October: Russ and Danielle West
Intentionally Helping Marriages Blossom
The leaders who host the Atlanta High Tech Prayer Breakfast are out there all year long. The Breakfast is just the beginning of their ministries. God called them to serve many different people in so many different ways. We will highlight one new leader’s ministry each month. Maybe they can serve you. Maybe you can serve with them.
This month we feature Russ and Danielle West. This couple ministers to married couples internationally through their site. Russ is a top gun software sales rep and so was Danielle. I met Russ before he met Danielle. He walked into a Grace@Work group I was leading. He shared a bit of his story and concluded by telling us his marriage just blew up! I won’t steal his thunder. He explains his story below. It’s gripping.
Take a look at their ministry by visiting their site. They are making a difference in many people’s marriages by sharing what it means to be intentional. Great content is the result of a heart for God and for married couples.
High Tech Prayer Breakfast
P.S. If you are a table host of the High Tech Prayer Breakfast and would like us to consider featuring your ministry, send me an email.
What is the ministry you are involved with?
We have a marriage ministry that includes our marriage website intentionalmarriages.net. In addition to the website, we are one of the leaders of our church’s marriage curriculum called Thrive that is taught once a quarter in either 8 or 12-week small group format. We also work with couples one on one.
Who does the ministry help?
Married couples. All types of marriages, ones that simply want to invest in their good marriage to make it better, ones who recognize they have been on parallel paths and need a road map back, and ones who are in crisis.
What impact have you seen through your ministry?
Restoration and excitement about a marriage that couples thought was not fixable. We have seen couples who have been married 40 years and thought they had a good marriage say they were able to take their marriage to a much greater place by implementing tools and processes to manage conflict, communicate better, understand how their past impacts their marriage, and forgive on a daily basis. We have also seen couples that were ready to give up on their marriage not only stay together but build a healthy, thriving marriage.
What was the journey that brought you to be a part of the ministry?
We both have a passion for making our own marriage the best it can be and helping others with their marriage. When Danielle and I met, I had been divorced, and Danielle had experienced bad dating relationships.
From the beginning, we were intentional about our dating relationship. As we started talking about marriage, we decided to go to counseling to understand what role we played in our past relationships that did not turn out well. After going to counseling for a year before our wedding, we made the commitment to go to counseling on a regular basis for the rest of our lives as we felt it would be one of the best investments for our marriage. We have now been going to marriage counseling for 14 years.
As we learned to be intentional with our marriage, we decided to attend our church's marriage class. We were amazed by the curriculum and what we learned from the other couples, so we decided to go through the training process to become leaders. Most couples have never experienced transparent, vulnerable conversations in a group setting and do not want the group to stop meeting.
Unfortunately, we could not continue meeting since we facilitate another group. This pain point of wanting to stay connected to each group caused us to come up with the idea of starting a marriage website to share what we have learned from 5 years of leading marriage small groups and 14 years of marriage counseling. Because we share the good, bad and ugly, the website is a private membership website, which means most of the content is behind a wall that requires your email and a password. We share resources and tools that have helped us significantly.
What impact has the ministry had on your own life, family, and marriage?
We both have a lot of emotional wounds (baggage) from our childhoods and past relationships. The ministry helps us stay intentional and focused on the process and tools to have a thriving marriage. It is a great form of accountability. We also are constantly learning something new that helps our marriage and enables us to help others. Growing up with a violent alcoholic father impacts the way I react to many interactions with Danielle in a very negative way. Counseling and the tools/processes we have learned from our marriage class have helped me immensely be the husband God wants me to be.
Danielle came from a family where their style of conflict was shutting down and not discussing the issues. That method did not carry over very well into our marriage. Counseling is a hard science to measure success, but going from three days of not talking after an argument to now recovering within 20 minutes and most often in the moment is huge.
What were your concerns before getting involved?
The vulnerability of putting our stuff online even with a password wall was significantly different than sharing our marriage journey face-to-face. The technical aspect of pulling off a membership website with no coding background. And the simple fear of “what if nobody joins us?”
All that disappeared when I reminded myself that this is a website built for our kids in hopes that someday they will learn from our mistakes. We have a responsibility with this digital footprint we are leaving behind. Are we posting our lunch or the wisdom we’ve been blessed to learn?
How did God address those concerns?
The measurable items we can easily point to are the 103 members who joined before we formally launched and a church in Florida who asked us to speak to their married couples. The immeasurable ones are the marriages who are thriving because of the principles we have shared with them and the ones who have recovered from crisis.
What surprised you after you started the ministry?
How the simple tools we practice and the vulnerability in which we share have resulted in open, rich, transformative marriages.
What would be your pitch to someone interested in helping in the ministry or learning more about it?
Successful marriages are intentional. We provide resources to help married couples make intentional investments in their marriage. Join us!
How has the High Tech Prayer Breakfast impacted your ministry?
The High Tech Prayer Breakfast has been such an important part of our marriage ministry. When I was going through my divorce, I met three angels at a Grace@Work study led by Charlie Paparelli. These three (Robert DiCristina, Doug Legg, and Robert Campbell) had all been through a divorce and mentored me in how God would want me to handle the divorce process instead of doing it the world’s way.
It was a very humbling journey, and their love, wisdom, and investment in me laid the groundwork for my passion to help other marriages. Also, Robert DiCristina ended up introducing me to Danielle. God works in such wonderful ways even in our brokenness. Finally, many of the people we have helped through our marriage ministry are members of the High Tech community.