When I was a teenager, I formulated a plan for myself: Marry by age 20, have all my children by age 25. God had another plan.
I was 23 when my first husband died from colon cancer at the age of 25. He was my first love, a strong, handsome and Godly man, and I was heartbroken. But God was with me through his illness and continued to be with me as I mourned his passing, serving as my provider and comforter.
At 25, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and was certain that I would be single forever, since I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to take on that responsibility. As my health improved, I began dating again, but I didn't enjoy it. After going through a distressing break-up (well, only one of us was distressed, which was part of the reason it was so distressing), I began to embrace the idea of remaining single for the rest of my life. Okay, embrace is not the right word...it was more like "choke down" the idea.
Seven years after I became a widow, things began to change quickly! My friend's mom played matchmaker with her friend who had a single son in seminary. Phone numbers were exchanged and a game of phone tag commenced between Philip and me. One day, while visiting my brother, we found him on AOL Instant Messenger. I'll always remember his first word to me. He typed, "Finally!" :) It's the most romantic word I think I shall ever hear!
He felt compelled to share his testimony right then and there...in front of my protective brother and within earshot (we were reading the text aloud) of my mother. In a nutshell: alcohol... marijuana... cocaine... crack... jail... SEMINARY! Well, that was enough to make my brother wary and my mother hysterical! But I sensed that this was worth pursuing.
We spent many hours on the phone before our first date, and I was impressed by his wit and confidence. I was falling in love with him before we even met! In an effort to impress him, I tidied everything I could. I used household scissors to cut weeds from cracks in the driveway. I even polished the brass on a wicker chest in my living room. I had no idea that Brasso turned your fingers BLACK for a week! It was embarrassing for me then, but what an object lesson! To this day, if he catches me obsessing on non essentials, he'll tell me that I'm brass polishing!
When I finally met him at my front door, I let him in and excused myself to finish getting ready. I vividly recall looking in my bathroom mirror and mouthing, "I could marry this one!" He was so handsome and funny and charming and confident and...(sigh)
As his seminary campus was over six hours away from me, our courtship was limited to weekend dates and many hours on the phone. We knew we wanted to get married within weeks of meeting, and he insists that I proposed to him, while I recall him forcing me to by bringing up the subject, then dodging it. We dated 9 months before marrying.
I'm so glad God brought us together! He knew what I desired and needed in a mate, and He really delivered! I love Philip's wit, wisdom, strength, confidence, and how He truly seeks to honor God as a husband and father in our home. He has made me such a better person, and I am brought to tears when I think about where God brought us from and the dreams we're now realizing together. My best friend, my love, my valentine!