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The PenaVegas: Growing in Faith

The PenaVega Family
Photo courtesy of the Penavega family
The PenaVegas grew in faith as their relationship progressed, and their shared love for God became a cornerstone of their marriage.

This guy is such a weirdo.

When Alexa Vega was introduced to Carlos Pena at a friend’s Bible study, she was not immediately smitten with the chatty guy who talked her ear off in the driveway. While both shared a similar history as child actors—Carlos in the popular Nickelodeon show “Big Time Rush,” and Alexa being most well-known for the Spy Kids movies—it wasn’t a professional connection that brought them together. It was a season of spiritual hunger.

Carlos, in his early 20s, was living in a mansion he and his father had renovated. He had money, success and adoring fans. But he knew something was missing. And while he tried to fill that void with cars, homes, girlfriends and marijuana, nothing satisfied him.

Carlos had noticed something different in the life of his friend and real estate agent, Andrew, that he admired. Andrew was generous, kind and consistent—he seemed to be at peace. Curious, Carlos asked Andrew what it was that made him so . . . different.

“Jesus,” Andrew answered, simply.

So when Andrew invited him to church that same week, Carlos agreed. And hearing God’s voice through the pastor that day, speaking directly to his heart, Carlos gave his life to Jesus.

Trusting God and trusting each other

Alexa, who’d battled an eating disorder throughout her life and had recently suffered a failed marriage, was also in a chaotic season. She’d been dating around and partying in ways she never had before. Alexa adored her work as an actress, but she was thirsty for purpose.

Her friend Andrew had invited her to a Bible study—that was the night she met Carlos. Though she’d always had a deep hunger for God, Alexa’s personal relationship with Jesus began through that Bible study.

The same week, Alexa invited Andrew to a party promoting the release of her new movie. Andrew asked if he could bring Carlos, and the evening marked the beginning of a friendship between Carlos and Alexa.

After they began dating, though, Carlos faced a financial challenge that tested his new faith. While Alexa suggested that they should pray about the situation, Carlos wrestled with the idea that God could help. Not yet mature in his faith, he didn’t understand why he was facing this obstacle when he’d been doing everything “right.”

One evening, as he was bemoaning his predicament to Alexa, Carlos complained, “I am so over this. I think I’m done with God.”

Alexa, a bit more seasoned, recognized that God was not the author of life’s troubles and that He actually accompanies us through these challenges.

“It’s not like God makes bad things happen to you,” she told Carlos. “That’s not who He is.”

Unable to see beyond his own predicament, Carlos dug his heels in, insisting that God had abandoned him.

“If you’re done with God,” Alexa eventually had to tell him, “I’m done with you.”

When Alexa said this, Carlos’ world began to collapse, and he even blamed God for the possibility that he might lose Alexa. Although he trusted that Alexa cared deeply for him, he saw that her faith was even more important to her than her relationship with him. When the two paused their relationship, Andrew started connecting more often with Carlos, helping him see a fuller picture of who God was in his life and in the world.

Two become one

Carlos and Alexa’s relationship eventually restarted, and each kept growing in faith.

“Go big or go home!” That was Carlos’ mission when he proposed to his beloved. He invited many family members and friends to go on a cruise, and he hosted a group dinner on the ship so that he could propose to Alexa in front of all of them.

“Alexa Vega, will you marry me?”

When Alexa said yes, through her tears, the room went wild as the couple’s loved ones screamed and clapped in celebration of their joy.

Those same family members and friends would join Alexa and Carlos for a lavish wedding celebration at a beach resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. But as the pair was planning for that event, they decided that they’d prefer a private ceremony before the big shindig with family and friends. So, on Christmas Eve, the pastor whose preaching had first inspired Carlos to commit his life to Jesus married the couple. The pastor’s wife was there, too, along with Andrew, the friend who introduced the couple to each other.

A few days later, as Carlos and Alexa headed toward the county courthouse to file their paperwork, the couple realized that they still hadn’t decided what legal names they’d use. Should they make their managers happy by keeping their last names, Pena and Vega, so that fans would continue to recognize them? When they approached the clerk to finalize the paperwork, they filled in their new names: Carlos and Alexa PenaVega.

Family life

Carlos and Alexa had both been raised in Latino families, among sisters and brothers they loved, and they knew they wanted kids of their own. Several years into their marriage, Carlos and Alexa welcomed Ocean King PenaVega into their family. He was soon joined by brother Kingston and sister Rio.

Grateful for one another’s strengths, each is quick to affirm the other.

Carlos brags that Alexa is a natural nurturer. She’s selfless. She’s an incredible mother. He calls her the family’s rock. And Alexa praises the way Carlos plans and provides for their family. He tosses the kids around in the pool before dinner, and he serves neighbors in his community.

Both Alexa and Carlos admit they’re very different people. He’s fiery and passionate, while she’s more grounded and even-keeled. He wants to be going and doing, while she’s more contemplative. And they’re convinced that those differences aren’t accidental. Where one is weak, the other offers support. They both recognize that they are better together and that those differences are the goodness God intends for marriage.

A love that satisfies

Today, the couple is committed to continuing to seek God’s plan for their marriage and family. At bed-time, before prayer together, the family sings a silly song that they made up. Then they “armor up” by donning the tools that helped Alexa conquer her eating disorder: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the readiness of the Gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:14-17). Finally, in unison, the family repeats an affirmation offered to them by a mentor of theirs:

  • I’m special.
  • I’m loved.
  • I’m worthy.
  • I’m not rejected.
  • I do matter on this earth.
  • I will do mighty things for Jesus.
  • I am the righteousness of God.

More than anything, Carlos and Alexa want their children to grow up knowing that God loves them. They want their kids to be kingdom people, loving and honoring God in whatever sphere of influence He calls them. Daily they ask God to help them be the parents they need to be for their kids.

As successful actors in Hollywood, both Carlos and Alexa had everything in life that promised to satisfy. For a season, each of them chased that kind of happiness. But together they found a love that truly satisfies. They’re living out that love in their home and in the world.

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