I Do!

I Do!

10.02.16 | Stories | by Tim Alba

    Virtually every marriage and family starts with those two words of intent, but how many families live like they still do? Eric and Leslie Bartel are a couple who plans to stay the course—who fulfills a marriage pledge with a family purpose.

    Although life hasn’t always been easy, their journey has remained joyful because they continually grow in what they treasure most. For example, this year has been especially challenging. But Eric and Leslie remain resolute, knowing that God uses challenges and illnesses to prepare their family for their next steps of faith. Then again, when you see God’s purpose in everything, it becomes evident in everything.

    In First Euless’ nearly/newlywed connection class, Eric and Leslie grew closer to God and each other. And in the years since, they’ve been there for each other through each stage of life, careers, and parenting. They’ve helped each other pursue their dreams, even as God redirected those dreams and birthed new dreams in their hearts.

    Where do families get the strength to grow their commitments? Eric and Leslie say it comes from being purposeful in three things: generosity, gratitude, and godliness. Sounds simple, right? Easy, no. But the effort is worth it because the outcome is powerful and relevant for every situation. It’s real.

    For Leslie, life and parenting come down to one word: love. Love is believing that everything else falls into place when kids see their mom love like Christ loved. It’s loving your best friend as well as the stranger broken down on the side of the road. It’s putting God in everything and wondering, “Is it possible to talk about God too much to my kids?”—and knowing the answer: “Of course not.” It’s walking your path with love no matter where that path leads.

    So what do you do when your path takes an ugly turn? Eric and Leslie cling to three “special steps” that apply to anything: 1) prayer, 2) Bible verses and 3) community. By praying, applying biblical truth, and relying on fellow believers, life’s problems don’t disappear, but they become opportunities to love and serve.

    Even Eric’s vocation as part-owner of a financial advisory firm is an expression of his passion to serve and excel. As a former college football player and son of a football coach, Eric named his firm Financial Coaching LLC, because, as he puts it, “I love seeing people win with their money.” More than seeing money as a toy for fun, Eric helps people see money as a tool for faithfulness.

    How could you build your life and family around your God-given purpose and priorities?

    If you visited the Bartel’s home, you’d see how it reflects their chosen treasures. For example, Annabelle Grace’s doll houses and Sean Ryan’s toys surround the main thing in their bedrooms—their own Bible verse that mom and dad claimed for them before they were born. These verses are buried in their hearts because they’re part of everyday conversations. At only five and three years old, Annabelle Grace and Sean Ryan can finish their verse if mom or dad ask. Again, is it possible to talk about God too much to your kids? Of course not—especially if it’s supported with a purpose-filled lifestyle.

    Beautiful decorations in their home become bold declarations of their intent. Careers align with God-given purpose. Lifestyles support priorities. Conversations reveal family values. Are the Bartels trying to be the poster-child for perfect families? No. But like you and me, they can seek the Lord’s purpose by purposefully pursuing Him.

    When you see God’s purpose in everything, you see people differently. You love them differently. You serve them differently. And your kids are prepared to do the same.

    Then again, purposeful families don’t just start out by saying, “I do.” Their lives keep saying it—to each other and to their God.

    Tim Alba