The Ultimate Wedding Coordinator

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Several years ago I attended the wedding of a woman in my church.  Though she had had more than one disappointing marriage, for twelve years she believed God for the right one for her.  One night she attended a church service in a different town where her job had assigned her to substitute.  At that service she met a godly man, and they began to correspond.  Though I didn’t get to watch their courtship, I was able to attend their wedding.  I’m so glad I did!

At the ceremony, a guest musician noted that the best does not come for those who wait; it comes to those who believe.  My heart leaped when I heard it.  This woman hadn’t been looking for a man; she had simply believed for one.  It wasn’t a mistake that she was assigned to a different location to work for a day.  God knew when the right time for her and this man would be to meet.  He was the coordinator, orchestrating every detail to make their relationship a success.

We all have a choice.  We can choose our best or God’s best.  But God has promised that if we choose His best, we’ll experience His best.  His best is for us to completely surrender our relationships to Him.  It may mean saying “no” to many advances from guys.  But every “no” spoken is saying “yes” to God’s chosen one for us.  Though there may be disappointing experiences and counterfeits along the way, we can choose to use those experiences as a springboard into our future.

It’s often hard to trust something we cannot see.  It’s easy to imagine that God, as busy as He is, couldn’t possibly care about whether the right “car” is coming to our intersection or not.  But God, all-knowing and all-seeing, does more than just notice the details of our lives.  He orchestrates them.  He’s the ultimate wedding coordinator.  He knows the right man.  He knows the right place.  And He knows the right time.

God is a God of surprises.  Adam never knew a deep sleep was coming and that Eve would be the result of his slumber.  Like Adam, God doesn’t want us to see and know everything.  He doesn’t want us to dream someone else’s dream, or to try to make their experience ours.  He wants to make our relationship uniquely ours.  The greatest part of waiting for the unique is the pleasure of seeing the surprise of God’s best before us.

 

Photo courtesty of google images.

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When Dating Is Wrong

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We’ve heard a lot of opinions about dating.  When is it appropriate to date?  At what age should a person start dating?  Is courtship better than dating?  Is dating even healthy for a Christian? With so many views, we could get confused and frustrated in culture where dating many times over is totally acceptable.

When we get down to the root of it all, however, it’s not about dating vs. courtship, or dating only at a certain age.  It’s about staying in the will of God in every area of our relationships.  Though dating in general may not be sinful, a wrong heart motive behind it may be as wrong as dating the wrong person at the wrong time.

God first looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7).  He always has and always will.  In fact, we can’t even get saved unless we believe in our hearts (Romans 10:9,10).  Many people can “date” with a pure heart motive. However, if the heart motivation behind a dating relationship is wrong in God’s eyes, that dating relationship is not from Him. Dating then is not the issue; the heart is the issue.  Is the heart wrong?  Then the dating is wrong.

As we read the following points ask ourselves, “What is the condition of my heart? Am I dating for the right reasons?”

  1. Am I motivated by filling a need like loneliness?
  2. Am I motivated by the thrill of accessing a certain group?
  3. Am I motivated by avoiding responsibilities?
  4. Am I motivated by ignoring a season of growth and maturing?
  5. Am I motivated by lustful desires?
  6. Am I motivated emotions, and nothing more?
  7. Am I disobeying God when He specifically said not to date this person?

If we answer “yes” to any of these, it’s time to step back and analyze our relationship-.

We must always remember that our actions toward and with people are to be motivated by love.  Love for Jesus and love for others (John 13:34).

When we obey Jesus and His will for our lives, we are loving Him (John 14:15). We don’t ask questions, but simply do what He says, even if it means overcoming disappointment that a relationship may not happen.

When we love others, we don’t use someone’s attention and time for personal gain.  Love doesn’t lead them to do something that will hurt them.  Instead, it strives to lead them into a stronger relationship with God, and helping them stay in – not out – of His will for their lives.  Anything less is selfishness.

When is dating wrong? When it’s not motivated by love.  When is dating right?  When it’s motivated by love . . . and love only.  When this is our motivation, God’s best relationships are sure to find us . . . because our hearts can be trusted!

 

Photo courtesy of Google images.

Hand’s Off!

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In the past, I have tried to make things happen or tried to figure out how I think God should make something happen!  I have a detail-oriented brain that likes to organize everything under the sun, lest –gasp!—the whole world should come to a screeching halt.

One time, I returned from a trip where I had met a bunch of neat people—including a guy.  Once home, I got on the Internet and searched for his name on Facebook.  As soon as I went to click the “Add as Friend” button, God stopped me and told me not to initiate.  I was irritated at the thought, but after a few minutes of mental war, I pulled my cursor away from the button.  The next day (yes, the very next day!) I went to church and got further instructions from God through a traveling evangelist: “The favor factor is on your life.  Don’t mess it up with looking.  Don’t check. God has a plan.  When it’s right, the plan will be perfect.”  Okay, okay, I get the message!

Later there were times when I still had to control my impulses. I was so tempted to try to look up a potential candidate on Facebook, or “innocently” ask questions about so-and-so.  As God pointed out to a friend of mine, who will you thank when you initiate the relationship and get the guy?  You would only be able to pat yourself on the back for the relationship.  That doesn’t honor God, and in the long run, it doesn’t satisfy you.  Better to step back and let God hold the reins.

I’ve heard a pastor put the faith-and-wait issue like this: “Faith is the constant; time is the variable.” Your job is to keep your faith solid and unchanging.  The only thing that may seem uncertain is the timing that only God can handle.  Since God’s capable of doing everything and anything, it would seem logical that He should be the one working out the details.  If you’re anything like I was, though, you want to help God take care of His business.  You know, take some of the load off His shoulders….

Abraham tried to do just that—and paid for it.  While God had a great plan in mind to get Abe’s son, Abraham tried to step in and choose the method himself.  He had a baby through his servant woman.  From then on, nothing but chaos ruled in the house.  Abe ended up sending the woman and his new son away, never to be seen again.  After a good discussion with Abraham, God put His plan into action.  Even when it seemed naturally impossible, the promise showed up through Isaac.

Like Abraham, God wants your dreams to come true through the promise He’s given you, not through your human efforts.  God instructs you in Proverbs 3:5, 6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.  If you’re truly trusting God with all your heart—including those romantic dreams—then you’ll be willing to let Him do the work.  Your tiny mind can only reason things through so far before you come up short.  Your benefits result in letting Someone else be the mastermind behind it all.

To be continued…

Steady as You Wait – Guest Post

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The following testimony is written by someone very special in my life.  Paula Hernando was the secretary of the Christian college I attended in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in the early 2000’s.  I volunteered in her office and enjoyed chatting with her sweet personality!  She was a blessing to me as she made me feel welcome in a foreign country, a new church, and a new school.  Like many of us, she had to wait a little longer than planned for her “Mr. Wright” to appear.  But as you’ll read, it was well worth the wait!

I remember as a child picking up a special flower and pulling the petals off one by one. “He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me…” I would take the steps down an imaginary aisle holding tightly to my grandmother’s geranium as if it were a grand bouquet.   I would imagine my future husband whisking me off my feet and carrying me away.  However, when I reached my early 20’s, the desire to be married was no longer a quiet childhood game.  By that time I felt I knew everything there was to know about life and love and marriage (insert chuckle here), there was only one thing missing:  A man!

I knew instinctively that peacefulness was so important while waiting for my future husband to arrive.  I did the best with what I had and tried to pretty myself with make-up and hair styles that were flattering. Everyone around me told me to wait for God to bring just the right person in my life.  I’d like to say that I was the picture of perfect patience, but I had difficulty with the idea of delay.  I questioned God about it continually.  I couldn’t understand why desire didn’t equal readiness. It became increasingly stressful for me as I aged. Through this process, God made me ready to handle a serious adult relationship.  It was a readiness that I couldn’t produce in myself.  Only God knew when that moment would arrive.  In a practical sense, I had to come to the place of hopeful peace in the midst of an intense desire to be married.

“This could be the year that you meet your man, because if we wait for you, we’ll wait forever.” This was an encouraging prophecy that came to me a few years before I met my husband to be.  While I waited, I kept the following scripture in my back pocket:  “… blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45). I held to these promises that brought me a hope that God would one day answer my prayer.

Then one day in 1998, I had the responsibility of arranging billets for students at my new job as secretary for a Christian college.  My new assignment had to be housed within an afternoon. I was to meet him later that day to discuss the arrangement and give him a map to his new home.  When Dario arrived, my heart did a little flutter and I’m sure I blushed.  Thus began a friendship where we seemed to be drawn to one another.

By the end of 2002 I knew I wanted this friendship to blossom into more.  I loved his walk with the Lord, his warmth, his ability to keep me fascinated in conversation, and his funny way.   Through the assistance of mutual friends, Dario asked me to dinner. This began a 5-month courtship as our love and anticipation grew.  We were going steady!

I remember the Lord giving me a directive one night as the scripture leapt off the page of my Bible: “Be still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall; for the man will not rest until he has completed the matter this day” (Ruth 3: 18). Little did I know that during this time Dario had for two weeks held a boxed engagement ring in his pocket, looking for an appropriate time.

During one of our planned picnic dates, we visited a beautifully restored nursery, complete with dazzling colors in lilies, peonies, and other tiny flowers and plants.  Dario asked me to marry him in this beautiful backdrop of God’s creation.  I said, “Yes”!  I was 39 years old.  We were married October 10th, 2003.

We had the blessing and support of our leaders, our friends, and a faithful God.  Our courtship was blessed with a prophetic word with personalized details along with a personalized scripture: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:   If either of them falls down, one can help the other up” (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10).  We knew God was blessing our union!

To the single regardless of age:  God knows your heart’s desire just to be loved.  Remember He has loved you first and wants that heart’s ache to be fulfilled just as much as you do.  You have His attention.  God is preparing you both.  Remember He already knows who that man is!

Paula’s Advice:

Be the best you, you can be!

  1.  Prepare yourself spiritually to crawl in close to Father God. He will fill your heart with warmth and love.  For a man who is seeking, your love relationship with the Lord is really hard to resist.  Seek to be inclusive with Jesus.  Go steady with Him.  Pray for your future husband all the blessings you can think of to ensure God’s blessing is on him and you will meet just at the right time.
  2.  Prepare your mind and emotions to handle the challenges of relationships. Find the books that will help you do that.   Marriage can be a challenge.  Give yourself some tools in understanding human dynamics.
  3.  Is there anything you can do to prepare yourself physically? Don’t fall for the lie that a pretty face and trim body is the only way to attract that man.  Or a handsome physique and bulging muscular body is the only way to attract a lady.  However, strong healthy bodies are important for handling stress and giving your future spouse the best you that you can be.

All this…while you wait.

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Paula Hernando is a fellow blogger and published author.  You can read more about her and her book at http://www.emptyhandstoopenarms.com.

 

My Story

 

The following is “my story,” my marriage testimony of how God brought my husband and I together.  It took years of waiting – sometimes in faith, sometimes in doubt – but God was faithful through it all.  I hope it encourages you to apply  your faith toward God’s will and His very best.  His dream for you is bigger than your dream for yourself, and He is more than able to get the job done if you’ll trust Him! (Lyrics to the songs I mention can be found under the “I Found Him” pages above.)

For years I, like many other girls, dreamed of being married.  I set my dream in motion in several ways. In 2000, when I was nineteen-years-old, I wrote “A Dream Come True,” a song I planned on singing to my husband as I walked down the aisle.  I also sketched out wedding plans with a pencil on lined paper. That same year, I wrote the song “I’ll Find Him with You,” declaring that God was my matchmaker.  Over the years, I invested in my friends’ weddings with the anticipation that it would one day be me.  Even then, despite the strong desire and declaration of my trust in God, my saga toward marriage took longer than some.  Though I turned down several potential suitors (including some complete strangers and brash coworkers), the faith adventure behind my dream began when I was around twenty-six-years-old.

One night in 2007, I walked across a dark parking lot to my car.  As I drove to my tiny apartment, I felt the urge to pray for a husband. Though the desire in my heart was real, I hadn’t really prayed for one in the past.  That night was different.  I had just left a prayer service and I was spiritually sensitive.  Somehow, I just felt that it was time for me to send my petition—seriously—to heaven.  “God,” I prayed quietly, “I pray for a husband.”  Within moments, I received God’s response. As tears pooled in my eyes, I distinctly heard God speak to my heart, “Request granted.”

It was wonderful to have a direct word from Him, but even if He had not chosen to say something specifically to me, I had two inspiring verses to stand on:  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (Mark 11:24) Now this is the confidence that you have in Him, that if you ask anything according to His will, He hears you. And if you know that He hears you, whatever you ask, you know that you have the petitions that you have asked of Him. (1 John 5:14-15)

A few months later a friend and I had a chance to go to a church conference out of town.  I preceded the trip with prayer, releasing the event to God’s purpose.  At one point, He stopped me and said, “Relax.  This is My gift to you.”  I stopped and started packing!  Toward the end of the conference I was introduced to a young evangelist.  This excited me because I had always felt called into the ministry.  I went to my hotel room later, praying that God’s will would be done . . . but deep down, I knew what I wanted.  Though this young man had acted interested, and it seemed like such a God-setup, he did not pursue. I went back home with anxiety attacking my mind. Why didn’t he pursue?  Had I done something wrong?  Was this part of God’s gift to me, but had somehow gone wrong?

For months I mulled over every detail of the event.  Thoughts plagued me day and night, disrupting my peace at work, church, and home.  No matter how hard I tried, I could never find any answers to settle anything in my heart.  The dream I had so longed for had entered my life but had disappeared just as quickly.  I was left floundering in self-pity, frustration, and anxiety. I had never been under so much mental strain before.  Hope deferred had made my heart sick (Proverbs 13:12).  I didn’t realize it then, but I was not trusting God. My faith had been shaken.

In June of 2007, one of my neighbors at my apartments – a clean-cut man in his thirties – asked me out on a date.  I didn’t have peace about going out with him so I politely declined.  I knew I had made the right decision, but I was still dejected.  How many times was I going to have to say “no” to someone’s advances?  When could I give my heart away and enjoy the company of my first boyfriend?  I felt discouragement overtake me.  That’s when I heard God quietly tell me, “Christa, let Me hold your heart until your husband comes.”  Those words were the inspiration of a song I wrote called “Hold My Heart.”

In May 2008, I penned the song “Can’t You See,” stating my love for Jesus and the treasure my future husband would receive when we married.  Then in July of 2008, I began to write an outline to a book called I’ll Find Him with You, inspired by the song of the same name. The book covered allowing God to design your love story, trusting Him, and keeping your standards when it came time to choose the right man. It was all I believed and lived by.

On January 23rd, 2009, God led me to pray for my future husband – whoever and wherever he was.  So I began to pray a general prayer of protection, grace, and guidance over him as I would do over anyone else.  However, when I began to pray in the Spirit, the prayer came out of me like a gusher.  My prayer language sounded different than usual, so I knew I was interceding for something specific. Just as quickly, the prayer language stopped and went back to normal.  I had no idea what my future husband might have been facing at that moment in his life, but I wrote in my journal that night: “My husband is only successful!  He has the victory!”

A few months later, in August of 2009, I was asked to move to Dumas, Texas to be on staff at another church. Shortly after the move, I was diagnosed with something that could potentially scare some men away.  However, I knew that God’s will for me was healing, so I stood on my redemption promises.  I believed that with God all things were possible, so I didn’t give up on my desire for a husband.  While I was at it, I added a request for a house to my prayers.  I called it my “Three H’s” – healing, husband, and house.  I thanked God for them every day because as I John 5:14-15 says, I had them the moment I asked!

As an act of faith for my future husband, I started to write the manuscript for I’ll Find Him with You.  Shortly after finishing the manuscript, I bought my first house!  It was a perfect size for a small family with a beautiful yard, trees, extra drive way, garage and workshop. (Little did I know that my future husband would take pride in taking care of a yard and working in a shop.  He would also own a trailer that would fit perfectly in the double driveway.)

In May 2011, a man – mutual friends of a couple ministers I knew – asked to be friends on Facebook.  I suspected it was for romantic purposes, but I gave “John” the benefit of the doubt and added him as a friend.  Sure enough, he asked me out.  I turned him down three times because of a lack of peace, but eventually caved, giving him “a chance.”  However, I disconnected after three weeks of communication, knowing he was not the one for me.  He was rebounding badly and had other issues that showed up after we stopped communicating.  I had disobeyed the Holy Spirit by going out with him, but God was merciful to protect me from a bad choice.  It proved to be a counterfeit set up by the devil to keep me from meeting the “real man.”

Unknown to me, a man named Michael Madrid had started attending our church a couple months before I went out on a date with “John”.  Michael spent weeks attending and eventually noticed me.  While I was totally oblivious to his existence, he watched from afar as I came and went with the children I taught in children’s church.  He had started to get his hopes up when “John” and I sat together at two services in church.  Michael had thought I was single, but when he saw me with “John” and his two boys, he assumed I was married.  Once John was out of the picture, though, Michael discovered I was still single and made his move.

On June 23rd, 2011, he introduced himself.  He and other men in the church strode into my classroom carrying chairs.  The moment he walked through the door, he said, “You must be the children’s minister.  Better you than me!”  My first humorous thought was, “Hmmm.  A child-hater,” but I didn’t hold it against him.  That night he attended a meeting designed to help people get involved in the church.  Michael introduced himself and I was immediately attracted.

From then on, we talked regularly after church.  I was impressed with his character and standards.  Before long, it became clear that he wanted to date me.  Since I had no intention of dating someone I wouldn’t marry, I quizzed him on some key topics, including the doctor’s diagnosis.  He didn’t have a problem with it at all.  In fact, he stated, “The way I was raised, if you liked someone, you took the good and the bad.”

On May 27th, 2012, we got engaged!  Once I knew I would marry him, I asked him something I had simply “hidden in my heart” for the past three years: “What were you doing in January of 2009?”  He responded, “Oh, that was a bad year.  I wasn’t even talking to my family.”  That told me he was in serious trouble since he and his family are very close!  I was encouraged because I knew my prayer in 2009 moved God’s hand on his behalf!

I started to plan the wedding ceremony, pulling out of my keep-sake stash of notes I had made. The pencil-sketched plans came to life as I shopped for topiaries, a simple dress, and reception food.  I collaborated with my brother and recorded my song. On March 16th, 2013, I walked down the aisle to that tune and made my vows to the man God had reserved for me!

As I look back on all the steps that led me to my wedding, I stand in awe of God’s faithfulness.  He was faithful to honor my faith, and sent me a husband.  He was faithful to protect me from the wrong relationships so I could find His will and His best.  He was faithful to give me words of encouragement to keep me going when I was discouraged.  And I know He will be faithful to fill our marriage with His goodness so we can fulfill His purpose!  He indeed makes dreams come true!

Joy & Peace

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One of the signs that we are truly trusting in God is that we are happy while we wait.  God never wanted us to be depressed while we waited for our promise to show up for our physical eyes to see.  Really, it doesn’t even make sense for us to stand around pouting.  God already said the promise is ours.  There’s a great excuse to get excited!

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:1)

Sometimes, though, our emotions don’t want to agree with what we believe.  It’s frustrating . . . and it requires extra action!

Lara was my roommate while I went to school in Canada.  We became great friends, and I was overjoyed when I was asked to be her Maid of Honor a few years after we graduated!  She told me later how she and her husband got into a relationship.

Though they had known each other for several years, Jordan was “just a friend.”  But one night everything changed.  Lara had been especially depressed and discouraged about her single life and family issues that plagued her days.  It was church night, and she almost stayed home.   During praise and worship, though, God began to talk to her about getting past what she was feeling.  Would she praise and worship Him with all her heart, even though she didn’t feel like it?  Or would she sit on the pew and sulk in her frustrations?  The godly girl that she was (and is!), she chose to worship God with all she had.  At that point, Jordan saw her and thought, “I’ve got to get to know her better!”  The rest is history.

It’s amazing what God will do when we choose to rise above our disappointments and give Him everything.  Praising Him when we’re feeling our worst is a sign that we trust Him.  And when He sees that trust, He goes to work for us!  Sometimes it takes an action of faith on our part to press through the emotions and tap into the joy and peace that God says can be ours.  Or to encourage someone else that is feeling low.  God instructed Lara to write letters to her future husband every time she felt depressed about her love life.  By her actions she was declaring her faith in God’s promise to her – even when she couldn’t see it with her eyes.

When I was single, I would get sad when I’d watch a romantic chick flick or see one of my friends get married.  I’d watch the sweet relationship between a guy and a girl develop and mourn that it wasn’t me.  But later I changed my tune.  I found it very sweet and thought, “That’s going to be me!”  I didn’t know it because there was a potential guy at my front door.  I wasn’t confident because of the way I felt.  I knew it because my confidence is in God’s promise to me.

A good definition of hope is “confident expectation for the future.”  When we believe that we will see His promises fulfilled in our lives, we can confidently thrive in the hope that He has given us.  But to be able to be able to abound or thrive in that hope, not matter what’s going on around us, we need joy and peace to sustain us.  We can’t work up those attributes ourselves.  They’re given to us through the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us.  That’s what keeps our hope alive and makes it so powerful and unchanging.  With this hope, we can, like Elizabeth spoke over Mary, confidently say over ourselves:  Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45)

Praying For You by Mandisa

One of the greatest ways you can love your future mate, whether you know him or not, is to pray for Him.  God can do more for Him in your absence than you may realize!  No amount of dreaming and wishing could impact his life – and yours – than including God’s influence through prayer.

I am one who knows this by experience.  In the winter of 2009, God led me to pray for my husband, three years before we ever met.  Having no idea what he looked like or where he lived, I by faith lifted him up to God.  I prayed until I felt a release to stop.

When I finally met him and we were engaged, I asked him where he was and what he was doing in 2009.  His face serious, he admitted that it wasn’t a good year for him.  He wasn’t even communicating with his family, whose relationships were very close.

Did I hear from God that day He told me to pray for Michael?  Absolutely!  I am confident that if I had not obeyed and prayed that day, we may not be married today.

The devil doesn’t want God’s plans to be fulfilled in your life.  He will send frustrations to both you and your future spouse to hinder you from meeting.  He only wins if you are overcome by frustration, discouragement, and pity parties.  But when you rise up and allow God to work through your prayers, great things happen!