FamilyLife Blended® Podcast

138: Cancer, NFL, and Family

with Asha Still, Devon Still | May 20, 2024
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Ex-NFL football player Devon Still and his wife Asha married shortly after Devon's young daughter, Leah, went into remission from stage four cancer. While rejoicing over Leah's healing, they were soon blindsided by blended family struggles.

Devon and Asha talk with Ron Deal about how they had both been raised in divorced homes and didn't understand how to create a lasting marriage. They began to learn about blended family dynamics and take intentional steps toward harmony in their relationship. They quit avoiding hard conversations, listened to each other's feelings, and created new habits in their communication to connect well. They also leaned into their faith to work through misguided expectations and move toward love and trust, ultimately finding hope in a long-term relationship.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Ron Deal

    Ron L. Deal is one of the most widely read and viewed experts on blended families in the country. He is Director of FamilyLife Blended® for FamilyLife®, founder of Smart Stepfamilies™, and the author and Consulting Editor of the Smart Stepfamily Series of books including the bestselling Building Love Together in Blended Families: The 5 Love Languages® and Becoming Stepfamily Smart (with Dr. Gary Chapman), The Smart Stepfamily: 7 Steps to a Healthy Family, and Preparing to Blend. Ron is a licensed marriage and family therapist, popular conference speaker, and host of the FamilyLife Blended podcast. He and his wife, Nan, have three sons and live in Little Rock, Arkansas. Learn more at

Ex-NFL football player Devon Still and wife Asha were blindsided by their blended family struggles. They talk with Ron Deal about rejoicing over the cancer remission of Devon’s daughter while grieving over their marriage problems & how they found answers.

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138: Cancer, NFL, and Family

With Asha Still, Devon Still
May 20, 2024

Ron: You grew up in a blended family.

Asha: Yes.

Ron: Did that set any expectations for you of your role? What it was going to be like? And how your husband was going to treat you? And how your stepdaughter was going to respond to you?

Asha: Absolutely. I was a little naive to think I had it figured out, just because in my experience of a blended family, it wasn't great. So I was going into our blended family trying to correct the wrongs that I experienced from my stepfamily. I think in doing that, I didn't prepare myself for saying, “Okay, well, the dynamic is completely different. The things that you're up against will be different. And not only that; it's completely different individuals so there's no way to predict how things are going to go.” To think that I had it all figured out, I think that was my biggest mistake.

Ron: Welcome to the FamilyLife Blended Podcast. I'm Ron Deal. We help blended families, and those who love them, pursue the relationships that matter most. Okay, you know that FamilyLife® and our division, FamilyLife Blended, which includes this podcast, by the way, you know that we're a donor supported ministry. But did you know that this month, for a gift of any amount, we'll send you a copy of our new premium resource, The Smart Stepfamily. That's right; a gift of any amount. Share a gift with us, and we'll send you a gift of the number one selling book for Christian stepfamilies, The Smart Stepfamily.

“But Ron,” I can hear somebody pushing back, “what if I can't cover your cost?” You know what, that's okay. We thought about that. We're really all right with this. We're trusting that someone else, maybe we'll pitch in a little extra and cover the costs for other people. It's okay. We're not worried about it. We just want to get the book into your hands. And if you already have a copy of The Smart Stepfamily, it's okay. We'll send you one and you can give it to somebody else.

And by the way, my free eight session video series with RightNow Media based on that book is also available. Again, if you didn't know, yes, it is free. It's the most watched series in the world and groups will be starting up in the fall. You can find a group, by the way, on our website. We've got a searchable map where you can look and see if there's one near you. Or you can list your group for free if you haven't done so yet. Or maybe the Lord is calling you to start a group in your corner of the world. We'd love to help you with that; just reach out. The link to the map, all of that, is in the show notes. If you want to learn more about that video series, it's all there so check it out soon. If you have questions, you can always email us,

Well, the world fell in love with Devon and Asha Still in 2014 as they watched that former NFL football player, and now blended family couple, battle alongside his daughter Leah to beat a stage four cancer diagnosis. And since then, two of them have built a strong and loyal community on social media, and they've got a podcast, Relationships, a lot of people are listening to. I had the pleasure of being on their podcast not long ago, and I'm thrilled to have them now on FamilyLife Blended. Welcome to the two of you. Thanks for being with me today.

Asha: Thank you.

Devon: Thanks for having us.

Ron: Guys, I really got to start here. Tell us, how is Leah doing?

Devon: She's doing really great. She's been cancer free for nine years so she's doing really well; just enjoying being a child and not have to worry about back-and-forth visits to the hospital.

Ron: Man, that is glorious. I'm glad to hear that. It sounds like she's just doing great. How old is she now?

Devon: Thirteen.

Ron: Thirteen so you are in the throes of—

Devon: It's an interesting time. [Laughter]

Ron: Yes, it is. Yes, it is. Welcome to adolescence. Here we go.

Devon: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

Ron: Well, thanks for being with me today. Let's dive in.

During my interview for your podcast, Real Relationships, you guys said that the blended family dynamic has been one of your biggest challenges—I think is the way you put it—in your marriage. Tell us, what did that look like for you guys?

Asha: So, I think going into our blended family, it was a whirlwind because we were just coming off of Leah going into remission when we got married, and so it was a lot of mixed emotions. We were on a high because we were happy and excited that we were able to weather that storm and get through it and we were at that light at the end of the tunnel. But then, now, we're forming a family and we're trying to get through the struggles that we have but also understand what that looks like to be a blended family. I think that's really when our challenges start to surface in a sense, and we started to try to navigate what that looks like.

Devon: Yes, I agree. I think something that you said that really stuck out in our episode was after the marriage, everything changes. And that's exactly what happened. During the dating phase. I wouldn't say it was easy because we were dealing with a lot of trauma and a lot of challenges from Leah's battle with cancer, and the other household, but it was definitely way easier before we got married. And then when Leah actually moved with us full time, and that's when the challenges really started to arise.

Ron: Yes, there's a big word there, full time. And I think for a lot of people, dating is part time. It's sort of a buildup, and you're spending time together, but it's not full time.
And the other way we like to say it around here is, it's not real until it's real.

Devon: Right.

Ron: And your podcast, Real Relationships, right? That's what a lot of blended families experience, is, wow, it got real. And it got real fast. And that realness brought something with it that we didn't anticipate, we didn't see coming. Is that—did you feel like, wow, where did this come from, blindsided, any of that?

Devon: Absolutely.

Asha: Yes. [Laughter]

Devon: Absolutely. We had no, not even just as far as blended family, we had no idea what to expect from marriage period because we both came from broken homes, so it wasn't—we didn't get to see what a healthy and long-lasting marriage looks like: what was the role of a husband? What was the role of a spouse?

So we just started to experiment because wherever there's ignorance, there's experimentation. We were experimenting with something that's so precious and so serious when it comes to marriage that we were trying to figure that out while also trying to figure out what does having a healthy and successful blended family look like? And trying to do those two things together with the lack of resources and a lack of community that we could reach out to for support was definitely hard.

Ron: I’m sure a lot of people when they find themselves in that little space where they're going, “I have all kinds of questions and no answers,” get discouraged, sometimes start rethinking whether or not this was a good idea. I'm curious if that happened for you. Here you were dating the single dad, and his daughter was not well, and then she got well, and it seemed like things were just coming together. And then all of a sudden, wow, lots of questions.

Asha: Yes, that's for sure. It was a lot of questions, a lot of confusion. When we initially got married, we didn't have tough conversations that we should have. We didn't really paint out what it would look like to have this blended family, what roles we would play, how we would parent. We didn't have those conversations and really go below the surface level conversation to really say, “Okay, well, what does this family look like? How do we want to build together?” I think that caused a lot of confusion, a lot of unnecessary chaos, I would say, because we didn't have those tough conversations in the beginning.

Devon: I would go even further to say pain, a lot of hurt.

Asha: Yes.

Devon: A lot of hurt.

Ron: Oh yes, say a little bit more about that because I think a lot of people can relate to it.

Devon: Yes. I think it's easy to just say words like frustration or anger, but when you get beneath the surface and you really start to discover what emotions you were really feeling, I think on both ends, we were hurt. We were hurt because we didn't feel like the other person was protecting our heart and our mind and our spirit. It took for us to have really deep conversations, but from a place of empathy and understanding and trust.

When we were able to create that environment, we were able to course correct our marriage and take the necessary steps. One even being reading your book; it was an eye opener for us. It's like, no wonder why things weren't working. We're doing it wrong. We're doing it completely wrong. And then when we were able to develop a game plan, we're not where we want to be, but we're definitely not where we used to be.

Ron: Yes. That pain of discouragement and “I thought it was going to be this, but it turned out to be that” that's really common for a lot of blended families. And, honestly, a lot of people just quit right there. They never, like you guys, to your credit, go looking for answers.

Devon: Right.

Ron: And the good news is, I think, when you find those answers, you got hope again. You can keep going. You make some course corrections and things start moving in a better direction. Do you have a sense, how long did that take for you guys? Tell us a little bit more about that journey. How long did it take or how much work did it take for you to feel like, “Okay, we've made a few changes and we're headed in a better direction”?

Asha: I would say maybe six years, 10 years. It seems like it's been majority of Our married life that we were trying to figure it out. Because like I said, we had a—it was a lot of changes. So we had to go from, Leah being sick, her going through that, getting better, Devon battling his injuries in the NFL, us moving from cities, not being around family. It would just seem like everything was piling on.

Devon: —custody battle.

Asha: Custody battle, so it was just a lot. And it was all throughout the span of the beginning of our marriage and throughout our marriage so adding that in with trying to make the blended family work, it was a lot that we had to—I would say like an onion that we had to peel back and work through and really understand, “Okay, well, this is an issue. We need to address this before we can go to this because they're all somewhat tied together.

It definitely seemed like it was a majority of our marriage. I feel like the kind of turn of the corner that we feel just recently happened within the past, I want to say a year or two of us really diving into resources that we had and having certain conversations and trying to do things a lot differently than what we had to really turn that corner.

Devon: I agree. I think two things allowed us the last six years was—people probably listen like “Y'all went through six years of this. That's a long time. I can't do this.” I think that we were caught up in the “Things will get better as time goes on.” It wasn't until we started taking intentional action to make things better because time doesn't heal all; it's what you do with that time that creates healing.

When we started to take accountability for the things that we were doing wrong in the relationship and the things that we can start doing better, when we started to actually go out there and look for the resources, things really started to change for us when we stopped avoiding conversation. Because when you get married, you want it to be happy. You want it to be purposeful and a lot of time—

Ron: You want it to be easy. [Laughter]

Devon: Easy, exactly. Yes, so you avoid those tough conversations.

Ron: That's right.

Devon: And you live in this facade that, “Hey, my marriage is perfect. Everything's going well,” but you just keep sweeping things under the rug. All it takes is just one mishap and things may blow up and we started to notice that a lot in our marriage. We made a decision that we were going to do the work in order to fix that.

Ron: I want to encourage our listeners and our viewers. It took them six years. We often say around here, it takes the average stepfamily five to seven years to really find their mojo, find their fit, find their familyness, if you will. You guys fall in line with that just perfectly. Nan and I have been married 38 years and we're telling people we're just beginning to figure marriage out. I think it's a journey our whole life. And we're trusting God to walk with us and help us learn a little bit more about ourselves, the good parts, and the not so good parts, so that we can submit that to the Lordship of Jesus and every day grow a little bit better at doing this thing called marriage and family and parenting.

I think that's the journey. I don't know that easy is this side of heaven. I can't quote scripture on that one, but I think that's the way it works. And so, intentionality and trust and faith and self-discipline, as you guys were just talking about, those are the ingredients that help life get easier this side of heaven.

I remember when you guys were talking with me on your podcast, you mentioned that you had read The Smart Stepfamily Marriage, which is our book that really does a laser beam focus on the couple's relationship within a blended family. And I remember you mentioning that you needed a reset on some of your expectations about how life was going to go. You've already talked about that a little bit, but I'm curious, is there a specific expectation you could put words on that you now know was just misguided?

Devon: I think discipline. You talked about the term of passing power. I didn't understand the importance of passing power when it came to Asha being an authority figure in Leah's life. We didn't understand the importance of trying to build up that friendship between them first, Asha taking the time out to really understand and respect Leah's inner world, her friends, what's going on at school and really building up that relationship so that I no longer need to pass power because she has already gained Leah's trust at the time. So I feel like where I misstepped a lot of the time is I didn't step up when I should have and like I said passed the power.

Another thing that I feel like where we went wrong, even in the beginning when I think about it now that we sit on this Podcast, is you know, we hear often in the Bible about the importance of turning the other cheek—and I probably still struggle with this today, and I would love to hear your thoughts on this. But as we were going through things in the beginning of our relationship, and even with the custody battle, there was a lot of disrespect towards Asha from the other household. And I often asked Asha to turn the other cheek, to just let it slide because “We're in court right now. I don't want to do anything wrong to really mess up the chances of me gaining custody of Leah.”

I didn't really understand at the time that I was making Asha feel like she wasn't secure, or she wasn't protected because I was so focused on the goal that I wasn't focused on my wife, which should come first. We didn't have certain conversations.

So that was one of the biggest hurdles that we had to overcome in order to make that transition in our marriage, in order to make the pivot was us just sitting down and having that conversation of, what did you feel over these past six years as we were going through it? Because at the time, the main focus was on me. The main focus was on how Leah felt. And until I took the time to really understand what Asha's experience was during that time, did we find that breakthrough.

And that's even one of the reasons that made me pick up your book is that I wanted to understand what I was doing wrong and what I could do better in order to make Asha feel heard and seen.

Ron: Asha, I can imagine that you were in a real tight spot there, on the receiving end of some negativity from the other household and at the same time, recognizing that you got to be diplomatic in this whole court situation. And do I just suck it up and take it or do I speak up or how do we handle this? What was that like for you?

Asha: It was challenging and hard. It goes back to when you initially asked the thought of, is this something that I want to do? Because a lot of times I question, okay, well, if I'm taking the certain approach or trying to approach the situation positively and respectful of everybody because I see how from my own experience of growing up in a stepfamily how it can impact the child and impact everyone, I want to do things differently. I didn't really receive that, so it had me question a lot “Is this something that I really want to do? Is this something that I want to be a part of or involved in if I'm, in a sense, overlooked or silenced?” And it hurt a lot.

But I think to what Devon was saying, just him acknowledging along the way. Because even though it was those times where it was just like, “I know you're hurting. I know you're upset. I know this isn't ideal,” he still recognized me to some degree along the way and the pain or position that I was in having to deal with something. So, I think just him doing that, it really grounded me to say, “Okay, I know that he has my best intention and I understand what he's going through, and his ultimate goal of why he's doing it is not to make me feel any type of pain.” So I had to look at it from his perspective as well, and not just my own.

Ron: I think that's beautiful. I don't want our audience to miss it so I'm just going to come in and highlight what you just said. There's a really important distinction here.
Somebody is listening right now and they're like, “Yes, we've got a rock and a hard place situation going on.” Maybe it's a court situation with the other household and “We don't know when to speak up and when to shut up because we're just trying to not make things worse.” It is so, so delicate.

But what is beautiful there is both sides of what you just said. That Devon communicated to you his respect or his honor, his value of you, and you needed to hear that from him, but you were also gracious and empathetic enough to see it from his side and to understand that he was in a tough spot. And so, to take what you could and receive that and find a way to be okay in the midst of that really difficult situation. I think those are really good distinctions.

One of the things I want to say to couples all the time in these kinds of rock and hard place situations is, you can't control what happens with the other person in the other household. Obviously, if you could, life would be so much nicer and better, but you can't. There's no way you can get them to stop being nasty and mean. If that's in their heart, that's what's going to come out of their mouth.

But what you can do is look after each other. As the two of you in your own home, you can at least affirm and communicate and say, “I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this. I'm on your side. We're going to get through this.” Whatever that is to say, “I'm for you.” And the other person to say, “And I'm for you.” That's what helps you survive against really difficult situations that are outside of the two of you.

And by the way, yes, sometimes I think individuals and stepparents often, like Asha, are the recipients of this negativity. Sometimes it's both of you, but sometimes you do have to turn the other cheek. Sometimes you do have to go the second mile.

And by the way, those passages in Matthew 5 are not suggesting that we just let people beat us up and beat us up again. It's actually, Jesus is saying to people, “Look, this is how you show that my people, people who follow Me, don't just do what everybody expects them to do. If somebody slaps you on the cheek, what they expect you to do is fight back. What they expect you to do is repay evil with evil and my people don't do that. They find ways of showing that there's a different way to respond to anger and hurt. And they find other ways of saying, ‘Nope, I'm not like you. I love differently.’” That's the point of turning the other cheek. You're still in a power position, but you're just not retaliating the way they might expect you to.

So, I don't know if the other household ever picked up on that message from you guys, but I'd like to think that maybe they saw a little of that in how you carried yourself. And certainly, God saw it if nobody else did. So, I commend you for that.

Man, Asha, you grew up in a blended family.

Asha: Yes.

Ron: Did that set any expectations for you of your role, what it was going to be like, and how your husband was going to treat you, and how your stepdaughter was going to respond to you?

Asha: Absolutely. I think I was a little naive to think I had it figured out, just because in my experience of a blended family, it wasn't great. I was going into our blended family realizing what happened to me in my situation in trying to correct the wrongs that I experienced from my stepfamily. I think in doing that, I didn't prepare myself for saying, “Okay, well, the dynamic is completely different. The things that you're up against will be different. And not only that; it's completely different individuals so there's no way to predict how things are going to go.” It could give me some guidance in a sense it did, but to think that I had it all figured out, I think that was my biggest mistake because I didn't have it figured out. And in doing that, I set myself up or put myself in a bad position by having those expectations.

Ron: Yes. But perfectly natural that you would do that. Why would you not assume they’d at least be similar or that it would at least inform your journey in your family? I think that's a really common thing for people to do. How did you get to the point—see, this is the hard part. How did you get to the point where you were willing to say, “You know what, I think I was wrong about this.”

Asha: I think through the experiences that we had; I want to say when I went in doing things a certain way. For example, growing up in my family, my dad and my stepmom wasn't very intentional about having certain conversations with us or understanding and explaining what the blended family looks like. If there was a disagreement or anything, we never really addressed it. And there was always tension and so I didn't want that to be the case.

When I went into our relationship, I always was open. I always explained to both Devon and Leah my experience in wanting to create something differently because I understood what it would be like for Leah, as that little girl, feeling like confusion and lost and not feeling that love from everyone in your household.

I think from our experience of doing that and me really trying to be the difference that I didn't have and not really receiving what I expected of it, I was like, “Okay. Well, this isn't what I expected. I thought this was going to be completely different because I’m approaching this from a place of love and understanding so how could this be? How could this not go the way that I’m expecting?” I had to realize, like I said, that It's different individuals and I can't predict how someone else receives love or perceives me being there or showing up.

I think once I realized “Okay, this conversation that I had at some point it may make a difference, but right now it's not and I have to tweak the way I go and approach the situation,” that's when I really started to realize like, “Okay, let's take a different approach.”

Ron: Man, I just cannot affirm enough how important that little moment was for you and anybody who's listening right now. Because I'm a pretty opinionated person.
I know that about myself. I have ideas and I think they're right. [Laughter]

Devon: Sounds like me.

Ron: And so to get to that point where you say, “You know, Ron, you're wrong. You got to find another way of looking at this and experiencing this” is so helpful. Now I have all new options. Now there's new solutions. Now there's new opportunities that didn't exist before. But getting to that is sometimes really difficult for some people. They're just a little stubborn. So, good for you. And I'm sure there'll be other things in life where you got to do that. I'm still working on it myself.

Devon, I'm curious about you. I don't know what your family was like growing up. Did you have some expectations based on that coming in and find that those didn't really match?

Devon: I had no expectations. I didn't know what to expect because my parents, they got divorced when I was in third grade. They didn't remarry. They had boyfriends and girlfriends, but their boyfriends and girlfriends never really played an important role in our lives, so I didn't know what to expect when I was going into a marriage. I definitely didn't know what to expect going into a blended family.

Ron: So you were making it up as you went. [Laughter]

Devon: Oh yes, definitely, for sure. And I was like, “This is not right. We got to do something different.”

Ron: Devon, I want to ask you about worry. I don't know if you worried at all, but I'm just imagining maybe putting myself in your shoes coming in. You're a single dad, your daughter's fighting cancer and it's serious. You have this NFL football career, and you make a decision to turn away from that, to turn towards your daughter—a lot of change, a lot of transition.

You meet a beautiful woman; you fall in love. You really don't know what to expect about this whole family thing, but you want to give it a go, right? You had to be worried about your daughter. You had to be mindful of your wife. You had to be thinking about your daughter's biological mother who's, you know, how is she feeling about all this stuff going on with her daughter? I'm just curious. Did you worry? And how did you carry that as a husband and a dad as your family began?

Devon: Yes, I had a lot of different worries. Of course, the first worry was whether I was going to lose Leah or not. If I was going to be able to experience watching her grow up and being able to create certain moments with her. I was worried about the career transition I was going to have to make once I realized that my football career was coming to an end. I was worried that I may fail at marriage, like my parents failed at marriage and I was going to just continue this cycle of broken homes and broken marriages.

There was a lot of different worries that I had, but I decided to just focus on the controllables. The things that were in my hands, I was going to do the work to try to fix and the things that weren't in my hands, I would just give to God and let Him do it.
He does and take that off of my plate so I can be focused on the things that I had control over. And the moment that I did that, even opening it up to my wife, because I think a lot of times, like even as an athlete or as a man, you don't want people to know what you're really going through internally. And one of the major benefits of marriage to me is that you don't have to really go through life alone.

So, me and my wife, we do a lot of pillow talk. I open up to her about everything that I'm going through because I know that she can, if not give me perspective on how I can do things better or how I can overcome a challenge, she's like a sound board that I can just talk to and just release all of that stress. So when I started to open up about the things that I was struggling with and she didn't judge me for my shortcomings or in the areas that I was failing, it was a game changer for me because I knew I had somebody by my side who was just willing to go through whatever we had to go through in order to create a successful family.

Ron: Man, you took risk—

Devon: Oh yes.

Ron: —and what you discovered is that it was a safe relationship and that just deepens your trust and love for one another even more.

Devon: Oh, yes.

Ron: But it all starts with risk, right? And a lot of life is risk, love is risk, trust is risk. Standing up to a stepparent, stepchild situation when you're getting the short end of the stick and saying, “How am I going to turn the other cheek in this moment?”, that's risky. “How am I going to keep loving and giving and serving when it feels like nobody's appreciative of what I'm doing?” It's all risky.

Devon: Yes. It's a huge risk, especially when it comes to love, when it comes to marriages. Giving your partner your heart and trusting that they won't break it, that they won't take advantage of it, that's one of the biggest things that I had to learn because of course, I was guarded just like Asha was guarded. But the more we started to spend time with each other, the more we understood the purpose of us becoming one, we really started to open up and share our deepest, darkest secrets and fears and our hopes and that gave us the insights on what we needed to do collectively in order to fix our marriage.

Ron: Sometimes I find that couples who get intentional like you guys have and start working on things, after a while get tired of just having to keep pushing. It's just sort of like, again, maybe, “When is this going to get back to easy?” Do you guys ever get tired? And what do you do to keep yourself going if you do?

Devon: Well, when we're trying something new, of course, you start to get tired because it takes a lot of energy in order to create new habits. But when you persevere, you keep pushing, you keep breaking down those walls, eventually those habits become second nature. So I don't really get tired of the things that we started implementing a few years ago, but when there's changes that we're making right now, it takes a lot more energy. It's a little bit more exhausting, but understanding that we'll soon turn that corner, and we'll create those habits where it doesn't take a lot of energy for us to sit down and connect. It doesn't take a lot of energy for us to have tough conversations because we know how to properly communicate.

So right now, I'm energized. I'm not tired by anything that's in our relationship, but that wasn't always the case. For a couple of years it took a lot of energy, a lot of mental focus in order to reach this point. I don't know if Asha got the same answer so she’s going to have to answer that. [Laughter]

Asha: No, I think, I think the season of tiredness has passed. I think for us now, just having a clearer vision of what we want for our future and a better understanding has alleviated that because in the beginning we didn’t, and everything was cloudy. So being able to say, “You know what, this is the goal we're working toward. This is the type of family that we want to have. This is the love that we want to exhibit.” we're clear on that. It's not as tiring to say, “Okay, how do I get there?” because we know how to get there. We just have to get there.

We put in the work every day and it doesn't feel tiring, I think now, because we're moving through life differently and the love that we exhibit for each other is not the way that we exhibited before.

Devon: We're moving towards something rather than running in place. It gets tiresome when you're exhausting all this energy. You're trying to work to fix your marriage, but when you look up, it's like you're on the treadmill. You're in the same place. But when you have that goal in mind, and when you look up, you're actually closer to that goal than you were before. You don't get tired. You get excited because you finally found that breakthrough where you're not running in place anymore; that you're not just wasting your time and your energy, but you're moving to a collective goal.

Ron: Wow. I imagine somebody listening right now is really encouraged by that because they feel like they've been running in place. But yet intentionality will take you somewhere eventually. It may not be immediately, but eventually you're going to get there. I can't help but think there's some parallels between the battles you guys faced with Leah's cancer and then just the battle of becoming a family. You didn't quit. You stuck with it. You did what you had to do. You listened to a few people who had something to offer and pointed in a common direction and you did what you had to do.

I'm thinking, “Yes; wow. Good for you; way to go.” Is there anything else you would offer anybody who's maybe a little discouraged right now as they're listening to us? What would you say?

Devon: I would say the main things that helped us through the tough times is impermanence; understanding that nothing in life is permanent, nothing in your marriage is permanent. And what that does is it makes you savor the good times and hold on to them as long as possible, use them as energy to push yourself through the tough times. But it also allows you to endure those tough times because you realize the seasons will pass. That one day the struggles and the challenges you're dealing with will pass if you're intentional about putting forth the effort and resources in order to overcome the challenges.

The moment that we realized that was the moment that things changed because there were times—we talked about on our podcast before one of the things that really hurt in the beginning of our relationship, or our marriage was that D word. When things weren't going right, that divorce word would be thrown around a lot because we felt like we were stuck; that we weren't going to be able to move forward.

But the moment we made a commitment to each other that we're not going to use that word anymore, that we're not going to think about getting a divorce, but we're going to think about ways that we can increase our relationship satisfaction and our stability, was the moment that I felt like we really made a commitment.

Another thing that I think helped with that is understanding that our marriage wasn't just a contract, but it was a covenant. We didn't get into this marriage to see what we can get out of it from each other. We went into it understanding that we made a commitment in front of God and that we were going to submit our marriage to Him and understand that the purpose of our marriage was for His glory.

And we take that approach every single day when things get tough. We lean on Him, and we realize that this is for a bigger purpose. Like the work that we do right now, the lives that we impact, I understand why we're together. I understand. I don't need our marriage to be easy. I need it to be purposeful. And every day I wake up and I understand the purpose of this marriage so I'm willing to do the work. I'm willing to work through whatever struggles that we have to work through because I know that we're here for a reason. And that wasn't always the case. I didn't understand the purpose of marriage.

Now I tell people this. I had the best woman that I could ever meet right in front of my face, but I didn't understand the gift that she was until I started to go to church, and the pastor said to me, “If you're not going to take Asha serious, stop wasting her time.”

That was the first time that any man had held me accountable for the things that I was doing, how I was treating a woman. I realized that I had been doing things wrong this whole time. And I had made a commitment that day to do things the right way, but I felt like God was just—He had His hand on this the whole time. Because from the moment that I said, “I do” to Asha, it's like, I understood. My life finally felt purposeful outside of football because I realized that regardless of how my life went, when it came to career, that as long as I had Asha by my side, that we will be able to overcome anything and really build a life and really break generational curses that has been going on in our family for a very long time.

Ron: It’s beautiful; covenant, commitment, stick it out, keep going, hold yourself accountable, self-discipline.

Guys thanks for being with me today. I sure appreciate you joining us and sharing with our audience. Thank you.

Devon: Thanks for having us.

Asha: Thank you.

Ron: If you want to learn more about Devon and Asha and their podcast, check the show notes. We'd love to get you connected to what they're doing.

We'd love to have you give us a rating as well or a comment about this podcast if you would do that. Take one minute; I'd be grateful. It's going to help other people find this podcast and maybe some help.

Our most recent Women and Blended Families Livestream, hosted by Gayla Grace, that posted this last week. If you haven't seen it, you can go find it on our social media channels. Check that out on Facebook or on our YouTube channel.

And don't forget, FamilyLife Blended is the largest ministry to blended families in the world. With more than a dozen books and resources, on demand virtual training for ministry leaders, all of that is possible because of your support. And for a gift of any amount this month, you will receive a copy of my book The Smart Stepfamily. Check the show notes and use the link provided. This is an exclusive offer.

Well, next time, I'm talking with Marshall West about his amazing stepdad. It's a celebration of stepfathers, next time on FamilyLife Blended.

I'm Ron Deal. Thanks for listening or watching. And thank you to our production team and donors who make this podcast possible.

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