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34 Years … And Still in Love
“… Standing the Test of Time …”
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Foreword

T he writer of Proverbs in 18:22 tells us that, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And
obtains favor from the Lord” (New King James Version).
Like a salmon swimming up-stream against the flow of the river, this Verse of scripture goes
against the rushing flow of popular culture.
With a generation that is attempting to redefine marriage by redefining what a “marriage
partner” is, and one that is more often than not by-passing the covenant of marriage altogether,
there exists a great challenge for the Church.
There is a challenge for the church to get back in the driver’s seat again, and take hold of the
reins to deal with the national discussion of the crisis in the family.
We too often tend to be reactive rather than proactive when it comes to addressing trends in
married life in America. We Christians have access to Biblical principles; the very principles that,
when applied, provide the answers that society needs to build strong, fulfilling, life-long
marriages.
The tragedy is that Christians seem to be the victim of statistics rather than the exception to
them. While the national statistics on divorce in America still stubbornly hover near the 50
percent mark, this statistic trends the same in the American Church!
The rate of divorce among the clergy is not too far from the national statistics either. Where
have we missed it? What has gone awry in the Christian family?
The truth is we have a generation and a half that has come out of blended families, broken
families, and single parent households. The image of strong, loving marriages has been almost
absent.
The demonstration of leadership from a loving, affirming father has also been lacking. In
Proverbs 31, we see the description of a virtuous wife.
She is worth more than rubies; she is clothed with strength and dignity; she speaks with
wisdom; she watches over the affairs of her household; her children call her blessed; her husband
praises her; she is a woman who fears the Lord.
We have a generation who has rarely gazed upon a woman such as described in Proverbs 31.
Thus, the crisis in the American marriage is one due to lack of example, and lack of
knowledge.
Introduction

I t seems it was only yesterday that you were running around barefooted, chasing snails and
lizards; and now you’re about to marry someone that you have dreamed about all your life.
You think you are in love, you believe that you are in love, but is there any way to be certain?
You hope that the constant pounding in your chest is a positive indicator that it’s okay to spend the
rest of your life with them, but how do you really know?
Now that all the “goose bumps”, “fanfare”, and “butterflies” have faded away, you have come
to realize that life and love are gifts; gifts whose full worth and value is little understood until you
share it with that special someone.
While you cannot amend or erase the events of the past, you definitely can thank the Good
Lawd for bringing you through the many storms that life flung your way.
So often, while you struggled through these storms, valuable lessons were being birthed in
your life that could not have been learned any other way except through a storm.
It’s not so much the roads that you’ve traveled in life, or your triumphs or failures, but the
place that these tests have brought you. While life is incredibly complex, its unending lessons are
in a word, amazing!
Although Cecilia and I were youngsters when our lives entwined, instinctively we knew that
this was right for us.
The moment we yielded to one another’s beck and call, we unknowingly were making a
public statement that our lives were to be “forever” joined! And now thirty-nine years later, as
the song says, “The Beat Goes On”.
No matter how much a couple may love one another, a marriage can fail for a number of
reasons, and at any given time: Extramarital Affairs, Losing Interest in each other, Shirking
Responsibilities, Lost Intimacy, Lack of Appreciation for one another as a person, a helpmate or as
a lifelong friend, etc. etc. ad infinitum.
It’s rare that a book captures the struggles and challenges besetting couples, but then gives
words of direction, hope and comfort with such simplicity and preciseness, that it feels as if you
have logged into your personal Global Positioning System (GPS).
One
We were Destined to Love

D o you remember your early days of dating: the times when you couldn’t wait to be with
her? It seemed the very cosmos stood still when the two of you were together.
Your jokes were stale and even a bit corny, but she laughed anyway. Each time she said your
name, it was as if a thousand Niagara’s were churning together – so powerful, yet so sweet!
Whenever it came to say goodbye, it was as if a part of you had stopped living. Yet, you
knew that in exactly 12 hours, 720 minutes and 43,200 seconds you would be reunited, and that
deadness would turn into life!
You opened her doors; you held her hand when crossing the street and you even snuck a bite
of her ice cream cone just to see her make that cute wrinkle with her nose! You were like two
magnets pulling and drawing one another closer and closer together!
I hope that parts of that story were also your story. When I met Cecilia, something so
wonderful and amazing happened to my heart, that it defied all rationale. The moment our eyes
met, and a smile crossed her lips; I felt I was on top of the world: almost as if, I could fly! Our
hands fit together so perfectly, that even the slightest separation felt as if the very fabric of the
universe had ripped.
The days flew by as we talked and talked on the phone until all hours of the night ...
seemingly without a care! The sun and the moon were our compass and lone companions.
We were like leaves blowing in the wind: two searching hearts that had somehow
miraculously bumped into one another on this lonely road of life. And now that our worlds had
embraced, I could not imagine a day without her!
Whenever I was shopping, I saw her face in the produce section, the deli section and even
behind the salad bar! I found myself filled with childlike excitement as I eagerly anticipated that
evenings sharing time: our time to reflect on the highs and lows of our day.
I fondly remember our hours of endless silence on the phone; we exchanged no words; we
simply listened to one another’s hearts beating. We were together and that’s all that mattered.
Our worlds were fastly colliding, and the consequences did not matter, the journey did not
matter, or even what lay ahead: good or bad. As long as Cecilia was waiting at my final stop, I was
happy to go the distance, any distance!
Four
Working to be a Successful Parent

I know most would rather talk about anything other than the subject of death, but death is as
much a part of life as life itself. As a parent, have you ever wondered what memories you
will leave behind? or What legacy your kids will remember you by?
It may be that your kids will look back and remember you with these words:

—Thank you for leaving work early to watch me play sports, and thank you for always
cheering so loud that I knew it was undeniably your voice emanating from the bleachers.
—Thank you for teaching me the value of an education. You always told me that if I ‘aimed’
for the stars, but only touched the moon, I would never be disappointed.
—Thank you for being an overprotective father from the time I was an infant until present
day. For the record, there was no way I was going to fall into the Grand Canyon; we were on an
observation deck! However, the grip you had on the back of my T-shirt still impresses me to this
day.
—Thank you for teaching me the power of humor, and how to effectively tell a joke.
—Thank you for teaching me the importance of humility, and the remarkable power of
emotional and financial generosity.
—Thank you for sharing the message of the Gospel with me. I still remember the three words
you asked me that forever changed my life, “Are you saved”?
—Thank you for teaching me that life is but one fleeting breath: in a moment it could be
snuffed out; so live life, love life and if you’re not enjoying yourself, you’re doing something
wrong.

Our parents are our greatest treasure and gift. Without them we are nothing, nothing at all.
These words or thoughts can never sum up what our parents are. They can only remind us of how
much they have given us every second. We can only say and repeat ‘Mom, Dad, I love you ...’
When my wife and I began our journey as parents, it did not take long to notice the distinct
differences in each of the kids.
While in one a frown could mean a slight pain or twinge, in another that same frown meant
something very different!
Six
The Spark has Died,
What can We do?

A few years ago, I was working in my office when someone knocked on my door.
When the door opened, I looked up to see a young, female, Second Class Petty
Officer (E5) standing before me.
From the look on her face, I could tell that something was terribly wrong.
I asked if she wanted to sit, but she shook her head and remained standing.
She prefaced her remarks by saying, “Pastor, can we talk”?
Normally, I never sit behind closed doors with another woman without a witness. However, in
this instance I sensed I needed to make an exception. Unfortunately, we live in an age where
gossip and innuendos abound; this way it protects both of us, morally, ethically and legally.
I knew I had seen her before, but it wasn’t until we started talking that I knew from where.
She had been at an evangelistic meeting that I had preached at about six months earlier. I think she
was one of the people that had come forth for prayer that night, and if memory serves me
correctly, I had prayed for her.
This might be what led her to my office. However, all that was insignificant as she
commenced her story.
“Pastor, I want a divorce from my husband. We have absolutely nothing in common”!
“He still thinks he’s single, and he is completely oblivious to our many differences. Frankly
I’m at wits end as far as what I should do next”.
When I asked if they had talked about this, she replied, “I tried”. “I’ve even asked him to
pray with me, or read the Bible together, or even come with me one Sunday to church, but each
time he has a different excuse”.
“How long have you been married?” I asked. “One year”.
My next question would be key to this counseling session: “Do you believe that the Lord can
save your marriage?” “Yes, pastor I do”!
I looked at her a little puzzled. All her answers were perfect – almost to perfect. I knew
something was off, but at the moment I could not put my finger on it.
Normally, I will not proceed with a counseling [advice] session unless both are present.
Eight
Understanding Your Role in a Marriage

O ftentimes you’re caught up in the romance and excitement of wedding plans, many
couples are unable to envision what their relationship will be like on a routine basis.
Both spouses enter marriage with a set of expectations, most of which will be quite different from
the other.
Every individual has an assumption about the roles and responsibilities in marriage that they
will play. The woman may expect that she will have a career, and the household chores shared
equally with her husband. The man, on the other hand, may be somewhat traditional and believe
that cooking and cleaning is the woman’s responsibility.
He therefore, will be expecting his wife to play that part. Since roles and expectations are not
as clear-cut as they once were, it is important to take time to discover what these expectations are.
Some are realistic and achievable while others may be idealistic and unachievable.
We cannot be ignorant of the fact that the world is changing rapidly and the traditional roles
and responsibilities of men and women continue to evolve.
Culture is often influenced by modernization, and the marriage setting is not the same as it
used to be in the days of our parents and grandparents. Many individuals bring into the
relationship their own experiences and influences from their parents’ relationships, such as,
specific teaching of faith, values and traditions and practices.
In order to minimize conflict and build fruitful, healthy lasting relationships, it is important
that both men and women have a clear understanding of how they should relate.
First things first, the importance of choosing your partner well cannot be over emphasized.
Remember to take into consideration their faith, values and culture. They should be individuals of
integrity, good family history and a good standing in society.
Marriage is serious business and should not be entered into lightly. Once you are ready and
are confident then marry and live by the rules of the game.
Wives endeavor to:
—Be a helper to your husband
—Respect honor and appreciate him
—Love him unconditionally
Nine
Facing the Storms of Life Together

W e’ve all seen the damage trials can cause in a marriage, whether from a distance or
firsthand. Many times when a couple hits hard times, it wreaks havoc in their
relationship and leaves lasting wounds. But trials also have the ability to make a marriage stronger
and more loving than ever.
We have known married couples that came through some serious struggles with an attitude of
thankfulness and a renewed sense of commitment on the other side. So what’s the difference? And
how can you make sure your marriage will weather the storm—not crumble under the weight
of pain, problems, and tragedy?
We always say it’s not a matter of if your marriage will face pressure; it’s just a question of
when. If you want to safeguard your marriage against the storms of life, you need the third kind of
love from Philippians 2:12-13: persevering love.
This is the kind of love that triumphs over trials and grows stronger when you are most
vulnerable. It holds on through the toughest circumstances and is completely unconditional.
Persevering love bonds husbands and wives into lifelong friends.
Dealing with Life’s Storms:
This story is about a couple that has been married 12 years. They have 2 children ages 7 and
10.
They started out like any ordinary couple, fell in love, got married and had kids. She
immersed herself in the role of mother and wife. He worked full-time and saw his role as provider.
He was involved in his kids lives, but not to the full extent that his wife was. She became a stay-
at-home mom and was devoted to the kids.
During the 10 years of parenthood, these two didn’t take a whole lot of time to be alone with
one another. Everything they did was with or for the kids. Being a full-time mom, she rarely took
time for herself and when she did she felt guilty.
She wanted more help from her husband but never asked for this because 1. she shouldn’t
need help, she should be able to manage on her own like a good mother should and 2. he should
know he needs to help out more, she shouldn’t have to tell him.
Slowly, over the years, resentment built up inside, resentment that he never knew about.
Ten
Keys to a Healthy and Exciting Marriage

I think it was around March or April of 1988 that I took my first look at the 9 years and
3,288 days that Cecilia and I had lived, breathed and walked hand in hand together.
Needless to say, what I saw amazed me.
We not only had journeyed through the birth of six kids, six house moves, two cars, two mini-
vans, but also untold colds, rashes, lost toys, lost ID’s and a host of people, places and things
along the way.
Thankfully, Through it All, as the song says, we still laughed at our jokes, or when we tripped
over the carpet, or slurred a word, or just did something silly.
Our marriage was fun on day one, and thankfully, nine years later, it still was fun!
My four-year assignment aboard the USS Fletcher (DD-992), a Spruance Class Naval
Destroyer, had finally ended, and now for the next three years, I could spend most of my evenings,
and weekends with my family.
In all honesty, I had longed for this day ever since my oldest daughter and I had our “father
and daughter” moment one afternoon. The conversation centered around my frequent away from
home time while deployed on the ship. After her little speech, I knew when the opportunity came
for me to transfer from the ship, I would embrace it, and never let go of it!
The particulars of the incident occurred a few years back while I was outside watching the
girls ride their bikes. I had just returned from a three-week deployment aboard the Fletcher, and
all the kids were outside enjoying some rare “dad” time.
As I turned to look at Maria riding her bike, I noticed that her seat was loose. I then called
her over so I could tighten the bolt. After she had parked her bike, I asked her why she had not
told me about this sooner.
Her answer startled me, for with childlike innocence she said, “Daddy, we don’t see you very
often, and now that you are home, I did not want you to do anything but be with us today”.
Wow! Yeah, about all I could say was, wow. It’s amazing how kids have the uncanny ability
to say something in such a way, that it makes you feel 20’ tall, and 2” small, all at the same time.
No matter how hard I tried, I knew I could never recoup any of that time or memories.
About the Author

A lthough I’ve never been what you might call a “natural romantic”, I do consider myself
an ardent student of learning how to make my wife smile, how to make her happy, and
how to make her feel loved.
However, I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me first tell you a few things about me.
I joined the navy in June of 1976, and retired in April of 2003. I served aboard two naval
vessels during my career; the USS Dubuque (LPD-8) an Amphibious Transport Dock and the USS
Fletcher (DD-992) a Spruance Class Destroyer.
My shore assignments were as varied as my sea billets: Computer Deck Chief in the
Philippines, Y2K Coordination Officer in Italy, director of the navy’s drug testing laboratory for
recruits, and director of the navy’s Information Technology communications school.
I was ordained and licensed through World Evangelism Fellowship of Baton Rouge,
Louisiana. I pastor the Pilgrim Outreach Ministries International, and I am a 1976 graduate of El
Campo high school, in El Campo, Texas.
I have authored 15 books, including this one. The medals and awards that I wear from my
naval career reflect the 27 years of faithful and rewarding service that I freely gave to the greatest
nation on the face of the earth ... the United States of America.
I am forever thankful that Cecilia was by my side for 24 of those 27 years.
She has been my constant companion; someone that I have heavily leaned on during those
moments in life when you do not know what else to do. Cecilia understands me better than anyone
else in the world does and no matter the situation or circumstances; she has firmly stood with me.
With her help, faith and support we have preached the Gospel message of hope to untold
hundreds of thousands around the world: Jesus Saves, Jesus Delivers, Jesus Heals, Jesus Baptizes
in the Holy Spirit and Jesus is Coming back to Rapture His Saints away very, very soon!
Cecilia and I have been married for more than 39 wonderful years, and have six kids and now
fifteen grandkids.
We have lived, worked and ministered in Italy for the past fifteen years, but we are relocating
our headquarters to the Philippines. Here, we will continue to proclaim the Good News [Gospel] to
any and all who will listen.