Love Renewed: The Millers, Part 1
About the Guest
Jess and Lance were young Christians. Away from home on an evangelistic outreach, they each found comfort, and a new friend, in each other. But the friendship soon turned into a romantic attachment, and it wasn't long before they were indulging their passion in sinful ways. Lance and Jess tell how they went from being bright-eyes youthful missionaries to just another couple living together at his parent's house.
Jess and Lance, as young Christians, were on an evangelistic outreach when they found each other. Lance and Jess tell how they went from being bright-eyes youthful missionaries to just another couple living together at his parent’s house.
Love Renewed: The Millers, Part 1
Bob: As a young man, Lance Miller decided to go on a year-long mission trip. In the back of his mind was the thought—maybe, he’d meet a girl.
Lance: Marriage was not the first thing on my list—and, I got to tell you, my parents had a lot of troubles before I left. It only got worse after I left. As a young person, I worked with a lot of guys who didn’t necessarily go down the right path. They would, literally, make snide comments like, you know: “If you come back a virgin, we’re going to punk you. We’ll make fun of you.” Marriage would not be the first thing on your list. Getting a girl would be the first thing on your list.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, January 20th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Lance Miller did meet a girl on that mission trip, and their relationship got started off headed in the wrong direction. We’ll hear their story today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. I sometimes forget that, out in the big world out there, not everybody thinks exactly the way I think.
Dennis: Well, when you work in a Christian organization, you can get in a bit of a bubble.
Bob: Yes, you can.
Dennis: Sometimes you need someone to step into your life with a big, gigantic pin, and pop it, [Laughter] and go, “Here’s the way it’s happening around the country.” I had this happen the other night at a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway, where I arrived, and the young man who was taking care of us—helping us get to our room—was living with his girlfriend.
Dennis: He didn’t think anything about it. I tried not to express anything because I don’t know where he is spiritually; so why wouldn’t he? But when you find out a couple, who go to church, are cohabiting—living together—you just kind of push back and you go, “Now, help me understand what exactly took place.”
You had an interview, Bob, that you did. I was away, in Colorado, at a speaking engagement. You had a chance to interview a couple who—well, they were on a missions trip—
Bob: Don’t give away their story! It’s a great story!
Dennis: It really is an interesting story.
Bob: We got the whole staff together so that they could sit in and hear the story as I conducted the interview with Jess and Lance Miller. They’re a young couple who live in Florida. They wrote to us to tell us about their experience at one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. We thought, “Let’s bring them in and have them share their story with the staff.”
By the way, let me remind our listeners: “This week is the last week—if you’d like to register for an upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaway and save half the cost. This is our buy one/get one free week. You pay regular price for yourself; your spouse comes free. You can pick the location nearest you.”
Go, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about this special offer; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. You have to mention you’re a FamilyLife Today listener. As you’re filling out the registration form for the Weekend to Remember, online, just put my name—put “BOB”—in the promo code box. That will qualify you for the special offer.
Dennis: And this is a great weekend! It’s fun; it’s entertaining. It will equip you around the major areas of a marriage relationship. You’re going to leave there reminded of why you got married in the first place—with fresh fuel in the tank and a fire in your heart for each other. It’s really a great weekend. We just invite you to come and join in it with us. Bring somebody else—maybe, a family member.
Bob: We also know that there are listeners who don’t live near where there’s going to be a Weekend to Remember or, maybe, the weekend doesn’t work out for you.
As an alternative, we’ve got hundreds of folks who are, this spring, hosting one of our Art of Marriage® video events for couples. In fact, on Valentine’s weekend, we’ve got hundreds of locations lined up where The Art of Marriage is going to be taking place in communities, in churches, in neighborhoods. This is a great event!
Dennis: Bob, on 2-14-14, we’re hoping—we’re planning—we’re praying that 2,014 couples, like you, would host one of these events—in your neighborhood, in your church, in your community—and invite 10/15/20 couples—maybe, more—to come out and make a statement and [take] a stand on behalf of marriage as God designed it.
Bob: There is still time to pull this off—it’s not too late. In fact, we’ll partner with you on the deal. If you get in touch with us—go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link for The Art of Marriage—you can see the map where there are already events scheduled. You can schedule your event. We will send you the event kit free, as long as you’re ordering, at least, five sets of manuals for the couples who are coming to your event.
Find out more when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click on the link for The Art of Marriage and plan to host one of these events Valentine’s weekend or, if that weekend doesn’t work out for you, maybe, sometime later in the spring. In fact, the couple, we’re going to hear from today, wound up hosting one of these Art of Marriage events after they’d been to the Weekend to Remember.
Dennis: Yes, that’s right! They came to the conference—got a vision for it / got the kit—took it back. I don’t know how many couples they had come out to their event; but they decided to move—from someone who was in really desperate need for their own lives—to, ultimately, multiplying and having an impact on others.
Bob: You haven’t heard the story yet—so let’s let it roll—
Dennis: That’s right.
Bob: —so let’s let it roll. This is our friends, Lance Miller and his wife Jess, sharing their story about how God brought the two of them together and how he used the Weekend to Remember and The Art of Marriage in their marriage.
Bob: Jess, you’re from the northwest; and, Lance, you’re from the southeast. Where did the two of you come together?
Lance: Oh, man! [Laughter] I played drums at church. That’s what has caused me to be just involved in church. It kept me there. I wasn’t sure about God, but I was sure about drums. [Laughter] One time, at youth service, the guy didn’t show up. They said: “Hey! Do you play? Well, you’re playing tonight.” Ever since then, I’ve been at church because I had to play drums.
One day, they said: “We’re not playing this week. There’s a group coming in, and they are from Africa. They’re going to tell us about what Africa is like.” I said, “That’s great.” We came the next Sunday, and there they were—talked to them and hung out. They said: “Hey! Do you want to go to Africa?” I said: “Sure! That sounds great! I’ve never been out of my own house, let alone the country.” [Laughter]
I signed their card. I didn’t think anything of it. They said: “We’ll see you later. Someone will call you in a few weeks.” I said, “That’s great.” Sure enough, they called.
They said: “You know, have you ever been out of your house? Have you ever done anything like that?” I said, “No.” They said, “We’ll get back to you.” They called me back again and said: “Look—you can’t go to Africa because you’re not quite old enough and mature enough. There’s a lot of culture shock there; but we could put you on a national team—a ministry team—that would travel around the United States, and play in different churches, and kind of do evangelism.”
This was in July. They said: “We start in August. So, you had better raise a pretty hefty amount of money,”—for it’s a whole-year sign-up trip—“and meet us in Minnesota on August 15th.” I got the support of the church and did this thing. It really hits you when you sign up for a year commitment—
Lance: —to do something you’ve never done before—when you get to Minnesota and you’re looking at the terminal. It says: “Welcome to Minnesota.” You go, “This is real.” That was where the hub of everyone meets—that you’ve never met before, and you’re going to spend a year with them in a van.
Bob: How old were you?
Lance: I was 19.
Bob: Okay, so you’re 19. You’re out of school—a year. You figure, “Why not spend a year doing this, see the country, and play drums?”—you like playing drums. You get there, and you meet Jess?
Bob: Your walk with God was kind of arm’s length? You kind of thought: “Maybe, He was out there,” or what?
Lance: I had grown up—and we always went to church. You knew God was there, from an early age; but we made a shift when we moved to Florida from Chicago—where I originally grew up. My parents could not afford private school anymore. So, we went to public school. That’s definitely—the peer group has great power in shifting your thinking, sometimes.
It started to get away from me. You start questioning, “Why would God let something like this happen?” My dad got sick—he had cancer. We found out he had cancer shortly after we moved from Chicago. So, you start to question things a little bit.
Before that—I should preface this—the only job I’d ever had, my whole life, is when I was 12 or 13; and we moved to Florida. We moved down the street from a guy who had—I loved lawn mowers and working with my hands. My dad let me take stuff, in the garage, apart that should never probably have been taken apart. He never got onto me about that, though. He said: “That’s cool! Let me teach you.”
That translated into me cutting the grass for this guy, down the street, which turned into me cutting the grass at his store. Now, he started picking me up after school so we would go work on appliances at his shop. I’ve been doing that since I was 14—for 12 years now. It’s the only job I’ve ever had.
Lance: It’s quite a blessing. But, to go on this trip, I also had to convince him—more than my parents—to let me go.
Bob: To take a year off.
Lance: To take a year off and go see the world. He said, “The world’s here.” [Laughter] I said—I also had friends who were getting into drugs. Man, I just had a lot of questions! This group from Africa was so centered on what you need to be doing to serve God: “It’s out there. You can change your life that way.”
I said, “I’ve got to get out of here.” I signed up—convinced my boss. I didn’t even tell any of my friends. I just left! I got on that plane to Minnesota.
Bob: So, I’m curious, Jess. Did you notice the drummer first, or did the drummer notice you first?
Jess: It was me. He was one of the first things I knew because we are both introverts. I walked in, and there were almost 100 other people arriving to be trained for their teams. We had a lot of teams back then—plus all of the staff and everything. There were almost 140 people there. I was quickly shutting down. I knew I needed to not do that. So, I was looking for: “Who’s going to be my anchor?” when I walked in there. He was also quiet. He was smart. He looked good. It was just like, “Okay!” And, he was on my team; so, “I could follow this one for a little while.” That was how that started.
Bob: And how long into this year-long adventure before the two of you thought, “Maybe, there’s more here than just a friendship”?
Jess: Only a couple of months.
Lance: We had a cool breakthrough. We’re both kind of techies, a little bit. We couldn’t figure out how to get this Nintendo 64® to show up on this TV for these youth kids to play. We troubleshooted it, and figured it out, and high-fived each other. I said, “This girl is not like other girls!” [Laughter] —I said it in my head.
Bob: Wow!! [Laughter]
Lance: It doesn’t take much.
Bob: We’ve never had a story like that on FamilyLife Today. [Laughter] This is a first! Were you thinking the same thing about him, at the same time?
Jess: I made up my mind much sooner.
Bob: You were already—
Jess: Yes, I was pretty clear from the start.
Bob: So, how long before you started sharing your interest with one another?
Jess: It was Christmas that year. We were going to go on break. We weren’t going to see everybody for two weeks. I was afraid that he was going to get away from me. So, I went and told him. We hadn’t spoken beyond fixing things together.
I said: “Look, I don’t know what to do or say; but I really, really like you. We need to talk some more.”
Bob: Yes? So what did you think when she came and said that?
Lance: I did not know what to think, mostly, because, at the beginning of your training—on our team there were six people—three girls and three guys. They explained this at the beginning: “Don’t date! [Laughter] You can’t do that. It’s going to mess up the atmosphere. You’re going to be a separate team from your main team, and it’s going to screw things up.”
Lance: Man, I had everything in my body and my head screaming, “This is not the way we should be going!” But I thought—was kind of flattered, at the same time. So, you’re thinking, “This could be pretty cool.”
Bob: Yes. So you come back after Christmas—
Bob: You’ve had this talk; and now, you’re back on the team. You’re not supposed to be dating.
So, did you keep it hidden; or did you just keep your distance? What did you do?
Lance: Yes! [Laughter]
Bob: You kept your distance and kept it hidden! [Laughter]
Lance: Yes; it kind of just happened like that. When you’re on a team like that and you’re traveling in a van, you don’t get to leave. So, we just did life together; we did ministry together. We were at different churches every couple of days. I mean, it was a new experience waiting around the bend—new tech things to figure out. [Laughter]
Bob: So, Jess, at the end of that one-year period, were you guys, at this point, pretty serious with one another?
Bob: Is that when you moved to Florida?
Jess: Yes, actually—between Easter, which was in April that year, and May-ish—I had a very difficult conversation: “Right now, we’re going to go home; and we’re never going to see each other again. I don’t want to do that,” but I didn’t want to push too hard—
Because he was the one who was going to have to invite me because of his dad being sick at home. It was going to have to go that way. So, I just threw that out there. He did invite me to move down to Florida.
Jess: I bought a new ticket from Minnesota to Florida and went with what I had been living with for the year.
Bob: Were your mom and dad cool with all of this?
Jess: At the time, they didn’t have much to say. It seemed like they were okay since, apparently, my mom’s circle had really pressured her: “This is wrong! You can’t be letting your daughter...” I mean, she really was fighting everybody; but she did a really, really good job of trusting that I was going to have to learn things on my own.
Bob: I have to ask you: “Growing up in the home and the family that you grew up in, I’m presuming that you were thinking about life—that you would meet somebody, fall in love, and get married someday?”
Jess: Actually, I remember, probably midway through high school, I remember having a very tough period of time where I was hoping for that; but I was convinced it was never going to happen for me. I was feeling like nobody would ever notice me. It was just the pressures of—you’re so plugged into your church. I was in fast-pitch—like workaholic—but around kid things. On top of that, not being supermodel thin and being able to catch the attention—there were a lot of self-esteem issues. I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to have that.
Bob: When you started having a guy paying attention to you and noticing you, did that revitalize thoughts that, “Maybe, one day, we’ll get married”?
Jess: I certainly had that hope for him. I had never dated—I had never. I had been waiting. If it was going to happen, it was only going to be the one person.
Bob: Got it.
Jess: So, when I found him, I said, “It’s either this or nothing.”
Jess: Like, “This is it for me.”
Bob: Lance, what had been your thinking about—did you want to get married someday?
Lance: Marriage was not the first thing on my list. I got to tell you, as a young person, I worked in that store. I worked with a lot of guys who didn’t necessarily go down the right path. They would, literally, make snide comments like: “If you come back a virgin, we’re going to punk you. We’ll make fun of you.” They already did; but the peer pressure that you experience, just being a guy and never having been with someone. Marriage would not be the first thing on your list. Getting a girl would be the first thing on your list.
Bob: The culture you were in was a conquest kind of a culture. Marriage—maybe, at some point—but it’s all about conquest with girls.
Lance: Absolutely! The order in which things happen has been switched.
Bob: Yes. Were you thinking, as you’re off on this one-year ministry experiment, “I better make sure that I don’t come back a virgin”?
Lance: Actually, yes. It was sort of one of the things at the top of my—I would come back on a break and talk to the guys: “Hey, have you done anything yet? How are the girls?” It’s just so sad to hear that, thinking back; but that’s just how it is. That’s the way the culture had me thinking.
Bob: You knew that the ministry team you were with thought you should be staying away from one another. The guys back at the shop are saying, “You should be going after the girls.” You were paying attention more to what the guys, back at the shop, were thinking than what the ministry folks were thinking.
Jess: We actually had teammates, who saw what was happening—even though we tried to keep it hidden—who pulled us aside and said, “Stop!”
Bob: So how long into—and I know we’re getting into personal stuff here—but how long into that post-Christmas—before it’s all over—are you starting to have sex?
Jess: Yes, during the summer—it was June/July.
Bob: Okay. It is right as things are coming to an end?
Jess: Right. We hadn’t—we were kind of making plans, but it wasn’t cemented.
Bob: What were you thinking and feeling when, all of a sudden, the relationship is starting to move in this direction?
Jess: It was: “I have the undivided attention of someone. I never thought I would.” There was partly that fear: “No one else will ever look at me again. So, I need to take advantage.” And there was the fear that—there was Satan convincing me that it was okay because I had decided there wouldn’t be anybody else—so, “It doesn’t matter. You’re only supposed to have one; and he’s the one—so there we go!”
Bob: Were you having any guilt—any qualms of conscience—about the fact that you were having sex with somebody on a ministry team? I mean, now, you can go back to the guys in the shop and say, “Hey, I scored!” but—
Lance: Right; at the cost of what?
Bob: Yes. Was there guilt?
Lance: You know what? When you have sex for the first time, you are thinking about a whole bunch of different things—and what the guys are whispering in your ear. It’s like there was no room for guilt, at the beginning, until we started to see the consequences of what we were doing. That’s when it starts to hit you.
Lance: Sin is only fun for a period of time.
Lance: It only has those fun benefits; and then, you start to reap the consequences.
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to the first part of a conversation we had, not long ago, with Jess and Lance Miller—a young couple who, as we heard today, met on a missions trip and became sexually-active as a part of the trip. Ultimately, wound up, as we will hear this week—they wound up living together.
You know, I hear from folks all of the time—there are a lot of people, going to church, who are living together.
Dennis: You can’t be in this culture today and, even occasionally, watch what is taking place—on TV in prime time, or in the movies, or in music, or on the web—and be unaffected. You’ve got to believe there are, literally, millions of young people today who don’t think anything about it.
Dennis: I mean, it’s expected. It’s not a matter of it being a moral choice; it’s a matter of it being a human right. We shouldn’t be surprised. We shouldn’t be surprised that this kind of thing is taking place. First of all, everybody is broken. Everybody has sinned and fallen short of how God made them to be. But, secondly, you just have to admit: “This is a powerful culture that we’re in today. It is brainwashing a lot of our young people.”
Bob: As we will hear this week, Lance and Jess wound up at a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. They were not married. They weren’t thinking about marriage; or, at least, he hadn’t started thinking about it yet. She had it in the back of her mind that marriage was, hopefully, around the corner.
Dennis: And, Bob, this is the cool thing about the Weekend to Remember. We don’t come on as some group of pious, holy Joe’s, who have life wired perfectly, pointing our fingers at people who aren’t doing what the Bible says. We try to take people, as they come to the conference—meet them where they are—graciously invite them into an experience where, ultimately, they’re going to hear the truth from the Scriptures.
Bob: Kind of like Jesus did with the woman at the well?
Dennis: Exactly! I love it that the story here is this couple didn’t feel condemned, but they heard the truth. They heard the truth: “That’s not the way to do it.” I don’t want to ruin the rest of the story because you need to listen to that; but the Weekend to Remember is really a safe place—for you to take your spouse, for you to take another couple, some family members—where they can hear the truth from the Scriptures about how God designed us, as human beings, to relate to Him—and how He also created marriage and wants us to be successful in life’s most intimate commitment.
Bob: And it’s a great place to send a couple who are engaged or who are considering engagement.
Dennis: Oh, yes!
Bob: There are some special break-out sessions for those couples, as well.
Bob: Right now is the perfect time to sign up for a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway because we are offering—to FamilyLife Today listeners—a buy one/get one free special. You can attend one of these events—you pay the regular registration fee for yourself and your spouse or your fiancée comes at no additional cost. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to take advantage of this special buy one/get one free offer. If you’re registering, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com, put my name—put “BOB”—in the online promotion code box as you fill out the registration. You’ll qualify for the special offer. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Say: “I listen to the radio, and I’m interested in the Weekend to Remember. I want to take advantage of the special offer.”
We’ll get your information, and we’ll get you registered over the phone. Then, you can attend one of these upcoming events.
If, for some reason, the Weekend to Remember is not happening in a city near where you live, either attend or host an Art of Marriage video event for couples. It’s a Friday night/Saturday event that can be hosted in a local church or any location where you’ve got a screen, and some speakers, and a DVD player. We’ll send you the DVDs. In fact, we’ll send you the whole event kit at no cost, as long as you agree to take, at least, five couples through this material. When you order the manuals for the five couples, we’ll include the event kit for free. If you have more couples come, order more couples’ sets.
Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link for The Art of Marriage to find out more about this special offer and to find out all of the places, around the country, where The Art of Marriage is being hosted on Valentine’s weekend—coming up, here, in a few weeks—Friday, the 14th/Saturday, the 15th.
You can attend an Art of Marriage if it’s happening in your community. If it’s not, plan to host one of your own. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com; or, if you have any questions, call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear the conclusion of Jess and Lance Miller’s story. In fact, we’re going to hear how God used a Weekend to Remember in their marriage to get them pointed in a whole new direction, as a 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.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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