Yesterday morning, my sister called me and said, “Ty and Terri Schenzel got in a car wreck yesterday and died. Ty went immediately around 4:30 and Terri went later at the hospital.” I said, “What? Are you serious?” Within the next minute I went from I can handle this information, to They’re dead, followed by my knees buckling and me not being able to breathe, and crying uncontrollably on the floor of my kitchen surrounded by my daycare kids jumping on me (they thought I was playing). There’s no way they’re dead. They can’t be. This is a bad dream. Zach soon joined me on the floor as we cried out to God together, embraced, and wept uncontrollably. I don’t know how much time passed before we both got up and realized that we both have to work. I had my daycare kids, plus still had to do school runs, and Zach had to go to work.
Soon, Zach decided to not go in, and we both spent the day exchanged stories about Ty and Terri and how they have impacted us. These were all uplifting stories that we just kept sharing with one another and sporadically crying over, in joy of course.
Over the past 24 plus hours, I have realized that Zach and I have the marriage we have because of so many factors, but a lot is attributed to the mission of Hope Filled Marriage led by Ty and Terri. Terri also spoke to the women’s groups several times during functions with church. I always learned something new from her each time. Here, I list the top 10 impactful statements Terri has made on my walk with the Lord, my role as a wife, my role as a mother, and my marriage:
10. “You were a wife before you were a mother.”
Even though this does not ring true for my life, my mentality is this. It has to be. For the sake of our children, it has to be. Terri said many times, “The greatest gift you can give your children is a healthy marriage.” What does this mean? This means the we do not fight in front of our kids. This means that I respect my husband and submit to him, and he loves me and we choose each other daily. This does not mean we have a perfect, flawless marriage. This does mean that we learn that our struggles are not an indication of failure, but a way that God can move in us. Seeking counseling is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of wisdom.
The order of priorities for a healthy marriage’s foundation are God first, Spouse second, Self third, Children last. If mom AND dad are not fulfilled in Christ, the foundation will crumble. If they are fulfilled in Christ, but not honoring one another, the foundation will crumble. If they are fulfilled in Christ, honoring one another, but not taking care of themselves, the foundation will crumble and the children will be running the show. The order of priorities is important to uphold. Our kids are not unimportant, they just aren’t the top priority before God, my husband, and myself.
9. “Accept that you will blow it.”
As a mother, I am not going to get it right all the time. As long as I can learn that sometimes I am going to have to apologize to my children, and yes, I will blow it, there is Grace. I am going to say things that will hurt them. I am going to forget important dates. I will vent about the struggles of being a mother, and they may overhear me. I am going to even lose my cool every now and then and yell. There is Grace. She said, “Learn these words: I was wrong, will you please forgive me?” There is nothing wrong with showing you children to be humble and ask for forgiveness.
“Demonstrate mercy and grace.” Grace is when you get something you haven’t earned, and mercy is not getting something you have earned. When I demonstrate this through my marriage in front of my children, and with my children in raising them, I am allowing them to learn mercy and grace through application. This takes being humble before the Lord and saying, “God, I don’t know what to do right now, please help me.” Allow the Lord to show you how to parent step by step.
8. “The greatest gift you can give your children is a healthy marriage.”
I know this was mentioned before, but this is so good it deserves it’s own bullet point. The term “healthy marriage” encompasses so many ideas. There are factors of intimacy, respect, love for God, love for one another, choosing one another, finances, raising children, vocations, the in-laws, and so many more that make up a marriage. Communication and respect through it all is what will keep the marriage strong. It will not be perfect, oh no. The goal is not perfection. God created marriage, as we believe through scripture, and as everything that God created is perfect. Man has sinned. Since the fall, there have been struggles. This includes struggles with marriage. So having a “picture perfect marriage” is not the goal, but knowing how to “fight healthy” and lay down your life and disagreements for the other person, that is the goal. We must honor God’s design of marriage, and in doing that, our children will grow to embrace God’s love for marriage and other people even more. It starts at home.
7. Boundaries in a marriage are good.
We had boundaries when we were dating, and some of them have rolled over into our marriage. This is good. Ty and Terri shared their boundaries one week at church and they were so good. Ours look about the same. They include but are not limited to things like: No friends of the opposite sex that your spouse is not friends with. No traveling with the opposite sex, even for work. Passwords for phones, email, Facebook (etc) are open to each other (no secrets).
I honestly can’t remember all of them, but those are some ideas of them. I think this is good. These are not “contractual” agreements, as a marriage before God and the Church is not a contract, but a declaration and a promise to love and to serve one another for a lifetime. These are promises to one another to keep the marriage bed pure.
6. The number 1 thing men need: RESPECT.
My husband wants to hear that he is the most important, most handsome man in the whole world. Honestly, to me he is. I can honestly say that the love and attraction I have for my husband, I have never felt for any other man in my life. He wants to hear it. More importantly, it needs to be true. He is not my whole world, God is, but my husband comes second. As I respect my husband, my children learn to respect him. As my children watch our respect for one another, they learn to respect one another, and in the future they will know how to respect their spouse.
Some of my friends have said to me, “What about (celebrity)” or “Will you go to see Fifty Shades of Grey?” Nope and nope. I do not fantasize about other men, even celebrities. I do not visualize myself with anyone else. I am for my husband. I know that so many have trouble with this, as respect for husbands and men in general has become so perverse in our culture, but I don’t crave anyone else besides my husband. There is security in that. Neither one of us watch movies or shows with even remote nudity out of respect for one another. Respect. Period.
5. “Your husband should not be greeted at the end of his day at the door with a list of chores or a garbage bag to take out. Give him time to unwind when he gets home, even if it doesn’t seem fair.”
Man. Just let that sink in. “Even if it doesn’t seem fair.” Terri told a group of women at the last Waypoint Women’s Retreat that our husbands have more pressure on their shoulders as the head of the household than we could ever imagine. That’s right. I don’t even want to imagine. So what can I do as his wife? I can give him 10 minutes after he gets home to change, unwind, and breathe before being attacked by a wife (yes, with a list. The list does not go away) and children. My husband does enjoy relaxing, but he also knows that until his head hits the pillow, he does rest for the evening. I even offer to take care of the baby most nights because I know that he is more exhausted than I could even be. This brings me to the next best thing she said:
4. “Wake up each morning with the knowledge and intention that your husband is more important than you, and your husband should wake up knowing that you are more important than he is. That’s when a marriage works. Even if you wake up and don’t like him, or he has bad breath.”
I remember her saying that there are mornings she wakes up and is just in a tired mood, especially when she was a young mother, and she would wake up not even liking Ty, but her attitude was that she chose him anyways. Her mood would soon follow suit. This is good. So good.
Terri also mentioned that if one person is putting the other person first, and the other is receiving that but nor reciprocating, then that is when disaster starts. The selfishness takes over and the marriage will start to fall apart. Being married is the most selfless decision we can make in our life. Choose wisely. Choose your spouse daily.
3. “Your husband will hear many judgmental voices in his life, yours shouldn’t be one.”
Terri once told a “fable”, if I may. “There was a woman from a small village. She had 2 men to choose from to marry. The man she married eventually became a mayor of their village. She ran into the other man years later, who became a street sweeper. He told her, “I’m so glad you decided to marry the other guy, because if you married me, you’d be the wife of a street sweeper.” She looked at him surprised and said, “No I wouldn’t. I’d be the wife of a mayor.”
OUR. WORDS. BREATHE. LIFE. Or at least they should. Husbands need respect, and they need their wives to be their biggest cheerleader.
“Speak over him what he wants to be. Tell him what he can be, support him, and he will become that man.” Maybe that’s not word for word, but it’s pretty darn close. So many knew the impact Ty made, and so many knew the impact Ty and Terri made together. Ty was able to impact so many because he had the support of his wife. She spoke life into his dreams and visions, and life they became. This wasn’t empty advice. This was advice lived to the fullest.
2. “Your sex life reflects your marriage.”
No matter what the topic was about for that day, Terri always brought up intimacy in marriage. We could be talking about clouds, and she would end the discussion with, “How’s your sex life?” This wasn’t to be perverse or anything out of shame. This was purely through love. She would tell us all the time that the way your intimate life was, it’s a direct reflection of how your marriage is doing. You know what, I’ve been married for a year and a half, and I can agree with every word of that. God created marriage. God created sex. More specifically, God created sex to be within marriage.
A husband could be having the worst day. He could have lost his job, or a car broken down, or the dog died, or he’s tired. If the wife gives herself to him fully, the problems of his world are not as much a burden anymore. Men function off of intimacy. This is not to be abused, but wives, we need to know this. We need to submit to our husbands and give them what God designed for them to enjoy, which is us! This is good, in marriage.
1. Divorce is never, EVER an option
If you get married, you stay married. If you get married, there are not prenuptial agreements. If you get married, there are no “outs”. Period.
This is a distant thought in our culture, and Ty and Terri made sure to talk to both men and women about this. So many families are broken and divorced. Some families even say, “Well, we are just better as friends.” My husband is my best friend, and divorce is not an option. This is what those boundaries are in place for, respect, no judgement, speaking life, healthy intimacy, and putting God first. Marriage is work. It is hard work. It is so worth it.
Ty and Terri Schenzel have had such an impact for both Zach and I, even starting at a young age at Trinity Church. They joined our Waypoint family as leaders some time ago, and it was a joy to see them and grow from them every encounter. As I mourned in those first moments of hearing the news, the children around me thought I was playing on the ground and surrounded me with joy. I feel this is prophetic, as there is joy in Heaven, even though there is mourning here on Earth. Not only that, but there is something amazing about the sound of children’s laughter. Especially in the midst of crying.
Terri, my life will never be the same, my marriage will never be the same. Thank you for your investment into me and so many others. You are loved. You are missed.
Rejoice in His presence!