Friends, I know you have been praying for me. Something so exciting happened THIS morning! I woke up...and I didn't have the panicky-worry feeling!!!!!! Woo hooo! This is huge for me. So, I had a great night's sleep last night, and when I opened my eyes, I smiled out loud! I began thinking about Randy, because I didn't even hear him get up for work. I started praying for him and for the day the Lord had made for him. I have thrown all kinds of stress balls at him lately. Bless him. Every day he comes home and listens to me talk about how I'm going to rearrange our lives within the next year. That's how I cope. I plan in my head, and he gets to hear the scary thoughts. Everyday produces a new plan, or a tweak in an old plan. He just listens to every crazy thought I have. Today, I was thankful for that. He was on my mind when I awoke, and the Holy Spirit prompted me to just be thankful for this blessing that is my husband.
You wanna know our story? Okay! I met him the summer after I graduated from high school. He was the guy one of my friends liked, so I didn't really scope him out upon our first meeting. There was something very strange about him. He smiled a lot, but he was QUIET! Over the next year I started to understand this quiet guy a little more. A bunch of us used to go to The Church at Brook Hills on Friday nights. It was awesome to have friends that I could worship with and just talk about my Jesus! One day the phone rang...and it was Randy! This was the beginning of a long period of "I don't know if we're dating, or what we are, so just don't ask me." :) The first night he bought my dinner, we were at Chili's (still my fav) and I will never forget at some point, he looked me right in the eyes, and said something. The world froze as my head spun, and I knew those eyes were honest, but if I blinked I might miss this wonderful moment.
We had a long courtship, and finally after about a year, he became my boyfriend. He lay on the floor tossing a tennis ball up in the air, over and over, while I listened, looking down on him like a cat from my perch on the couch. He said things that every girl hopes to hear one day. After this night, I knew he wanted to marry me, but he had only just become my "boyfriend". We had to take it slow. The next year was amazing. I knew that I loved this guy with all that was in me. I watched him lead worship, and then I experienced the the intimacy of him praying with me. He would surprise me by showing up at my work, when I had to work late - just so I wouldn't have to walk to my car alone. When I ran into a little "situation" at work, he showed up, looked a man in the eyes, gave him a very firm handshake, and that little situation was solved. He was my knight in shining armor - and I am so about the fairy tale!
Through all of this, there was something we had never said to each other. I know we both felt it, but I was determined I was not going to be the first one to say it. You see, I did a lot of talking in our relationship, and this was one thing I was going to be told first. Yes, it's the "L" word. In June of 1997, the eleventh, to be exact, Randy would turn 32. He asked if we could please do whatever he wanted. Of course I obliged. It was a Wednesday night, so we went to church at Cathedral of the Cross. When we got there, we realized the church was being used by another denomination for their Camp Meeting. We sat close to the front. The preacher was comparing the church, the Bride of Christ, with a human marriage. Randy squeezed my hand really hard a few times with a big grin on his face. I thought he was really getting into this Camp Meeting. Then, there was a song about God always being on time...Yes, He is... Again, more squeezing, there may have even been some hand sliding (Randy's excited thing, like trying to start a fire with your hands). So, he asks me if we can go to the altar and pray together. I'm all for this, but the altar was a little conjested all the way to our row. So, we made an altar out of our pew.
He prayed for us, and then he began talking. "I've wanted to say this for a while, but the Lord kept telling me to wait. Sometimes, I would think I was gonna burst, but something held me back.Then, tonight, everything was confirmed - from the sermon to the songs. I know this is when I was supposed to say this to you." All I could think was, "Jesus, he's gonna say it, he's gonna say it right now, oh my goodness!" Wait for it..."Ashley, I love you." There it was, that was it, and it was so worth it... "...and I want to know if you"ll share the rest of your life with me, will you marry me?" Holy Camoly, what was that?! He loves me AND he wants to marry me, all in the same night?! I was staring at a ring that was perfect. It is exactly what I would have picked out, but I never told him. I was able to say, "I love you too, and yes I'll marry you!"
So, then he looks at me and says, "Don't stop and talk to anyone on the way out, I kind of jumped the gun a little, and I haven't asked your dad yet." What?!!!! Was he crazy? How could he know me so well, and not ask my dad FIRST?! So, we rush out to the jeep, where there are a dozen red roses waiting on me, and we begin the long drive to my house. I am planning how we're gonna handle it when we get there, and he's just smiling. Finally, he listens enough to, I think, understand the plan. We were to go in, I would ask Beverly to come to my room with me, and he would have time alone with my daddy, and hopefully he would still be alive to marry me.
I love, to this day, to watch my dad reenact me walking in, dog-eying him, and asking Bev to come with me. I guess that was my look that said, "I'm really scared about what's about to happen, but don't mess it up!" Beverly comes into my room with almost the same grin that Randy has been wearing. I begin to ramble on about how he asked me to marry him, and she's just looking at my hand, and grinning. Finally, her eyes meet mine, and she says, "Ashley, your daddy already knows. They're playing a little trick on you. He came over here last night and talked to your daddy and me both." Daddy knows? Relief! They what?!!!! That gave us all a good laugh after my pulse finally returned to normal.
We still love to pull pranks, and make each other laugh. We got married on January 10, 1998. We put our Lord first, and He has blessed us. We've had seasons where we weren't each others' favorite person in the world, but I am so thankful that through those times he has never given up on me. Life is hard. Situations and circumstances come along and blind-side us. Jesus has remained faithful to us through everything. Only because our marriage is grounded on that Solid Rock are we able to be where we are today. "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself." 2 Timothy 2:13 If Christ is in us, we can be assured that He will remain faithful to us - always.
There's the shortest version of our story. No matter how upset with him I may get, or how frustrated he might make me, Randy is still the one. Sometimes I have these crazy dreams that somehow I missed Randy, and I'm to be married to some other guy. There's always this longing that I feel in my dream, and at some point, I will see Randy, and I will scream that I can't marry the other guy. Even my subconscious knows that my heart belongs to Randy, and it always will.
At times, I lovingly call Randy "Coach". No matter what it is that I'm going through, he's always a good coach. When I first started running, he would give me great pointers, and if I listened to him and did what he said, he was right. He did his best to be my "voice" coach. When we played co-ed softball, coach. I am not kidding when I say, trying to figure out how to breastfeed for the first time, he coached me - and it worked! I have watched him do the same thing for each of our children. If they listen to what he says, and apply it, it works everytime. What a blessing this man is to me and to our children. When we first found out that we were expecting our fourth child, the first positive thing that came out of my mouth was, "You're a good daddy." So, maybe the Lord needed this baby to have a good daddy, and it needs Randy.
There are days when I am such an ungrateful wife. I don't want to be, but it happens. Tonight, I'm praying for marriages. How is yours? I'm praying that you will remember. Go back to the time when you couldn't get enough of your spouse. What attracted you to him/her? Know that the person you fell in love with is still there. Find that person! Jesus, I ask in your name that You will restore and renew marriages. Remind us of who we fell in love with. Repair those things that have broken us, and help us to build each other up. Help us to find one thing today that we are thankful for in our spouse. Then, help us to tell our spouse. Let us embrace our spouses, look them in the eye, and tell them why we love them. For those who are not yet married, I pray that you would sustain them in their waiting, and bring them the desire of Your heart. I thank you now for the miracles of tomorrow.