God’s timing

The Back Story

In writing, there is a term called the “Back-story.” The back-story is simply “background information about a real person or thing that wrtpromotes fuller understanding of it.”

 

As believers, our back-story, in many cases, becomes the cornerstone of our testimony.  Our back story begins with who we were before Christ- lost, blinded, desperate, needy, and dying. Added to that is the defining and life changing moment in time when we experienced merciful and gracious intervention. The day the Healer of our souls opened our eyes and heart  to our desperate need of a Savior. Our back story is the moment He allowed us to see we stood wanton and condemned before the awful and awesome Holy God of Eternity. Our back story was when Glory intervened among depraved humanity, revealing. condemning, ransoming, delivering, and Saving us so we could be who we were created, called, and  destined to become.

 

Unlike fictional work, our back-story is unique in that it is ongoing and will never be complete until Christ returns. At the end of every day, we have actively lived and experienced countless moments that bare witness of a faithful and glorious God actively at work among us. Our back story builds and swells ever moment of our lives, paving the way for the next.

 

Lamentation 3:19-27 says:

19I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

 

What an eloquent summary of the back-story of every believer!

 

At night, when my head hits the pillow, I can and must reflect upon the back-story of the day. It is during these quiet periods of reflection that I am able to see quite possibly what my physical eyes missed during the chaotic moments of the day. For, every second I drew a breath, He was miraculously and glorious present in my life.

 

buildEvery moment of Divine intervention, grace, strength, joy, sorrow, suffering, and Victory, yet another row of “faith” bricks are laid. Each day’s faith bricks building upon the last, and not one line of my story takes place without His presence. He is there holding my life, my back-story, and my life story together. Within the Divine mortar that affirms, confirms, and establishes my life, the King and glorious Creator of the universe takes pleasure in weaving His presence and glory into my meager story, making it His own!

 

This amazing Montage of the Divine intertwined among raw, needy humanity shines more brilliant than the most beautiful of sunsets. Daily, and faithfully He builds, what human eyes can not fathom. Day by day He builds what makes the unseen heart soar and rise above circumstance and sorrow. Brick upon brick, story upon story, faithfulness that binds, grace that transforms, lives consumed by the glory of His love.

 

And from among the ash and the chaos of life His glorious church is built. The many become one. A mysterious and unified body. A million voices crying out in perfect, haunting harmony. Each back story confirming and testifying with the next. A unanimous, faithful, consistent symphony, building upon the every note that swells from hearts overflowing with Divine Grace. No one story rising above another’s, for every story proclaims equally and  gloriously the Sovereign Reign of a Holy God.  And as our voices join with those “Graced” in the past, we beckon and testify to those who struggle tomorrow that He Is, He Was and He will forever be. Those who “know” and have experienced, call out to those yet suffering among the ashes of sorrow, pain, heartache and failure. To these we cry “Lift up your head, He lives, He breathes, and He is here among you. He sits with you among the ashes, He understands your fear, He feels your pain, and He has an answer to the questions you falter to ask”  Our back-story becomes the hiding place for those so broken, battered, and weary they can’t see him though their pain.

 

What is my back-story, you might ask?

 

broken heart He loved me enough to expose the hidden sins of my heart. He cared about the things others couldn’t see, seizing the opportunity sin meant to use for my destruction and instead  used it as an opportunity to lavish upon me His glorious grace.  When I was wounded by the sinful hearts of others, He whispered I am here, I am in control, and it is your heart I will make new. Though I did not understand it then, I see now that He smote me, not to destroy, but to restore. He broke me beyond what man could repair and then He repaired my spirit, soul, and heart in a way only the God of the Universe could. He replaced ashes with Beauty, sorrow for Joy, turmoil with Peace, Anger with Gentleness. Though I was blind, now I see, and what was dead, He brought back to life. Oh look at my life and you will see Him there. Oh to be able to adequately convey what He has put to death in my heart and life.  If only you could see the ugliness and depravity His Spirit works diligently and skillfully to cut away.  He has gloriously replaced a hopeless future, with His glorious Hope!

 

This is my back-story and this is His glory!

 

What is your back-story?

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A to Z: Y is for Yahweh

Y is for:

Yahweh

I would like to share an article written by Betsy Childs. As we celebrate the Sabbath and Worship the God that Is, Was, and will Be savor and glory in who He is and what he has done for you. Hallelujah, to God be the Glory!!!

Hallelujah!

By Betsy Childs

This name was precious to the people of Israel, and God proved the truth of his name over and over. He saved his people by delivering them from the Egyptians and bringing them through the Red Sea. He sustained them through forty years in the wilderness, saving them by giving them manna, quail, and water from the rock. He delivered the Promised Land into their hands, destroying their enemies. Even in times of Israel’s rebellion, God mercifully sent his prophets to call them back and remind them of his name. The prophets also called the Israelites to look ahead, for someday God would bring them salvation in the form of the promised Messiah.

The Incarnation of Jesus Christ brings even more meaning to the name Yahweh. God not only showed himself present by being on Israel’s side and remembering her cause, He actually became physically present. Jesus was present not merely to empathize with us; he came to accomplish our salvation. It is quite possible that several times Jesus intentionally identifies himself with Yahweh, such as when Jesus told his questioners, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58). The significance of Jesus using the phrase “I am” would not have been lost on his Jewish listeners. Jesus was the fulfillment and ultimate confirmation of God’s name. As Elmer Martens summarizes, “The name [Yahweh] is anything but empty. The name carries overtones of presence, salvation defined as deliverance and blessing, covenantal bondedness, and integrity.”

When we sing the word “Hallelujah,” it is a reminder that we serve the God who revealed himself to Moses and led his people by a pillar of fire. We praise the God who revealed his plan through the prophets. We exalt a God who did not hide Himself from us, but revealed to us his name. This God even walked among us, and through a painful, humiliating death, He accomplished our salvation.

But the word “Hallelujah” should not only cause us to look back on what God has done; it also urges us to look forward. The apostle John reveals to us that this word will be used in heaven. He writes, “After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God….’ And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, ‘Amen. Hallelujah!’”(Rev. 19:1,4, ESV).

Every time we sing “Hallelujah,” we are preparing ourselves for an eternity of praising Yahweh. We can be reminded that God will finish the salvation he has started. All heaven and earth will witness the salvation of the Lord and the vindication of his name. God has demonstrated his saving presence in the past, and He will demonstrate it again when Jesus returns in glory.

A to Z: S is for Overcoming the Challenges of Single Life

S is for Single

Overcoming the challenges of Single life

When I was 28, I could recall a number of vividly painful moments when the world around me seemed to flaunt the relationships and opportunities I yearned for yet had not experienced. I would like to suggest a valuable piece of advice for those of you with single friends.There are certain times you should avoid telling a single woman she should enjoy her freedom and take advantage of all the amazing opportunities she has been given because she is single. Avoid these obvious nuggets of wisdom on valentine’s day, weddings of siblings or close friends, major holidays, or when 90% of her friends have just left for a special “couples only” retreat. If you are brave enough to do so, be sure to protect your face while bracing for the dreaded “Hairy eyeball” because it is coming!


Myth: I am Lonely because something is missing from my life.


For years, I dutifully attempted to exploit the benefits of “single awareness day.” Honestly, I did enjoy my freedom but many days loneliness and uncertainty pushed my faith to the edge. An entry from my journal describes the emotional battle I engaged in so frequently as a single woman.


8/27/00
“Life is so very interesting & complicated. Each day becomes a painful mirror into the imperfections and weakness of body and spirit…. sometimes I struggle so violently to cross over from knowledge to experience.” 


Crossing over

If you are single, how do you cross over? How do you transform your desires and emotions  so that they line up with what you profess to believe? As I walked through life, seeking God’s peace and direction, I discovered a truth that empowered me to cross from knowledge to experience. The key was found in my understanding of God’s name and nature.


The more time I spent in His word and in His presence, the more clearly I began to understanding that my single status did not interfere with His love for me or His desires for my life. Being single didn’t mean I was waiting for God’s best. God’s ultimate plan for my fulfillment and happiness wasn’t a gift that would be handed to me on my wedding day. Every new day of life I was given, whether single or married, would be filled with all the goodness and love God could give me. His offering of grace, mercy, peace, and love was the same to every one of His children. Our Heavenly Father does not withhold love.My marital status didn’t need to change in order to obtain purpose, peace, and happiness but my perspective did.


The Truth of the Matter

If it is impossible for God to lie, then I can cling to any promise of truth I find about himself in scripture. This brings me to how I overcame the feeling that I was missing something I needed in order to be content and happy because I was single.


Psalm 84:11-12was the key.


The Lord God is a sun and a shield

The Lord will give grace and glory

No Good thing will he withhold to them that walk uprightly.

O Lord of Host, Blessed is the man that trusteth thee.

Are you ready to have your faith supercharged? These verses will do just that, because they present an intimate glimpse into an amazing attribute of your Father’s nature. These revelations provide a foundation you can anchor your desires and dreams upon.  Verse 11b is an integral key to the kind of faith able to sustain and empower you as you accept the Lord plan for your life.


Verse 11 states that each morning the Lord is present and ready with “every good thing” you needed in order to get through the day. Christ faithfully prepares and will pour out upon you, to overflowing, all the strength, encouragement, wisdom, and blessings you need. Anything truly necessary to navigate through the trials & temptations, joys & sorrow, excess & need today is at your disposal. Your loving Father is there with it all, so that tonight you can testify to the world and for the Glory of God,


My Father has withheld nothing!”


As a single woman, some of the emptiness I struggled with was the result of an attempt to peer into the future to see if God’s will lined up with my desires. By doing so, during momentary periods of discontent, I trampled over hills and valleys paved with His Grace, Glory, and Blessings.


As I struggle to be content with my life (yes it is still a struggle today), the Lord still uses these verses to rebuke me with the truth, my emptiness is the result of a self-imposed, narrow sighted, earth-bound vision and a failure to look at life with spiritual eyes.


My prayer has become, “Today Lord,  give me eyes to see, that I might not miss even the smallest blessing that you, in love and Mercy, have prepared for me.” These verses spoke to me as a single woman and they still minister to me today. This promise sustains me as a mother of three when my days consists of mounds of laundry, disappointments, and mundane trials of life.


We should never hesitate to enter into the presence of  the God who formed and knew us intimately before we uttered our first cry. As we place our will at his feet in humble submission, may we never lose sight of the fact he has all ready given His best, His most precious and beloved Son. He will withhold nothing of lesser value.


When you have unburdened your heart and submitted your will to His, do not forget to gather up your basket with faith unmovable, and eyes set to the heavens. Purpose to recognize, accept, and receive  “every good and perfect gift” prepared for your life by the Creator of the Universe. You may be missing a ring, an invitation to a couples party, evenings with company, but you are not missing the key to happiness, peace, and fulfillment.


How full will your basket be tonight when you lay your head upon your pillow? Did you see, accept, and use all he prepared for you today?


What are some other myths about single life you struggled with? What advice can you offer to women enduring the challenges of single life?


What truth about God encourages you heart, chasing the shadows of unbelief away?

A to Z: Overcoming through Prayer

Prayer

Communication with God

through written or spoken words, thoughts, meditation, or song.

A reverent petition

 The Power of Prayer

 There is something raw and exposing about prayer. Weather out of joy, longing, or sorrow, prayer is a purposeful and  submissive bending of body, soul, mind and spirit. It is the acknowledgement “I am not all there is, nor am I all I need to be.” There is One greater, mightier, more Holy, Wise, Loving, and Powerful!

As a youngster I struggled with prayer. If God was in control, and if God had a plan, why did I need to pray? He knew my heart, and could see what I was going through.  I wasn’t going to change His mind so why pray?

In a way I was right, my prayers would never alter God’s ultimate will and plan for my life, BUT there was something prayer would and could alter, ME!

Over the past few years, the Lord has mercifully led me through some lengthy periods of stretching, purging, refining, and growth. These private, humbling, and sometimes painful trials have opened my eyes to the transforming purpose and power of prayer. You see, prayer does not bend the Lord’s will to mine, it softens my heart to His.

What Prayer isn’t…..

Prayers that begin as tattle-tale list of offences, hurts, and need accomplish little when I came determined to “Get what I thought I needed.”  There is no room for the stubborn in prayer! I have experienced moments of stubborn prayer. Times I rudely and proudly presented myself before the throne with an agenda. I would come determined to tell Christ the way things were, determined not to walk away till I was satisfied. Usually I walked away frustrated and an even more distant relationship with Him. These prayers never accomplish anything!

Proper, Powerful, Purposeful Prayer

Praise the Lord for His mercy and patience,  He never turned His back from me. I am grateful for the times he ushered me through sweet, intimate moments of brokenness and fellowship with Him. Special seasons of life when my heart, soul, spirit, and body yielded in great heaving sobs, bending malleable and submissive to the gentle, purposeful hands of the Loving Father.  In these times of prayer, heaven and earth parted to unite a broken, needy, and seeking child into the presence of her Abba, Pappa, Father.

When I have fallen on my face before Him, not demanding answers, but pleading for grace, strength, understanding, and the desire to obey His will, He has gloriously spoken. He has granted ears to hear, eyes  to see, and a mind able to comprehend the love, grace, power, and glory He has bestowed upon me.

Prayer that overcomes doesn’t make hardship disappear, rather it moves man out of the way, overcoming him. The Prayer of faith might be able to mover mountains, but far greater is it’s ability to conform the once broken, wayward, rebellious, deceived, sin blinded heart of a man so that he can cry with passion,

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”

“To live is to die and to die is to gain”

“I will decrease that He might increase!”

“Not my will oh Father, but  Thine.”

“To you alone of God may there be ALL Glory and Honor, Praise and glory”

“It will be worth it all, the day I see my Jesus!”

Psalm 66:20

Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayeror removed his steadfast love from me!

Psalm 69:13
But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.

Psalm 141:2
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

Proverbs 15:29
The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayerof the righteous.

Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant inprayer.

Philippians 4:6
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything byprayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Let nothing be lost!

 

John 6:8 “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”

 

This verse intrigues me. The setting presents Jesus surrounded by a throng of people, most are not true believers, but those seeking entertainment in the form of miracles, and perhaps some even looking for a handout of their own. This crowd came needy and left needy. An opportunity of a lifetime stood in front of them yet their physical needs and selfish desires blinded them to this moment. They wanted miracles and they received one, but their response clearly showed their shallow thinking and spiritual blindness.

 

The Son of God stood in their midst, but instead of asking for eternity, they vainly grappled to secure a king to rid them of the tyranny of Rome, a momentary and temporal predicament. It would be akin to a billionaire offering a blank check only to have the recipient spend it on a pack of gum. So very needy yet so very blind to their true needs and the power and ability of the one who stood before them.

 

So Jesus performs a miracle, a shadow of what He had come to do, he fed their bodies. With bread and fish he met their basic physical need, but He yearned to give them water so that they would never thirst again. They wanted freedom from occupiers who threateded to take their physical bodies and earthly lives, while he offered salvation from that which would take their eternal souls and spirit.

 

Jesus knew their hearts and he knew within moments of feeding the crowd sadly he would be forced to flee from their midst. He had come, not to reign on a mortal throne of man, in a mortal and fading kingdom, but to reign over all the universe in heaven above and in the earth below for all of eternity. Before they made their attempt to crown an earthly king, he made a decree in their midst, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”

 

Why did he command his disciples to do this? Twelve basket were collected, one for each disciple perhaps? Or was there a deeper meaning?

 

Jesus Christ had performed a great miracle and its meaning and purpose had fallen on deaf ears, blind eyes, and dead hearts. “That nothing may be lost.” Did he want to keep the leftovers of his blessing and purpose ladden miracle from being discarded like worthless trash and trampled under their unworthy feet when they departed after realizing they were to receive nothing more from His hand?

 

We may never know what if any meaning laid hidden in these words, yet a lesson can be taken from it. How often do we come to Christ with a need but also a predetermined solution in mind, our spiritual hearts have been darkened by selfish needs and proud hearts? How often do we come to him with a request, yet blind to the true needs our trial has exposed. He stands able and ready to provide an answer propelling us into the midst of His eternal and glorious purpose yet all we seek are bread crumbs.

 

All trials, needs, blessings, and opportunities are for a purpose far greater and more glorious than ourselves. Our neediness is the doorway to God’s glory and power revealed. The means with which He reveals our true nature, condition, and need is also the means with which He accomplishes the purpose of our existence, the revelation and proclimation of His power and His glory.

 

He pursued you when you were dying, desperate and needy. In your sin, brokenness and need, His Glorious love, grace, righteousness, and power broke forth. In Him you found a Savior, an Advocate, a Brother, a new life. Would you now come to him asking for bread? Empty your hands of all expectation. Cry out to Him for spiritual eyes to be opened, that you might see past the flesh and gaze instead into the glories of eternity. You can trust the Lord of the Universe with the when, where, how, and whys. He can provide bread, but do not settle for just crumbs when He has promised to hold back nothing of lesser value than His Son!

 

Your life is no mistake, neither are your present need, trials, and desires. Do not settle for bread crumbs. Do not settle for good. God’s best has been promised. Labor for it, strain for is, press forward, let nothing distract you, or turn you aside. If you can not see it, if your resolution falters, cry out to Him for strength, faith, and power to press on. There is a purpose, there is an end, there is an answer, there is a wealthy plaCe!

 

Psalm 66:12 Thou hast caused me to ride over our heads, we went through fire and throu water but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

 


God’s amazing timing

Trying to get back into the swing of things, but three children 6 and under make finding time hard : ) I have had a few request regarding the “Just water the camels” story and my courtship story so I thought I would repost the story that I have had published in a few magazines and try to piggy back from there with excerpts from my book.

My love story actually starts with a story…

January of 2002, I was sitting in our living room with my parents and brother. My dad and brother worked for the same company a few miles down the road and they came back to our house every day for lunch. Our lighthearted discussion switched to the not so cheerful topic of the upcoming tax season. In the middle of our discussion, my dad exclaimed, “Brian, have you changed your number of dependents?” In less than a second, dad’s innocent question triggered some rather astute female intuition. The resulting effect was a very excited and harmonious exclamation from mom and I “You’re having another baby!” Brian scowled and turned red, while my poor dad apologized profusely for letting the secret out. Questions flew at my brother faster than he could field them but soon, the wall clock chimed mercifully providing my brother a means of escape from the barrage of questions that rained down upon him. Mom followed Brian out to the car, pumping him for any other information he had about grand baby #4. I remained in the house, cleaning up the mess left over from lunch. As I placed the dishes inside the washer, my mind was a whirl of thoughts and emotions. Suddenly I found my excitement for Brian and his wife veer unexpectedly, changing to feelings of sadness, longing, uncertainty, and anger.
When mom returned to the house, she was practically floating on air, her excitement over grandbaby number four radiating from her face. The tears and emotions that weighed heavily upon my heart made me feel guilty and frustrated and I kept my back to my mom attempting to hide them. Her female intuition kicked in again, and sensing something was wrong. She walked to the sink and gently put her arm around me and said “What’s wrong sis?” I turned and with tears flowing freely exclaimed, “When will it be my time?” I would turn 28 in a few months, and contrary to my dreams and aspirations, I found myself the lone child still living at home. In the span of 3 years, I had watched my best friend court and marry my brother. I had been a spectator as many other friends I knew courted, all of whom were younger than myself. It was hard to sit back and watch as romances bloomed, engagements were announced, weddings showers were thrown and babies followed. My mom was married at the age of twenty, and I had always expected that by 25 I would be married and holding babies of my own. As I neared my 28th birthday, I began to realize marriage may not be in the near future and possibly not in my future at all. My single status became the source of sever trials and saddness in my life. Many times I felt as if I had fallen overboard into a vast and dark sea. I was exhausted to the point of despair from fighting the waves of dashed hopes and expectations that assailed me on a daily basis. More than anything else in life, I wanted to be a wife and mother, but it seemed this gift was being bestowed upon everyone but me.

I was almost twenty eight and as the possibility of marriage seemed to fade, a new struggle emerged. If I was not going to get married, what was my calling in life? Where I was supposed to invest my time, energy, and money? My parents suggested I find something I enjoyed doing, so I got a job at a hospital and began the process of enrolling in a local medical program so I could finish my nursing degree. The Lord was faithful and gave me grace and strength as well as an amazing family that encouraged me. The Lord did given me a peace in my heart concerning my single status, but the emotions and longings never went away completely. I experienced days of amazing contentment and joy, but there were times when the desire awoke in my heart and the longings overwhelmed me. The day Brian announced the anticipated arrival of Biddle #2 was one of those days!

I remember hearing about the concept of courtship and embracing the idea of allowing God to bring the right one along in His own time. I decided to trust Him, but I think I had the expectation that doing so would get rid of all the longings and struggles the single life posed. The decision to wait and trust is in some ways was harder because it takes great faith to relinquish the role of seeker/finder while taking on the role of one who “waits.” When I dated and moved in and out of all the church single groups, my focus was always upon finding the next “possibility.” When I committed to waiting on the Lord I was forced to shift my focus. My gaze had to turn from what I wanted and did not have, to what I did have and what I could do with it. I had placed my trust in the Lord and in exchange, he required I become a worthy steward of the blessing and gifts He chose to rain down upon me each day because I was single. The verse that became my anchor during my early to late 20’s was Psalm 84:11-12

The Lord your God is a sun and a shield,
The Lord will give grace and glory,
No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
O Lord of Host, Blessed is the Man
That trusteth thee.

My daily challenge became this-

Seek the Sun and appreciate the shield. The sun gives light and direction and it provides life and growth. Accepting God’s “not now” was accepting his plan of growth and purification in my life through the trials I faced as an older single girl. Accepting God as a shield was also accepting and trusting His protection of my heart and soul and future. As God said not now to me and my dad said no to young men, the years of waiting was preserving me for God’s amazing best, not the feeble and limited “best” I day dreamed about.

His Grace and Glory. Our lives are meant to bring Glory to God and God alone! Regardless of our state, whether single or married, as long as we accept His grace and carry our burden in faith, God will be glorified and we will be strengthened.

No good thing. Most importantly, the Lord showed me that He prepared for His goodness to be showered down upon my life so much so, that it could be said every day, “On this day, God withheld nothing that I needed for happiness or success or survival!” My challenge was to find, claim, and treasure each blessing He gave. The fullness of my basket at the end of the day depended upon the eyes I choose view life with, and whether my hands accepted with grateful obedience what chose to give. If I was distracted by the desires of the future, I would become blind to and miss the blessings of today. If I looked at life with limited, blind, and earthly vision, not only refusing but also unable to take what the Lord chose to bestow, I would find my basket empty each day. It was important for me to not loose site of the fact empty baskets weren’t because God didn’t hear my pleas, was unable to grant my petitions, or because he simply failed to give, but because I failed to accept what he lovingly chose to give. God knows what is best and “His Best” is ALWAYS what he gives to his children when they live their lives in faithful obedience to him.

– – – Now, back to the story. 🙂 Flash back about 6 years to the summer of 1996. I was sitting in a hotel room with my mom and two other ladies. We were all on our way to the North Woods where my brother was a drill sergeant for a basic training. Both mothers had a son in unit 12 and we were having a sweet time of fellowship as each woman discussed the changes they had seen in their boys over the space of the eight week basic. I remember one mom in particular. She talked about her handsome, smart, athletic son named, David. Her description sparked my curiosity but that only lasted until she disclosed his age, he was 18 years old and 5 years younger than myself. I don’t recall ever seeing him during the promotion and I spent my time visiting all the friends I had worked with in the kitchen the previous year. His mom and his existence totally slipped from my memory when we left the North Woods and returned home, but as it turned out their family started going to our church.

Ironically, the following summer I was asked by our pastor’s son to help run the game time during VBS and wouldn’t you know it, David was in charge. I remember my first impression of him was one of extreme frustration. The guy would not say a word to me. Each day I would approach him and ask what we were doing and what he wanted me to do but my efforts were rewarded with indistinguishable mumblings. While I struggled to make myself useful, I kept myself busy chasing away a handful of young flirtatious girls who kept finding their way out to the game field with some excuse or the other so they could be within eye sight of this new guy fresh back from ALERT. Although he never batted an eye at them or reciprocated their childish advances in any way, I was sort of disgusted with him and how foolishly these young girls were acting over this kid who did little more than mumble and who never said more than 5 words to me.

On the evening VBS was wrapping up, Pastor Scott called me over and completely bowled me over when he apologized for all the rumors that had been flying. I looked at him totally clueless about any rumors so he enlightened me. Apparently, because of our close proximity with each other during VBS, it had been assumed that we were an official item and a courtship was brewing, if not all ready happening. I burst out laughing over the absurd idea. How could this annoying “kid” and I being the source of such ridiculous rumors?! I assured Scott no offense had been taken and once again I ushered the existence of David from my thoughts.

– – – Flash ahead a few years to the day David’s dad announces his courtship to another young lady at our church. I remember not being surprised because it had been pretty obvious they were headed in that direction. Even thought I added their names to the growing number of younger friends who were courting or newly married, I was truly excited for them. In the swirl of emotions, I was left wondering “Would anyone ever notice me?” “Would I ever know what it was like to have a person ask for the opportunity to win my heart?” Not surprisingly, while romance was flying through the church, my struggles with being single got harder. I struggled and fought to keep peace and contentment in my heart, but it was HARD!

Over the next year or so David’s courtship and eventual engagement began to unravel. In the beginning of 2002 his engagement was called off and the relationship ended. Because of David’s friendship with my brother, I knew a little about his struggles and hurts during this time. I felt badly for him and the pain he had experienced during his relationship. I greatly respected him for how he handled the situation. I had seen a growth and sensitivity develop in his life through his own fiery trials, and a maturity which our pastor had commented exceeded some of the men he had pastord. I remember standing alongside my mother the day his mom quietly asked us to pray for him. She explained the engagement was over and he was in Arizona with a friend seeking the Lord guidance and some healing…

Her words evoked a number of emotions. One was sadness and an other concern. I had known many men who walked away from the Lord when their relationship with a lady fell through and I felt a burden for David and felt prompted to pray the Lord’s protection over him. Funny enough, as I prayed that the Lord would bring healing in his heart aI also asked that the Lord bring the right “young” lady into his life when it was time. Never for a moment did my heart awaken to the possibility of relationship with him, in my mind I think I still saw him as an 18 year old kid.

David will tell you he remembers sitting on the ledge of the Grand Canyon being overwhelmed by its beauty and grandeur. He remembers musing upon the fact that the God, who made the landscape before him, was also the God that had made him. David knew this amazing God could take care of him and the desires of his heart. He told the Lord he believed he had placed the desire to be married in his heart, but that he was not going to go looking. He exclaimed to the Lord, almost in frustration or a dare, that if God had someone for him, he would have to put her in his back yard… The Lord is amazing and does not work according to our time table, and this became evident as my future love story was written. The year David and the young lady from church started courting, the Lord had pretty much placed us in his back yard!!! We moved into his little town and were just 5-7 minutes away from his home depending upon who was driving : ) After we moved, our family had been placed into the church Shepherding group his Dad was a leader of, and our family went over quite frequently for outings, bible studies and cookouts. I had also enrolled in a gospel doing chalk art class, and happened to be in these classes with his little sister. So, the entire time David was away, courting this girl and spending time with her family, his family and ours got to know each other very well and we became close friends.

May 25th 2002, four months since asking my mom “when will it be my time?”. I had just worked the night shift at the hospital and was supposed to drive to my sister’s house so I could help her get the kids dressed and to church. After falling a sleep at a red light, I realized I was too exhausted and decided to head home to sleep. When I got home my parent’s were in their room so I down at the kitchen table and ate a bowel of cereal. My parents, completely unaware of my arrival, bantered back and forth about something as they went about their Sunday routine but I was too exhausted to notice. I never heard a word they were saying and without any thought of their extremely erratic and hyper behavior, I went to bed. When they returned from church I was all ready up. They both continued to act very oddly and almost in unison asked me to accompany them on the back porch swing. I accepted the invitation, my foggy brain still clueless anything was out of the ordinary. (those of you who have worked split shifts know how tired and out of it that kind of schedule makes one : ) The phone rang and my dad jumped like he was expecting someone and he sprinted inside to answer it. A few minutes later, he stuck his head out the door and told us he had to go on an errand and would be back soon.

He left and mom asked me to walk with her so we strolled around the yard making small talk. About fifteen minutes later my dad returned, they once again they ushered me to the back porch swing and asked me to sit. As soon as my backside hit the padding, my dad jumped up and exclaimed, “shall we tell her?” With that he disappeared into the house returning with an Eddie Bauer bag. With a smile on his face he exclaimed “Jody, someone has asked if you would “Water their Camels.” This question is a whole other story and there is no time to go into it, but it comes from the story of Isaac and Rebekah and it was a challenge my mom gave me back in 1995 concerning my single years. This simple statement was their way of letting me know someone wanted to court me.

To my surprise, dad announced that the man was David Watkins. (At this point I had forgotten the age difference) As I sat shaking, holding the camel in my lap, my dad explained how everything had taken place, including meetings I knew nothing about. He asked if I has any questions and he answered everything I asked about David. I trusted my father and wanted to be open to his wisdom or insights in my life and future marriage so I had asked my dad’s counsel regarding possible suitors. Dad’s approval of David spoke volumes to me and I if Dad thought him worthy, I was willing to give him a shot at my heart, so I agreed! My parents and I went out to eat to celebrate and afterwards dad made a phone call to poor David who had lain on his bed awaiting an answer the entire time. Our courtship began May 25th 2002, we were engaged July 9th, and on November 2nd 2002, we were married. (I was 28 David was 24 : )

– – – Fast forward to the following year, January 2003. I stood in the living room of my parents home, almost exactly a year to the exact day that I asked my mom “when will it be my time?”. I handed her a Boyd’s bear figurine of a grandma bear holding a grandbaby cub and let her know our first child was growing inside my belly and due in September!

Nothing was ever withheld, I had at times just refused to hold what my sweet Savior wanted to give. His timing was perfect, the wait without regret, the story and man I received a beautiful and amazing story and gift. Look for the treasures each day, they are there!