Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Spring Hill couple is reunited and rededicated to the Lord

Robert and Lori Church, who dated in high school, were married in 2005. They believe they have finally found the mate God intended for them.

Courtesy of LORI CHURCH

Robert and Lori Church, who dated in high school, were married in 2005. They believe they have finally found the mate God intended for them.

SPRING HILL — When Robert Church received an e-mail via Classmates, an Internet social networking site, in November 2004, he was at work and too busy to read it. It wasn't until three days later that he opened the e-mail and saw which former classmate had written to him.

At age 43, and having made several bad life choices since high school, Church was happy to hear from his old friend, Lori. He and Lori had dated for about a month when he was a sophomore and she was a junior at their school near Fairfield, Ohio. They had been in the marching band and chorus together.

At the time Robert read the e-mail, Lori was living in Spring Hill, caring for her elderly parents. After exchanging e-mails, they talked on the phone. Once again, they found themselves attracted to each other. They discovered that both were active in their respective churches and had recently rededicated their lives to the Lord.

They decided to meet.

"It was almost the first weekend of December," Robert said. "If we didn't do it then, we were going to have to wait until after the first of the year. So I left on Dec. 4 and drove all night."

When Lori walked out to her driveway to greet him, Robert was smitten.

"We instantly fell back in love," he said. "We'd had feelings in high school, but they really hadn't blossomed. That night, I actually proposed to her."

Lori went to Ohio to be with Robert over Christmas. A short time later, Robert made the proposal formal at a family gathering in Nashville.

They were married in June 2005, believing they had finally found the mate God intended for each of them.

Previously, Robert had married young, divorced, gotten married again, drank too much and went through another divorce. He had strayed far from his Baptist roots.

"I was in church and became saved when I was 10," he said. "I started singing in the choir and doing solos. I got married when I was 18 to a woman from church. Our families were close friends."

Robert and his first wife had their first of three children in 1979. They were married 6 1/2 years.

"We were just too young and got to where we couldn't stand each other," he said.

About five years later, he married a co-worker.

"I started drinking and went with the world (rather than God)," Robert said. "We got married and divorced after 13 years. My drinking was part of it. I smoked and drank for about 28 or 29 years. I knew I was doing wrong, but I still did it."

By May 2004, Robert had had enough of his lifestyle. He rededicated his life to God.

"God took the taste of alcohol away from me, so I've been sober going on seven years now," he said. "By the time Lori sent me that e-mail, the Lord was the focus of my life."

Life had also been difficult for Lori. After dealing with infidelity and other marital problems, she had been through two divorces as well. Like Robert, she had been reared a Baptist.

Lori said she justified her choices because her first husband, who was in the military, claimed to be a Christian.

"We had two children together and took them to church," she said. "I was surprised by his infidelity. But even in my insecurities, I knew better than to stay married to him."

After leaving her 10-year marriage, Lori said she began growing more spiritually. She attended Bible studies and sang in the church choir.

"So even though I was more spiritually mature, I made another bad mistake and got married again," she said. "Having the home and two kids and a job and everything being a little frazzled, I was distracted by dance lessons and married my dance teacher."

While she didn't think her new husband was a Christian, Lori thought she could "pray him into the kingdom."

"I thought God would answer my prayers and he would stop drinking," she said. "But no. That marriage lasted three years."

Lori decided that she would not marry again.

"My friends were concerned, because at that point I was unemployed and had no support. But I decided to let God be the center of my life, and I was completely peaceful," she said.

In 1995, she moved to Florida to be near her parents. From there, in 2004, she sent e-mails to a few former classmates with the thought of just saying "hi."

Since marrying, Robert and Lori have begun using both their musical and cooking talents to minister together. They have served in the Angel Food Ministry at Fellowship Community Church in Spring Hill and currently serve in several capacities at Hillside Community Baptist Church east of Brooksville.

Between them, they have 11 grandchildren, with one having died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome two years ago.

After starting their marriage in Ohio, moving to Florida to take care of Lori's father when her mother died in 2007, a short stint in North Carolina for work and back to Florida again, Robert finds himself among the many unemployed in Hernando County.

His background is in steel work, a field in which there are not a lot of available jobs locally.

"I worked for Hernando High in '08 as a custodian, and when I went to Ohio, I worked in the schools up there," he said. "Now, I'm on the substitute list for custodians here, and I do yard work and odd jobs. I'm still looking for full-time employment. Right now there's a long line of people waiting for every job, so we depend on the Lord every day."

Prayer is an important part of their lives, the couple say, and they often pray together. Both say they are growing daily in their relationship with each other and the Lord.

With Valentine's Day approaching on Monday, the couple reflected on their feelings for each other.

"I want to spend the rest of my life with her, and my relationship with the Lord is better than it has ever been," Robert said.

Lori has similar sentiments.

"We're still on a honeymoon after six years," she said. "We say if this is what marriage is like, we were never really married before. This is what marriage is supposed to be like biblically and how God planned it. It's wonderful."

Spring Hill couple is reunited and rededicated to the Lord 02/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 11, 2011 7:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  2. Funeral held for U.S. soldier at center of Trump fight

    Nation

    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102
  3. Chemical industry insider now shapes EPA policy

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has struggled to prevent an ingredient once used in stain-resistant carpets and nonstick pans from contaminating drinking water.

    This is the Dow chemical plant near Freeport, Texas. Before the 2016 election, Dow had been in talks with the EPA to phase out the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is blamed for disabilities in children. Dow is no longer willing to compromise.
  4. Unforgiving wildfires affect vineyard workers and owners

    Nation

    SONOMA, Calif. — When the wildfires ignited, vineyard workers stopped picking grapes and fled for their lives. Some vineyard owners decided to stay and fight back, spending days digging firebreaks and sleeping among their vines.

    Wilma Illanes and daughter Gabriela Cervantes, 8, found their home intact, but had lost a week’s wages and sought aid.
  5. O'Reilly got new contract after big settlement

    Nation

    Last January, six months after Fox News ousted its chairman amid a sexual harassment scandal, the network's top-rated host at the time, Bill O'Reilly, struck a $32 million agreement with a longtime network analyst to settle new sexual harassment allegations, two people briefed on the matter told the New York …

    Bill O’Reilly was fired by Fox News after multiple allegations.