Before I found the rainbow in the mailbox and again in the sky, I had spent a great deal of time praying about things. I prayed some very specific prayers for Brian while he was on his trip to Florida.
I prayed that he would sit by a christian on the plane who would talk to him about faith.
I prayed that God would get his attention in big ways while he was away.
I prayed that God would keep him from engaging in stereotypical bachelor party activities.
I prayed that God would make it very clear to Brian what he wanted us to do.
On Sunday morning I attended Capitol Hill United Methodist church with my friends Patra and Aaron (from the New Years party). The sermon was on a parable Jesus shared in Luke 13: 6-9 “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?'” ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ ” This is a passage about second chances. With proper care and nourishment what is perishing can be brought to life and bear fruit once again. I clung to this passage in the days to come, as I truly believe that God was using this parable to say to me: Give Brian a chance to seek me. Give the relationship time to grow and produce fruit. If it does not produce fruit, then you will know what to do.
When it was time for the Eucharist I approached the kneeling place and prayed. I poured out my heart, my hopes, my love, and I committed everything to the Lord there at that alter. I took the bread and the wine, and returned to my seat in peace knowing that God had provided the clarity I was seeking.
Later that night I went to Frontline, and then drove out to Dulles to pick Brian up from the his flight home. I was blown away by what he had to say about his trip.
1. He sat next to a girl on the plane who talked with him about her faith. She was on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ and was going to Florida for a staff retreat.
2. The staff retreat she was attending was at the SAME HOTEL as the bachelor party. So there were tons of Crusade staffers at the same hotel as Brian all weekend.
3. The first night the group of guys were walking down the strip in PCB to go to dinner. Their group was about 9 guys. As they walked, they came upon some teenagers handing out flyers. Out of all the guys in the group, Brian is the ONLY ONE approached and handed a flyer. The kid says to Brian: Would you like to come to my church on Sunday? We are having a special service this flyer has all the information.
4. Brian did not engage in any stereotypical bachelor party activities at all! (whew!)
5. On Sunday morning he woke up early and went out on the beach where he found a group of the Crusade staff having a sunrise service. He said that there was a girl in the group who was playing the guitar and she reminded him of me because I had just started learning how to play. He said that at that time he knew he wanted to be with me.
Needless to say, God answered EVERY SINGLE PRAYER I had prayed for Brian that weekend and we decided to continue dating.
After that weekend, God took hold of Brian in a way I have never seen happen before. In May we signed up to take the SHAPE workshop together. SHAPE is a class that helps you identify your spiritual gifts and recommends areas where one could serve in ministry. I had already taken the class once before, and was already very involved with our missions ministry. But I took the class with Brian again just because. Well Brian grasped on to everything he learned in that class. He discovered that serving was one of his spiritual gifts and signed up that same day to serve on Frontline’s Sunday night teams. 24 hours later, he was actually serving at Frontline, and later became one of the team leaders for all of Sunday night teams.
Also during this time, some friends of mine from Frontline invited Brian and me to go on a hiking/cliff diving trip with them(the cliff “jumping” is a whole nother story!) but my friends Keith and Carey Bunch (twin brothers) lined up the trip and invited us to come. On that trip, the two brothers really got to know Brian and at the end of the day invited him to join their small men’s small group. Brian joined and made some life long friendships with amazing men of God. On a side note: Its also fun to note that on that hiking trip, Keith ended up marrying one of the girls who went that day (Natalie) and the guy who videoed the cliff jumping (Carlos) ended up in preparing for marriage class with Brian and me and he and his wife(Sandy) ended up in our first couples small group.
As the summer went on, Brian continued to grow in his love for the Lord, and I continued to grow more and more in love with Brian as I watched how God was at work in his life. Several really fun things happened that summer, but the best story of all is one day I drug Brian with me to the mall and I was in the Gap dressing room trying on clothes for almost an hour. Brian’s patience was wearing thin that day and his strategy for getting me OUT of the dressing room was to suggest that we go look at engagement rings!!!! As you can imagine I left the dressing room in an instant and made NO purchases at the Gap that day!
The week after Labor Day I left DC on a missions trip to Brazil. Brian was not on the trip, and it was the first time we had spent a week apart since the spring. While I was away, Brian and his best friend Thrine made a trip to Mervis and bought a ring. I had zero knowledge of this event, but learned later that Brian decided to buy it while I was out of the country because otherwise I wouldn’t have left him alone long enough to make the purchase without me knowing about it. I remember when I returned home from that trip, Brian came over the same day to bring me lunch. I was standing knee deep in 10 days worth of mission trip laundry when he arrived. He came over and gave me the biggest hug and at that moment I knew that this was the person I wanted to do life with forever. I dont know why it was that moment, something about the normalness of the moment and how much love I felt for him when he just came in and hugged me.
In October we went to Memphis together so Brian could meet my family. That weekend, he talked with my parents about his intention to ask me to marry him, although I walked in while he was asking and cut the conversation short! 🙂 And later that same day, before we had dinner with my best friend April and her husband, he asked me to marry him. I was so shocked, I really didn’t see it coming at that moment. I was speechless and he was like, “are you going to answer me??” and I was like, “are you SURE you want to marry me???” and he said “Of course!!!” and I said “divorce is not an option!!!!” and at this point I am pretty sure he was laughing at me. When I finally realized that this was for real and that Brian REALLY wanted to spend his life with me I said yes and the rest is history!!!!
Our wedding day was April 30, 2005 in Memphis, Tennessee. We were surrounded by almost all of our best friends and family (some got delayed in Atlanta and didn’t make it). The music, the scripture and the message was perfect. Our prayer was that the spirit of the Lord would be not only present but tangible to everyone who attended our ceremony and I believe that prayer was answered. My hometown pastor, Brother Danny, ended the ceremony with a passage that has great meaning to me, and I will end this story with the same passage as a blessing and a prayer for all who read this testimony to God’s love and faithfulness, the story of how he brought two people from two totally different worlds together for His glory.
This is our prayer of blessing for you:
May The LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
May the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.