Calendar Couples!! - Calendar Celebrates Strong Unions - 2/06
smartmarriages at lists101.his.com
Sat Feb 18 11:48:36 EST 2006
- LOVE SEATS TAH DAH!
We've just learned that we'll be able to feature the Ozark Marriage Matter's
(OMM) Calendar Project as a full display at the Smart Marriages Conference.
You will be able to tour the amazing photos and meet artist, Randy Bacon, at
the opening night reception. This project is the brainchild of Jennifer
Baker, founder and director of OOM, and Smart Marriages conference
presenter. Jennifer is working with Haverty's furniture on the possibility
of taking "Loveseats" nationwide. Jennifer will share the blueprint for
replicating the calendar project and for other innovative ideas in the
Grassroots Marriage Rally workshop. - diane
> 817 Marriage Rally: Teach In
> Transforming Communities Grassroots Style
> Julie Baumgardner, MA, Bill Seabrook, MS, Nisa Muhammad, Jennifer Baker, PsyD,
> Learn what communities across the country are doing to strengthen marriage and
> how you can follow their lead. Brainstorm about opportunities free media,
> the web, funding, volunteers, creating buy-in - and how to avoid the stumbling
- CALENDAR CELEBRATES STRONG UNIONS
February 18, 2006
> "Couples are like fingerprints," he said, and his goal with the Loveseats
> project was to "get these people to look at their uniqueness."
> The photos demonstrate each couple's bond and personality, from Zenas Bicket's
> gentle touch as he holds Rhoda's arthritic hand, to Donna Lopez's adoring
> smile as husband Mike strums his guitar.
Rhoda Bicket chuckled at the idea that her marriage's perfection landed her
and her husband, Zenas, on a calendar.
"I don't know how perfect we were," she said of their 52-year union.
What she does know is their life together has had "a lot of give and take,"
a necessary ingredient to a successful relationship.
Rhoda and Zenas appear in "Loveseats," a calendar presented by Ozark
Marriage Matters. Eleven couples are featured for the months of February
through December in black and white photos taken by local commercial
photographer Randy Bacon.
The calendar, part of OMM's ongoing efforts to support marriage and provide
resources to keep marriages healthy, is the brainchild of Jennifer Baker, a
licensed marriage and family therapist with Forest Institute of Professional
Psychology and founder and executive director of Ozarks Marriage Matters.
The idea started in an unexpected place, the county jail, where Baker
teaches classes. She asked the inmates whose marriage they saw as an example
of a good relationship.
"All too often there was only silence," said Baker, who found the same
results when counseling with couples at the clinic. "We need role models. We
need to raise up people who have encountered challenges and show that love
can go the distance."
Her initial idea was to get photos of couples who met that criteria for an
exhibit to promote marriage mentors. It grew to include the calendar. The
exhibit and calendar will be presented at the Smart Marriages Conference
this year at Atlanta.
Baker asked Bacon to take the photographs. His sensitive portraits of cancer
survivors in "Sweet Life: Cancer's Unexpected Lessons" had touched her.
Bacon didn't hesitate to take on the project. His reason was simple.
"Number one, I'm married," he said. "I see how beautiful this thing called
marriage can be."
Bacon and his "soul mate" Shannon have been married nearly 11 years, a
second union for them both.
"I am more because of her," he said. "And she is more because of me."
The photos were a joy for Bacon.
"Couples are like fingerprints," he said, and his goal with the Loveseats
project was to "get these people to look at their uniqueness."
The photos demonstrate each couple's bond and personality, from Zenas
Bicket's gentle touch as he holds Rhoda's arthritic hand, to Donna Lopez's
adoring smile as husband Mike strums his guitar.
"Life is so frantic," he said. "You lose sight of the blessings you have ...
the things that are really worthwhile."
Bacon's wife, Shannon, who helped with several of the shoots, took away a
new appreciation for marriage, love and Randy.
"These couples really showed me that love definitely blossoms into something
you could never imagine," said Shannon, who had no role models for marriage
from her five-time married mother or the rest of her "dysfunctional" family.
"It takes time, but 'love is patient,'" she quoted from I Corinthians 13. "A
lot of people give up before that point."
Each month features a photograph of a couple along with facts about the
connection between health and healthy relationships. February's page notes
there's "plenty of evidence that both human sexuality and intimacy and love
and marriage are very, very good for our health."
David and Bobbie Knox are the couple featured in February.
"It's quite an honor because we live in a day that marriages don't last,"
said David Knox, pastor of Deliverance Temple in Springfield.
Knox understands the importance of mentors. His mentor told him the success
of his marriage depended on him. He was responsible to make it work.
"I struggled to do that," said Knox. "It wasn't easy sometimes. Through the
storm and the sunshine, we worked at it. ...You've got to make it grow."
The Knoxes and the other couples were selected from nominations, asked to
fill out a questionnaire and submit to a personal interview. A committee
chose couples whose marriages had survived struggles and whose relationships
demonstrated commitment and caring.
Joe and Judy Shirley were both surprised and honored to learn they had been
The Shirleys have been married for 31 years. They have gone through health
challenges and their children's struggles. As church leaders, they have used
those experiences to help other young couples face their own troubles.
"A lot of the sharing in teaching that we've done is about life experiences,
walking through them," said Joe. "Being real with people is what people
appreciate. ... I think that candor gives people hope."
Sixty years ago, Frank and Gladys Reynolds were married.
"We were young and in love, both with each other and the Lord," Gladys
recalled. "Our faith that God can make the crooked ways straight and supply
our need was our anchor."
They soon went into ministry, with Frank starting several churches, but when
he began working with Teen Challenge, a program for addicts and alcoholics,
Gladys was left with no ministry of her own, caring for their five children
while he worked "like a house on fire."
She swallowed her resentment until a long untreated appendix left her close
to death. The surgery drained Gladys of her resentment and bitterness.
"My mother thought it was because I was sick, but I know it was a spiritual
thing," she said.
Frank knows it was an answer to prayer. When the doctor told him his young
wife may not live, he was faced with raising the children on his own, the
youngest only 6 months old.
"I was cooking and crying and praying," he recalled. "I prayed, 'I know
she's ready to go, but I can't raise these five boys alone, so if you could
leave her here it would be OK with me.'
"It was a real theological prayer," he chuckled. "But (God) answered it."
For the Reynolds and two other couples in the calendar, their marriages
faced no challenge equal to the death of a child.
Tom Reynolds was only 25 when he died in a motorcycle accident. As the news
sunk in, Gladys felt completely alone.
"It was nothing Frank did, but it was like you didn't want to accept anybody
for a while," she said.
When George and Judy Denholm learned that their 18-year-old daughter Cathy
had been killed when she was hit by a truck, it was their darkest moment.
Another tough time was just a year ago when Judy's father, who had lived
with them for seven years, died.
Those struggles and others never marred their commitment to each other and
"We never used the word divorce," said Judy.
"We had examples," George added. "We had our parents. And our kids have seen
the same example."
Chuck and Ginger Foster, married 22 years, also experienced the loss of a
child, when 4-year-old son Conor died. The impact threatened their marriage.
Almost 90 percent of couples who lose a child get divorced. They talked
about it, then vowed to stay together. Talking to each other is their advice
to every married couple.
All 11 couples spoke of their faith as an anchor that kept them and their
marriages from drifting at sea, no matter what the storms of life bring.
For Mike and Donna Lopez, the latest storm is the recently diagnosed tumor
in Mike's brain.
"Whatever trial has come our way, we've taken it one moment at a time," said
Donna. "We have stayed together ... and looked to God for guidance. That's
where our strength has come."
The 25 years they have stayed together has given them insights and
"He knows me, and I know him," Donna said. "I know the things that bring him
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