Rob and Jenna's Story
Rob and Jenna met for the first time during the summer of 1993. Jenna was going into her senior year in high school and Rob was going to be a junior in college. They had grown up in separate backgrounds and their paths crossed through a mutual friend. They grew up in good homes, but made choices based on their own needs and wants that would cause their lives to change. But God would use their choices to show His grace and redemptive power through their lives.
Jenna grew up with her mom mostly. Her parents had divorced while she was young and she grew up going to Catholic schools and church. She had her life plans set. Before entering in to her senior year, she had already been accepted to the college of her choice. She knew what she wanted to do and had done the hard work to get there.
Rob grew up in a home where both his parents went to seminary and were ordained pastors when he was young. He attended church every week, went to church camp and was the “good pk.” He had always said he would never get into the family business and so, one summer camp, when he felt the call to go into ministry, he kept himself firmly planted on the log he was sitting on and didn’t answer it. By the time he was in college, Rob had stopped attending church and was living for himself.
They met through a mutual friend and they started to hang out for the summer. Rob returned to college but then invited Jenna down for the homecoming dance at his school. Jenna begged her mom to go and because she was coming down with the mutual friend, her mom agreed. They had sex that weekend and a few weeks later Jenna started to notice things were different. She was tired. She felt funny. Her period was late. After many tears and wishing and pleading with God, she came to know for sure that she was definitely pregnant. She was so scared and was beyond angry. Her whole life was ahead of her and she had great plans of what she wanted to do. With everything that she wanted and dreamed for herself, including a beautiful wedding, marriage and kids later, she told herself that she could have an abortion and not even tell anyone about the pregnancy. Not even Rob. It was her "problem" and she was sure that she could deal with it all on her own.
That week in school, her class watched a video of an abortion procedure. At that very moment, she knew that she was not supposed to make that choice. God reached out from heaven in this incredible way, and told her that she was going to have a baby and that she was going to be ok. So she told Rob, and ultimately decided that she was going to keep her baby and raise him with or without Rob's help or support. She chose to give up her scholarship and not go away to college. She chose to live a life different than anything she had ever hoped or dreamed, but she knew that it was the right choice.
Jenna wanted more than anything for Rob to want this life with her. She wanted to be with him and work things out. She wanted to be married to him. He, on the other hand, didn't feel the same way. Rob told her that he wanted to be there for Colby and be his dad, and be there for her as Colby's mom, but not to be together with her. Jenna was heartbroken. She decided that maybe if she was a good friend to him, and the best mother for their son that she could be, then maybe he would change his mind and want to be with her too.
So Jenna tried for over a year waiting for Rob to notice her. She kept thinking that just one more week, or one more diaper change, or one more time hanging out would make all the difference, but she was wrong.
Rob had seen too many families where the parents married because they had a child together. He saw how hard that choice was and that there wasn’t a lot of love in those families. This caused him to not want that for his family. Since he was “black or white” back then, he didn’t allow for anything else to develop. So after Colby was born, Rob returned back to college to finish his senior year in school leaving Jenna behind and missing out on the majority of all the “firsts” for Colby’s first year of life.
Jenna desired to be married and wanted to prove that she could make it. When Colby was two, she met a guy that said all the right things and they got married. She boycotted all reason and all responsible relationship planning. She met a man who had a lot of baggage, a ton of issues, and a lot of fancy words that made her feel good about herself. She had no regard for her family, many of her friends and definitely not for God. At every "red flag" warning her to stop, or slow down, or to wait and watch, she turned her face the other way and hardened her heart. She did not think that God would do for her what she wanted Him to do, so she determined to do it all for herself and told everyone that she knew what she was doing.
Rob had finished college and moved back to the area to be close to Colby. About a month after Jenna got married, she and her new husband moved Colby 1,000 miles away from where Rob was now living in Iowa to New Mexico. This elevated the fighting, arguing and court battles. Through the next decade, it would get to the point where Rob and Jenna would not even talk except to ask for Colby on the phone. It was also during this time that Rob got married for a few years, divorced and moved from Iowa to Wisconsin. Rob would call Colby here and there. He had very few visits due to the need to get three round trip tickets to go pick up Colby and fly back with him. A while later, Jenna and her family moved to California in December 2000. She had given her life to Christ just six months earlier in New Mexico before moving and found a church to get connected with after they moved.
Throughout this time, Jenna would occasionally ask Rob to give up legal custody. Finally, Rob agreed to do so and Jenna’s husband legally adopted Colby in 2007.
While in California, Jenna learned about a pregnancy center similar to one she had gone to when she was 18. She had a great experience at Agape Pregnancy Center in Des Moines when she was pregnant with Colby. She wanted to “give back” so she became a volunteer. Even though she had moved to California to pursue more of an acting career, she soon found herself working with the abstinence program of the pregnancy center and eventually taking over and running the program. As she was going from school to school and teaching about love and forgiveness, she kept getting convicted that she needs to live out that love and forgiveness as well.
In 2008, Jenna sent a letter to Rob asking for forgiveness for everything she had done to him; Moving Colby away, calling Colby a different middle and last name, plus all of the arguing and yelling. She didn’t expect anything back from Rob. Upon receiving the letter, Rob agreed that it would be in the best interest for Colby if they were able to at least be friendly to each other and they moved forward with a new agreement together. (Recently, we came across copies of these emails that we sent to each other. Fun to see.)
On Mother’s Day, 2009, Rob was texting his friends who were mothers and came across Jenna’s number in his phone. Since they had decided to be friendly and she really had been a great mom to Colby, he decided to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. She replied with a thank you and that was that. But then Rob received a text from Colby that read, “Happy Mother’s Day! Ooops, wrong day.” They texted a few times as Rob was telling Colby how proud he was for being there for his mom. (Colby was making breakfast in bed for her that day. Also, Jenna was in the middle of what would turn into a very messy divorce from her husband who had been having an affair for years.) Then Colby sent THE message. “I wish I could make breakfast in bed for you on your day.”
Rob had always said he would never move to California and had many reasons as to why. But the moment that text came in, everything changed and he knew he had to go. A little while later, Rob contacted Jenna to let her know of his new plans to move out to California. They agreed that they would not tell Colby until it was a for sure thing. Colby was just finishing his freshmen year in high school.
Rob sat down and researched what it would take to move and how much he could generate to save and let Jenna know that it would probably be January or February in 2010 before he would be moving. But then, late in May, he got a notice from his apartment complex that his lease would be up at the end of July and if he was going to move out, he had to give them a 2 month notice. The options were to renew the lease for a year or go month to month at a higher rent. That is when Rob decided to make things a lot easier for him and less expensive. He started to sell or give away all of his furniture and belongings. By the end of July, he was down to what he could fit in his car and lived at friend’s houses for the month of August so he could complete the personal training client accounts he had remaining.
After telling Jenna the latest development and that there was a definite move date, he called Colby to tell him the news. It was in July around his 15th birthday. Rob told him that he was planning on coming down to California later that year and he asked Colby if he wanted him to stay a weekend, a few weeks or years. Colby’s response was, “Duh, a few years.” And when Rob told him that was the plan, Colby replied, “No way! You are kidding!”
On September 1st, Rob loaded up his VW Jetta and left Wisconsin. He drove to Chicago to have lunch with his brother, stopped a few days in Des Moines with his parents and then arrived in Thousand Oaks, CA on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Rob had planned on arriving on Sunday and so it was a great surprise to Colby as he arrived a day early.
Rob attended church with Colby and Jenna the next day and during the midweek service that Wednesday. But by the next Sunday, Rob wanted to keep “his independence” that he had developed back in college and decided not to go to church. That was the last time Rob missed church as God got a hold of Rob’s heart again.
Rob started spending as much time with Colby as possible. Colby played baseball and was in a fall league that was just starting. They played their games at a complex that was 45 minutes away. Rob and Jenna started to carpool to the games. This meant the 45 minutes to the game, the warm-up period, the game time, the clean up time and the 45 minutes back. All the time Rob was spending with Colby during the week to catch up plus the time involved for the games meant that Rob and Jenna started spending a lot of time together as well.
It wasn’t too long before Rob and Jenna started noticing things and were making up excuses to hang out, with or without Colby. There were dinners to “discuss” things about Colby. Then there was the day that Colby’s game was cancelled so Rob and Jenna decided to go on a hike. One Sunday morning, Rob sent a text to Jenna saying that he was looking forward to seeing her. She responded thinking that he meant to send it to someone else. Rob clarified that it was for her. Later that day, while at a baseball game waiting for them to start warm-ups, Jenna called Rob out on it and asked what was up.
Rob explained how he had thought he was going to be a bachelor for the rest of his life and he was good with that. But, now he was interested more in Jenna and wanted to date her. Jenna then laid it all out. She was a single mom of two boys. She had no time to mess around. She was an abstinence speaker and she wasn’t going to mess that up. She wanted to show a good example to her boys and if they were going to date, it would only work if they were going towards marriage and that they would save sex until that time. Rob agreed. That was October 11, 2009.
The following May, Rob proposed to Jenna and she said yes. They set the date for August 28, 2010. It worked out great since they had decided that Romans 8:28 was their verse so getting married on 8/28 was perfect.
A few months later, while attending a meeting with their pastor and other couples about starting home groups, Rob felt the call again to ministry. When he mentioned it to Jenna her response was, “I was waiting for you to say that.” They had never even talked about that before. When Rob called his dad to tell him, his response was, “I was waiting for you to say that.” (Just over 3 years later, Rob would be ordained as a pastor in his church.)
Over the first couple of years of marriage, Rob and Jenna realized that God had a plan for them. They started talking and praying about extending what Jenna did through the abstinence program at the pregnancy center and starting a purity ministry and what that would look like. Their daughter was born in March of 2012. When Jenna went in for her meeting with the center’s director about returning from maternity leave, she was going in to ask if she would be able to work from home. While in the meeting, the director asked her if she had ever thought about taking the abstinence program on its own. It was exactly the direction Rob and Jenna had been praying about.
Rob left his job as a personal trainer that fall and they officially launched Crossroads Club in May 2013. They continue to do the abstinence talks in the local high schools as well as helping other youth leaders by bringing their message of purity into their groups. Rob was also asked to lead the youth group at his church so he is able to network with the other leaders.
Rob and Jenna both desire to share their story with others in a greater capacity. They have a great hope in having the opportunity to share the incredible things God has done in their lives and the impossible made possible only by lives submitted to Him. It just isn’t about staying pure, but that God allows us to make decisions and choices on our own, yet His plan still will be accomplished. Both Rob and Jenna didn’t seek God as young adults, but rather chose to do things “their way” instead of God’s way. But God, being merciful and gracious, gave them opportunity and chances to return to Him. And when they did, He welcomed them with open arms and brought them back together.
In July of 2015, Colby got married to his college girlfriend. When Rob, as the officiant, told him that he could kiss his bride, it was the first kiss for both of them. Even though his parents didn’t wait for marriage, Colby made a decision when he was younger that he wanted to keep sex for marriage and even keep kissing for marriage as well. God honored that and brought him a wife who also had kept herself for marriage. Both Rob and Jenna’s story and Colby’s story go to show that your past or your family’s past does not have to dictate your future.
In 2015, through pray and waiting on the Lord Rob and Jenna were stirred to move to Colorado. They now reside in Colorado Springs, CO where they are looking to what is next.