with because we’re older, and were just like ‘this is me. This is what you’re getting.’ And we still married each other.”
Billy and Lisa married, but their struggles were far from over. Lisa was dealing with the desire to become a mother, but the reality of her age and Billy was still trying to get back on his feet financially so he could become the primary breadwinner like he desired. After a year of marriage, the couple became pregnant with their son Aiden, which Lisa calls the #1 blessing that has come from their marriage. Through tears, she remembers the trials in those early years of marriage. “We were pretty broke. We lived in our little two-bedroom apartment with our baby and we were excited when we could scrape some money together for a date night. But we just would pray pray pray and God saw us through many financial struggles. So for me, it was hard. It was difficult and all of that and then I became unemployed, but man God was good. He has always provided at the 11th hour.”
Billy knows Lisa’s tears come from remembering the struggles, but also from the joy and gratitude of seeing how far they’ve come. He shares that they would pray without ceasing like the Bible tells us to. Billy and Lisa prayed that God would provide an opportunity for Billy to run or own a business he was passionate about, and for Lisa to have the opportunity to stay home with the son. Full of emotion, he considers the biblical significance of the numbers 3 and 7 and how those numbers played out in their own story. “God got me in 3 years more financially stable. God got me back to San Diego in 3 years so I could be closer to my kids and then after 7 years he answered our prayers for the breakthrough in business.” In that 7th year of their business breakthrough, he remembers Lisa sitting back and saying, “Oh my gosh. This is the time of harvest for us.”
This is the time of harvest for us.
God worked out every detail in His good and perfect timing. Billy and Lisa look on their past with gratitude for how far God has brought them and testify to the power of prayer and perseverance.
Billy encourages other couples to be intentional with prayer and to invest in their marriages. To men, he says, “Look for opportunities to pray with your wife. Maybe your wife doesn’t like to pray? Pray for her, pray over her. Likewise for women. Invest in your marriage. Time in the word. Time in prayer. We love the marriage getaway, it’s been such a blessing for us.” Lisa implores couples to not give up. “It sounds cliché, but don’t give up. Don’t give up. I think marriages and couples both Christian and non-Christian, are so quick to just throw in the towel…Give things to the Lord and don’t give up. There isn’t a problem the Lord can’t get you out of.
The couple has been attending Rock Church for 4 years now and all their children attend Horizon Academy. God has also answered Billy’s prayers to give him an opportunity to reconnect with his children from his previous marriage. This year, they will be opening their 3rd location of the business they run locally, Orangetheory Fitness. What do they have to say about it? To God be the glory.
“Put Him first and He will take care of all the other things.”