A Love story lead by God Part 2

Let's see, where was I. 
Oh Yes, we had become aware of God calling us together but not actually knowing that the other knew. You'd think it would be easy to move on from there to courtship. But nothing can be so straight forward when humans are involved. The following year was a tough one and designed I believe to strengthen our friendship.

We were chugging along in our friendship. Stephen became a close friend and I tried not to get too emotionally involved in him. It didn't make it easy when he would talk to me about marriage and children. I had confided in my friends that I thought he was the one and they told me that he treats every girl like that. One of my friends had a crush on him too and so I hung back not sure if I had really heard God because she seemed pretty convinced too. 
It all came to a head in April of '97. Wow, that was a long time ago...
I cringe in pain to this day recalling the events.
Stephen was going away for 3 months overseas to work with delinquent youth. He needed to buy some clothes for himself so, he hatched a plot to get me alone and go on a quasi date without actually being on a date. He asked me to come with him to help him pick out clothes. Being by now a close friend and feeling comfortable in his company and secretly wanting to spend some time alone with him too. I said yes. Our first date... or was it??
Well, my friend found out about our little outing and insisted that she come along too as it wouldn't be appropriate for a young single girl to go out clothes shopping with a single guy. I was so disappointed, she always managed to take over our conversations, she was closer to Stephen's age and so I often felt quite young around her. So I really wasn't looking forward to this little outing anymore, but thought it was still a good way to spend some time with Stephen before he left for 3 months. This is not what causes me to cringe in pain, it's what happened next that I am still praying through 11 years later.
A week before the outing my friend contacted me and told me that Stephen had been wrong to invite us out and that he was causing us to have feelings for him that we shouldn't have and leading us on, defiling us so to speak. She said that we should call him and ask forgiveness for having such feelings for him and explain to him what he had done to us. She told me she would go first and then I was to call him after and that we were to cancel the outing. I'm not one for confrontation and I could sort of see her point plus she had a very strong personality and I was a bit of a pushover so I reluctantly agreed. So several days later after much prayer, with a heavy heart I reluctantly rang Stephen to tell him that I couldn't go and why. He was very gracious and sensitive. I cried and cried and cried. I was half tempted to secretly go now my friend was out of the picture but I felt that would betray her and I couldn't do that. 
When I saw Stephen on Sunday, I found out that my friend had gone that day with him on the shopping trip, when we went back to his parents house, he showed me what he got and my friend gave a commentary of how these things were picked. I was floored, completely and utterly devastated. When I confronted my friend later, she said that all had been forgiven and somehow that made it okay for her a single woman to go out clothes shopping by herself with a single guy. 
At this time I lived about an hour away where I was attending college and boarding. I cried and prayed and cried and prayed all the way home. It was at that time I made the decision that I would take the next 3 months to forget Stephen and move on with my life. My friend could have him, I didn't want to have to compete and if God really intended for us to be together He would be able to do it. I had been such an idiot thinking I was in any way good enough for him or so I thought.
Three months passed and I had gotten used to not having Stephen around to talk to. But it still hurt. While my other friends were getting excited about Stephen's return I plotted how I was going to avoid him.  His first Sunday back I said a quick hello and moved on to talk to others. Instead of spending the afternoon at his parents house I went straight home. I threw myself into my course. I didn't speak to him much over the next couple of months.  I watched my friend weave her way with him and it broke my heart completely.
Well now this wasn't supposed to happen was it?? We were now further apart then we had been the day I was painting the ceiling.
Well, God had a big mess to clean up. Arghh humans, he must have been thinking. But he is a gracious God and what he did next was beautiful.
Stay tuned:)


A love story lead by God Part 1

At times when I am feeling mad or upset with my husband I often like to think back to when we first met and what drew us together. 

In January we will be married 10 years. We have been friends for 13 as long as his baby sister has been alive although she is no longer a baby.

It was July 1995, we were sitting in a large circle, in a house on the Wycliffe base for a read through of a play that would celebrate the 400th translation of the bible and be used to challenge people to become missionaries.

It wasn't love at first sight, he didn't even notice me, I was 17 he was about to turn 21. I noticed him as he sung his brother's songs in a very loud melodic baritone voice. *Sigh* However at that time I was more impressed by his brother who wrote the songs and at break time decided to strike up a conversation with him instead, by the end of which I concluded that this song writer was completely self obsessed. My mother, on the other hand who had brought me to the rehearsal had taken an interest in Stephen and, being a lot braver then I (Stephen is quite tall), had struck up a conversation with him. Secretly I was pleased.

It was our second meeting that left a greater impression on my mind and heart but still not on his. Believe me it was a real act of God to get him to notice me, in fact it was a whole year later. 

But this is my story not his. So, our second meeting:
I was running late for rehearsal. I had misread the time and was 1/2 an hour late. I ran towards the rehearsal rooms expecting to have to beg forgiveness from the director. Is I dashed down the steps I tripped on the last one and sprained my ankle. Limping toward the room I noticed that instead of the director taking the scene it was Stephen. He sat in a commanding position with this thick creamy wool jumper on. He looked like a big cuddly teddy bear. In pain and upset that I was running late and relieved I didn't have to face the Director, all I wanted to do was to wrap my arms around that cuddly jumper. As I opened the door my heart melted, I think I fell in love with that jumper. I won't let him chuck it out.

Did I mention that at this time I was pretty messed up. Life for me was not good. I was struggling with depression, anxiety and had problems with my dad. I had dropped out of school and felt like life was leading me nowhere. God was the only thing I was holding fast to. I also found I would have a crush on a guy if he was remotely nice to me. I was desperate for love and attention. Looking back on my life now I am so very grateful that God did not allow me to fall into impurity although I have had to ask forgiveness for impure thoughts God kept me physically pure.

Back to my story:
As the rehearsals progressed I discovered that I was not the only one that thought Stephen was a hunk so to speak. Almost every girl in the group had a crush on him. I found this rather disheartening. I have very clear memories of trying to attract his attention. Stephen was an honourable man and unlike most guys I knew didn't treat girls as potential dates. Finally at the last performance I found myself alone with him so I decided to try speaking to him. That's right, after three months I'd barely said boo to him. Oh, there was one time earlier on when I tried to give him some singing advice as I thought he was straining his voice.
Anyway, I thought I'd ask him what he does as you do when you get to know someone. He rattled off a long list of things that he did including preaching and helping his Dad in his church which impressed me greatly. By the time he was finished we were back to setting up for our performance and that was it. Slightly disappointing but oh well...

Wycliffe then sent us on a tour of South Australia and country Victoria. It was on this tour that God completely turned my life around. My parents often say I came back a completely different person. I also discovered this thing called courtship, where you waited for God to bring you your spouse and instead of dating you require the Guy to seek your parents permission to court you with the intention to marry. This completely revolutionised my idea of how to find a guy and for the first time I felt confident that God would supply my husband and I repented of all the crushes I had had.
The person God used to completely transform my life was... you guessed it, Stephen. He was our team teacher. He lead the bible studies every day and what he said and the way he said it spoke such life into my dying heart. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't Stephen doing it but God using Stephen by His Holy Spirit. I grew in such admiration for him. I no longer had a crush on him. I felt his was way to good for me, but I was content just to hear him speak.

So, where to from here? Things could only improve between us, couldn't they?

Well, the next tour was a gruelling three month rehearsal and tour. We lived at Wycliffe during the rehearsals before setting off for 6 weeks on the road. This tour in the words of many of the participants was an absolute failure. It destroyed a lot of relationships, the devil had a field day! I was not immune. I did a lot of things on that tour that I regret, but I also saw a not so honourable side of Stephen, although I have since discovered a lot of the reasons why he behaved the way he did. He became very careless and withdrawn and, I thought, neglected his role as team teacher. I really disliked him a lot during that time and avoided him like the plague. 
By the time of the Queensland tour we had begun to have some good conversations, and I enjoyed talking to him, but the type of person he became on tour was not nice and I was disappointed in him. 
Proving that God has a sense of humour, it was then that God actually hit Stephen on the head and alerted him to the fact that his future wife was standing right in front of him. So, this situation arose whereby, Stephen was trying to talk to me and I was trying to avoid him...poor guy.

Anyway, it was not long after the tour finished and I came to a better understanding of what happened to Stephen on the tour that I began to talk to him again. 
It was around this time that I was painting his parents ceiling. 
Let me explain, shortly after meeting Stephen and his 4 other brothers who were all very Godly guys, I and a few others had begun to attend his church run by his Dad. The teaching was good and so was the fellowship so I made the break from the church I had spent my whole life in and moved churches. The best move I made. I had become stagnant in my faith and through Stephen and his Dad's ministry my Faith was challenged and began to grow again, not to mention that my relationship with my Father was restored and I was no longer depressed or anxious.
So, out of wanting to serve the family that provided such wonderful teaching I found myself painting their lounge room ceiling.

As I did this Stephen had come home from work and said a quick hello and proceeded upstairs to freshen up. As I painted I felt the presence of someone and looked over to notice Stephen leaning against the doorway watching me and it was at that time that I felt God kick me in the guts and say, 'That's the guy you're going to marry'. My response was something along the lines of...'No Way!'
  1. I was still gaining respect for him after all that happened on the tour and 
  2. I thought that there was no way that he would ever consider someone like me. 
As the story goes, we conversed while I finished up and as I was packing up he did something quite chivalrous which completely changed my opinion of him. Here I was covered in paint and as I packed up the rollers and paint tray he came over in his nice fresh clean clothes and offered to clean up for me. After many protests on my part, I handed over the paint stuff and watched him clean up for me. 

Now he knows and I know so it would seem logical that it would be plain sailing from there. Just one slight problem neither knew that the other knew. We both were relying on God's leading from here. 

Stay tuned for part two.