Love Doesn’t Give Up: My Interview with Ian & Larissa

In Uncategorized by Debra Fileta

Hey friends! I’m so excited to share my interview with Ian & Larissa on the blog. If you don’t know anything about their story, here’s a quick summary:

“They met in college and fell in love. They talked about getting married, and he started looking for a ring. They dreamed about life together, a life of beauty and joy, raising babies and laughing with friends and growing old. They did not imagine a car accident. They did not imagine his brain injury. They did not dream about the need for constant care and a wheelchair and fear that food might choke him.  And they could not have imagined how persistent love would be. Theirs and God’s.”

I received an advanced copy of their book, Eight Twenty Eight, and I couldn’t put it down. It challenged my perspective of God, but more importantly, it deepened my love for Him. Their love story is a reminder that no matter what challenges we’re facing, God is so incredibly good. I hope you enjoy the interview, and I encourage you to pick up a copy of their book that just came out. We’re also giving away 2 free copies of their book! Just leave a comment below for a chance to win! I’ll announce the winners by the week’s end! – Love, Deb

In 2012, a video of your story released that went viral on the internet? Tell us about the response. 

We were absolutely blown away by the response. We had no idea what to expect, and neither did the ministry who created the video. Nearly as soon as it was released, our email and blog were exploding with comments as the video gained thousands of views. People from all over the world were viewing and sharing – it was overwhelming.

Your book has been so inspirational to read, and has given me so much perspective in dealing with my own hard times. What made you want to share your story in such a real and raw way?

I think that’s the only way to share. It’s scary, to show that much of my heart, but over the years writing on our blog, the most raw and honest posts seem to encourage our readers the most. Once I sat down to start working on our book, that’s just what came out – I think I had become accustomed to writing with that honesty. We want God to use our story to help people, especially those that are in similar situations, and honesty is what speaks to them the most.

You titled the book Eight Twenty Eight. What does that mean? 

Eight Twenty Eight is threefold for us: Ian’s dad was born on August 28. He died the year before our wedding, before we were even engaged, but he is at the core of our story – for Ian individually and us as a couple. As we were wedding planning, we realized that August 28 fell on a Saturday, which meant it was the perfect day for our wedding. Eight Twenty Eight also references a scripture that has been very meaningful to us, Romans 8:28.

What scriptures do you cling to during hard times?

I spent a lot of time in the Psalms. David’s honesty, questions, and praise felt very familiar to what I was battling in my own heart. And David always saw the truth – that’s where I need to land, even when I’ve been wavering.

Was there anyone in the family or friends who didn’t think getting married was a good idea?

We’re sure there were people who thought that, but not those closest to us. Those that loved us did ask the hard questions, to make sure we weren’t feeling forced because of the attention our story had drawn, but that was out of care, not condemnation or judgment.

We see so much uniqueness in your relationship, but in what ways is your marriage, “just like everyone else?”

We think that we have the same heart issues as a “normal” marriage, they’re just brought out in different circumstances. Communication can be challenging because I may say something, but mean something entirely different. Or Ian may say something to be a joke, but I take it personally.

We struggle with putting each other’s interests first, and agreeing on how to approach big decisions.

Ian would have sex all the time. I prefer napping. We’re pretty normal:)

You write about a board of gratefulness in your house. Tell us about how it came about and what it does for you two? 

It actually arose from a book that Larissa read which struck into very deep places in her heart. Gratefulness needed to be in the every day because the every day is so very challenging. The gratefulness board came to mind while sitting around with the Murphy family. Someone had a spare corkboard at their house. We had spare fabric. And Ian’s mom had post-it notes. So within a few hours, our wall was ready for our notes. And every guest that came in our home needed to add to our wall. We also just started a board of gratefulness on our website, All you need to do is share on social media and tag #ianandlarissa or #eighttwentyeight

How are you two doing today? What challenges do you have today? What triumphs?

Ian’s challenges are that he wakes up every day and faces sin and a disability. A double whammy! This year, he had a major surgery on his femur to allow him to hopefully walk independently. He is currently in rehab after being non-weight bearing for three months, and is working hard every day. He also sells paintings to pay for his therapy and medical needs. Larissa’s challenges are having energy for all that the day entails, working full-time, being Ian’s wifey, and continuing to be the voice for their story.

Our triumphs are Ian’s progress in walking. Becoming new homeowners. That we’re still in love. And most importantly, that we still believe that God is good.

What have you learned about love?

Ian has learned that having someone there to love him makes all the difference, because love is able to lift him up when his life is feeling low. Larissa has learned that love doesn’t give up, when it is dependent on God.

The message of True Love Dates is that we’ve got to allow God to make us healthy and whole emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually, as the first step in finding true love: how has that looked in your life?

Nearly more than anything, Ian’s accident and subsequent brain injury have taught me that my completeness is only found in Christ. When Ian had his health, I was so wrapped into him, so dependent on him, that I was more focused on our relationship than my personal relationship with God. Only when Ian was “removed” from me, in a sense for a period of time, did I really learn how much I had placed on him instead of God.

I wouldn’t have chosen to learn it this way – but God worked it together for my good, and Ian’s as well. I’m able to be a happier wife because of it.

What advice would you give young couples preparing for marriage? OR What advice would you give those who are facing a tragedy in their own lives?

For young couples, Ian says to always keep the other person’s interest at heart. Larissa says to get ready for a crazy ride – highs and lows that are completely worth it. For those facing tragedy – keep on, keeping on; there are much better things after this life.

How can we be praying for you?

We’re always so encouraged and humbled by this request. Ian will be starting to rehab on his leg, with the hopes of walking independently, and we would love prayers for that. His life will TOTALLY change if he is able to walk!

We also just need to continue to have tenderness toward and enjoyment for one another.