My Valentine

I have been wanting to start back up on my blog after a year long hiatus, but it occurs to me that some transition might be needed between my last post on God’s gift of singleness and my current thoughts which center largely around my beloved husband.   And really, who doesn’t love to talk about their love story?  So, for those who don’t know, or just love to hear how our precious Father has blessed me, here is the story of how I fell in love.

When the man I married far too young left just before Christmas 2007 I asked God that I would not meet anyone else until I had learned to be completely satisfied in Him.  I pictured the process like flying in one of my dad’s planes- a little effort and struggle as you climb but eventually you break through the clouds and dwell in the sunlight, then wherever life leads from there you are able to carry with you the merit badge of complete satisfaction in Christ.   So, I put in effort and struggled- for years.  But while I knew God was pleased by my efforts, I was distressed to find how often my steps were carrying me in completely the wrong direction.  I felt less like a plane ascending to the heavens then like a hiker lost on a mountainside simply hoping that his steps are carrying him closer to the pinnacle and not back down the slope.  In these past four years I have learned an important lesson: satisfaction in Christ is not a mile marker to be reached on the Christian walk, rather it is the sun that shines down on us as we walk.  Some days are full of sun and radiate with God’s glory, other days we walk in shade born either of the forests we wander into or rainstorms God knows we need in order to grow.  Either way our satisfaction in Christ is not an accomplishment we can carry with us, rather it is a decision we are constantly making as life changes.  As this revelation dawned on me I had to face a new question- if complete satisfaction in Christ is a lifetime journey, had I just commited myself to a lifetime of singleness and, if so, was that a price I was willing to pay?   At 25 years old a life of singleness seemed hard to swallow, but in time I found my answer and wrote it down for all the world to read- I would delight in singleness and wear my baptism as my wedding vow my only love the Lover of my Soul- and God smiled…

I first met Kenny at my Friday night small group early in the fall of 2011.  I walked in with all my kids and chaos half an hour late, as always, and was surprised to see a random guy sitting across the table.  But rather than love at first sight I added together single dad+ two kids in a different state+ career army+ lives with a roommate and got definitely not the One, even if God was intending to give me a One.  And as for Kenny- he thought I was the babysitter and wondered whose really cute kids I had with me.  Not exactly love at first sight.  We studied together in that small group Bible study for months, both wondering what God had planned for our individual futures and divinely blinded to the answer that was often laughing across the table.  Then, in the coldest week of fall our small group decided to go on a camping trip.  My favorite place to be in love with God is in his creation, for “nature is but a name for an effect whose cause is God.”  So, that night by the campfire as I held my sleepy daughter and watched the smoke fade to night sky and the sparks mix with the stars I felt that, despite the presence of others, it was a special time between just God and me.  Then without prevarication, a voice broke into my moment of private worship.  It was Kenny, and he was singing a praise song.  I had the uncanny feeling that he has somehow heard what I was thinking and was speaking my worship aloud.  He played his guitar and lead the entire group in worship while the kids slowly fell asleep on various laps.  I watched him out of the corner of my eyes all the next day.   Besides his fearless heart of worship I saw a compassion for children which I realized all the children had already recognized as they ran to him and climbed on him and let him carry them when their feet got tired on our hike.  Then again, he stole the words right out of my heart when he pointed out the beauty of God’s creation to the children as mist rose off the lake during breakfast and I wondered, was it possible he saw God in the same places I did?   A confusing few months followed.  I found it impossible to believe that God could be allowing me to care for someone when I had just decided I was content in singleness and furthermore was Kenny even interested?  No one else had been- for more than four years!  Then one night in early December we started talking just the two of us.  Technically it wasn’t talking, it was messaging, which made me feel like a middle school student, but also a little safer because I could hide behind my computer screen and think before typing my responses.   Our conversations were light hearted and fun but then somehow we ended up sharing all the important things about his past and mine and honest things that we would never have said to each other in person.  Often I had to cover my face lest my laughter wake my kids sleeping down the hall.  Other times I would wait with my fingers hovering over this very keyboard watching the “typing” indication flashing on and off while he formed his response.  It was terrifying and new to be talking to a man at all.  In the four years after my husband left I had not so much as a flirtation, and now it was two am and I was laughing with Kenny over a photo featuring both of us- terrifying.  Then one night as I was signing off he stopped me: “I have been thinking about you a lot lately.  I’m not sure what to do about it but I wanted you to know.”  I think I stopped breathing while I tried to figure out what to say.  “Well, I don’t mind being on your mind if you don’t mind.”  Dorky answer.  Terrified girl.  What if this was me running away from God’s will for me?  What if talking to Kenny that first time was taking my life into my own hands rather than waiting for God?  After all, it was me that first pushed that message button.  Scared I shared all with my family, letting my mom and sister read every text message when our conversation moved from the computer to the phone and answering my dad’s nervous questions thinly veiled in humor.  I finally got up the nerve to actually talk to Kenny on the phone rather than texting him when he was driving through Mississippi on his way home from visiting his kids and then, on January 2nd we went to dinner.  I had to remind myself over and over “just be yourself, you don’t want anyone to like you for something that isn’t really you.”  It was the most unusual first date ever.  We were both honest about our excitement and nerves “I can’t wait to see you.”  “Do I have to dress up?”  “I am so nervous.”  “Is this going to be awkward?”  Then he showed up and we were off.  I could hardly breathe for most of the date.  Every brush of our arms as we walked side by side, the excuse he found to hold my hand across the table, but I was so nervous I giggled and took my hand back.  Anyone watching us would have laughed at us and we sort of knew it.  That night felt like falling and it was terrifying, but it also felt like coming home.   In the 13 months since that first date I have had a sweet word to fall asleep or wake to every day.  I have ended most of my hardest days on his shoulder or with his fingers in my hair.  I have fallen in love with riding motorcycles and floating around in a jon boat.  I have read my Bible and prayed more.  I have learned to trust God’s forgiveness like I never could before.  I have learned three chords on the guitar I bought in high school and let someone else hear me singing along with the radio.  Every day brings a new blessing, some of them small, some of them undeniably miraculous.  Kenny said it best; this is “a gift of grace,” a gift of grace from my gracious Father.