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Love Renewed: Tom and Brenda Preston, Part 1

with Tom and Brenda Preston | July 20, 2006

On today's broadcast, Tom Preston, national director for the Executive Ministries of Campus Crusade, and his wife, Brenda, talk openly about their once troubled marriage and the miracle of God's intervention.

On today's broadcast, Tom Preston, national director for the Executive Ministries of Campus Crusade, and his wife, Brenda, talk openly about their once troubled marriage and the miracle of God's intervention.

Love Renewed: Tom and Brenda Preston, Part 1

With Tom and Brenda Preston
|
July 20, 2006
| Download Transcript PDF

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Bob: Just about every marriage begins with couples looking forward to happily ever after.  That was the case with Tom and Brenda Preston.

Tom: Once upon a time in the deep recesses of yesteryear, there lived a beautiful princess and a handsome prince in the southernmost reaches of the kingdom.  She was not only beautiful but had the voice of a songbird and often thrilled the dwellers of the realm with a Dixie melody.

Brenda: Though he was comely, he was a little on the skinny side and wore his hair in what was referred to in the days of King Ike and King Jack as a "flattop."  They knew each other from the time they were six years old, and by the time they were 17, they had eyes for no one else.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, July 20th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Tom and Brenda Preston's fairy tale almost ended in heartache.  We'll find out how they got to "happily ever after."  Stay with us.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition.  We're going to hear about the fairy tale that almost wasn't on today's program and introduce the two characters who star in that fairy tale in just a minute but, first off, we need to remind our regular listeners that there are just a few days left where you can take advantage of Bob's Special Offer that we're making to FamilyLife Today listeners during the month of July.  You can register for one of our upcoming Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences, which we're going to be hosting in cities all across the country this fall.  You can register at a special rate.  You'll save $60 per couple off the regular registration fee, that's the group rate that we're making available to FamilyLife Today listeners this month, but you need to hurry and do it.  You need to go online at FamilyLife.com or call 1-800-FLTODAY if you need a listing of cities where the conference is being held, dates where we'll be and which locations, you'll find that on our website or you can call, again, and someone on our team can give you that information.

 And then if you just identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener when you register this month, you will save $60 per couple off the regular registration fee.  If you're registering online, as you fill out the registration form, you'll come to a keycode box.  Just type the word "Bob" in that keycode box, and we'll know you're a FamilyLife Today listener.  You'll get the special rate.  Or if you call 1-800-FLTODAY to register, just mention you're a FamilyLife Today listener and, again, we'll make sure you get the $60-per-couple savings off the regular registration fee.  That's available for FamilyLife Today listeners during the month of July because we want to encourage folks to attend one of these upcoming Weekend to Remember conferences and either keep your fairy tale going in the right direction or if you've found yourself in the ditch, we'll see if we can get you pointed again toward happily ever after.  And, in fact, we're going to meet a couple today whose fairy tale was not going in the right direction, and they needed some help.

Dennis: We're going to tell a great story, Bob.  This is an unusual story that I heard a number of years ago from a couple that joined our speaker team, and this was how they introduced themselves as "royalty in the castle."  Well, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Tom and Brenda Preston are our guests today on FamilyLife Today.  Tom has served on the executive ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ since 1982 in Greenville, South Carolina, along with his wife, Brenda.  They have two sons, and after a lengthy stint in the business world as a president of a computer software and consulting firm, you're now making an impact on country after country worldwide and families throughout the United States.  Welcome to FamilyLife Today, Tom, Brenda.

Brenda: Thank you.

Tom: Thank you, Dennis, it's great to be here.

Dennis: You know, you have a story to share with our audience through a fairy tale, and you might share with our audience just exactly why you designed this fairy tale in the first place, Tom.  I think it's a cute story.

Tom: Well, after you called and invited us to join the speakers team for the FamilyLife conferences, we were given the task of coming up with a creative way of introducing ourselves to the rest of the speakers team.  Well, the speakers' retreat that year was the week after Thanksgiving, I believe, and on Thanksgiving Day it dawned on me we still didn't know what we were going to do and talk about pressure.

 And I was sitting at the table, and I decided I needed to do something and just thought through some ideas and don't know to this day how that one came to my mind, but I sat there at the kitchen table while Brenda was making dinner, and wrote this fairy tale.

Bob: Well, just a few minutes ago we had an opportunity for Tom and Brenda to share their fairy tale story with our staff here in Little Rock, and we'd like the rest of our family, our extended audience, to hear that fairy tale, so this was recorded just a couple of minutes ago with our staff.  Here are Tom and Brenda.

[medieval flute music]

Tom: Once upon a time in the deep recesses of yesteryear, there lived a beautiful princess and a handsome prince in the southernmost reaches of the kingdom.  She was not only beautiful but had the voice of a songbird and often thrilled the dwellers of the realm with a Dixie melody.

Brenda: Though he was comely, he was a little on the skinny side and wore his hair in what was referred to in the days of King Ike and King Jack as a "flattop."  They knew each other from the time they were six years old, and by the time they were 17, they had eyes for no one else.

Tom: Quite a pair, they were -- she with her lively singing and her bright-eyed smile could woo a crowd and knock 'em dead.

Brenda: While he, with his book smarts and determination, had their future but all secured.  They didn't plan on falling in love.  They didn't decide to fall in love.  It just sort of happened.

Tom: But they were madly in love, and as most mad species, they began to salivate and act irrationally.

[laughter]

 So at the tender ages of 17 and 18, Lady B. of Carolina and Sir Thomas of Greenville were wed in the castle courtyard.

Brenda: They were starry-eyed.

Tom: She was the princess of his dreams -- so charming and demure yet with a bounce in her step and a sparkle in her eye.

Brenda: And for her the prince was right, safe in his arms, she would always be.  Soon after the bells had tolled their wedding day in the valley of the South, forsooth, it seemed many a thing were not as they had appeared.

Tom: The dreams of years gone by soon turned to nightmares of today.

Brenda: He, it seems, was a neat freak.  He had to have all his shirts facing the same way in the castle closet.

[laughter]

 And his loincloths were filed perfectly in his drawer.  On the washstand in his bathhouse, all the labels on the items must be facing outward.  Notes, notes, everywhere notes -- reminders of this and schedules of that.  So precise and ordered was his life there was no room for spontaneity or fun.  "How else could one work, go to school, and climb the ladder," he would say.

Tom: And she, she did things with a toothpaste tube that would make your armor clatter.

[laughter]

 The words "schedule" and "calendar" were not in her vocabulary.  Omnipresent is what she needed to be what with booking courtyard parties and appearances in the next glen on the same day, notes were things to turn over and write on the back of -- not thing to read and be acted upon.

Brenda: The only bright spots around the castle were Master Evan and Master David.

Tom: Master Evan came on the castle scene when Lady B. and Sir Thomas were only 20 years old with worlds still to conquer and college still to complete.

Brenda: But what a bundle of joy for the proud parents.  He was, indeed, the focus of attention for a while.

Tom: Five years later, Master David appeared, full of laughter and excitement from the outset.

Brenda: Surely, with these two to love and care for and with the sunlight they brought to the dimming castle, everything would be restored.  The time together at football practice and basketball games, school plays and homework, which forced Lady B. and Sir Thomas to spend more time together.  Maybe that would re-ignite the spark.

Tom: Not to be.  The very ones who could have brought them back together were another point of conflict.

Brenda: As Lady B.'s unhappiness grew, she became more and more certain everything was Sir Thomas's fault.  If he would only spend more time at the castle; if he weren't so strict with the boys; if he'd pay more attention to Lady B.'s needs; if he weren't so wrapped up in himself and achieving all those silly goals.

Tom: Sir Thomas was so enthralled with his own importance and with the business of realm, he seldom spent time at the castle and hardly noticed how badly life there had deteriorated.  So the songbird ceased its singing, and the bright smile waned like the last rays of sunset.  They both began to turn to other things and other people to try to recapture the excitement and love they recalled from bygone days.

Brenda: And then she sank into hopelessness and self-pity.

Tom: He decided the only way out was to have her put away with a writ of divorce.  He had wandered further and further from the ways of the castle and found himself sinking in the slough of despair.  As he sank deeper and deeper and was just about to suffocate from the pressure of the mire in road the Prince of Peace.  He lifted Sir Thomas from the pit, set his feet on a rock, and put a new song in his heart.

Brenda: Lady B. was soon touched by the Prince of Peace, too, as she saw clearly for the first time that she couldn't blame Sir Thomas for everything.  She was responsible for her own shortcomings and failures.  The bright smile and the song of spring were restored.  The castle walls and courtyards once again echoed with the sounds of life and laughter.  Masters Evan and David once again got the attention and love they deserved, and it began to show in their dispositions.

Tom: After Lady B. and Sir Thomas moved from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of Light and joined forces with the Prince of Peace, they learned of a crusade that had been underway for several years unbeknownst to them.  How all knowledge of this crusade could have escaped them they were not sure.

[laughter]

 For it was known far and wide as Campus Crusade for Christ.  They soon decided to leave the mundane business of the realm to others and set off with their offspring on this newfound crusade telling others about the Prince of Peace, the King of kings. 

Brenda: They mounted their air horses and flew off to CSU for training in communicating the truth effectively using the four spiritual laws and on how to study and understand the Scriptures.

Tom: It was there they were first exposed to God's plan for knights and ladies and got some handles on living in harmony in the same castle.  They learned that oneness was necessary to stave off the alligators in the moat.  The lads were much happier with this newfound security.  They, too, began to learn the basics of living in the Kingdom of Light.

Brenda: And as the years passed, Master Evan married and enlisted in the defense of the realm.  He later settled near the home castle and became sire to the next generation.  Master David completed his education at The Citadel and will also soon wed.

Tom: Lady B. and Sir Thomas, in their activity with the crusade specialize in talking with those charged with ruling earthly kingdoms and those managing businesses around the world about the Prince of Peace and the new life He offers.

Brenda: They also signed many of those very kings and queens and knights and ladies suffering from the same castle neglect that had once plagued them.  So they began teaching the King's plan for castle dwelling to others.

Tom: Then one day a messenger arrived with an invitation from Sir Dennis of Little Rock --

[laughter]

-- to travel to the far reaches of this kingdom as spokespersons for the crusades FamilyLife.

Brenda: The invitation was an answer to prayer, so there was no hesitation.

Tom: They have paired up with other speakers on the team at conferences North and South, East and West and even a few in other countries as their ministry travel gives the opportunity.

Brenda: The result is always the same -- couples everywhere are blessed as they learn and apply God's principles for castle dwelling and for bringing up lads and lasses.

[harp music]

Bob: That's great, isn't it?

Dennis: It really is.  It's fun to hear their story, and I've got to admit, again, I got choked up when I heard the Prince of Peace coming and visiting a man who was in the mire of sin.  And that's really the story of my life as well, and Christ does rescue the perishing, and He does lift us up and plant our feet on the solid rock, doesn't He, Tom?

Tom: He does, indeed.

Bob: Brenda, don't you think a lot of young gals -- and you were young -- did you have a kind of a fairy tale in mind for what your marriage, your life, was going to be like?

Brenda: Well, I did.  I had always looked up to Tom.  He was the smartest young man in our high school, and so I knew that -- or thought -- that he was the one who would give me the security that I wanted in my life.

Bob: He wasn't bad looking, either?

Brenda: Oh, no.  He wasn't -- and still isn't.

Dennis: Well, I want to go directly to year 12 of your story because that was the year that the seams of the relationship began to pull apart, wasn't it?

Tom: They were pulling apart, and that's the year that they were torn completely.

Dennis: What was taking place in your mind, Tom, at that time in the relationship?

Tom: Well, Dennis, everything else in my life was going great.  My career was on track, I was achieving goals, I was very goal-oriented and was achieving every goal that I set for myself.  The only problem in my life was our relationship, and things weren't going well at home.  They were going well at the office, they were going well in the community, but they weren't going well at home, and I just thought that -- well, the areas that I feel like I have control were going well.  This one area, where I feel like I don't have control, is not going well, and what's the use?  Why should I put up with something that I can't control, I can't make things happen.  The one area that I felt Brenda had a great deal of control over was not going well, and I just thought there's no use spending the rest of my life beating my head against a wall there when things were going so well everywhere else.

Dennis: When people run into a brick wall, they usually try to find a way to go around it, another escape route, some way to pour their life into something or someone else.  What did you do?

Tom: I poured my life into about everything except family.  My career was a mistress for me.  Anything that would bring me pleasure -- I played golf a lot, fished, just anything I could do to kill time, basically.

Dennis: So you literally tried to escape the relationship and the consequences of it?

Tom: Absolutely, and ended up even turning to other people to try to find meaning in life.

Bob: Brenda, when the two of you were together, was there always conflict in the relationship at that point?

Brenda: Yes.  At that point we really could not communicate at all.  He was so wrapped up in the things that he wanted, I felt so left out, and had really looked to other things for fulfillment.  And so when we were together, there was always conflict.

Bob: And were you thinking at that point this isn't going to work?

Brenda: I was thinking that, but I really didn't want a divorce.  Not that I cared that much about him, but my main concern was what other people thought.

Dennis: You mentioned your relationship being empty at home, and you turned to other people.  Can we talk about that for a few moments?

Tom: We can.  Not in a lot of detail, but we can.  I went from one affair to another for about 10 years.

Dennis: What was going through your mind at that time?  Did you justify it?

Tom: Oh, yes, I had ways of justifying everything.

Bob: Brenda, were you aware?

Brenda: Oh, yes.  But, Dennis, the thing about it is, after several years, I bought into the same thing.  It was like neither of us were fulfilling each other's needs, and so we both began to look elsewhere.

Bob: Well, at this point, the fairy tale is a mess.

Brenda: That's right.

Dennis: Entangled.

Brenda: Yes.

Dennis: Were there a lot of conflicts at that point that were just horribly ugly in front of the kids?

Tom: There weren't a lot in front of the kids.  There were a few.  The worst thing that I can remember happening in front of the children was when a couple of times we got to the point of absolute -- an absolute impasse, and I decided that was enough.  I wasn't just going to settle for a quiet exit, but I was leaving now.  And I remember on two different occasions packing my bags -- Evan, our older son, sitting on my foot as a 10-year-old, with his legs wrapped around, and his arms wrapped around my thigh, crying and begging me not to leave.  I literally dragged him to the front door sitting on my foot.

Dennis: You know, I've never done this before on FamilyLife Today, Bob, but I feel like we've got a couple who, before they became a Christian, made some mistakes that some who are Christians who are listening today could benefit from.  If Tom and Brenda spoke directly to them and just honestly addressed them as an individual.  What I'd like you to do, Tom, and you to do, Brenda, is speak to the person of the same sex.  Tom, you to a man who is about to have an affair or having and affair; and, Brenda, you speak to a woman.  And from the heart what would you say to them right now?

Brenda: Well, I would say don't do it.  It's not worth the cost.  Dennis, in thinking back, I know, with Tom -- Tom sort of became my god, and I wanted to please him so badly, and when I didn't please him, I looked elsewhere to find that acceptance, and I didn't know, really, to look to the Lord for that acceptance, and I would say that sin, for a time, seems like it's a lot of fun, but it isn't.  The cost is not worth it, and even now I know the Lord, I know I've been forgiven but in looking back there is consequences to that sin.

Tom: I think the thing that I would say, Dennis, is I understand the pressure that men are facing to enter into affairs.  I understand the pressures from within and the pressures from without.  Our world paints a picture that that's normal and that it's acceptable.  I think a lot of physical affairs start out as emotional affairs -- "I'm not happy at home, she's not meeting my needs, she doesn't understand me," and then when there's someone at the office or someone that you meet elsewhere who listens, who is interested in what I have to say, who wants to meet my needs, then there's an attraction there, and with the physical attraction I would say to men -- just don't buy into the lie.

Bob: Yeah, the Bible says there's pleasure in sin for a season, but the reality is that that pleasure is short-lived and the destruction that follows is terrible destruction.  I remember sitting down with my pastor a number of years ago, and he was sharing with me about someone in our congregation who had just come and confessed adultery to him, and I remember my pastor looking at me and saying, "You know, there is no intimacy that that's good."  I mean, what this guy was now facing with his marriage and his family, if you could ask him today was it worth it, he'd say, "Of course, not."  It looked like it was from where he was standing at one point when he fell to temptation, but almost as soon as he fell he knew "I have just made a terrible mistake." 

 And we see this all the time, Dennis, you know this.  At the Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences, couples who come -- and it may not be that they've experienced adultery in their marriage, although that has been the case for some of these couples, but there are a lot of couples who just find themselves in isolation.  They've drifted apart.  What they hoped for in marriage hasn't materialized, and they don't know why, and they don't know what to do about it, and they come and spend a weekend with us at one of our Weekend to Remember conferences, and by the time the weekend is over, they leave with some tools they can begin to use in their marriage to help build it, to strengthen it.  Tools that come from God's Word, and they leave with a fresh sense of hope; that God can do a transforming work and can get their marriage headed back in the right direction.

 We're going to be hosting about four-dozen of these conferences this fall in cities all across the country.  On our website at FamilyLife.com, there is a full listing of conference dates and locations.  You can find out when a conference is coming to a city near where you live, and we are encouraging FamilyLife Today listeners to register for one of these upcoming conferences this month. 

 When you do, you can save $60 per couple off the regular registration fee.  We'll give you the group rate even though you're not a part of a group.  I guess you're a radio listener, you're part of a big group, and that's why we're going to make the group rate available to you during the month of July.  Go to our website, FamilyLife.com, find out when the conference is coming to a city near where you live, and then go ahead and register online. 

 As you fill out the registration form, and you come to the keycode box, if you type my name in, just type in "Bob," we will know that you're a FamilyLife Today listener and will automatically give you the group rate.  You'll save $60 per couple off the regular registration fee or call us at 1-800-358-6329.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, mention that you listening to FamilyLife Today and you'd like to attend a Weekend to Remember conference and, again, you will save $60 per couple off the regular registration fee.  That offer is good only during the month of July so go ahead and call today.  Make plans and get registered for one of these upcoming Weekend to Remember conferences this fall and if, for some reason, you're not going to be able to attend one of the conferences but you'd still like to hear the material that's presented at the conferences, we have an audio CD series that features all of the messages from the Weekend to Remember conference.  Sixteen CDs, and it's not the same as attending a Weekend to Remember, but it can provide for you practical biblical help for your marriage and your family.

 Again, get more information about the CD series on our website at FamilyLife.com or ask about it when you call 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.

 Well, tomorrow we're going to pick up this story where we left off today.  We're going to hear how Tom and Brenda Preston got to where they are from where they were, and we'll hear how God brought hope and healing and help to their marriage, and I hope our listeners can be back with us for that.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Mark Whitlock, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. 

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