January 19, 2002 was a freezing cold and rainy day. I would have never chosen January for my wedding but we just could not have 'made it' if we waited 'till Spring. ;)
Let's back up 6 months from this date....
I had just moved to Chattanooga with a pharmaceutical sales job and did not know a soul. I was scared about starting my new job and living alone in a city where I knew no one but I was so thankful for the doors God had opened and for my new job. I was 24 years old.
I started visiting a Church where I met my first friend, Valerie. We became the best of friends (as does anyone who meets her). She told me about a guy she knew who would be perfect for me and that he was a cute dentist. I told her I was not interested because I didn't date.
back up again 3 more years...
I was engaged to the wrong person. A person I had chosen, not God. We were obviously not right for one another but I was in so deep, it was hard to get out. I had given so much of my heart away, it seemed like death to break it off. We had gotten into a huge fight and I was crying on the beach one night. I was crying out to the Lord and asking Him for help. In a rare moment in my relationship with God, in my heart, the Lord clearly spoke to me.
"I have a husband for you if you would just trust me.
You have no idea what I have prepared for you.
'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what
God has prepared for those who love him.' 1 Corinthians 2:9"
Shockingly, this was NOT what I wanted to hear at the time.
I looked up into the heavens and angrily said,
"I don't want what you want, I WANT WHAT I WANT!".
I shudder remembering those words. How foolish could I possibly have been?
A few months later, that relationship ended (as I kicked and screamed) but those words from God were embedded into my heart forever.
I left to go to Austria to study the Word of God at a Bible College in a castle while Jesus put the pieces of my heart back together and proved to me that He loved me more than any man on earth ever would.
Fast forward 2 years...
I was at a Tommy Nelson Song of Solomon conference where he discussed waiting on your husband or wife and encouraged us to make a list of things we desired in a mate. Spiritual things, Emotional things, Physical things. I went to an ice cream shop with my friend, Crystal and we made our lists. This list wasn't like a Christmas list, it was simply the desires of my heart and a spiritual standard that I didn't want to compromise on. I kept that list in my Bible and waited for God to drop my husband out of the sky because I didn't want to date. I knew God had a husband for me. I just had to wait and pray.
Now, back to Chattanooga a year later... It has now been 2 weeks since I moved to Chattanooga. I am actually enjoying being single and learning my new job. Valerie and I hang out a lot on the weekends and she continues to tell me about this guy who is perfect for me and who I have to meet.
Little did I know, she had a dental appointment in Tim's office that week when she tells him about 'a girl he has to meet'. Trusting Val's intuition, he said..."where can I meet her?".
That Sunday, I walked into Church. I remember the morning sun shining in the windows and landing on a VERY cute guy singing praise music. I thought, "he is cute. I am sure he is married." After the service, Val walked up with Tim winked, and said, "There is someone I want you to meet...
Tim this is Steph, Steph this is Tim."
We went to lunch. I thought there must be something drastically wrong with him for him not to be married at 28. I searched to find it. A nervous twitch, a chemical imbalance... there has to be something wrong with him.
He started coming to our Church more often and would ask me to go out to eat afterwards. We would go and I would scrutinize his every move. The more I got to know him, the more I remembered the things I had written on that list. A desire of my heart was to marry someone who could play the guitar so we could sing worship music wherever and whenever-
He would talk about playing the guitar while we ate dinner. I would blow it off thinking... lots of guys play the guitar. AND it didn't really matter anyway because there was one thing on my list that was impossible. I never believed it to be possible but I wrote it on my list anyway...
for my husband to have remained pure until our wedding day.
We went mountain bike riding one sunny afternoon. I was starting to like him. He made me laugh and he was very cute but I was still unsure of him and needed God's confirmation to move forward in this relationship. He was riding in front of me when I said, "What has been your biggest struggle in your walk with the Lord?" (yep, I really asked him these kinds of questions) .. he said, "that's easy... staying pure until I get married". I just about fell off my bike but didn't say a word. I heard the leaves crackle under my bike wheels as my stomach dropped.
We were at his house a couple of weeks later and out in the driveway. We were both falling in love. I was still hesitant though because I knew God had a specific plan for me in marriage and I didn't want to mess that up. I needed to know this was the guy God had spoken of that night on the beach. I kept wanting to run away because I was so afraid of getting my heart broken again. I was very difficult and know that it must have only been the Holy Spirit that allowed Tim to fall in love with me. I am so thankful for what I call Holy Spirit #9. It blinds people. ;)
That night, we knelt in Tim's driveway and asked God to show us whether He was in this relationship. I asked him to confirm it so we could move forward with His blessing. I asked God to give me a love for Tim from HIM that I would never doubt. He answered that prayer. We knew at that moment that God was in this and that it was bigger than us.
Tim wanted me to meet his parents so we drove to Michigan. His dad is a pastor and has dedicated his life to discipling men and leading them closer to Christ. They are AMAZING people. Another blessing I could never dreamed or imagined- to have such sweet in-laws.
His parents gave us their blessing after our weekend together. We stopped on the drive home and Tim proposed somewhere in Kentucky.
This had all happened in 3 months. We were married 3 months later.
We have now been married 7 years.
We have had much hardship but more laughter.
We have had 3 babies and I wish we had more.
To hear Tim pray over me at night and watch
him read his Bible in the morning still melts my heart.
To see him play with our sons... simply amazing.
To go on a date with him tonight... um, yeah.. still breathtaking.
I never knew love like this existed.
I am specifically praying for my single friends today. I hope this encouraged you to wait on the Lord. To tell him the desires of your heart and to run your race hard until God brings you your husband. Also, remember Who our ultimate husband is and always will be...
"for your Creator will be your husband. The LORD Almighty is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth. " Isaiah 54:5
The first words spoken at our wedding...
"Taste and see that the LORD is good.
Blessed is the man who trusts in him!"
p.s. One of my favorite things about the picture on top is my dad's face.
You can click on it and make it bigger to see his smile through the rose petals.
I love my dad.
p.s.s Another thing I wanted to say is that if you are struggling in marriage, God can redeem it. He can resurrect it if it is dead. If you allow Him to be in control of your lives and marriage, be prepared to be blessed. Pray for your spouse and never give up in prayer.
Jesus breathes His LIFE into dead things. He can create beauty from ashes.
Surrender your marriage to Him.