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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Finding One's Treasure at Home

By Ann Floyd
Feb. 9, 2014

C.J. and Monica Shuler pore over marriage materials as they sit in Brighton (Mo.) Assembly of God’s coffee shop. They are looking forward to their remarriage on March 20, 2013, and they want to make sure their renewed commitment lasts.

Both are candid about what went wrong after their first wedding took place on March 20, 2004, at Fair Play (Mo.) AG.

High school sweethearts, the Shulers married before they were really mature enough to handle the demands of a lifelong relationship. As well, they were mismatched spiritually. Monica was raised in an Assemblies of God church; C.J. admits his commitment to Christ was nominal at best.

“I was in attack mode with C.J.,” Monica admits. “I wanted him to take spiritual leadership in our home. When he didn’t go to church, I became angry. It became a huge issue.”

As years passed, stresses multiplied: C.J. working nights; Monica being a full-time college student; two babies arriving 17 months apart; remodeling their home.

“She didn’t realize how hard it was to hang a 4-by-8 piece of Sheetrock alone,” C.J. says. He can laugh about it now.

Monica adds, sadly, “Then texting got involved.”

C.J. says of the extramarital relationship that began online: “It was with a former girlfriend. It went on for 6 months without Monica knowing about it. Obviously, she reacted.”

Meanwhile, daughter and son Ilandria and Connor didn’t grasp all that was going on — only that Mommy and Daddy were mad at each other, and Daddy had moved out.

When C.J. filed for divorce, Monica was “heartbroken,” she says. “It took me a long time to forgive C.J. I was bitter and didn’t understand why this happened.”

The Shulers separated in January 2010, with court proceedings through much of the year. The divorce was final on Dec. 22.

The turnaround in their relationship began through additional heartache.

When C.J.’s mom passed away in 2011, Monica says she wanted to be there for C.J. A television evangelist spoke of the Prodigal Son in a message that resonated in Monica’s spirit.

“The evangelist said, ‘A spouse wants to be free and go out to live a certain lifestyle, but it’s not what they hoped it would be. And when they come home, right beneath their nose, they find their treasure,’” Monica says. “I started giving C.J. Scripture verses and trying to support him.”

She would tell C.J. when he visited, “You belong here. This is your home.”

For a time, Monica wondered if she was being too understanding, as C.J. chose to remain in a relationship with someone else for several months longer.

During Monica’s questioning process, C.J. came to church on her birthday in July 2012, where he experienced what she calls “a little awakening from the Lord.”

“Losing my mom, I realized how important family is,” C.J. remembers.

The Shulers were becoming a family again.

“Being the spiritual leader is difficult,” C.J. admits, “but I realized I was going to have to do it.”

He credits Pastor Jim Johnson, who performed the remarriage ceremony, and the men of Brighton AG (known as The M.O.B) for helping him in his continuing journey as a twice-married father and husband.

“Communication between spouses is very important,” C.J. insists. “Tell your feelings; don’t go to someone else. And be willing to forgive. We wouldn’t be together today if Monica had not forgiven me.”

Monica says younger couples need to go through more intensive marriage counseling to deal with their personal challenges before they marry.

“Strife was in my home as I was growing up, and it carried over in my home,” she says.

Today C.J. and Monica are involved as Royal Rangers leaders, mentoring elementary and teen boys in the Assemblies of God outdoors-oriented ministry.

Looking back on their own rocky past, and on God’s powerful intervention in their marriage and parenting journey, the Shulers want to ensure the next generation of young adults learns how to avoid the same pitfalls in future relationships.

The key to a vibrant marriage and family, C.J. and Monica insist, is having that intimate relationship with Jesus Christ that is now the hallmark of their marriage.

ANN FLOYD retired after more than 20 years on the Pentecostal Evangel staff. She lives in Springfield, Mo., and attends Brighton AG with the Shuler family.


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