Homebuilder Heroes: Scott and Sue Allen
About the Guest
They were both married before and felt unfit for helping others with their marriages. Scott and Sue Allen participated in a few Weekend to Remember marriage conferences. Then they experienced The Art of Marriage video conference and were inspired to launch a full blown marriage ministry. They shared their story at a recent FamilyLife staff meeting.
Scott and Sue AllenScott and Sue Allen have been married for over twenty five years. They have three adult children and they reside near Dayton, Ohio. Scott is an executive at a technology company, and Sue is a homemaker. They are both active in their church, and together with the ministry team they've organized in their local church, they've impacted hundreds of lives using FamilyLife materials and events like The Art of Marriage®.
They were both married before and felt unfit to help others with their marriages. Scott and Sue Allen experienced The Art of Marriage and were inspired to launch a full-blown marriage ministry.
Homebuilder Heroes: Scott and Sue Allen
Bob: There was a significant turning point that took place in Sue and Scott Allen’s marriage. As she describes it, it’s when she and her husband participated in an Art of Marriage® video event.
Sue: The Art of Marriage was wonderfully done—very interactive. I think the way that I remember viewing it was—it infused hope into me. I was—it just opened up a whole new world for us, and it just began this pattern of us just opening up and being really honest and really vulnerable.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, July 4th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Scott and Sue Allen weren’t content just to have their own relationship strengthened by attending The Art of Marriage. They decided they wanted to reach out and help other people, too. We’ll hear their story today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition, and happy Fourth of July to those who are listening here in the United States of America.
Dennis: And what’s your favorite Fourth of July memory—either from the family you grew up in or from your own—you and Mary Ann and your 35 years of marriage?
Bob: Here’s my favorite Fourth of July memory: My dad bought fireworks, and we shot them off in the backyard of our house, which was—it was illegal to shoot off fireworks—
Dennis: In St. Louis.
Bob: —in the city limits in Glendale, Missouri, where we were. We had—and it was not a significant fireworks display. He was not—he was—
Dennis: He didn’t set any houses on fire in the neighborhood.
Bob: We were breaking the law, but we did not bring down anything. But I just remember—
Dennis: We won’t get into breaking the law. Let’s don’t talk about that.
Bob: —there was one firework that spun around, you know? You lit it, and it—
Bob: —like a pinwheel.
Bob: I just remember—
—when my dad lit it and ran away from it—the police sergeant in our community was Sergeant Donovan—and I just remember him saying, “Sergeant Donovan, here we come.” I don’t know why that sticks with me, but he lit the fireworks and called on the police. I guess you know—so, there we were breaking the law on the Fourth of July—Fourth of July! It’s our birthday—America’s birthday—and we’re just breaking laws right and left. [Laughter] That’s what I remember.
Dennis: Well, we were not breaking the law. We were on Table Rock Lake in Southwest Missouri setting off fireworks. There was nothing extraordinary that took place, but we had someone who had gifted us with a massive amount of fireworks display.
Dennis: I won’t get into all the details of it; but basically, one of their kids had stolen one of our kids’ watches. So, out of shame, guilt, and making restitution—
Bob: They gave you fireworks?
Dennis: They gave us the most massive amount of fireworks—
—our family ever enjoyed for the Fourth of July.
Bob: And you went out in the middle of the lake and shot them?
Dennis: No, no, we shot them off on a point overlooking Table Rock Lake—delightful evening. It didn’t cost me a penny. Of course, you might say it cost the price of that watch, though, too. So, anyway, happy Fourth of July, everyone.
Bob: Our listeners, today, are going to get a chance to meet a couple—and this is the kind of couple that you like. I mean when you run into a couple like this, it makes your day, doesn’t it?
Dennis: It does because I would rather see a couple who are in the marketplace—who are in business, work, education—a teacher—who is making a difference where they are planted, and they’ve got the vision of the Great Commission. They want to make an impact—change the world where they live. Scott and Sue Allen have done that.
Scott and Sue have been married for 24 years. They have three adult children: Josh, Jay, and Jessica. They live near Lebanon, Ohio, which is between Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio.
And Bob, they have made a huge impact in the Weekend to Remember® with HomeBuilders® groups, small group Bible studies, with The Art of Marriage. They’re difference makers because they are passionate about helping others build their homes, build their marriages and families according to God’s blueprints.
Bob: We meet couples like this from time to time who just have the heartbeat—that they hear about God’s design for marriage. They recognize how vital that is in a community, in a culture; and they say, “We’ve got to do something to help.” And whatever else they are doing in life—raising kids, doing their job, whatever else—they just say, “We’ve got to pitch in and try to make a difference in the lives of people in our community,” and they roll up their sleeves and get it done.
Dennis: As you listen to their story—what I want you to ask is “Could we do this?” Could we roll up our sleeves—maybe—
—not do as much as this couple has done, but keep in mind that they’ve done it over a number of years. But could you grab one of the tools that FamilyLife has—like The Art of Marriage, like Stepping Up®—maybe help with the Weekend to Remember, getting couples from your community to attend; or maybe bring—if you live near Chicago, Portland, or Washington, D.C., maybe bring a—
Bob: Bring a group.
Dennis: —a busload of couples to I Still Do™ and make an impact in their lives and their children’s lives for generations; but just ask the question, “Could we do that?” You know what? You never know how God might use you to impact a lot of people’s lives.
Bob: I had a chance to sit down with Scott and Sue and ask them some questions when they were at the FamilyLife headquarters a while back.
Dennis: Where was I, by the way? I wasn’t able to make this.
Bob: You were out of town, but the staff got together. So, we spent a little while talking to Scott and Sue about their involvement with FamilyLife—
—and how God’s been using them in Southern, Ohio.
Bob: You guys first got introduced to FamilyLife years ago, right?
Bob: So, tell us that story.
Scott: Well, we’d been married 23 years; and probably about two years after we got married, we went to our first Weekend to Remember. So, we’re looking at the early ‘90’s at that point.
Bob: Do you remember how you heard about it?
Scott: Probably through the church.
Scott: Probably through the church.
Bob: And Sue, two years into marriage, how were things going?
Sue: Things were going, actually, very well at that point. We were newlyweds, and I had a son from a previous marriage. So, at that point, there still weren’t very many issues; but things were going well.
Bob: Okay, so, blending a family, it was coming together okay. You guys were trying to make some progress in this marriage that hadn’t been there—because you’d been married prior—
Bob: —as well?
Scott: We’d both been married before, yes.
Bob: So, blending a family—
—and coming out of past marriages—some challenges there. Do you remember what stood out to you about the Weekend to Remember? Anything that was a take-home for you?
Scott: Well, I think it was just good principles that we were hearing then; and again, I think probably set some foundations that—communication and things like that that come up. We had two children fairly quickly after that. So, all of the sudden, we did have a blended family.
Bob: Got it. And do you remember anything that stood out? Any take-aways?
Sue: No, actually, it feels so long ago. I remember going because one of my great attractions to Scott was he was such a man of God. He asked me to go, and I wanted to go. I thought it was a good program; but you know I think we were so focused at that time on just being newly married and I honestly don’t remember a lot from that time.
Bob: Okay. Now, jump ahead twenty years, and you wound up back at a Weekend to Remember twenty years later.
Was this second time because of issues? What was going on, Scott?
Scott: No, we had gone through Prepare/Enrich, as ministry leaders at our church. Then, really, the Lord had been working with me and dealing with me to get me involved in marriage ministry. So, I was trying to bring Sue along. She wasn’t quite there yet, as far as a ministry focus. We were doing a lot of things inside the church and ministering in different ways.
Then, I guess early in the year of 2011, we did The Art of Marriage at our church; and our pastor was driving that initiative. So, from there, we decided to some classes outside of that. Then, that fall was when we went to the Weekend to Remember.
Bob: To the Weekend to Remember. You had been leading a Financial Peace University.
Bob: You’d been involved in ministry at the church, right?
Sue: Yes, absolutely, I was working with the teens a lot, and we were very ministry focused, but very much apart.
Bob: Weren’t doing it together.
Bob: What about the Prepare/Enrich? That really was a kind of a turning point for you, wasn’t it?
Scott: Yes, I think what we saw, then—and those who are familiar with Prepare/Enrich—we did the assessment. We came out of that as a “Conventional Couple.” So, good—but I think out of that we saw some things that—you know there were some improvements we could make, and some things probably came to the surface at that point. So, that was a prompting as well.
Bob: Did you go to Sue and say, “What do you think about us maybe doing something in the marriage area together?”
Scott: Yes. I had been really—I think months and maybe a year before—where the Lord was leading me—I felt a prompting to do that. So, I had asked her, and again, we were involved in a lot of other stuff, and I would say generally she didn’t feel released with the things that she was doing at the time.
Bob: Did it seem attractive to you at all, Sue? I mean did you think, “I might like to do that?”
Sue: Well, actually, I felt like I was kind of hiding behind my other ministry involvement.
When the pastor asked us to take the Prepare/Enrich assessment, I was actually a little resentful. I didn’t want to do that. I felt like I brought a lot of things into the marriage myself. So, I went a lot to isolation, and I wasn’t really surprised where we landed.
Actually, I remember the day I was answering the questions on the computer, I felt bitter—you know—even answering the questions to assessment; but I did it because he’s always stretching me and God is always stretching me. I’m thankful for both; but when he would ask me about the ministry, I just thought, “No.” I felt like I had a lot inside that he didn’t know about—
Sue: —not that he didn’t strive, because he always wanted to help me along, but I just felt like there were so many things that he didn’t know about me. [Laughter] And so, I just thought, “No, we can’t help others.”
“How can we help others?”—I thought we had a good marriage, but I didn’t think it could get better.
Bob: Sounds to me like what you are saying was that there was a part of your life and your marriage that was kind of managed and corded off; and you wanted to keep it that way.
Bob: You were a little concerned that doing marriage ministry might crack open the door on some of that stuff, and you just wanted to keep it hermetically sealed, right?
Bob: You know it’s interesting. Jeff Kemp who is on our team and who was here yesterday was watching the ESPY Awards recently. He said, “Robin Roberts was on the ESPY Awards, and she was telling these athletes that her mom had told her when she was growing up, ‘You need to make your mess, your message.’” And I thought, “That’s a big part of what we try to tell folks”—because let’s be honest, we’ve all got messes, right?
Bob: I’ve been thinking I’d like to design a bumper sticker for our church that says, “The people at our church are messed up.”
Then, underneath it says, “And I fit right in.”
Bob: You know? Because the reality is that’s who we all—we’ve all got messes; but we’d like to just keep that corded off so that nobody has to know it, deal with it, think less of us because we messed up. But the reality is when our messes become our message, God goes to work, doesn’t He?
Bob: You attended The Art of Marriage just as attendees?
Bob: What did you think?
Scott: Well, it was great. I mean our marriage is wonderful, and we had offered during that weekend to take a small group and do some discussion to that—which we did. So, it was—again, probably, one of those good moments for us that it did open up some things.
I think after we did a small group at our house from The Art of Marriage—right after, that event that weekend, I think in discussions with other small groups—
—Sue had said—all of the sudden, she’d figured out that it wasn’t just her issues; it was a gender issue. So, it opened up some of those things in her, and I think that was part of our progress in really making our marriage from—I’d say—“good” to a “great.”
Bob: Sue, when you went through The Art of Marriage was that intimidating to you—just to go to The Art of Marriage session?
Sue: No, it wasn’t because our church is like a second home, and we’re very involved. So, that wasn’t at all intimidating; but The Art of Marriage was wonderfully done—very interactive. I think the way that I remembered viewing it was—it infused hope into me. I listened to those stories, and I thought, “We could have more.”
Bob: When you had a group starting to come over to your house for discussion after that, was that scary for you?
Sue: No, again, we’re very used to leading lots of groups and doing that type of thing. So, that wasn’t scary, and sometimes, I get to hide behind being a leader—
Bob: Yes. [Laughter]
—but this time, it was very revealing to me. It just opened up a whole new world for us. I was shocked when I heard these men sharing how they felt about certain issues. All of the sudden, it just dawned on me that this isn’t like something that just Scott says. They were being very real and very vulnerable, and I would hear the women share. So, it just began this pattern of us just opening up and being really honest and really vulnerable.
Bob: Now, I want to set a timeframe for all of this because you went to The Art of Marriage in the fall of 2011, right?
Scott: We went to The Art of Marriage in February of 2011, yes.
Bob: So, it was the kickoff weekend.
Bob: It was when it first came out. You started a group after that—
Bob: —and then, you kind of kept the group going. You started going through HomeBuilders Couple Series—
Scott: Right. Between that February—it was Valentine’s weekend—
Scott: —was when we did The Art of Marriage. So, by fall, we had done a couple of HomeBuilders. We’d done an Art of Marriage follow-up in our house. She had a sense—I think sensed some momentum and maybe some leading—certainly leading from the Lord, as I had. So, then, we started embracing—I would say—doing classes and offering classes at church as well as in our home.
Bob: Started to warm up to this marriage ministry idea?
Sue: I did. It’s amazing the way the Lord works because Scott likes to dive into everything—[Laughter]
Sue: —and I’m like, “I’m going to stick my toe in.” And if you just look at the timing—I mean He knew what it would take for me.
A big thing for me is a lot of my life I’ve believed lies, and I think that became my passion—was that I want other women to see that there is more, that you can be open and honest with your husband, and that above all—
—I think what I just found out that it was like, “It’s not about me getting what I want out of my marriage,” but the whole message of you are serving God in your marriage.” That was new for me.
Bob: I think we have eight HomeBuilders studies—eight different titles. Have you done all of them since—
Scott: We’ve done them all—more than once.
Bob: —since 2011?
Scott: Yes, we’ve done the—we did The Smart Stepfamily twice. We’ve done all the HomeBuilders at least once—several—I think we’ve done communications, three different times.
Bob: Yes. Are you getting it yet? [Laughter] I mean, is it starting to dawn?
Sue: We’re still practicing—[Laughter]
Scott: Fourth times a charm. No, it’s really part of our offerings. We’re committed, really, as a team of our church—and we’ve got a marriage ministry team now that we have an ongoing class that married folk can come to.
Bob: So, eight HomeBuilders. You’ve done two Smart Stepfamily.
Tell me about that experience because you guys are a stepfamily. Tell me about the materials.
Sue: Oh my goodness! My son from my first marriage is 27 now—and I remember thinking, “This would be good for us to have under our belt to help other married couples;” but I didn’t think it was going to impact me. But what I remember from watching—because we watched it first before we presented it to others.
Bob: Yes, this is the DVD series.
Sue: Yes, the DVD series. I just remember such a healing taking place because Ron gives a message that you are not a second-class citizen; and I had received that message from a pastor. The redeeming message that he gives in the DVD series was phenomenal. Then, just the whole experience, for us, was “Oh my goodness! If we had only had this material….”
Bob: Yes. I’d like to go to your church. I mean there has got to be great stuff happening.
Couples at your church have got to know, “This is a church that cares about marriage.”
Scott: That’s right. We’ve got such a supportive staff. Our pastor has been behind us 100% and gives us a lot of free reign, if you will, to do a lot of things. The Valentine’s weekend, it’s a marriage emphasis weekend. He is very supportive; and yes, there are still things happening in our church, and we’re just going to keep plugging along and keep offering the classes and really doing what we feel like God has called us to do.
Bob: Well, we want to know if you have relatives. We would like to see—we’d like to see more Scotts and Sues happening all around the country.
Sue: Well, we will be doing a marriage ministry summit in the coming summer for trying to help other churches just—not really saying that we know the answer, that we have it all together. That’s not at all what we’re saying; but we want to share the story, and hopefully, help other churches—because we’ve had people come from other churches saying that they would hope to have a marriage ministry.
Bob: Wouldn’t it be cool if every church had a Scott and Sue in the church, huh? [Clapping]
I think the message that we want to make sure everybody gets today is—no offense—you guys are nothing special, okay?
Bob: And I mean that with all respect. You’re a husband and wife who have not done it perfectly—
Bob: —made some mistakes—
Bob: —learned from your mistakes; but you care about helping other people, and you’ve seen God use you in helping other people. I know it’s got to be gratifying when you hear a story of a couple who say, “You know you really helped us through this. I’m not sure we’d still be married today if it weren’t for the work you guys have done.” That’s got to feel good.
Scott: It’s very, very rewarding. You know what I think we’ve found is not only helping others; but through this, we’ve, obviously, helped our marriage. We did the Prepare/Enrich assessment about a year later—
—after we had taken it the first time; and we scored as a “Vitalized Couple.” So, going through and building into your own marriage, as well as helping out others, it’s paying off for us too, Bob. [Laughter]
Bob: Cool. Would you guys thank Scott and Sue Allen? [Clapping]
Bob: Well, again, listened back to a conversation that we had recently with Scott and Sue Allen; and you know the last point that Scott made there about how when you reach out to help others—has a way of coming back and paying dividends in your own family, in your own marriage, your own relationship. We’ve heard that over and over again.
Dennis: Yes. And it’s really the same picture we have in the Gospel of John where the woman at the well meets Jesus; and as a result of meeting Christ and Him changing her life, she went and got the whole city. She went and got the entire town to—
—find out who touched this woman’s life who had had half a dozen husbands. As a result, they came out to hear the claims of Christ and to meet the person who truly does transform human lives.
My challenge is the same one I gave you at the beginning of the broadcast: Why not you? Why can’t you be a messenger, a conduit—like the woman at the well—and be used by God to touch your neighborhood; maybe the community around your church; maybe your entire, little town or community?
God can use broken people to get His message to a lot of hurting people today. And we need you to stand firm in this day and age. I think it’s the key, Bob, to seeing families restored according to God’s Word and God’s blueprints.
Bob: As you said, “Not everybody is going to do as much as Scott and Sue have done,” but it may be as simple as calling another couple you know and saying, “Why don’t you join us at the I Still Do”—
—“one-day marriage celebration in Chicago or Portland or Washington, D.C.?” Or “Why don’t I talk to the church and see if they can host the simulcast for I Still Do in October?” Or “Why don’t we go to a Weekend to Remember together?”
Or it may be that you get resources like The Art of Marriage—get the small group study and take three or four couples through the small group study with you.
Dennis: Piece of cake to be able to lead it. It’s all done for you. The quality of the videos will spark all kinds of conversations. I promise you people today want to get together and talk about meaningful things.
Bob: Or get a group of guys and go through the Stepping Up series for men. It’s a ten-week series that one guy can take three or four guys through; or you can get fathers and sons and go through the material together.
You have to decide what your capacity is, what your passion is, and where you want to direct it. But I think the point we are trying to make today is “We can help. We’re here to help.” Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com—
—and click on the link that you see at the top that says, “GO DEEPER.” You’ll see information about some of the resources we have available and how you can connect with FamilyLife and get involved in ministry in your community and make a difference in your community.
Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click on the link at the top of the page that says, “GO DEEPER,” and find the resources that we have available.
And let me just say a word of thanks to the folks who make FamilyLife Today possible—those of you who donate and support this ministry. We appreciate your partnership with us.
Dennis: We sure do. Thank you for standing with us. In fact, when you give to FamilyLife, what you are doing is you’re making ministries like the Weekend to Remember, like I Still Do, The Art of Marriage, Stepping Up—you’re making ministries like that possible for others to benefit from. So, your support is really, really important in FamilyLife continuing to create these tools and see God transform lives.
Bob: We appreciate your partnership with us, and you can make a donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Just click the link that says, “I CARE,” and make an online donation. Again, we appreciate your support.
And we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. Shaunti Feldhahn is going to be here, and we’re going to talk about marriage; but we’re going to talk about the good news about marriage—and there is a lot more good news related to marriage than most people realize. So, hope you can tune in Monday.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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