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FOR MANY OF US there is a gap between the marriage we have and the marriage we thought we would have. Sometimes that gap is created by unrealistic dreams and expectations. But more often that gap is created by a subtle equation that defines many marriages:
Time + unintentionality = ordinary marriage.
It isn't that we intend to drift away from our spouses, but over time it just happens.
Do you remember the hope you had the day you got married? Do you remember the vows you made—"in sickness and in health," "for better or worse," "till death do us part"? Your marriage was going to be different. Your marriage was going to be special. Your marriage was going to be anything but ordinary.
Is your marriage extraordinary today? Or are you miles away from those early feelings, hopes, and dreams? Even the healthiest marriages have the potential to drift.
You may not be sure how it happened, but over the course of time, your marriage may have become ordinary. You are not the spouse you imagined. You don't have the marriage you dreamed of when you said, "I do." Words that once defined your relationship—intimate, fun, exciting, romantic, growing, loving, patient, forgiving—now seem to describe another time and a different couple.
It isn't that you wanted a marriage of mediocrity; it's that you've drifted into it.
Do you remember what it felt like the first time you met your spouse? How about the late-night conversations and the crazy things you did to impress him or her? What was your first kiss like? Can you picture the backflips your stomach was doing before you asked her to marry you, or while you were waiting to be asked? No matter how long you've been married, there is something special about remembering the extraordinary beginning of your relationship. It takes you to a place of hope, allows you to remember your dreams, and reminds you why you chose to commit the rest of your life to your spouse in the first place.
When I started college in 1991, I had my life and my future planned out. I had played basketball in high school, and Lincoln Christian College in Lincoln, Illinois, was only a temporary stop on my way to greatness. My plan was to go to Lincoln, play basketball for a year, take some core classes, and then transfer to a bigger, better school and play basketball on scholarship. I wanted to be a teacher and a basketball coach, and Lincoln wasn't where I wanted to be for the next four years. I was a late bloomer in high school and didn't get really good until my senior year, so my freshman year at Lincoln would serve as a nice prep year for bigger and better things.
A few days after I arrived on campus, the local paper did a story on Lincoln's 1991 freshman recruits. The article described each new player, calling me "the Cadillac of the recruiting class." That statement summed up how I felt about myself. I was the Cadillac of this little campus. My playing for them was a gift.
My attitude toward God was similar to my attitude toward the school. I was a Christian and went to church, but my life was pretty compartmentalized. Basketball had its place, dating had its place, and God had his place in my heart. I knew what I wanted to do with my life, and God could come along for the ride, but I was in the driver's seat. I had a plan.
Basketball season started, and I performed as expected. Lincoln had won eight games the year before I arrived. My freshman year we won eighteen games. At the end of my first season, I expected offers from bigger schools to come flooding in. I led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman; I thought that should be impressive enough. No offers. My plan wasn't working out.
I went home for the summer feeling defeated. It seemed that I had failed and didn't have a backup plan. I would have to go back to Lincoln in the fall. I started work a few days later as a cashier at Walmart in my hometown, Crawfordsville, Indiana.
As I was working one afternoon, a familiar face came through my checkout line. Kurt was a few years older than me, and his dad ran the church camp I'd attended as a kid. We recognized each other, and I asked him what he was doing in town. He was a pastor at a small church about ten miles south of Crawfordsville.
Then he said something that changed the entire trajectory of my life: "Why are you working here at Walmart when you could do something great with your life?"
My first thought was, Dude, step off, this is only a summer gig. I looked around to see where my boss was before I answered. "I don't know. I've never really thought about it."
"You should come be my youth pastor," he said. "I'll pay you a hundred dollars a weekend to teach Sunday school and children's church and to start a youth group."
Was this guy crazy? How did he get in my line at Walmart? I had no idea what a youth pastor was supposed to do, but a hundred dollars a week for a few hours of work sounded like easy money.
I went through the formality of meeting with the leaders at the church, and a few weeks later I started as their weekend youth pastor. My first Sunday I had eight kids show up for youth group. They ranged from fifth to tenth grade. I had prepared a message (my first), and it covered Genesis all the way through Revelation. The message lasted almost an hour. I didn't want to leave anything out!
At the end of the talk, I closed by saying, "Okay, if you don't want to go to hell and you want to invite Jesus into your heart, raise your hand." Kyle, one of the younger teens, raised his hand. I didn't know what to do at this point. I never thought anyone would raise their hand, so I hadn't thought through what to do next. Awkwardly, I said a prayer with Kyle, dismissed the kids, and then went to Kurt's house to make sure that Kyle was saved, because I didn't know what I was doing.
God used that moment to open my heart to his plan for me. I suddenly realized that I could partner with God to change eternity. I had never thought about that before. Over the next year, I would come back to that church each weekend the basketball team wasn't traveling, and God would use the church youth to mold me more than he used me to mold them.
My sophomore year, I didn't fall out of love with myself, but I fell more in love with Jesus and his church. I came to terms with being at Lincoln and changed my major to Christian education. Reluctantly, I was opening myself to God's plan for my life and surrendering parts of my plan to him. God was preparing me for the plan he had in mind.
That plan began to unfold in the fall of 1993, when Trisha and I met. I was a junior and she was a freshman at Lincoln. After one of our first chapels of the year, my friend Kenny asked, "Have you seen the hot girl with the bright red lipstick?"
I hadn't ... yet.
I have to admit something: I am not proud of the story I am about to share. I wish that the details weren't true, but unfortunately, they are.
Kenny and I walked from the chapel over to the cafeteria, and there Trisha stood—big 1993 hair coupled with bright red lipstick. She was indeed hot. I wanted to make a big impression, so I approached her with confidence.
"Hey there, beautiful. I don't think we've ever met." She smirked with what was either charm or disgust. So I continued to wow her. "My name is God, and—" pointing to Kenny—"this is my son, Jesus Christ."
I don't really know what I was thinking with that introduction. Maybe because we were at Bible college, I thought it would be both spiritual and endearing. Trisha thought it was neither.
I thought it was money.
Trisha reluctantly shook my hand. "I'm just kidding," I said. "I'm JD, and this is my buddy Kenny. You should really get to know us."
Honestly, I don't remember what Trisha said at that point because I was so impressed with my introduction.
I knew I had made an impression. Kenny begged me to set him up with her, and the next morning, I saw Trisha walking out of the cafeteria. I approached her believing I could convince her to go out with Kenny. After all, I was a well-known junior all-American basketball player, while she was a freshman who, by now, had probably heard all about how great I was.
"Hey, Trisha," I said. "I'm sure you remember me from yesterday. I wanted to talk to you about something." She looked annoyed, but I wasn't fazed. "It's really early in the semester. Having been here a couple of years now, I wanted to let you know how dating works here at LCC. This is prime time because there are a lot of dating options right now. Those options tend to get less attractive as the semester goes on."
She looked at me as if I had a third eye.
"My friend Kenny that you met yesterday—" "Jesus Christ?" she interrupted.
"Yeah, Jesus Christ. He may not be the best-looking guy, but he is really nice. You should consider going out with him."
Obviously this wasn't the best way to set someone up, but I was expecting that she wouldn't be interested in Kenny. I wanted to ask her out, but I couldn't do that to my good friend ... until he was denied, that is.
"Sorry," she said. "I'm not interested in going out with Kenny. I have a boyfriend back home." "Boyfriend back home" was often code for "not interested." She wasn't interested in Kenny, but I walked away with an assurance that given some time, she would be interested in me.
I called her the next day to ask her out. Her roommate answered the phone.
"Hey, this is Justin Davis. Is Trisha there?"
I could hear her roommate whisper, "It's Justin Davis. He wants to talk to you." I was expecting Trisha to be excited to talk to me, but she sounded more confused than excited. Maybe she was just intimidated.
"Hey, Trisha. It's Justin Davis. I wanted to see if you'd like to grab some dinner, maybe go to a movie this weekend."
"Do you remember yesterday when I told you I had a boyfriend back home?" she asked.
"Yeah, I vaguely remember," I admitted.
"Well, I have a boyfriend back home."
"Oh, you were serious? That wasn't just because you weren't interested in Kenny?" "I was serious."
"So me asking you out doesn't change your 'boyfriend back home' status?" I pressed.
"No," she said, and that ended the conversation.
She said no? I thought. What just happened? Maybe she hasn't heard about how great I am.
What she didn't know was that I had three guys from the basketball team in my room when I asked her out, since I was going to show them how to capture the heart of a lady.
I'm competitive, I don't like to lose, and my pride was hurt a little by this rejection, so I made a bet with one of the guys in the room that I could get Trisha to go out with me by the end of the semester. But even after my friend gladly pocketed my fifty dollars—way too many rejections later—I continued (unsuccessfully) to ask Trisha out.
But Trisha had made a fatal mistake in her strategy: she became a cheerleader. And since the cheerleaders traveled with the basketball team to away games, naturally, we began to spend a lot of time together.
In 1993 I found myself, as if beamed from another planet, in the middle of a cornfield attending Lincoln Christian College in Lincoln, Illinois. It was a far cry from the hustle and bustle of living in the inner city of Joliet, just south of Chicago. It makes me chuckle when people talk about the "inner city" as this dark place in need of rescue. From my point of view, this poor little town in the middle of nowhere was in desperate need of some rescuing. For example, how can a respectable town have only two fast-food restaurants and one gas station?
I came from a high school with rich culture in which fashion trends were an eclectic mix of Salt-N-Pepa meets Nirvana. When I came to LCC, I definitely represented a fashion style the campus had never seen before. Cross Colours clothes and bright red lips were the norm back home, but it was apparent that Wrangler jeans and clear lip gloss ruled here. What else could these people wear when the only place to shop for clothes was the farm goods store?
I was the first in my family to go to college. I had no idea what I was doing, and the fact that I stood out like a sore thumb didn't help. As I sat in my dorm room terrified, I thought, I'm so out of place. I don't belong here. But I'm from Joliet! I'm strong and street smart. I. Can. Do. This! So I stood up and went to the dorm room next to mine.
My introduction to a group of girls huddled together on the floor talking—who I assumed had all just met—didn't go so well. I was greeted with a look of "What in the world is this girl doing?" Apparently they did all know each other, and I had just interrupted their conversation.
"Hi, I'm Trisha Lopez!" I said. Why I felt the need to share my full name is still a mystery, but I continued, "Are you guys freshmen too?"
In my desperate need to fill the awkward air, I kept going with the questions. "Where are you guys from?"
Giggles. One of them blurted out, "Effingham, Illinois!" Now I'd lived in Illinois my whole life and had never heard of Effingham, which sounded to me like they were trying to say a bad word in code. I stood there speechless.
Eventually Jodi (who had more energy than all of us combined) spoke up and introduced me to the rest of the group. Angie, Jodi, Brooke, and Beth became not only my best friends but Justin's, too. Without my knowledge this crew became "Team Justin," his partners in crime to convince me to date him.
It started with plans of attack like Justin's driving to my hometown to a party that he wasn't invited to. Then there was the day he talked Team Justin into breaking into my dorm room to get my dirty laundry so he could wash and dry it for me, underwear and all. I was mortified!
Justin was the big man on campus. Everyone called him JD. Girls would rub his bald head and say, "Hi, JD!" So I called him Justin. I thought he was an arrogant country boy who considered himself the Michael Jordan of our campus. He definitely wasn't the guy you wanted washing your dirty underwear.
But something was changing in our relationship. The more time we spent together, his need to be "JD" melted away, and I was given a view into his heart that he'd never shown to another girl before. What he didn't know was the grander the view he gave me, the more my heart was falling in love with his. Team Justin was starting to win.
We started to share about our families. Justin was the oldest; I was the middle child, yet we both played the role of the peacemaker in our families. Our dads were both the blue-collar, jack-of-all-trades types. Our moms had both worked hard to advance in their careers. Justin's mom was a teacher's aide but earned her college degree to become a special education teacher. My mom was a paralegal who landed a job in downtown Chicago at one of the largest law firms in the world. There was so much we had in common.
Yet Justin was bold; I was timid. He could sell a used doughnut; you might buy one from me out of pity just because I lovingly offered it. He was book smart; I was street smart. My very first test at LCC was writing the books of the Bible in the correct order and spelling them correctly. It might as well have been the bar exam! Justin, by contrast, could glance at a textbook's table of contents on his way to a test and ace it.
The once-arrogant jock who relentlessly got on my nerves was now a friend I started to miss when we were apart. Rather than dreading his calls, I anticipated them. After turning him down fifty-one times, I was praying for the fifty-second!
I will never forget coming back to the dorm after my first official date with Justin. Team Justin was waiting for me in my dorm room. As I entered, we all giggled, and Angie, who was never shy with words, spoke up. "So ... what happened?"
"We kissed!" I said as I slid to the floor with my back against the door, my eyes closed as if I were back in that moment. "When he kissed me it was like fireworks!"
Team Justin had won, and I'm so glad they did!
When Trisha and I were away on basketball trips, we would sit together on the bus and talk, hang out in the lobbies of hotels and talk, and sit on the bleachers and talk. We talked about everything: our families, relationships, God, ministry, our hopes and dreams, and everything under the sun. There was a natural flow to our conversation. Perhaps because dating initially was not an option, I felt a freedom to relax and be myself, and soon we became best friends.
The semester ended, and we both went home for Christmas break. We missed each other. When we returned to school in January, there was a sense of romance and attraction in our relationship that hadn't been there before. (It had always been there for me, but Trisha was now open to reciprocating.) Approximately the fifty-second time I asked Trish out, she finally said yes.
We went to Bennigan's on our first date. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. I had a 1988 Ford Taurus, but I didn't want to drive that on our first date. I borrowed a friend's beat-up, run-down Chevy Cavalier convertible instead. It was January in Illinois, so we wouldn't be riding with the top down anyway, but for some reason, the convertible made the date more romantic. Trisha ordered a grilled chicken salad and didn't eat more than two bites. She was nervous; I was nervous. But despite our nerves, it was easy to be with each other. I had never gone out with someone who already knew me so well. When we got back to campus, I asked if I could kiss her. She said yes, and I'm not going to lie, it was amazing!
Excerpted from BEYOND ORDINARY by JUSTIN DAVIS TRISHA DAVIS Copyright © 2012 by Justin and Trisha Davis. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted January 8, 2013
This book is a must read for every marriage. It offers a down to earth approach to relationship issues all couples struggle with and practical advice to strengthen our marriages and find the extraordinary oneness we all desire. Oftentimes it's easy to feel our marriage is okay so we pour our efforts into our children, our jobs, our churches, etc. We nurture the other relationships in our life and wonder how our marriage became the "ordinary" marriage we swore we would never have. Justin and Trisha Davis offer the reader a transparent look into the struggles they faced while pointing out the little things that creep into our lives and threaten oneness.
I love the unique approach of reading their journey through both of their perspectives.
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Posted August 24, 2013
A five star a testimony to the healing hand of God. A beautiful tale of how God redeems our brokeness. Justin and Trish Davis' relationship was all but dead.
I beleive readers will hear their story and struggle in this book. Many marriages fail under the pressures of this life or continue on in a destructive pattern than leaves them mediocre at the best unsatisifies, unfulfilled, frustrated, not living in abundance.
The Davies' story is an extraordinaty tale of grace. Justin and Trish's story holds power. It is the story of redemption and freedom to heal, freedom to trust God, freedom to find contentment in the mate of our youth, freedom to overcome addictions, freedom to tell the truth.
A must read.
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Posted September 24, 2013
I would not say their marriage wad ordinary but rather severely disfunctional from the beginning. Even so, the application they make is excellent advice for every marriage. Its a good book with a great story that is convicting and at times heart-wrenching.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I would not recommend this book. I believe other books would be more helpful to couples in crisis and portray an overall more hopeful picture of how God can redeem anything for our good and His glory.
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Posted August 17, 2013
A story full of pain, hope, faith and restoration. A great marriage, a marriage on the brink we can all find something to relate to in the book. A story of God's faith faithfulness even in the darkest places and the hardest times. He is always standing next to us and is with us.
Posted August 9, 2013
This book is about Justin and Trisha Davis' marriage. The book is part of their story and then part advice/help in all marriages. Things happened in their marriage that I never saw coming. This book really kept my attention and it is amazing what God has done in their lives/marriage. I felt like I benefitted from their advice and I think everyone could whether your marriage is fine or is in trouble. I would recommend this book to all, whether you are just recently married or have been married for 50 years.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 13, 2013
This was a very good book. Justin and Trisha did a very good job of telling their story in a truthful, honest manner. They brought out some very good principles that every married couple would do well to follow. It reminded me again of how important my marriage is and that I need to extend effort and energy to make it work, but with God, our marriage can truly be extraordinary.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 9, 2013
This is an amazing book that EVERY married person should read!
I seriously cannot get over how amazing this book is. I have never heard/read the problems in marriages today expressed so truthfully and Biblical and practical advice given so honestly and pertinently. Justin and Trisha write this book with a transparency that's not graphic and over-the-top, but rather just what you need to hear and would want to hear from Godly, biblical counselors.
The Davis' take turns with the writing of "Beyond Ordinary" so that it's always written in the first person; sometimes both of them sharing about the same incident but from their own perspective, which I found incredibly helpful. Each chapter begins with them sharing aspects of their lives/marriage, some good and some bad, and then ending with Biblical excerpts, comparisons and application. Such a great foundation for a book on marriage.
I have to say, I was completely shocked by the twist about 2/3 into the book, but honestly, the HUGE problems they shared in their own marriage only made them more likable and approachable as real humans who had real problems in their marriage.
I truly wish I had the money to buy a copy for every couple I know, as this is THAT good! So, if you're married, plan on getting married, know someone who's married or plans on getting married, you NEED to buy this incredible book! :)
(By the way, I'm single, never married, but I think that only goes to show how powerful this book is, as I could see the truth in it, just from living with my married parents and having married brothers and married best friends.)
Posted July 2, 2013
Inspiring read that makes me believe an extraordinary marriage is possible. Without finger-pointing, the authors use a back-and-forth style of writing from each of their perspectives and reveal the mistakes they each made. It also details the steps they took to healing and creating an extraordinary marriage where they both support each other. This story is especially compelling as they were involved in church ministry: church ministers and leaders are not immune to marriage problems! However, when both are sincerely seeking what God wants for them, healing can occur out of the most disastrous situations!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 30, 2013
I read this book as part of the Tyndale House Summer Reading program and was not impressed. These people had issues and then they got married and their issues were magnified. It took these years to figure it out and get over it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 28, 2013
There is much in this book of value and insight. I strongly agree that faith in God is the best tool to keep a marriage headed in the right direction. I appreciate the Davises` sharing their story, and their message. I am left with a lot to think about. I was not sure what to think about some of the points they made, and that might be because our marriage is not similar to theirs, or because of the slightly simplistic writing style they used. Some of the points could have been fleshed out, to clarify them. I did feel that Gary Chapman's 4 Seasons of Marriage had more to say to me and my husband, but this is useful as well. All in all, it is a good guide to healing in marriages.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 19, 2013
This book was a great read even after being married for the last ten years. It brought back memories of how many adjustments are made in those first few years. And how even after you have chosen to get married, you have to choose to continue to stay in love. The honesty and candidness in this book is refreshing. HIghly recommended for couples at all stages in their marriage.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 18, 2013
Beyond Ordinary was a great book to challenge couples to not settle for an ordinary marriage. They authors say that if you neglect a marriage, even the best marriages get dull and people can drift apart. But this isn’t a how-to book. I loved the fact that they say Jesus is the only way to a better marriage because without Jesus we can’t do anything. Jesus needs to change our hearts before we can love our spouses the way we ought to. The husband and wife take turns writing, which was a fun format. They walk you through their marriage story and bring in lots of scripture as well. There are good questions for discussion at the end of each chapter. I found the book encouraging and Christ-centered. I wouldn’t recommend this book for newlyweds just because I don’t think most newlyweds can imagine having severe problems in their marriages…even though it would be good for them to think about. And this isn’t just a book for a marriage dealing with an affair. The principles are the same for any marriage.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 17, 2013
Not what I expected.
A friend who is dealing with marital issues shared with me how much she enjoyed this book, so I decided it was worth a read.
The great cover, as well as the concept of building-up relationships to make them extra-ordinary piqued my interest.
The authors (husband and wife, Justin and Trisha) portrayed a surface-honesty, and more personal issues than I cared to learn about. I skipped many pages, scanning here and there to find some kind of light—but each page was much of the same. I just couldn’t get past Justin’s arrogant ego, lies, and deception. In my mind, this was not an ordinary marriage needing a little light…it was a dark disaster. I feel for Trisha.
I’m sorry…perhaps writing the book was a cathartic experience for them, but it was a little disappointing for me. It didn’t really deliver what I expected. I’m glad I read it on a loan, rather than purchased it myself.
Posted June 14, 2013
Excellent Marriage Book!
I was hesitant at first about reading a marriage book because I didn't think it would keep my attention and after a chapter of what I should or shouldn't do it would be a struggle to keep reading but that definitely does not describe this book. The authors share their real life marriage experiences in each chapter and some things they have learned along their marriage journey to turn a marriage from ordinary to extraordinary. Justin and Trisha shared both separately and together their struggles and triumphs during the course of their marriage so far. It was an excellent book. It was very hard to put the book down-I wanted to keep reading and find out what happened to their marriage.
Posted June 12, 2013
Posted June 11, 2013
This book is so much more than a book about marriage. Beyond the typical "steps to help your marriage" type of book, Trisha and Justin share their life struggles to help readers improve all their relationships by being more open (lowering the waterline) and honest in communication. This book was so good, that I will be looking for the books that they referenced to read where they learned all the great information they shared. I love it when a book makes me gasp in surprise (which doesn't happen often) and this book did it twice. I have a lot of respect for Trisha and Justin sharing their story in such an honest, open manner. Sometimes you read a book that it just what you need to read at just the right time. Everyone who has a relationship with another person (married, single, friends, co-worker, familial) should read this book! Such a great book!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 10, 2013
This is the story of Justin and Trisha, who had an "ordinary" marriage, and how they overcame their struggles together.
The book is this couple's testimony, told from both the husband and wife's perspectives, with marriage advice and questions at the end of each chapter. I did not feel that this was a good book to help with my marriage. There are better books out there to strengthen and help marriages.
Posted June 7, 2013
Anyone who is married knows that marriage is hard work. Beyond Ordinary is the true story of a real life couple who honestly share the mountains and valleys of their marriage. Beyond Ordinary is the story of Justin and Trisha who are unwilling to forsake their vows - even when it is tempting to do so. Their story will inspire you to make your marriage - any marriage - better than ordinary. They encourage you, with faith in God, to cherish your marriage and spouse - because God wants you to do so. This was an honest and thought-provoking book to read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 8, 2013
This is the only marriage book that I have ever read that gives real, straightforward advice, stories and
most important of all- encouragement. Scripture is interwoven throughout and is explained clearly
so that you can relate and remember it for later use and help. Any married couple should read this book!
I am going to try and have my hubby read it too!