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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Melissa Johnson

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw’s real-life love story has spanned more than two decades. And now, the Country music power couple is preparing for the “empty-nest” stage of their lives. After 21+ years of marriage, they’re opening up about what keeps their love going strong.

Not surprisingly, music brought these two together. Their paths first crossed in 1994 backstage at the annual Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. They kept their relationship strictly professional, but Tim felt sparks instantly.

Two years later, Faith became Tim’s opening act during his first major headlining tour called the “Spontaneous Combustion Tour.” Their connection was impossible to ignore and Faith broke things off with her fiancé.

One of the sweetest stories of their whirlwind courtship is when Tim showed up on Faith’s doorstep with cornbread and a big bowl of chicken and dumplings he’d made himself.

“He said, ‘I made these myself. They’re homemade from scratch.’ He had the bowl covered in aluminum foil, and he had a spoon and a fork on top of the bowl,” Faith recalled. “He said, ‘I didn’t know if you liked to eat your dumplings with a spoon or a fork.'”

Music may have brought them together, but it was their troubled childhoods that bonded them.

"Although our stories are very different, there was a missing link within our souls that we both related to," Faith explained.

Tim’s biological father, famous baseball player Tug McGraw, denied his paternity after a fling with Tim’s mom. Tim’s mom went on to marry an abusive drunk.

Faith was adopted. And while she loved her “salt of the earth, hardworking” family, as more of a free spirit herself, she always felt like a misfit. The stark difference in her personality paired with no knowledge about her biological family left Faith feeling like she never really fit in.

But God used Faith’s and Tim’s early struggles to uniquely bond them together in a special way.

"I knew I had that ­instability and dysfunction in me, from the way I grew up," Tim said. "And when I met Faith, I knew I needed her in my life — to keep me stable, solid and on track."

With such powerful chemistry, it was no time before Tim spontaneously proposed. During their tour, the two lovebirds made a few jokes about getting married. Then, one rainy day, Faith completed her set and came offstage to the dressing room.

Tim grabbed her hand, dropped to one knee and said, “I’m really serious. I want you to marry me.” Faith thought it was another joke.

“We’re at a country music festival in a trailer house, and you’re asking me to marry you?” she laughingly replied.

It was Tim’s turn to perform. But as he left for the stage, he assured Faith he was serious. When he finished his set, he came back to find a special message from Faith drawn onto the mirror of his fold-out armoire.

“Yes, I’m gonna be your wife! I love you,” read the message Faith had written with Sharpie marker and surrounded in lipstick kisses.

Tim never got rid of that mirror. He says he still has it to this day.

On October 6, 1996, Faith and Tim invited friends and family to a softball game and concert in Tim’s hometown of Rayville, Louisiana. But it was actually their surprise wedding!

The happy couple didn’t wait long to start a family. By May of 1997, their first daughter, Gracie Katherine, was born, followed by Maggie Elizabeth in August 1998 and Audrey Caroline in December 2001.

Of course, celebrity status can be hard on marriages. And by 2008, the music star lifestyle caught up with Tim.

By then, Faith had put her career on hold so she could put family first. She stayed at home with the kids while Tim continued touring.

Tim was good about coming home every chance he got. But his life on the road led him into dangerous territory. By his own admission, he’d gone too far with drugs and alcohol.

That’s when Faith dropped her ultimatum:

“Partying or having a family. Pick one, buddy.”

Thankfully, Tim chose to honor his marriage. He did the hard work to get (and stay) sober, as well as got in shape.

Faith and Tim have weathered more than 21 years of marriage. And while they say a lot has changed from the “early years,” through all the ups and downs, their devotion to one another has stayed the same. But how?

For starters, the two continue to prioritize their time together — both as a family and as a couple.

When Faith stayed home so their girls could attend school and have a “normal” life, Tim flew home to show up at nearly every play, musical and track meet. He even did some coaching for his daughters’ sports teams.

"We made a choice to do it that way, and we don't regret it for a second," Faith said. "They come first no matter what."

But the two also always make time for date night. And through the years, it’s really become more about enjoying each other’s company.

"Funny, as we get older it's less about the big gestures and more about just spending the time together at home," Tim said. "For our 20th wedding anniversary, we stayed home, in our pajamas and watched TV. We loved it."

With all three of their daughters nearly all grown (Gracie, 21, Maggie, 19, and Audrey, 16), the couple is spending even more time together on tour.

But the couple does more than just make time for each other.

"Tim and I share a quick quiet moment together before hitting the stage," Faith says. "Always praying."

Prayer is certainly one of the most important parts of marriage. God is the cord binding two together and the best way to keep a marriage strong!

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Even though Jeff and Angela Hartung have been together for more than 17 years, the couple is still getting to know each other. After a terrible accident, Angela lost all memories from at least 15 years of her life. Now this husband dated wife after accident to see if he can reclaim their 

Angela had been crossing the street in New York City when she was hit by a car. She suffered a traumatic brain injury and was left in a coma for a month. When Angela finally woke up, she believed she was still married to her first husband and that her children were still only 2 and 8 years old. In reality, her first husband had passed away many years ago, she was remarried, and her children were now grown adults.

And worst of all, Angela could not remember her current husband, Jeff. She did not even remember ever meeting, much less marrying the man who she had been with for nearly two decades. A lot of people may have given up, but Jeff saw this as a blessing. “How many times have we said, ‘I wish I could go back and do something over again?’ I’ve gotten to do that,” he said.

To start off, he put up pictures of their life together all over the house. Then, he decided to start dating his wife again. They learned to get to know each other all over again and Jeff never left her side.

Angela eventually fell in love with this amazing man all over again, and they decided to celebrate their love in a special way. They renewed their vows in front of all their family and friends, and it's truly a love story like no other. What an incredible example of love that overcomes all obstacles.

Photo courtesy: Thinkstock/jacoblund

A brave mom couldn’t help but think of her own kids when she happened upon a horrific crash and spotted a baby boy in the wreckage. Wasting no time, she ran straight for the smoldering vehicles. And this guardian angel prayed the whole time during the intense baby rescue!

Tulonga Neputa was riding with some colleagues through South Africa when they came upon a terrible accident.

“You could see it had just happened, and a couple of other cars also stopped,” she recalled.

But apparently, Tulonga was the only one to notice a baby boy caught in the wreckage.

The brave mother-of-two wasted no time. She threw her door open and leaped out of the car.

As she sprinted toward the burning vehicles, she couldn’t help but think of her own kids. In the midst of “panicking and praying,” Tulonga scooped up the 8-month-old boy and did her best to soothe him.

“Don't cry baby, everything will be fine,” she kept telling him over and over, as he cried uncontrollably.

Tulonga rocked the boy and prayed. Eventually, he calmed down and his huge sobs died down. His guardian angel looked him over, praying he would be okay.

“He was bleeding from the mouth and nose,” Tulonga said. “One of the other motorists said it looked as if his arm was broken, and we had to handle him very carefully.”

The kind woman cuddled the traumatized baby boy until paramedics arrived.

"I was so worried about that boy,” she recalls. “When I had to hand him over to the paramedics at the accident scene, I prayed and prayed he would be okay because I did not know if his parents were killed in the accident.”

But before allowing medics to take the child from her, Tulonga again cried out to our Heavenly Father for His mercy:

“God, you don't take this one. You cannot claim this one.”

During the intense baby rescue, Tulonga only concerned herself with the safety of the little boy named Dex. In fact, it wasn’t until later, when the shock wore off, that the horror of the scene really hit her.

“The dam just burst; I saw again the scene. It was horrific, with body parts everywhere,” she recalled.

One of her travel companions pulled out their cell phone and videotaped the rescue when Tulonga took off. And it didn’t take long for footage of the intense baby rescue to go viral.

Tons of messages have poured in, praising the brave mom for her selfless act of courage. Of course, this real-life hero didn’t do it for any kind of fame or recognition.

“I was just doing what any mother would do,” she explained.

In fact, Tulonga has found all of the attention a bit overwhelming. She’s disappointed that bystanders spent more time taking pictures and videos of the crash than helping its victims.

And rather than making the intense baby rescue about her, she’s trying to use the story as a reminder to drivers to be more careful behind the wheel.

Thankfully, God answered Tulonga’s prayers and baby Dex is doing just fine. Sadly, the crash killed the boy’s grandfather, along with four people from the other car. But his family finds comfort in knowing Dex survived. And they’re incredibly grateful to the woman who cared for him as her own at the scene of the horrific crash.

"Our little baby boy is ok! It's beyond our understanding how he survived this horrific accident! It's a miracle," said Nadja Heger, Dex’s mom. “To some amazing people along this sad journey, we will thank you personally.”

Tulonga got the opportunity to reunite with little Dex and his family a while after the crash.

"When he saw me today he put out his hands so I could pick him up. Praise God, I was so happy to hold that boy," she said.

She and the family talked for hours and plan to stay in touch. Tulonga jokes that she now has a third son. And God certainly put the right person in the right place to care for this precious boy!

Photo courtesy: Thinkstock/Berezko