Friday, August 28, 2009

Love Story Part 5

We had been dating six months. We were definitely falling in love. We had given ourselves a standard of living by writing down rules for our relationship. They were not because we thought everything within our list was sin. Some of the things we decided not to do were not sinful in and of themselves, but we wanted to run in the direction of purity and stay as far away from sin as possible. Some of our rules included:

1. We will not spend time alone in one anothers houses. If no one else is home we will go to a public place.
2. We will not lie down together anywhere, anytime, any place.
3. No hand holding. (Not indefinitely)
4. No kissing until and if we become engaged.

Some people will find our list a bit outdated. Many people will not understand. But I can tell you that purity was such a beautiful thing and filled us with such freedom. The day Todd held my hand for the first time proved to me that purity was worth every ounce of waiting and self control that we had.

We were sitting on his mom's couch watching tv and talking. As the show ended we began to talk more in depth. I am not sure how the subject came up, but we began to talk about marriage. He then told me something he had never said before. He told me he wanted to marry me. It was not a proposal, but he told me he knew that I was "the one" and he said that within the year he was going to propose to me. At that moment he told me he wanted to give me a gift. He took my hand into his and for the first time we held hands. It was well worth the wait. It was precious, memorable and so special.

I was stunned one night a few weeks later to learn that Todd and my dad were having dinner, alone, together at Todd's request. He asked my dad for permission to marry me and my dad said yes.

To find out how and when he asked me keep reading...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Love Story Part 4

Two weeks had past since Todd came home from Costa Rica. He was different. He obviously cared for me and tried to spend as much time as he could in my presence. Our time together was very limited, however. We were both youth leaders and these two weeks happened to be the busiest of the whole summer. We had a to plan for, shop for and put on a youth trip. We also attended a 3 day leadership conference with other people from church. We seemed to be always together, yet we never really had a private moment. I had no doubt he had feelings for me, but my own anxiousness was beginning to grow.

I was beginning to feel very sad and down about the whole situation. One night while we were with a group of youth I could not hide my sadness. I was not crying, but I was definitely not myself. One of the senior guys came to me. I had not told him any of my feelings or what was going on between Todd and I, but when he approached me he said, "Why don't you just tell him how you feel." At that moment I was a little perplexed. He was visiting from out of town and had only been a part of the youth group for a couple weeks. I had not told him and I was sure Todd had not, but he seemed to know. My reply was, "I can't. Isn't the guy supposed to approach the girl?" He said, "Well, sometimes the guy needs a little help." At that moment I knew God was telling me to approach him again. That night as I was leaving I asked Todd if he would walk me to my car. Once outside I asked him when could we talk about us. He told me he was so sorry. He knew we needed to talk, but he had been so busy and had not made time. I asked if he had any time soon and he said, "No, but I will make time." The next evening we had a friend's birthday party to attend, but we made plans to get together after the party.

August 22, 2002 I went to the party filled with anxiety and joy. After the birthday party we drove together to a park by the water. We went first to a coffee shop, but when we went in we saw too many familiar faces to talk privately. So, instead, we took a walk down by the water. While we walked I remember him telling me how much he admired me and how I possessed all of the qualities he had been seeking in a wife. We walked around and around the little pathway. We talked and talked and towards the end I remember asking him, "So, are you asking me to be your girlfriend?" His reply was absolutely so telling of his character. He said, "not exactly." Todd wanted so desperately for us to do this the right way and at first he was apprehensive of calling us "boyfriend, girlfriend." Not because he did not want to date, but because he wanted to date differently. The way people usually do "dating" can lack purpose and intentionality. He wanted us to spend time together dating to see if God wanted us to be husband and wife. I remember while we were walking around the park a group of teenagers teased us saying, "Why don't you hold her hand?" He told me as we continued to talk that he wanted me to know that he genuinely wanted to hold my hand, but he wanted everything within our relationship to be special and to have purpose. He wanted us to pursue purity with everything we had and pursue Jesus even harder. Todd pursued me with such purity and he protected my heart and body for my future husband.

For the story of the first day he held my hand stay tuned...

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Love Story Part 3 (Learning to trust)

The following is an excerpt from my journal on January 1st 2002.

"Well, last night Todd and I talked... now I am pretty anxious because I want to know what will happen, but I know that God will take care of me no matter what happens. I trust God. Proverbs 3:5-6 says that if I trust God he will make his ways clear. I am having a hard time not thinking about Todd, so I pray for God's help. Jesus let your will be done."

Reading that, my mind is flooded with memories. I look back on those words, "I trust God", and I wonder, did I? Maybe I trusted him with an end in mind. Maybe I trusted him as long as he made sure that season of waiting did not last long. As long as he was on my time table, I trusted him. But he was not. One month past. Two months past. March of 2002 came and a guy from school asked me out. He was kind of cute and I wanted to do anything to get my mind off Todd. Our schedules did not work out, so we ended up never actually going on a date. Here is what I wrote in my journal regarding the guy and Todd.

"I was afraid of what would happen with Todd (meaning, if he knew) and I was just plain nervous. I could hardly think about it and when I did I cried. I was so nervous. I wanted to puke."

My time table was not working. Or rather God was not working on my time table. It was getting harder and harder to trust.

Journal entry May of 2002

"Tonight I felt completely broken by God. I want his will. I want to follow him and I love him. I want so much for my heart to be obedient. I prayed and asked him to lead me in his will right now."

I was beginning to trust him. Not trust him for an outcome, but to trust him no matter the outcome. As a source of encouragement I clung to this verse:

Psalm 33:20-22
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

A funny thing started to happen. Todd and I began to grow closer and closer. Our friendship began to deepen. We found ourselves talking for hours on end.

Journal Entry June 2002
"I cannot really describe what happens when we are together, but I wish I could put it in a bottle and carry it with me. The other day I helped him find his keys and then told him not to forget his shoes. He looked at me and said, 'What would I do without you?' Of course my heart melted into 1,000 pieces."

July of 2002 Todd took a month long mission trip to Costa Rica. It was incredibly hard for me to watch him leave for that long. I knew we were getting closer. I knew I was beginning to care for him so much more deeply and I was longing for us to be together. But God was not assuring me we would be together. His only assurance when I prayed was that he would take care of me no matter what the outcome.

That month was hard. I admit I did worry some and I was anxious at times. This seemed like a turning point for us. I was pretty sure that when he came home he would either know he wanted to be with me or he would find some beautiful Costa Rican native and run off into the sunset. (Ok so that may be a bit dramatic). But it was hard.

I was a very busy college student and my life revolved around a planner I carried in my purse. It was one of those with a scripture verse at the top of each month. I was amazed one day in July when I opened the planner to the month of August (the month Todd was to return) and I saw the following verse:

Psalm 33:21
"In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name."

Want to know what happens next? Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Love story Continued

December of 2001 was when I had that moment of realization that I thought Todd liked me. For a while I was floating on air. Very excited at the possibilities to come. But slowly as weeks passed and nothing else happened my heart began to sadden. I found myself utterly depressed at the end of December. I was uncharacteristically down. I could not shake the feelings of sadness and I, honestly, spent a whole day in bed because I could not stop thinking about it. I tried to spend time with friends, to pray, to read my Bible, but these feelings were overwhelming.

On New years eve I went to a party at a friends house. Todd was there and seeing him only made me feel worse. I went into a room with a friend to pour out my heart. She listened attentively and encouraged me to talk to Todd. There was no way in the world I wanted to do that. I always knew the man was "supposed" to initiate. He was supposed to be the one to talk to me. My friend prayed with me and I prayed a prayer something like this, "Lord, if you want me to talk to Todd please make it very clear." We left the room and joined our friends. When I walked back into the party Todd looked at me and said, "Are you ok, Jessica? Would you feel better if we talked?" Ok, God obviously was working here. I told him "sure" and we went into another room.

When we got in there my mind was a whirl. I was scared to death to say what I had to say, but felt like this was the right thing. I remember the scenario like yesterday. I even remember the shirt he had on because I could only look at the letters on it. I could not look at his face. He tried for a few minutes to ask questions to get me talking and finally I said, "Do you want me to tell you what is going on?" "Yes" was his reply. I managed to spit out these words as quickly as possible, "I like you as more than a friend." As soon as I spit those words out I saw him relax. And he said, "Do you want to know how I feel?" "Ummm... Yes.", I said. "I feel the same." he said. "But there is more." "I also like someone else."

I must admit that at that moment I felt very conflicted. On one hand I felt absolute jubilation at the thought that he liked me. But I also felt a little confused and annoyed that he liked someone else. He told me he wanted us to continue being friends. He wanted to be friends with both of us girls for a while and see where God would lead. We ended our conversation by praying together for God's leadership. We found out as we re-entered the party that we prayed together just as 2001 moved into 2002.

To be continued...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A love Story

One of my dearest friends told me today that she believes she has met the man she will marry. She is the sweetest woman of God and I wish her all the best.

My mind goes back to that time in my life. I was 16 years old when I first met Todd. He was a youth leader for the youth group I just started attending. He was 19 and very handsome. What drew me to him initially was how cute I thought he was, but after watching him for some time my heart began to fall in love with him. I remember how much he genuinely cared for people. He was the one that always gave hugs. He did not pick and choose just nice looking girls. He gave hugs to everyone. He loved people even those that seemed unlovable. He also was a worshiper. I remember watching him, at times, during worship service. His heart was so intent. His eyes may be closed or hands raised or at times he was on his face before the Lord in genuine heartfelt worship. This drew me to him.

For the following two years we were friends. We hung out in groups and I tried to not let on that I cared for him. I knew it was against the rules for leaders to date students and in all honesty never thought I would have a chance with him anyway. The summer after I graduated high school our friendship began to deepen and the following fall we were at the same college. I was having a lot of trouble in my math class and thought I may fail. I was talking with my mentor at the time and she suggested asking Todd to tutor me. He was after all an engineer major and very good at math. I could not do it. How could I? I was beginning to think he suspected me liking him and did not want to make a fool of myself, but it did make sense and I really did not want to fail my class. So I asked. He was totally willing. Sometime after he began tutoring me I was having my devotional time. I would pray often during those times for my future husband. I found myself praying for my future husband and got a sense from God that I was praying for Todd. Immediately I rejected the idea as if rebuking the devil. This must be my mind playing tricks, but still I dared to hope. I asked God to make it clear to me if this was from him.

The next time I saw Todd was at school. It was the end of the semester and I was in a hurry. I had only gone to pick up a test score. I rushed in and saw him as I was leaving. I said hello and turned to leave. But something was different. He asked me if he could walk me out. He walked me to my car and we talked for a few minutes. Nothing substantial was said. Nothing monumental, but something shifted. It was as if this was my confirmation from the Lord. I drove away from school and immediately called my mom to say, "I think Todd likes me." She had listened for years as I talked about this boy I liked. And her motherly reply was, "Of course he does."

Of course this is only the beginning. I will share part 2 another day.

Monday, August 17, 2009


My sweet baby is One year old today. This time last year I was laying in a hospital bedding awaiting her arrival. She was tricky. She wanted to come, but needed a little help. I feel as though her first year has been that way. She has needed so many things and has been a much needier child than Elizabeth. She has gone through illnesses and is still conquering some. But she is strong. She is a fighter and she has a sweet spirit. She loves. She is a loving, gentle spirit. But she can be fierce. I see her gentleness in the way she holds her new "babies". She got some stuffed animals for her birthday and she cuddles them and pats their backs just like a gentle momma. And she kisses their noses. She is beautiful. Here is my letter to her on this day.

My sweet Claire-
I am so proud to be your momma. I love you immensely. My prayer and hope for your life is that you surrender all of you to our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that you allow him to mold and shape your tender heart and allow him to use your boldness and strength for his glory. I am not a perfect mommy. I will fail you and all ready have in so many ways, but I hope that you can get a glimpse of the One who will never fail you and that you allow Him to lead your life. I pray that his holy spirit is all ready speaking to you and drawing you close to him. Before I know it you will be grown and all I will have is the memories of your sweet baby smile and how your hair curled ever so slightly at the nape of your neck. I will treasure your sweet whole mouth kisses and the way you point at yourself and reach for me as if to say, "Momma, hold me." Happy first birthday my sweet baby. I look forward to all this year has to offer. So many changes will take place and in many ways this year will be more exciting than your first. Know that I love you. Know that your daddy and I treasure you and that you are valued. Know that we cherish our moments with you and look forward to those to come. I feel as though you have been given less than we gave your sister. Now there are two to divide my time and you get much less focused attention than she did, but you are loved just as much. You are loved uniquely and simply for being you. I love being your mommy.