Love Renewed: The Millers, Part 2
About the Guest
Lance and Jess, though living together, still believed themselves to be Christians. Lance and Jess tell how they were introduced to FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember, and how hearing God's plan for marriage changed everything. Hear them talk about their incredible 9-month journey from immorality to abstinence to forgiveness, purity and finally, a marriage built on a solid biblical foundation.
Lance and Jess tell about their incredible 9-month journey from immorality to abstinence to forgiveness, purity and finally, a marriage built on a solid biblical foundation.
Love Renewed: The Millers, Part 2
Bob: Jess Miller had been raised in a Christian home. When she and her boyfriend started to become sexually-active and, then, when they moved in together, she did feel some sense of guilt and shame.
Jess: I had the thoughts; but I was still believing, “There won’t be anybody else,” so I was still talking myself into it. There was the fear that, if I stopped, he would walk away. I knew I didn’t want that.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, January 21st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll hear from Jess and Lance Miller today. We’ll hear how God changed their heart and changed their mind about living together outside of marriage. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. I remember, not long ago, when we had Glenn Stanton joining us on FamilyLife Today—we were talking about the issue of co-habitation. He said that the most common path to marriage today goes through a season of living together.
Dennis: Sixty percent of those who get married today have first co-habited. We hear that statistic and we think, “Oh, that’s all those people, over there.” Well, you know what? It’s people in all walks of life. They’re in church with you—you work with them. These are people who—they’re just living life according to what the cultural drum is beating. They’re marching to its step.
Bob: We’ve been hearing a story from a couple, like that, this week—a story from a couple who met on a missions trip. They became sexually-active on the missions trip. They really, except for a few tinges of guilt, they never thought that what they were doing was wrong. They moved in together, as we’ll hear today; and then, God used a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway—
Dennis: This is a great story.
Bob: It is a great story. I don’t want to give it away, but I do want our listeners to remember that this week is the last week you can sign up—or sign someone else up—to attend a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway and save 50 percent off the regular rate. It’s our buy one/get one free week. The rate is available for FamilyLife Today listeners. You just have to type my name—type “BOB”—in the promo code box when you fill out the registration for them online; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and say: “I listen to FamilyLife Today. We’re interested in going,” or, “I want to sign somebody else up.” You can take advantage of this—buy one/ get one free. You pay for yourself—and your spouse comes free or your fiancé comes free—or you pay for one person / the other person comes free. So—
Dennis: And as a conference, it doesn’t get any better than this. It’s the finest biblical training on marriage and family that I know, anywhere in the world. We’ve had over two-and-a-half million people who have been through the Weekend to Remember. Come—experience a great weekend.
It’s fun; it’s romantic. It’ll equip you to better go the distance in your marriage. Bring somebody with you, where you can have a spiritual impact in their lives.
Bob: And if, for some reason, the Weekend to Remember doesn’t work for you this spring—it’s not coming to a city near where you live—I’m pretty sure there’s going to be an Art of Marriage® video event happening near you. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link for The Art of Marriage. Find out where there’s an event taking place, and you can attend The Art of Marriage video event. It’s a day-and-a-half long event, usually hosted in a local church or in some other location. If there’s not one of those happening near you, you can host your own.
Dennis: Host one! Have it at your church, have it in your basement of your home, or your living room. Decide to make an impact on couples like the story you’re going to hear today—they’re all around you. They need someone to give them hope that there is a solution to what they’re facing in marriage.
Bob: The Art of Marriage is a day-and-a-half long video event.
We have decided, this week, that we will send you The Art of Marriage kit, at no cost, if you will order manuals for, at least, five couples and take those five couples through the event. Find out more by going to FamilyLifeToday.com and clicking on the link for The Art of Marriage. Whether it’s a Weekend to Remember or an Art of Marriage video event—that you host or that you attend—do something for your marriage this spring. Do something to strengthen it—do something to keep it pointed in the right direction.
Dennis: And Bob, what our listeners need to know—we’ve had almost 400,000 people go through The Art of Marriage because someone, like you, as a couple, cared enough to host it. It’s very simple to do—we’ll coach you, we’ll equip you, we’ll come alongside you to do it. It’s a great way for you two to have an impact and really push back against the culture.
Bob: Well, again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information. Click on the link for either the Weekend to Remember or The Art of Marriage.
Today, we’re going to hear from a couple who has been involved with both of those events—Lance and Jess Miller. They live in Florida—young couple—met on a missions trip, became sexually-active while they were on the missions trip. At the end of the missions trip, they decided they’d just move in together.
You were gone the day that they were in the office, but we gathered the whole staff team together. I had a chance to quiz them on their story.
Dennis: That’s right.
Bob: And this is Part Two of what they shared with us.
Bob: You moved to Florida. You didn’t know where you were going to be living.
Jess: I moved into his parents’ house with him.
Bob: So, the family just opens up a room; and you can stay there.
Jess: Both of our families never said anything against us, really.
Bob: Does the family know that you guys are sleeping together?
Lance: They pretty much found out because we stayed in the room in the house. I mean, it was pretty—I think it started to get awkward for them.
Bob: So they never said: “Hey, Lance! This is not what you ought to be doing”?
Lance: Not right away. My mom finally got the courage. About two or three months in——once I started going by to work and we started doing life—we found out that this is not going to work. My mom said: “Look, you have to get another place. You have to get out of here. It’s causing more hurt.”
Bob: But her concern was, “You guys get another place,” not, “You guys shouldn’t be living together.”
Lance: Correct. It wasn’t as much on that as: “You’re hurting. What’s going on here?”
Bob: Your parents know you were living with a guy—
Bob: —in Florida?
Bob: Did they ever say anything?
Jess: Not a word.
Bob: And so you, eventually, move out of the house—the two of you are living together.
Bob: Are you thinking, “Life is cool”?
Bob: You thinking, “Life is cool”?
Jess: I, actually—when I moved there, the first thing I did was create a resume. I sent it to every church in the zip code—like 40 copies of my resume. I got hired right away, and I kept getting phone calls and stuff. I was actually hired to work with kids. When we moved into the apartment, the pastor said: “Wait a minute! Are you doing what I think you’re doing?”
We said, “Yes;” and he said: “You can’t work with our kids if you can’t live an upstanding life.” That was a very—so, I had already been getting the pressure from the church, a little bit, and held accountable.
Bob: So, you lost the job.
Jess: I’d—well, I still worked for them. They didn’t give up on me, but I could not work with the kids. I could only do my technology skills,—
Jess: —at the time.
Bob: You’re still playing drums in the church?
Bob: But they know you’re living together?
Bob: Anybody ever say anything?
Lance: The pastor did. Some people kind of raised their eyebrows a little bit and kind of—nobody really asked us directly, like the pastor.
Bob: We talked, earlier, about the fact that the path you guys were on is the common path today.
Bob: Most young people live together before they get married. Most young people do not get married having not had sex. So, you were doing what the culture’s doing.
Bob: Is there anything somebody could have pulled you aside and said that would have caused you to go, “I’m not sure we should be doing this.”
Jess: I had the thoughts; but I was still believing, “There won’t be anybody else.” So, I was still talking myself into it. There was the fear—that if I stopped, he would walk away. I knew I didn’t want that.
Bob: Hadyou guys talked about marriage?
Jess: I—one day, I had a friend who was getting married. They had waited, and they were a great example for me; but he didn’t know them as well. I said: “Listen. We’ve never talked about it—I want to talk about it. I want to marry you. That’s why I moved here.”
Bob: What did you think when she said that?
Lance: I was speechless.
Bob: Yes? Did it begin a dialogue on the subject?
Jess: Actually, he asked me if we needed to test it. He said: “So what? Do we move out, apart from each other, and see if we can manage on our own? And, if we need each other, and come back?” I just started crying.
Bob: Because you thought,—
Jess: Because I knew—
Bob: —“He’s going to move away.”
Jess: —the difference was that he had never seen a good example. My parents had had tough times, growing up and what not; but the topic of divorce never came up. It’s always: “We stick this out. We’re here—we’re chosen—we’re going.” I didn’t know how it worked, but I knew it could work. We needed to just decide and go for it.
Bob: Yes. So how did the two of you—with no marriage plans on the horizon—one conversation. You’ve been living together, for a couple of years, at this point. How’d you wind up at a Weekend to Remember? [Laughter]
Lance: Good question.
Bob: Yes. [Laughter]
Lance: Well, one of the coolest things that—being an introvert in my job—I get to do—is I get to go to different people’s houses during the day. I drive a service van. While I’m driving a service van, I decided to turn—I’d been flipping through and listening to all the secular stations. I said, “I’m tired of listening to the same song over and over.” Sure enough, FamilyLife Today comes on. You guys were talking, at the end of the program, about a Weekend to Remember.
You said, “Look, if you are a young person or you’re just asking the question about, ‘Should I get married?’ or want to know more, you need to be at this conference.” That’s all it took.
Bob: You went home and said, “Hey, we’re going to a marriage conference”?
Jess: No! He didn’t tell me! [Laughter]
Bob: Well, you got there, eventually! So, how did you—
Jess: He signed us up, and he took me. [Laughter]
Lance: I wanted to try it out. That was the word in my head.
Bob: Okay, so you’re driving to a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway with your boyfriend.
Bob: What were you thinking was going on?
Jess: I was panicking. I was—I mean, if I was a different person, I might have not gotten in that car. I was freaked out: “This is for married people. It’s a marriage getaway. What are you doing?” Like: “I don’t know anybody! This is way—I don’t even have a comfort zone in sight.” [Laughter]
Bob: Were you thinking you were going to walk in and everybody was going to kind of look at you: “What are you guys doing?”
Jess: We didn’t know what it was like! We thought it was going to be questions and answers: “How’s it going?” I was like: “We don’t have anything to talk about! He hasn’t asked me! I don’t know if he wants to marry me!”
Bob: When did some light start to come on, over the course of the weekend, for you?
Lance: I tell you what—Tim and Joy Downs were there. Tim—he just lightened the load, right away, on that second session. I mean, he was just getting everybody laughing. By the end of the session, we were like, “It’s okay.” I think she even relaxed a little bit.
Jess: A little.
Lance: Yes. Yes. [Laughter]
Bob: And then, the next day, you’re going through everything—doing the projects. Did you go to the pre-married session that next morning?
Lance: Yes. That was where we really found out that there’s more than we thought to this marriage thing.
Lance: I have to preface this by saying: “After that first session, I was really just like: ‘Wow! This is great. There is something more. I’m so glad we’re here.’” It took so much courage for her to keep following me there. I had to kind of—
Jess: He was dragging me.
Lance: Yes. So, prefacing the second session, we saw it was going to be all-out—guys and girls talk about whatever—about sex, and—we were feeling so guilty—the guilt—that’s where it hit me.
Lance: And, I didn’t know what to do with it. We were talking about it—we’re like—she didn’t want to go the second session. I’m like: “Look, I think you should just go. We’re here already. Let’s just go. It’s going to be okay. What’s the worst that can happen?” She was still really on the fence. I said: “Look. We’re going to go ask Tim Downs, right now, what he thinks about it.”
I said, “Look, Tim, me and my girlfriend—we’re having sex. We don’t know about this. We’re living together. We don’t know about this—whether to go to this session or not—what do you think?” He just encouraged us. He said, “I think that’s right where you need to be.” So, I encouraged her again. I said, “We’re going to go,” gave her a hug, and we went to our separate ways.
Bob: And for you, that session was an eye-opener.
Lance: Jeff Paton was at that session. That guy’s—he’s big!
Bob: Yes. [Laughter]
Lance: He’s big, mentally, too.
Lance: He’s just on there—he shoots straight—and he, literally, looked at us guys. First, he asked: “Who’s not married yet?” or, “Who’s not engaged?” He said, “What are you guys waiting for?” I was like, “Okay.” He said, “Are you living together?” He was like, “You not engaged? What are you waiting for?” That hit me. I’m like, “Uh-oh.” I could see where this was going. He said: “If you are having sex with your girlfriend, you need to stop! You need to go to her and tell her you want to honor her and her body. You need to stop.” He said, “I don’t know how you can stay in the same motel room with her—let alone, sleep in the same bed right now.” And—and that was heavy.
Bob: Yes! [Laughter] When did you ever bring up, with her, what had been talked about in the guys’ section?
Lance: I was—it was rolling over my mind what I had to do: “What do I have to do? What do I have to do?” So, I mean, it just kept hitting me: “You got to stop. If you want this ‘something more’—that they’re talking about, here, at this conference—you have to change—you got to change your behavior.” We were talking about the roles of a man, as the leader, in the morning session. I’m like, “If that’s going to be my role, I’m going to have to make the decision here.”
We went to get in bed that night. I just said: “Wait! This is what we talked about in the second session. I don’t…” We kind of talked. I said, “What did you guys talk about?” It wasn’t very good for her, but I told her what happened to me. I said, “We can’t do this.” Luckily, there were two beds in that room. I half gave her a hug, and she started crying. You might have to ask her what she was going through, but—
Bob: What were you going through?
Jess: I didn’t know. I didn’t understand. I, literally—we had been kind of struggling to stay afloat. I felt like my anchor just walked away from me.
Bob: You were thinking the relationship’s—
Jess: I thought he was on his way out the door. He had rejected the thought of marriage; and now, he was, physically, rejecting me.
Bob: So, when did you realize that wasn’t what was going on?
Jess: It took a period of a couple of months. That was in June. He didn’t propose until August. Somewhere, in between, I kind of figured out where we were going; but it was just very lonely because my love language is physical touch—my number one. He just—we couldn’t even hold hands anymore. He just sat on the other end of the couch. [Laughter] I really felt isolated.
Bob: But you’re living together.
Jess: Yes. He slept on the couch.
Bob: Wow! Why’d you wait till August, Dude? Come on! [Laughter]
Lance: I’d no—
Bob: Were you just trying to decide, “Am I really—should we really get married?”
Lance: Yes. It’s like taking the plunge. It’s like going beneath the surface.
Lance: Am I going to go or not because I’m facing all these people, telling me: “Nothing changes. There’s nothing there.” It—ooh.
Bob: So, from Saturday night, at the Weekend to Remember, until the honeymoon night, you guys maintained your purity.
Bob: How long was that?
Jess: Eight months. [Applause]
Bob: That’s really hard!
Jess: Yes, it is!
Lance: You know what—yes. You know what did it?
Lance: And this is props to the crew who put the manual together, The Purity Promise, in there. I pulled that thing out, ripped it out of there, and I signed it with the date. Just the wording in there—just, man, hits you like a ton of bricks—if you’re really going to do this right, then, you’re going to sign it. You’re going to put it on your refrigerator, and you’ll look at it every day.
Jess: And it’s still on our fridge.
Bob: Your honeymoon had to be pretty special.
Jess: Yes! They’re—mostly good. There was a lot of guilt that I was dealing with because I knew I hadn’t done it right, and I couldn’t take it back. I had thought—I had tricked myself into believing that, because he was the only one, it wouldn’t matter when it started. On my wedding day, it was very hard to look at him, for a little bit, because, even though it was still just him, it was wrong.
Bob: But, I still have to think that, somehow, in that eight months of living with a commitment to purity, God was at work in your lives—in your relationship. Your spiritual intimacy had to grow by leaps and bounds during that period.
Jess: Right, we had to go back to where we started because we came together doing ministry together. We were still involved—but not for the total pure reasons that we needed to be.
We got plugged back into as much ministry as we could together—you know, he plays the drums / I run the sound—you know. He designs the stage lighting—you know, just working together for God.
Bob: You guys have also hosted a couple of Art of Marriage events; right?
Bob: Tell us about why you did that and what’s happened.
Jess: Well, we go to a Weekend to Remember every year now. We figure: “We’re never not going to take the time to re-plug into what we need to do.” The next year—when we got to go to our first one, married—which was much better—[Laughter]
Bob: Oh, yes. [Laughter]
Jess: —it’s like: “I got this.” Walked in—it was fine. That was when they were announcing the release of Art of Marriage. They played the clips, and it was out there. It was really expensive; and I went, “This is what we need to show.”
There are so many young people in our church that our hearts just break for because they’re either doing what we did or they’re about to—you can see it coming. So, I knew we needed to do that. It just struck me; but, at the same time, we knew our church couldn’t afford it. We had a heart for it, but we couldn’t get our hands on it.
Bob: So what happened? How did you wind up doing it?
Jess: The radio saved us again. [Laughter]
Lance: I heard you, again, on the radio. [Laughter]
Lance: You said, “If it’s just something you feel like would benefit your church, just tell us the date, and the time, and we’ll get it out to you.”
Jess: For free.
Lance: Yes. We wouldn’t ever have got it otherwise. I mean—
Bob: So how many couples came that first time?
Jess: I think we had ten the first time. We hoped for a small group because we were test running it. We knew it was going to be a regular part of the ministry. The pastor loved the idea: “Sure, you want to be marriage ministry leaders. Go for it! Do it.” So, we had a small group; and they loved it.
I mean, we had barely-married—they had gotten pregnant, as teenagers, and gotten married because they were pregnant. Then, we had people who wrote on their comments “I wish this was around when I was young.” And you are like, “Yes, I wasn’t even there yet; how could I give this to you?”
Bob: Are you going to do more?
Lance: Yes; definitely. We’re looking at the Stepping Up™ program. If I had to just go into that, I mean, that’s one of the things, as a young man and being an introvert, I feel like I need permission to be great or to do something bigger. My pastor, coming in and saying, “Look, I can’t groom you for ministry and I can’t have Jess working with kids unless you guys are going to do this right.” He showed me something bigger.
Bob: How about if I give you permission to do Stepping Up with the guys? [Laughter]
Lance: Yes. Yes.
Lance: I mean—
Bob: You good with that? How about if I give you the kit?
Jess: We, actually, have it. You did the free thing again. [Laughter and applause]
Lance: Yes. So, it’s on the list.
I just want to come bring this back, full circle, and say: “What you guys are doing here—and, I mean, from Dennis and Bob, you guys are driving this thing home. Everyone here—from Jim cleaning the bathrooms—is engineering a hope. You guys are doing something amazing. I just can’t thank you enough for what you guys do every day. [Emotion in voice] It’s changed our lives. We’re a living example right here. You’ve changed our family tree.”
Jess: And we’re helping change others.
Lance: Helping change others.
Bob: How about that; huh? [Applause]
Bob: We’ve been listening to Lance and Jess Miller. You’re kind of smiling as you hear them tell their story.
Dennis: Well, you know, changing your family tree—there are a lot of them that need to be changed today, in our country. Here’s the message I want you to hear: “No matter what condition your family tree is in, there’s hope to, not only change it, but turn it around and have it produce fruit.” Did you hear? That couple is already making a difference!
We’re giving you all these ways to do it—bring someone to the Weekend to Remember, host an Art of Marriage—get Stepping Up, and be a part of Super Saturday, and make a difference in a group of men. It’s game time! Step up, and decide what your battle front is, and come join us at a Weekend to Remember, Art of Marriage, or Stepping Up.
Bob: Right now, The Art of Marriage event kit is—like it was when Lance called us to order his—we’re making it available, free, to anyone who will agree to take, at least, five couples through the material.
You order the workbooks for five, or ten, or fifteen / twenty couples—however many you have—at least, five. We’ll send you the DVDs and the complete event kit, at no cost to you. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link for The Art of Marriage to take advantage of this special offer.
It’s available for just a limited time; so go, online, today: FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and say, “How do I get The Art of Marriage kit for free? I heard something about that on the radio.”
If you’re interested in the Weekend to Remember, this is the last week to take advantage of the buy one/get one free special offer we’re making to FamilyLife Today listeners. You sign up to attend an upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaway, you pay regular rate for yourself; and your spouse comes free. But you have to sign up this week.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link for the Weekend to Remember. When you fill out the online registration form, put my name—put “BOB”—in the online promo code box. Or simply call 1-800-FL-TODAY and say: “I’m interested in the Weekend to Remember. I want to take advantage of the special offer that I heard about on the radio.” We’ll get you all taken care of and answer any questions you might have.
And we hope to see you in Hershey, on Valentine’s weekend, with Dennis, and me, and the Wilsons—or at any of our upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaways this spring.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to introduce you to another couple who came to a very dark spot in their marriage. In fact, they came to a spot where it was not clear whether their marriage could survive. We’ll introduce you to David and Kim Scott tomorrow and hear another remarkable story of God’s redeeming work in the life of this couple. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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