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Journey

Coming Home {A Love Story} // Part 3

December 22, 2016

To say I was nervous would be an understatement. It was July and I had just returned to Honduras and scheduled a few days in San Pedro Sula to spend some time with Ever but I was nervous! It would be the first time we interacted in person as boyfriend/girlfriend and I was nervous! Okay, I think you get it, I was nervous.

When Ever got off work, he came to the hotel where I was staying to pick me up for our “first” date. (He calls it our second date but first date alone together haha!) When Ever showed up to the hotel, he gave me a hug and I was so tense, he immediately picked up on that and played it so cool. (I think he was a little nervous too but I doubt he’d ever admit to that.) He held my hand as we drove to Pizza Hut and just reassured me that I would be fine. And after a bit, I was. Eventually I had loosened up and was acting more like myself. I was also getting to see Ever in a new light. He has such an outgoing personality and never meets a stranger so you can imagine Pizza Hut provided lots of opportunity for me to observe this man and watch how he’s quick to offer friendship to those around him. We talked and laughed and ate pizza and I was only awkward for part of the time. Lol!

As our evening was coming to an end, he paid for our meal and then lead me back to the car. As we started to head back to my hotel, I started getting nervous again because I knew our date was coming to an end and I knew he was going to kiss me. Now when I say I was chronically single before meeting Ever, I mean that quite literally. You know the movie “Never Been Kissed.” Yep. That was me. Ever knew this but had already given me fair warning before I even got back to Honduras that he was going to kiss me. So again I was nervous!

When we arrived back to the hotel, Ever came and opened my door and helped me out, then wrapped his arms around me and y’all! Let me tell you, the sweetest, most perfect first kiss ever!! I literally could not have dreamed of a more perfect kiss. Yes, totally googly-eyed right now thinking about that first kiss. We said good night and I went up to my room. As the hotel door closed behind me, I have to admit I totally did a little happy dance. Haha!
This was totally me!

The next couple days I got spend with Ever were really special. He took me to the movies which if you know me, you know is totally my thing. He had not been in 11 years! He took to meet his friends and then one day we spent basically the entire day trying to get a car I sometimes use while in Honduras registered. I was getting to see him in different scenarios and y’all I can tell you this man is consistent. What you see is what you get and I love that about him.

My mom told me before I went to Honduras in July that if I felt the same way about Ever in person as I did from a distance, then it wouldn’t be long. My mama knows me.

When Ever and I first started getting to know each other, I made two things very clear to him.
1) I wasn’t going to date for the heck of dating. That’s not where I was in life.
2) I was honoring God by waiting to have sex until marriage.
Those two conversations were maybe a little uncomfortable to have right off the bat but I’m so glad we talked about those things from the beginning. Ever has honored and supported me in both areas. I remember when I asked Ever after a few days of constant texting, “What are we doing?” His response left no questions in my mind of what we were doing. We were starting something that we hoped would last for a lifetime. Can I tell you how wonderful it is to not have to worry or wonder about what the heck’s going on in a relationship you’re in. It’s refreshing.

So needless to say, it wasn’t long before the topic of marriage was coming up. We had had hard conversations. Those conversations in which both of us had to go before the Lord and say “Is this what you want?” We’ve shared the knitty gritty of our pasts. We had asked ourselves how the past impacted the future and ultimately it has been a decision. My mom always said “Love is a decision.” And that’s true. Yes, there’s feelings, there’s googly-eyes, there’s romance but ultimately love is a decision. So we made that decision to love each other when it’s fun and exciting and in those times he’s getting on my nerves and hurts my feelings.

There’s a bazillion other things I could tell you about those first days we got to spend time together but I promised to finish up “the story” in this blog. So allow me to continue…

When I returned to the States, Ever and I knew we wanted to spend our lives together and make Christ the center. He arranged to call my parents via video call to ask for my hand in marriage. I was so nervous for him and I technically wasn’t there for the conversation but kinda was and heard the whole thing and he did so good. My parents were ready with their list of questions and believe me, you talking about marrying their daughter, they ain’t going easy on ya. But he did so good! I was so proud and probably a little more in love by the end of that conversation.

My parents gave their blessing for us to marry. My dad said he could tell that Ever was a man of compassion. My mom said “There’s not many men out there who would say they’d lay down their life for their wife. He did.” (Heart full.)

So then it was waiting until the next time I’d see him again. October. An eternity. Okay I’m being dramatic but it felt that way (but not nearly as bad as right now! Please, Sunday, get here!)

The day finally arrived for me to return to Honduras. I was meeting his family and I knew somewhere along the way there would be a ring. He didn’t make me wait too long. When I arrived in Honduras, he and his family were waiting for me. They loaded my stuff in the back of the truck and we headed out to conqueror some errands. Ever had the gleam of a little boy with a new bicycle in his eyes and I knew he was up to something. We stopped for lunch at a Chinese restaurant (yes, they have those in Honduras and I promise you it’s the best Chinese food you’ve ever tasted!) As soon as we sat down in the booth sitting across from his mom and her other half, he popped out a box.

He told me how much I meant to him and how much he wanted his family to be a part of this moment and then he asked me, “Te casarías conmigo?” (Will you marry me?) To which, I said “Si!!!!” (Yes!!!!)

I look a hot mess but this was at the Chinese restaurant where he proposed!

And in 9 days, I’ll start the greatest adventure of my life–marriage. I could not have picked a better man to get to do this life with. God really does do more than we can ever ask or imagine. He did it with Ever.

When I returned from Honduras at the end of October after saying the hardest good-bye of my life, I stepped off the plane back onto U.S. soil and in my heart, immediately knew this wasn’t home. Ever was my family. Ever was home. Over the years I’ve struggled with where home is. I thought it was a place but I realize now it is a person. It’s Ever and it’s a special thing to finally be coming home.

Te amo, Ever. No veo la hora de ser tu esposa.

 

(To all my single ladies, please let this be an encouragement to you. God sees you. In the years of singleness, though for the most part I was so thankful for the season, it does not mean it wasn’t hard. So often Christians mean well and say stupid things like “you should learn to be content without a man.” Wanting a man doesn’t mean you’re not content, it means you’re human and made for relationship. Or another personal favorite “maybe God is trying to teach you something through your singleness.” God is always teaching us no matter the season. Or “once you stop trying to find a man, that’s when he’ll come into your life.” In April, the month before I “met” Ever again, I felt like God was telling me to put myself out there. I signed up for eHarmony, I said yes to a blind date that fell through but it was an act of faith saying that I believed God was answering my prayer for a husband. Please don’t let anyone make you feel that your desire for a husband is somehow not right. God made us for relationship. It is not wrong to desire someone to do life with. While waiting for His best, enjoy the time. Make your single years count BIG for Christ. And remember, He hasn’t forgotten you. He sees you, my friend.)

Journey

Coming Home {A Love Story} // Part 2

December 12, 2016

I knew there was something special about him the day I watched a line of kiddos form in front of him during snack time at a VBS hosted by a team from the States. These little Pre-K students looked up to him with their big dark eyes that seemed to say “please help me” and so he did. He helped them peel sticker after aggravating sticker off their package of cookies (think prizes in cereal boxes except these are attached to individual packages of cookies.) He patiently peeled one sticker off, handed it back to its little owner, and proceeded to the next kiddo in line. I stood nearby watching the scene transpire, part of me wondering why none of the kids were asking me for help after all they knew me, not him, and the other part of me taking note of the man who was willing to give his time to these little ones. When I saw this, I remember thinking “There’s something special about this guy.”

That was a little over a year ago. Ever was the driver for a team I was hosting in Honduras but quickly became part of the team–a nut always ready for a laugh but with such a kind and caring heart for people. On that team, I did a lot of observing. I watched as he jumped in with the team to do the motions to all the songs they sang with the kids. I watched as he bought a bottle of water for a young woman I asked him to drive to the doctor. I watched with more than a little surprise as he knelt down and washed my shoes in a stream of water after I had stepped in mud up to my ankles.

I watched. I listened. And I was attracted to him. But ultimately I laid it down.

The timing wasn’t there for either of us and neither of us pursued anything outside of a friendship. Past January of this year, I had not spoken to Ever again and when I had, it had been on a professional level about logistics for our artisan beach trip. And honestly, that was okay. I was fine.

So I thought that was it. Ever was not the driver I typically worked with (his uncle, Francisco, was usually the driver for my teams) so I assumed that was it.

Until May…

I was hosting a team from Camilla, GA. I had called ahead to the owner of the transportation company to double check the driver for our team so I could tell the team who to look for at the airport when they arrived. I assumed it was going to be Francisco. It was not.

It was Ever.

I remember when the owner told me who the driver was for that team how my stomach kinda did a somersault. It was a little unexpected as I had not thought about him since January.

When he arrived, the team piled out of the van and Brother Joe’s wife, Teresa walked over to me, gave me a hug and said “Have you thought about Ever? He seems like a really great guy!”

Well by the end of that week, I was definitely thinking about Ever and it was apparent he was thinking about me too. But I was still unsure. Chronically single, here, didn’t know what to do. After the team, I told Ever I would miss him and he said he would me too. I was staying in Honduras for another week and he asked if he could come to La Esperanza (3 hours from where he was living) and take me out to eat. I told him no. Haha!

But he didn’t lose heart. I’ve always said that whoever God had for me would have to be willing to fight for me because I’m a tough cookie. And Ever fought for me but with such kindness, patience and consistency.

It honestly startled me that someone would actually want me. After I returned to the States, Ever and I continued to get to know each other. I would ask him over and over again why did he want me. Just being real right now, I’ve always struggled with why a man would want me. I’m not an easy person. I’m over the top independent. And really, quite frankly, I can be a pain in the a$$.

But Ever pursued me. And he showed me Jesus.

I remember the night I finally gathered the courage to tell him the details of the depression I suffered in my early 20s, something only a handful of people know. I felt absolutely sick. But the Lord had put it in my heart that I needed to tell him. As I shared the details of what I had suffered, I was so afraid he’d want to run for the hills. But he didn’t. He was concerned. He wanted to make sure I was okay and that I knew that in Christ, all things are made new. He reminded me of the call on my life and the enemy’s desire to destroy it. He led my heart that night even though he was in another country at the time. He showed me Jesus.

Over the course of the last few months, I learned about the love of Christ in such new and amazing ways that I never dreamt. Even the Bible talks about the relationship between a man and a woman being a mystery and it is. It is a mystery how God has used this man in my life to bring healing, redemption and restoration. He challenges me. He pushes me. Even when I don’t want to be pushed. He cares for me and wants me to care for myself. He prays for me. He makes me laugh. He wants me. He loves me. And I most assuredly love him.

(Okay, one more blog is coming after this one and it includes all the juicy stuff like first kiss, engagement, and plans for our future life together! Sorry to drag this out but it’s just too good for just one or apparently even two blogs. Lol!)

Journey

Coming Home {A Love Story} // Part 1

December 4, 2016

December always seemed to be the month that I remembered how single I was. I hoped against hope that maybe I would get my Christmas miracle and God would send the man into my life who would be there to stay. But year after blasted year, he never showed and I was stuck watching the most ridiculous Christmas Hallmark movies one more year while shoving more than one chocolate-covered cherry in my mouth.

And then last year, the season was different. I can’t really explain it. It was just that all of a sudden I felt okay, even willing to enjoy my singleness during the Christmas season. (Enjoying my singleness during the rest of the year wasn’t nearly as hard as Christmas.)
On 12/6/15, I wrote in my journal:
Oh how things are changing. I can’t even see all the changes but I can feel them–I sense a shifting beneath my very feet and it is scary yet even more exciting.

For so long I’ve felt out of place–without a home, unsure where I fit. And I think there’s a reason that I haven’t felt settled here. Sure it’s gotten better but I think there’s something more coming.

Back in the summer when I was in Honduras, I felt like “he”–my husband–was coming very soon and then when I got back after awhile that hope/belief faded because nothing happened…

As I was thinking about the “set time” for my husband to come into my life, I felt overcome by this thought that maybe the reason I haven’t met him yet is because he’s not here in Cairo (where I live) because this isn’t where I’m going to be long-term either. I don’t know–maybe it’s all speculation. Maybe I’m feeling hopeful because it’s Christmas but maybe it’s something more–a lot more. Praying, Lord, You continue to order my steps and show me Your way.

Ignore the raccoon eyes, please.

A few short weeks after I wrote this journal entry, I began to sense the Lord putting in my heart the word, HOME. I knew it was a promise of more than a place, that it was a promise of the husband I had prayed for but I was scared to hope. I had been disappointed by hope too many times. So I did what any other Christian woman would do. I spiritualized the word and convinced myself that the only thing that God meant by giving me that word was that I was to find my home in Him. But in my heart, I knew. I knew there was more to that word.

My talented friend, Anna Edwards with her fabulous company, Dustmade, offered a New Year’s special to have necklaces made with your “word” for the year. I had her hand-stamp my word “HOME.” and it has hung around my neck many days this year as a reminder of the promise God had given in that word.
I remember driving to my parent’s home (my current residence) late one night and having a sobfest as I drove telling God how He wasn’t answering my prayers. I instinctively put my hand to my neck. I had forgotten I had even put the necklace on that day but as I held the necklace plate and rubbed my fingers over the stamped letters, I calmed and as clear as clear could be, I heard the Lord say “I am answering your prayers.” 
I had no idea what was about to transpire in the months ahead. I had no idea how God was moving puzzle pieces together. I had no idea how much promise this year truly did hold. I had no idea that God was preparing my heart to answer my prayer in a way I never expected. He was planning to answer it with more…more than I could have EVER imagined.

(I know, I know, you’re thinking, but where’s the rest of the story? It’s coming…stay tuned! ;))