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I was only 13 years old when I got my first taste of heartbreak by a boyfriend who cheated on me with a good friend. So I took a couple walks with God to ask him some questions. On one of those tear-filled walks with the Lord, I asked Him, "When will I know true love? When will I know it is really you?” God's response still rings clear on the inside of me, "Come learn from me what love is, so you will never fall for what love isn't." He told me I could not know this type of love by watching my parents, nor could I find this love in my friends, I could only learn this love from the author of love. So, I did exactly that. I set out to learn true love from Him.

I decided, right there at 13, that I would dedicate one year of my life not to date boys and to research God’s true love. One year turned into twenty years of learning God’s love. In those 20 years, I spent time learning about his love, reading his word, most importantly, I surrendered my will. I learned to hear God’s voice, hearing him speak truth to me and confronting my lack of understanding.

I had to remove the sense of entitlement that I had toward marriage. Was I called to be married or single? I had to learn to be content no matter what the Lord’s call was, and by his grace, I learned to be content in singleness and to treasure the time I had with him. I had to embrace the awkwardness of sitting with the Lord, giving him time and space to develop my faith in him and an understanding of his goodness.

We were literally courting. He pursued me in the littlest desires of my heart. I can recall a particular incident where I was able to pause and realize, “the Lord really is courting me.” I woke up craving yogurt-covered raisins randomly one morning. When I got to work, I walked into the break room and someone had brought a basket with yogurt covered raisins to share with the team. This obviously is a very small gesture, but I believe that in this moment the ord was showing me, I cause you to crave things, just so I can fill the desire. Moments like these, both small and big have lead me to growing in love with the Lord and making him my first love.

Spending time with the lord is just like working out; you build capacity. Someone who has never run does not typically wake up and run 10 miles. In the same way, it takes daily, intentional, small, steps in reading the word and listening for his voice. I started by doing things like “two- way journaling” where I would sit and just write my thoughts, and then listen and free-write whatever it was that I believed I heard the Lord say. You must understand that God really wants to be with you, He enjoys you. When that truth affects your emotions and you feel God's delight in you, it is much easier to spend time with him.

I can be honest and say, there were lots of hard moments in this journey of waiting. I had so many questions for the Lord on why this was taking so long. Feeling left out and left behind in the seasons of my life, particularly as I watched many of my friends get married who are even now with teenage children. Constantly being bombarded by comments of having “too high of standards.” Having people treat me as if I’m a poor soul whose life is incomplete without a man. Or even those who perceived my singleness as “too independent,” or having “too strong a personality.” Some interpreted my singleness as me being an un-submissive and prideful woman. The list went on, and despite the discouragement, I was determined to find God’s intended purpose for marriage. I believe that the earth has yet to see what God has intended for man and wife. If God created his image in the earth - male and female (Gen. 1:27) then together, we are the most complete picture of God that the earth has. In the same way, God has a design for marriage and it is called to be the clearest picture of the relationship Jesus has with the church (Eph 5:22-33). Marriage is a calling. Marriage is more than a cultural norm, it’s the Lord’s perfect plan for revealing who he is to the earth. He designed that we love each other in marriage, the same way he loves us. Having learned that, I am of the opinion that it is ok to slow your role and bond with the Lord in singleness and in waiting, until the time is right.

In 2003, He made it clear to me that I was called to be married. I knew in the fullness of God's time he would bring the right man, one who knew marriage was a calling, one who had fully surrendered to the Lord in the area of wanting to be married, one who knew how to hold the tensions of ministry and family and one who knew the importance of both working hard and playing hard. I met this man in 2015 on my birthday. I had started a huge community renovation project and we needed an electrician. My friend knew a man named Joe, who was in full time ministry and a former electrician. Per my friend’s recommendation, we asked if Joe would be willing to help with our project. Here came “Mr. Servant-hearted, Handy-man” to save the day and join as a volunteer electrician for this service project.

Over the next few months all the volunteers began to hang out outside of the renovation project. We all ended up spending our Thanksgiving 2015 together going on a four wheeling adventure. It was while racing around with Joe through the trees and mud that I thought this man could be, “the one.” We spent the next two months building a healthy friendship before he finally asked me out to lunch. While sitting at lunch, Joe asked me, "Do you feel called to be married and have children?" Straight forward and perfect. Totally God ordained. He proceeded to tell me for 5 years he felt the Lord had called him to not get married and that he had surrendered the desire to get married. He talked about how he felt he was learning the importance of balancing ministry and family, amongst many other things we had discussed. After spending my whole life in singleness learning about what God designed for marriage and believing that marriage was a calling, here was this man speaking of the same lessons in his own life. But still, we kept this in the “friend zone” for 3 months waiting on confirmation from the Lord. You see, even though I was in my 30s still single, I refused to rush. I wanted to hear form God, regardless of my own personal and physical frustrations.

That 3 month friend zone was followed by a 6 month period where we both felt God saying, "no" to us being in a relationship after we fasted and prayed on God’s will for our lives. We gave each other space. If we had chosen to jump right in bed with each other, the will to fast and pray for God’s direction would have gone out the window.

But finally, 18 months later, God awakened those feelings in both of us. Because of our obedience to God, He gave us a crazy amounts of confirmation (including friends having prophetic dreams about us). After almost two years of this friendship, we officially started dating, and a month later we were engaged; March 2017 we became husband and wife. The process of getting to know this man, growing in love, sharing my first kiss in 22 years with him has been beautiful and we have had to be very intentional. We both agreed that God created sex for the covenant relationship of marriage. We both believe that God does not withhold his gifts from those who love him. If God is telling us that certain interactions are only meant for marriage we are clear that it would NOT be good to engage in them before hand and can even be harmful. We have made ourselves and our wait accountable to close friends and leaders. We have both had to step back from a kiss or a hug and remind each other that it is worth the wait. When we wait on God and seek him, he will show up in your life. God shows up as the rewarder of those who diligently seek him. He is not coming with the reward we earned but he comes with the rewards of His faithfulness. It's abundantly more than we could ask, think or imagine.

I am so thankful for my history with the Lord and Him capturing my heart at a young age. It has undoubtedly saved me much heart ache. He kept me pure all these years and so when I got married on March 18th, 2017 I got to do so as a virgin. I know it is the Lord who has given me this testimony and I am extremely thankful for his faithfulness in my life. There were many stupid decisions I made while I was a young teenager that could have easily not ended well. Yet, He preserved me and now I get to take that into my marriage. If I can say one thing about waiting, it's that waiting is where true intimacy with God is cultivated. If we treat the waiting as a season of unfulfilled longing to be endured we will miss out on the biggest gift...God's sweet nearness in the waiting. It’s truly a beautiful place to be. There is so much fulfillment and enjoyment that can happen there. It’s that joy and fulfillment that strengthens our resolve to say, “NO” to many things in that vulnerable space. It’s our “No” that protects our “YES!” to Jesus in the waiting period and keeps us pure. The bond that I got to make with God in these years of waiting was so precious and beautiful. I loved the relationship I had built with Christ so much that when God actually released me to be in my first relationship I cried for a week grieving the end to my season of singleness with the Lord. I am looking forward to this next season of life as a wife. I look forward to the new aspects of God I will get to see as a married woman. And I can’t wait to see what God has intended for husband and wife. God's ways are best and I am so thankful he gave me the grace over the last 35 years to say yes to his will and surrender mine.

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