Thursday, April 29, 2010
For some that might not seem like that long. And I hope I can look back someday (like on our 50th anniversary) and say the same. But today, it seems like a huge accomplishment. Our God is so good. I could never fully express what He's done in our lives but we've sure had to rely on Him. On our own, we won't make it. With Him, nothing is impossible.
We met at my cousin Angela's house. Her and her husband were showing me Christ by the the way they lived their lives and the way that they loved me. As a result I had to have this Christ in my life too. The changes God was doing in me were so fast that it was overwhelming at times. I was pregnant with my second child, alone, and just trying to survive. They would drive 45 minutes to pick me up for dinner on the weekends and then go to the Saturday night church service with them. John would frequently go for dinner and church also. It was a lot different then the Saturday nights I was used to for sure. I didn't notice him at first but he was so gentle and kind. I remember telling my cousin, "He'll make someone a great husband one day". She agreed knowing how he felt about me but said nothing. Everyone was just giving me time to heal from my past and grow in the Lord.
He began to spend time with Nathan (about 1 1/2 at the time) like I had never seen anyone spend with him before. He would play for hours and Nathan just soaked it up. I loved sitting back and watching. Partly because I was so cautious of men but mostly because I just enjoyed the break. My belly was ever growing with baby number 2 and I was just plain tired being from a single mom.
Melaina was born January 16, 2001 at 4:00 a.m. Angela brought me a Christmas moose from John. Said he had asked her to give it to me. I was very confused by this gift. Was it for the baby or me? Why a Christmas moose? What did it mean. (I still haven't figured that one out Babe, if you're reading this) I realized I kinda missed him. Not that I hoped he'd come to the hospital and see me like that but I began to wonder, "Why do I care?". I had pledged to be alone for the rest of my life and focus on these children God had so graciously gifted me with.
I recovered for a couple of weeks but couldn't wait to get back to church. My apartment was so lonely. I had walked away from all of my old friends and worked at home on the computer so the only adult contact I got was on the weekends when they'd come pick us up for church. It seemed like every sermon was just for me. I had this plaque hanging in my bathroom and the first scripture on it was Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." I had to learn more about this God who could give someone like me a future and hope. I knew I didn't deserve it but I sure wanted it for my children who didn't ask for any of this.
One weekend, we were there like usual and I was very overwhelmed with my two babies. Nathan was acting out since the new baby and I had to take him into the bedroom to deal with it. While I was in there I heard the baby wake up and begin to cry. I just fell on the bed in total defeat and begged the Lord to help me. I knew I had put myself in this position but this was too much. I begged him to make her stop crying. She instantly stopped. "Wow Lord! Thank you!" I cried. I composed myself and went back out to the living room and found John asleep with Melaina sleeping on his chest. I thought this was an interesting answer to my prayer. This man I had hardly said more than a few words to seemed to love this precious little baby.
Angela called me a few weeks later and asked if it would be okay if John picked us up for church because they were going out of town but didn't really want us to miss it. I said "Sure". He came and I wasn't quite ready to go so he came in and started helping get the kids ready. "Wow Lord!" I thought, "These Christian guys are sure helpful and serving". We got into the car and I had to move the box of Sees Candy out of my way to sit down. "He likes Sees too," I thought, "Should I ask him for a piece?". "Don't you want it?" he asked. I didn't even realize it was for me. I was so oblivious to his feelings for me. I never thought he could ever care about someone as messed up as me. I didn't feel worthy of love. We talked and talked and talked the whole way there. He carried my babies through the nursery without a care of what people might think. I was intrigued with this man to say the least. On the way home he said he needed to share something with me so that I had all the information and wasn't surprised later. "Oh no," I thought. "There is something wrong with him. He is too good to be true." He shared that he had been in prison a few years prior and found the Lord there. He said God had changed him and he wasn't that man anymore but thought I needed to know. I was again amazed by this God who changed people like this. John thought this would scare me away but it drew me to him. To the God in him that could do such miracles. I knew he wasn't that man anymore. I had seen him with my precious children whom I would protect with my life! He said, "Do me a favor. Go home and read Jeremiah 29:11." I knew I had heard that somewhere but couldn't remember so I said "Okay".
I sat on the toilet that night (sorry for the graphics) and looked up at my plaque. It read, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 No way! This God really was amazing. "Why am I feeling all these things Lord! I'm so scared. I don't want to be hurt ever again." (I'm still learning more each day how to trust him with this)
April 28, 2001 we were married. We danced the night away with our children and then went to a hotel close by because I was still nursing Melaina. She was 3 months old by this time and had never taken a bottle but I figured since it was my honeymoon she'd have to. She said no to the sitter all night long and we had to go pick her up. She joined us on our honeymoon for the rest of the weekend. And so our marriage began. I brought 2 kids and lots and lots of luggage through that door. The chaos hasn't ever ended and we're still decluttering some of that luggage. Seven children and nine years, there's never a dull moment.
(This is him dancing and singing to Hannah, baby number 5, like he does with all of them at this age. He would do this to put her to sleep so I could get extra rest. He still has a way of lulling her to sleep which if you know Hannah you know this is quite the skill.)
I used to think that this was a very unhealthy way to start out. I guess it is in a way but God can make beauty from ashes for sure. Recently our Pastor challenged us to remember what first drew us to each other. What qualities did the other person have that made us want them. I felt so guilty for being drawn to him for the way he played with Nathan and held my baby that day but then John said he was drawn to the type of mother I was to them also. He loved how I would load them up in the stroller and walk miles to get what we needed from the store. (Most men would call the baggage honey but that is why I love you so much.) He said he knew when he met me that I was the wife he'd been praying for. I was 4 months pregnant at that time. He said I was beautiful and he couldn't tell until I turned around anyway. (I've gained a few since then but he doesn't mind) I didn't feel I deserved a man like this and I still don't. He is the husband I never could have dreamed of and the best daddy in the world. I fall more in love him everyday. I love him more now then ever before. This weekend we are going away for our anniversary! It's the first time I haven't been pregnant or nursing in eight years.