Updated: Dec 22, 2021
Welcome to Badge of Honor, Family Ministries and Presentations. Today, I’d like to share how God transformed my marriage. But, before I do that, I know there might be someone who might be going through a rough patch in their marriage. Or maybe you had a marriage that’s ended in divorce. My prayer isn’t to make anyone feel bad BUT that God might use this message to help equip you for down the road if you ever get into another relationship or consider getting married again. I believe we have a God full of grace and mercy and He can restore & heal any wounded or broken hearts. Everyone agree? GREAT!
I’d like to give you a snapshot of my family while I was growing up. Of course I had my mom Joanne & my dad Harry plus I had 6 siblings. Now my first sibling, Sandy, was stillborn. My second sibling was my sister Kathy 13 months later, my twin sister and I were born, Randy and Candy! Isn’t that cute. And NO we’re not identical. I get that a lot. 11 months after us twins, my younger brother Larry was born. As you can see, there were 4 of us born within 3 years. Then there was the caboose of the family, my little sister Penny, born 3 years later.
Have you noticed anything in familiar about all of our names? Yes, they all end in Y. Sandy, Kathy, Randy, Candy, Larry and Penny and my dad Harry. I’m not sure where my mom Joanne fits in. Now, not only do they end in Y but listen to our middle names. Kathy Jo, Randy Ray, Candy Kay, Larry Dean and Penny Jean. Isn’t that special. I’m not sure what my mom and dad were on but it sure wasn’t good.
I came from a really small school so that meant the Badge kids pretty much dominated the High School for a number of years. Sometimes there would be 4 Badge’s in band at the same time. Usually 3 to 4 of us would be involved in almost every sporting event or extra curricular activity. My mom and dad would be at almost every event that we were part of and many people in our community thought that we were the ‘Perfect Family’.
Backing up to my elementary years, I can remember my mom & dad showing affection to each other from time to time. I’d catch them snuggling on the couch while taking a nap or maybe sneaking a little kiss here and there. Do you know as a young child how that made me feel? Like any other child, it gave me a sense of love, safety and security.
During my middle school and high school years, it didn’t seem like that was happening as much. I rarely remember my mom and dad ever cuddling, hugging, kissing or even talking to each other for that matter. How does that make a child feel? That love, safety and security slowly disappeared. I thought “this must be the way it is when married people get older.”
What I didn’t realize at that time was my mom and dad’s relationship was slowly drifting apart. Their marriage had grown cold, stale and stagnant. To me, it became part of my normal and I tried not to think or worry about it too much.
After graduating from college, I got my first job teaching at Tri County HS and that was when I met the love of my life, Laurie Lynn Bergstrom. I was coaching the JV boys basketball team at the time and we had an away game at our arch rivals, Morley Stanwood. We were both battling for the league championship. We ran through our warmups and the JV game got started.
There were only a handful of fans in the stands from both schools and the game was a real snooze fest. Well we fell behind early by 20 points in the first quarter, 27-7. Boring! It was so bad that I was embarrassed to say that I was the coach.
We had somehow cut the lead to 14 points by the time we went in the locker room at halftime! By the end of the 3rd quarter, we were down by only 7 points! The game went from a sleeper to becoming a real barn burner going into that 4th quarter. Tri County & Morley Stanwood fans were starting to stream into the gymnasium because the Varsity game was next. The game was getting really tight and the crowd was starting to come alive.
During the 4th quarter, there was a turnover and the refs blew their whistle to indicate a dead ball. The Viking faithful in attendance let me know that the scoreboard clock was still ticking time off it. I turned and yelled at the scorekeeper to get his attention. “Randy, stop the clock!”. I knew timekeeper Randy but only as an acquaintance. He had been an elementary teacher at Morley Stanwood and I had seen him at other league events from time to time.
But when I yelled at him, something behind him caught my eye. There were these 3 foxes sitting behind him in the stands. You’re probably wondering, a fox? You mean the animal with a long nose, beady eyes, pointy ears and a long bushy tail? Nooooo! This was back in late 70‘s & early 80’s and and in those days a cute girl was considered a fox. These days you’d probably say that she was hot or something. I don’t know! Anyway, of the 3, I especially noticed the beautiful blonde fox. Believe me, it was love at first sight.
Focus Randy! Focus!
Of course, I had to stay focused on the big game and not get distracted. The game was tight but I couldn’t help keep noticing the beautiful blonde behind the scorekeeper’s table BUT I’m the coach and all. I had to be an example to my players and keep focused on the big game in front of me! It was coming down to the wire. Focus Randy! Focus!
Every time we hit a bucket to cut into their lead, the TC fans exploded. Every time MS hit a bucket, their fans thundered their approval. We were nearing the end of the game and had cut the lead to only 1 point with only a few seconds in the game. One of my best players got the basketball right under the basket for a shot to win the game. He shot, the ball hung on the rim and fell off. We got the rebound and got another shot and missed. With 2 seconds left, we got the rebound for one last shot. The ball hung on the rim, teetered, the buzzer went off, “Booooooonk”. . . and the ball fell . . . OFF. I couldn’t believe it. We had battled so hard, to lose by 1 lousy stinking point. And to OUR RIVALS!! Ahhhhhh!!!! Victory was so close you could taste it. We snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
The varsity game followed but I couldn’t get my mind off the game that we had lost. . . and of course. . . the fox sitting behind the scorers table. After the varsity game had ended, everyone was heading for the exits, except the 3 girls. They were still sitting in the bleachers but now talking to the scorekeeper, Randy. You know the no good scorekeeper who lost the game for us.
Of course, my players were always looking out for me since I was single and they spotted the girls right away. They went over to them and found out their names and ages. Of course, they didn’t get any coaching from me. My players yelled out their names and said “the blonde’s name is Laurie and she’s 19 years old”. I was pretty embarrassed, but I was also thankful that my boys were looking out for me.
After the game, I went home and pretty much had put “Laurie” out of my mind. I figured I’d never see her again. But, later that week, I got a call at school. Guess who it was? I couldn’t believe it, it was No Good Randy, the scorekeeper. He wanted to know if I would be interested in coming to Stanwood to play cards with the 3 girls who were at the game. I said “Is the sky blue? Is water wet? Is the Pope Catholic? Of course I’ll play cards with you and those 3 beautiful foxes, I, I, I mean girls.”
Notice how quickly I forgave No Good Randy for losing the game for me. He warned me though, the blonde was his. I was a little disappointed about that but there weren’t many chances to meet single girls my age in Howard City so I took him up on his offer.
I met with Randy and the girls at a house that the girls were renting. They were going to a local college at the time. College coeds, lucky me, huh. We played cards and guess what? The blonde, Laurie, and I we hit it off. Sorry Randy. Actually Randy and I became really good friends after that and he became my roommate while I lived in Howard City.
Laurie and I started to date the rest of the school year and throughout the summer. I proposed to her that following Christmas and we made plans to get married that June.
Laurie was from the upper peninsula in Michigan so we ended up getting married in Bark River a tiny little town town on US-2 about 15 miles west of Escanaba in the U.P. Anybody remember Da Yoppers from back in the 1990’s. They sang a song called the “Escanaba Girls” which was a remake of “California Girls” by the Beach Boys. It went something like this. . .“I wish they all could be Escanaba Girls.” Well, I call Laurie my Escanaba girl.
We got married on June 7th, 1980. Randy and the other 2 girls who were at the basketball game that night were all in our wedding. I had to kick Randy out as my roommate though, now that I had a new one. Sorry again Randy.
A couple years later, my youngest sister graduated from HS and was leaving the house. My dad told me that he had something really important that he needed to talk to me about. He told me that my mom and him had decided to get a divorce. They had waited until the nest was empty before going through with it. In my mind I thought, “What? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Didn't Get It
At that point, Laurie and I had been married for just a couple of years. My mom and dad had been married for 33 years and had 6 children, and now they came to the realization that they didn’t love each other anymore. I’m sorry but I JUST didn’t get it.
During the divorce, my dad went off the deep end. I won’t share the horror stories but it wasn’t pretty and hard on everyone. I thought to myself, divorce, what a mess? 9 years after my parents divorce, Laurie and I were both quite involved in our teaching careers. I was busy coaching basketball and Laurie was concentrating on raising our first 2 daughters. About that same time, Laurie and had become good friends with our neighbor Christy. Christy was telling Laurie about this marriage conference that she and her husband, Dean had attended in Grand Rapids at the Amway Grand Plaza called ‘Weekend to Remember’ through Family Life. Christie raved about it and told Laurie that we should go sometime. When I came home later that day, Laurie told me all about it and said that she wanted us to go to the next one.
Well, I told her to find the date and we could check our schedules to see if it’d work.
I’ll be very honest though. I thought "our marriage was doing just fine.” Why did we need to spend a bunch of money and waste our entire weekend going to a stupid marriage conference when our marriage was doing OK? I was hoping there would be someway to get out of it. Laurie found the date and I checked my calendar.
Oh suffering suckatash! I had a basketball clinic that I was running on that very same weekend!! I told her sorry but we can’t go. Let me tell you - Laurie didn’t take ‘No’ lightly. She was pretty adamant that she wanted us to attend. She told me to find someone to take my place to run the basketball clinic. I ended up with a drug problem. I found someone to take my place and Laurie drug me to the marriage conference reluctantly!
Let me tell you, have any of you ever had one of those 2 x 4 experiences where it seems like God uses something to hit you up side the head to get your attention. He hit me up side the head at the conference to get my attention about my marriage and I am sooooo glad that we went.
Oneness in Marriage
All the couples in attendance were given a manual with the schedule, topics and notes that were being covered and places to take notes. I remember that very first night, the conference speakers talking about the topic of ‘Oneness in Marriage.’ I’d never heard of it before. The Bible says that when a couple gets married, they are to leave their mother and father and cleave to each other and that the 2 shall become one.
I remember on our wedding day, we were going to light the Unity Candle. All of you know what it is? It’s a symbol of how 2 become one when married. You have 2 smaller lit candles on the side of a bigger unlit candle in the middle. During the wedding ceremony, the couple are to take the 2 lit candles and light the middle candle and then blow out their candles to symbolize how 2 have now become one.
Well, I was not a Christian when we got married and I guess I thought I knew more than God & the Pastor. I told the pastor that we would keep the 2 smaller candles lit after lighting the big one to represent that we were still individuals doing our own thing. Guess what? The pastor agreed with me.
Intentional In Your Oneness
Well the speakers at the conference said that in order to have two become one, or Oneness, you need to give up your rights to do what you want and be a servant to your spouse. They said that becoming One doesn’t just happen automatically. That you have to be Intentional in your Oneness. That we are born sinful and selfish, always wanting our own way which naturally leads to isolation, not Oneness. In order to move toward each other or Oneness we needed be intentional in giving up our wants and desires for the sake of our spouse. My candle philosophy obviously was flawed. My plan would lead to isolation not oneness. I’m not sure why the pastor agreed to let me do it my way.
If you'd like more information on 'The 5 Threats to Oneness', 'Extramarital Affairs', '5 Phases to Marriage Deterioration', 'Marriage Hypnosis' and more, please go to 'Get a Marriage Tune-Up: Part 2' by clicking 'Here'.