I still remember as a fifteen-year-old boy, the day my family left Ohio—three kids and a suddenly-single, 37-year-old mom. Having nowhere to go, we piled into a 1977 Chevy Impala packed with our belongings and no air conditioning and drove to Texas.

Divorce can kill a kid. At least that’s how I felt.

We spent the next few years trying to recover. I carried a father wound I never understood. Even though I had given my life to Jesus Christ just before the divorce, I struggled profoundly with the need for a father’s approval. I had no one to explain the tears that came so easily when I saw a dad and his son together.

In my late twenties, God used a Promise Keepers’ rally in Colorado to free me from hating my dad and eventually reconciling with him. Today, at 51, I see more clearly what happened, but it doesn’t take away the years of anger and soul-deep pain.

Is this path inevitable?

My wife has a better story. Paige was also raised by a strong single mom in the rural community of Scott County, TN. Fortunately, she also had a supportive extended family who loved her well. Sadly, though, she never met her dad before he died.

We met in college, fell in love, got married, and started careers as engineers. And we started a family.

Life was fast and furious and fun and hard all at the same time. Sometimes it was too hard. I almost divorced her five years into our marriage.

We’ve struggled with many of the same kinds of issues other families deal with: harsh anger, selfishness, pornography, feeling lost, coldness toward God, insanely busy but empty schedules, and no direction in our lives.

And we’ve had our wonderful times. But we could have used coaching, intentional conversations with like-minded friends, and a plan to build a life together that supports the values we want so badly to live.

We believe other families feel the same way. Like us, though, they struggle to bridge the mocking gap between knowing and doing.

Now—after 28 years of marriage and 7 kids—we’re responding to God’s tractor-beam call to start Vital Families. Our passion is to help families become what God designed them to be—the building block of every community and the incubator of courageous love required to impact a hurting world.

For those who think we have it all together, let’s pop that bubble now. We’ve done more wrong than right, and I’ve put ministry above my family for most of my life. The Vital Families journey is for us as much as anyone. We are just an ordinary family with a lot to learn, trying to follow Jesus.

We also believe families now face new challenges less known in previous years. It feels unsafe. It feels confusing. It feels relentless. But it also feels like an opportunity.

Look around you.

We’ve got a world to love, leaders to raise, communities to rebuild, and a future to create. It’s a breathtaking opportunity to seize.

And we want to seize it with you. Starting now.

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