January 2006. That is when my life changed forever. It was my moment. You know everyone has a moment and if you haven't yet you will. Some of us have more than one. Moments where you make a choice, good or bad, but that choice changes the course of your life forever. It changes your present and your future more than you ever imagined that it would. At the time it seemed like a small choice, but as you look back you realize it was the biggest decision of your life. That moment for me was in early January of 2006.
A friend of mine from church and a couple of his buddies were going to serve at the Passion Conference in Nashville TN. He had all but guilted me into going using all of that Christian "you may change the life of a teenager" garb ;). So there I was 30 years old, newly engaged to the man I had been with for two years and had wanted for four, and on my way to meet up with three men, two of which I barely knew at 5:30 am on January 2, 2006. I had my Starbucks, my bags, my bible and I was wearing my beautiful new engagement ring. I was headed to Nashville TN to change the life of a teenager. ;) Boy oh boy is God funny.
This is a story of listening to the Lord. Not the first time, not the second, but the 50th time after he had been banging on the door of my heart and soul for years. This is a story of God's plan coming to fruition regardless how of stubborn the person in it was. This is a story of God's will, love, grace and mercy and I am the main character my friends.
It was 5:30 am and I met up with my friend Shawn at his house. We proceeded to ride to Kennesaw, pretty much in silence because neither of us are really morning people, and meet up with his buddies from his small group Jeff and Watts. We all piled into Jeff's Mercedes at 6:30 am and off we went to Nashville for what would be a life changing trip for many teenagers and at least two adults. The weekend was filled with the Lord. The Holy Spirit showed up in huge ways as worship was led and the speakers taught. I roomed with two girls I had never met. The extent of our conversation was "where are you from" and "why isn't your fiance here?' which just aggravated me so I quit talking to them. I could go on for days about how God orchestrated the weekend. But to save time here are a few highlights.
1) I was assigned to work outside in the freezing cold and give directions to the students for the weekend.
2)One of the girls in my room was very, very sick so I basically had to find something to do at all times when I was not sleeping.
3)Watts turned out to be a real gentleman and gave up his "inside the arena" post with Shawn and Jeff and stood outside in the cold for me after the first day.
4) There was absolutely NO time to talk on the phone.
5) Complete strangers continually asked me all weekend where my fiance was and why he wasn't serving with me. After the 10th time of explaining that he did not go to church with me, I felt so stupid and ridiculous (because that is how it sounded) I took off my ring and wore it around my neck. (Yes God will embarrass you to make a point).
6) There was a few minutes when I was left alone with Jeff that led to a conversation that left me more convicted than any other conversation I had ever had.
7) The timing of Beth Moore's lecture on "listening to God rather than running from Him because what He wants is not what we want" led to the only phone call I made all weekend.
8) That phone call was to my mom to say "I do not want to get married".
9) Having one of the greatest mom's on the planet made this all a lot easier.
10) Watching a grown man worship Jesus was much cooler than I imagined.
The weekend was amazing and God showed up all over the place. Yes I spent time with these men, yes they treated me better than I had ever been treated by the one I was going to marry, yes I was blown away by what God taught me in such a short time. Isn't it always amazing what we learn if we just listen?
I have left out one major part of my weekend. Not because I forgot but because I wanted to explain first and foremost that God changed my heart and opened my eyes just in time to keep me from making the biggest mistake of my life, again. And then there was Shawn.
There he was, bald head and dimples with the sweetest blue eyes I had ever seen. He was right there doing nothing but doing everything at the same time. We would eat as a group and when we would get up to leave he would get my coat for me. They picked me up each morning and he brought me coffee just the way I liked it every time. He opened my doors and carried my luggage. I never asked, I never expected, I didn't even hope. He took better care of me for a weekend then I had ever been taken care of by a man in my life and I wasn't even his. Yet.
We left Nashville after a weekend of an amazing God. The ride home was one that I will never forget. I remember wishing we would get lost so it would last a little bit longer. There was nothing inappropriate. He never said anything or did anything to even make me think he wanted to take me to dinner, much less marry me. But there was this unbelievable since of urgency for me to get home and end what was wrong and pray for what was next. It was like I knew. I knew he was going to be mine someday and I wanted someday to start ASAP! So that is what I did. I came home and the first time I saw my fiance I gave him the ring back. It was not easy, it was not fun, but it was right. I remember sitting in the condo and looking around for anything that may be mine so that I could grab it on my way out willing to leave the rest forever. All I could find was a pair of tennis shoes. So me and my tennis shoes left, ring on the table, man broken, certain that I was following God right out of that door.
I prayed and prayed and prayed. Lord forgive me for not listening before and please, if there is any chance I could have that man with the blue eyes and dimples, I would really like too. If we are obedient and we ask, He answers. That was the first week of January. January 28th I had a scheduled dress fitting that I would not let my mom cancel. She and I went and I put Shawn's name down as the groom. He had not even asked yet. In March we were engaged and in June we were married. It was the best day of my life. A day that proves that we have a Father in Heaven that shows us grace and mercy and unconditional love. I know this because I did not earn Shawn and I did not deserve him.
So today I celebrate Valentines Day with the man that God made just for me. I celebrate the fact that the Lord waited patiently, on both of us, and then put us together at just the right time. I celebrate being married to the best man I have ever known. I celebrate being blessed beyond comprehension as I spend this life and eternity looking at those blue eyes and dimples. And I praise my Lord from the rooftops for every second He gives me with the love of my life!!!
Happy Valentines Day baby. I love you today and everyday.
Thank you for making my dreams come true.