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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Year 5 - a wooden gift

     Five years ago I married my best friend. On Friday, April 2nd, Jim and I celebrated our 5th anniversary. I never thought I could love someone so much. I knew God was hearing all those requests for a man of God to sweep me off my feet, but I didn't know His answer would be "yes." 
     We met at church. Tim Brown had invited me to the evangelism program at Harrisburg in February 2004. I was on track to be a Journeyman with the International Mission Board. My sights were set on being a salt trader in Northern India. I came home to take care of some business and MY plan was to return to Richmond for appointment in March. That's when it all happened. He walked into the Fellowship Hall. Jean jacket and khaki pants. He had just finished working out and was going to grab a bite to eat before visitation began. I looked at his left hand-empty!!! "I could marry that guy!" blared through my head. I physically shook my head to remove the thought, reminding myself that I was there to tell people about Jesus, not to find a husband. 
Lake Geneva 2004
     I have only had one other boyfriend besides Jim. What in the world does a 17-year old know about "love"??! I dated the same guy for most of my junior and senior year of high school and our freshman year of college. Looking back I see infatuation written all over it. At the time, I thought our break-up was the worst thing in the world. Over the next few years I began to see the error of my ways and realized that it was the best thing ever. I didn't date for the remainder of my college life. I knew God had a husband for me and I didn't feel it was my duty to go out searching for him. I met guys along the way. Oddly, I knew right away they weren't "the one." Then they'd become my case, to find out whether or not they knew my Jesus. They all became a mission. Mary Martha asked me once, "Candise, do you really think you are going to know who your husband is going to be the first time you meet him?" My blunt and maybe a little overly confident self exclaimed, "yes, I am!" I really had no idea if I would know, I hoped and prayed I would though!
     My sophomore year of college, right after I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I began writing letters to my future husband. Yes, I'm weird! It kept my mind focused. I'd write about what God was teaching me in my quiet time. I'd pray for him. I told him all about my dreams, hopes, plans. I told him all about the mud hut we were going to live in while sharing the Gospel with an unreached people group of Asia! I filled a cigar box full of love letters jotted on coasters, napkins and scented paper for a guy I had never met. Until now!
     So, my friend Beth was trying to set me up with her cousin, oh, I don't even remember his name anymore, but I did see him last year in Pontotoc when I was having a meltdown on Andrew's first race outing. I knew right away he wasn't the one, so I invited him to participate in the FAITH program at this church. I hadn't even visited this church yet, I had only been participating in its outreach program. I thought it would be a good idea to ward the guy away from dating me if I acted if I were interested in someone else. Thinking this through, right now, does make it seem like I used a cliched pick up line when I asked Jim, "Do I know you? You look so familiar..." as we boarded the church bus. Yah, it sounds pathetic, but really-- I had him at "Hello" LOL
August, 2004
     The guy must have gotten the hint because he didn't come back! Good thing too, because he might have gotten his heart broken. Don't feel bad for him, Beth told me he's married now and has a kid. On the following Sunday morning I actually visited Harrisburg's church service. I sat a few rows in front of that guy Jim. Secretly hoping he would notice me. I wore a dark skirt and a really cute white blouse. Don't think I'm probably did it too! I looked very sophisticated and mature. I wore my hair pulled back, that always helps me look smarter! {right, hehe}
     My plan, rehearsed in my head, was that he would notice me just a few rows up and come talk to me when the service was over. My shoulders sank when he didn't. He turned away and walked out, without even saying hello. What a Yankee! I drove home feeling sorry for myself and comforting myself with the fact that, well, he must not be the one. Oh well. That's okay. I'm not here for the long-term anyway. I immediately set my sight back on Asia. But he would have been perfect! He's obviously into sharing the Gospel because he participates in the FAITH program. He's driven. He's handsome. I wonder if he would be into international missions? I wonder if he {Jim Brown} would live in a mud hut with me? hmmm...
     Tuesday night came quick. I had absolutely no expectations of talking to this guy, Jim, again. I had marked him off my list-He's not the one. I didn't even get all purtied up for FAITH that night. I wore black sweats and a pink valour hoodie and tinnies. My hair was pulled up in a pony-tail bun. I even wore my glasses. It's easy to hide behind glasses and pretend you are invisible. {That's a whole other post in itself} Let's just say, it was obvious I wasn't there to make a huge impression on anyone.  But as we were walking out of the back of the church that evening, Jim and I started up a conversation that lasted THREE hours! During that conversation I learned why he hadn't said hello to me on Sunday. He had a girlfriend up until that day. A girlfriend of about 6 years total...UGH.....{yes, yes, I'm the rebound!} And on Sunday, they broke up...bummer.  
April 2, 2005
     That's really all I remember from that conversation. I do remember not having to try and find words to say, it just all came naturally. I wasn't nervous like I had been with previous guys. Wow! Anyway---we both made phone calls on the way home that night. I called my friend Erin, eager to have her decipher my thoughts and emotions--had I really just met "the one!" He called his parents. I think it was his dad. They asked him if he was sure...I mean, really Jim? {Still not sure if they are sure! J/K}
     The next few weeks were a blur. I do remember one of our first dates was to Subway. It was after FAITH and as we drove back to the church that night, Jim told me he "wasn't interested in anyone else." Still gives me butterflies. We made a commitment then, if we were going to date, it's for marriage, not just for the heck of it. It was with a purpose.
August, 2004
    That left me at a crossroads...I think I had just met the man I am suppose to marry, and I am supposed to leave for 2 years with the Journeyman program.....After lots of prayer for discernment and a mission trip to France, I wrote my final love letter for the cigar box, for the guy I had never met. Laying in a tourist hotel in a northern province of Paris, I came to realize that I didn't want to be Lottie Moon, like I had once desired. I didn't want to be on the mission field alone, single. What I really wanted was to work alongside Jim in whatever ministry God placed us. I didn't want to do it by myself. So I wrote one last letter. This time, it was addressed to him directly.
     God obviously had been working on Jim's heart that same week, because the night I got home from France, Jim took me on a walk in the park and asked me to marry him. I didn't respond with yes...I asked him if he was kidding!  Looked around to see if anyone could see him down on his knee...and hoping he'd get up quick! Then--I realized what he was doing! 
April 2, 2005
     On that cool April afternoon in 2005, I stood on the platform of our church, as giddy as I have ever been, before our family and friends. I felt like a princess. I would walk around the house in that dress if I could fit into it! My groom was and still is so incredibly handsome. Jim and I promised to love each other forever. To remain faithful to God and one another (in that order) for as long as we both breathed. We pledged to serve the Lord alongside each other, to pray for the other and to respect one another. He placed my dainty little rings on my finger, as did I. Then we kissed. The End.
    The rest is history, well, it's unfolding now. I know people see us with smiles on our faces and they, they have it so easy. You see my blog, my facebook pics and you think---wow...must be nice. Looks like it just comes natural.  I'd be lying if I said it wasn't nice, it is. Actually, it's great! But it's hard work. Sometimes we aren't so easy to love, it isn't always easy to smile, I mean...Jim has put up with pregnancy and post partum hormones THREE times..poor guy,  but we keep God and His commands first and the other second. That's the only way we know how to make it work.
     Over the last five years, we've had 3 precious children, lived at 3 different addresses, walked at least a thousand evening walks together, had some really incredibly great times, even had some times we aren't so proud of....but through it all, we have no doubts, no regrets and love each other more and more each day...well, most days! Just kidding! In the grand scheme of things, we are still newlyweds because I plan to be hitched to this man til I'm at least 105---that's the year for the 10-carat diamond!
      Through the years...
April 2, 2005
Moving to D.C.
September 2006
Walk on the Potomac River, pregnant with Andrew, our second son.
June 2008
On the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C....the week we moved back to Mississippi.
June 2008
Taylor's 2nd birthday.
August 11, 2008
March 2010
To Be Continued....

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