We like to think that it's not just because two people met, you see.
We like to think that a Creator, our God, and Lord Jesus Christ, was the writer. He likes to write HIStory, and why would he not write ours? Our story began in 2007, and it is still being written.
Let me begin with little old me (Amber).
I had dated.
I had dated, actually, a lot. My mom even ventured to call me boy crazy, because I did have tons of boyfriends, and friends who were boys. But, because of a lack of maturity, and a lack of following the Lord completely, I did not really get serious about dating until I was into my late twenties. I began praying.
And when you pray, watch out...things happen!
I really wanted to meet that godly man - the one I had pictured in my head on all the youth retreats with church and the late night talks with the Lord I'd recently been having. I even had made out a list of qualities I just KNEW he would have, down to the color of his hair! To this day, when I look back on it, I am chilled to see that most of the things on it have been fulfilled...
But...he was nowhere to be found. Sure, I'd dated plenty of godly men.
I just hadn't found "THE ONE".
So, at the age of 26, still in Washington, and praying more than ever that I would find him, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and take a job in Texas as a Feature Editor at a local smalltown newspaper. I was nervous about moving, but something inside me felt like it was the right (crazy, but right!) step. One of my best friends was moving away too, and I was at a crossroads in my life at the time, so it felt like a good move. When I thought about it, moving down into my grandmother's house who lived in a tiny little town in Texas sounded, well, not like "my" dream, but God's...and it was.
The first year was HARD. I had a tough time, because not only did I not know ANYONE in this small little town in the middle of nowhere, but work was not exactly what I had expected, and I ended up leaving the job I'd moved down for within a year.
And yes, I met a guy.
But no, he was not the one.
Instead, I ended up getting my heart broken into pieces!
Toward the end of the the first year, I was very lonely and sad.
I had moved out, and lived with a friend, but work was really hard, and I didn't have any other friends, really. Church was good, but with it being such a small town, I had not made any other friends, other than my roommate.
And on top of that, I had begun to date a guy I thought was the "THE ONE," but instead, he left me lonelier than I'd been before.
So, feeling alone, with no friends other than my roommate, and a job that was making me even sadder, I prayed even harder than ever before. I began to give up the dream of finding someone.
And...to let you know, my future husband had been having the same issues. Well, not the same issues, but similar, anyway, to mine.
He had been working for Mccormick Marketing, driving trucks and delivering diesel. He had gotten a degree in Mechanics, but wasn't using it at the time, and was ALSO at a crossroads in his life. He wasn't sure what he was wanting to do with his life, and had been praying for his future wife, as well. Actually, to put it bluntly, he had been giving up on his future wife. At this particular point in time, he was telling his mom that he would just be single for the rest of his life if he needed to be, and if that was his calling, he would take it. At the time, his sister (Shelly) laughed, and told him, "Haha, because you said that, you're going to meet HER soon."
You see, I feel, sometimes, like the Lord has to get us to this place before he can get us to where we really, really want to be.
So that he can bless our socks off, he has to take everything off of us first, like our pride, our determination for what WE think we need, even our sense of self worth sometimes.
It's a crazy place to be, but sometimes, it's the only place we find Him.
And I'm so glad He got us there.
Because that's when we found "THE ONE", too.
Justin and I met on June 2, 2007. It was almost exactly a year after I'd moved here.
I had been really, really excited all day at work to take pictures at the Christian rockfest here, because it was one of the only things I felt like I could relate to in working for the paper! Our smalltown paper is a great one, but a lot of the venues I would attend and take pictures at were for the older folk. This one, I was actually excited to get to attend!
And it would turn out to be way, way more fun than I'd even imagined. Literally, life changing. ;)
So, I was up at the front area, taking photos of the band beforehand, when an old friend came up to me. His name is Ronnie, and I'd met him at a church I'd been visiting the first few months within coming to Texas. He was a really nice guy, the type who becomes friends with everyone. We made some small talk, then I realized there was a guy standing next to us. Ronnie said, "Hey, have you met Justin? I think ya'll would be good friends!"
I looked at him, and smiled. Oh, boy. He was cute. And, oh no. As in, no way.
In my head, I thought, right away, "I am SO not going to date. Not yet. It's too early. But man, is he cute."
As Ronnie introduced us, those thoughts continued in my head, and we made small talk before the concert began.
And, after it began, I walked away.
"Lord, if you want this one to work, YOU are going to have to make it work, because I'M done with dating. Thank you."
And, that was my prayer.
I was NOT about to get my heart broken twice after coming down here.
So I didn't go back up there to the front, purposefully.
Later that evening, as I was in line to shake hands with the band (which just happened to be Skillet), Ronnie was there again and he smiled at me.
"You should give him a chance. Ya'll would be good friends, I have a good feeling."
I laughed nervously at him.
"Give me your number to give to him."
At this point my guard was starting to be let down, and my roommate, who had joined me later, was by my side, snickering.
"Come on, Amber," she said.
So...I gave in.
And I'm pretty glad I did.
As we were leaving, I happened to glance Justin's way.
"Have a nice night," he called after me.
I think I may have muttered something, but I don't remember what!
And when we were outside and out of earshot from people, I told my roommate, "I am so in trouble. What am I getting myself into?"
Later, while going through the pictures I'd taken and yes, realizing just how cute this guy really was (and how buff - I think he was actually flexing to impress in some of the pics! Lol), I prayed again to the Lord not to let me get hurt again. I was so, so scared of getting hurt, because I had been very hurt by the last guy I'd dated, more so than ever before in my life.
He even texted me that night...I never responded.
So, I purposefully did not think again about him (or at least tried not to!) until the next day...!
The next day, my grandmother and I decided to go to The Shack, a cute little restaurant in our town for lunch. While we were standing in line to get a seat, I realized there were a lot of people there from the concert the night before. I mentioned it to my grandmother.
Then, before I could say anything else, HE was coming up to me.
It was going to happen again. I was going to get my heart broken. Why did he have to be SO cute?!
The words that came out of his mouth in the next few moments almost made me choke.
"So, I was praying today on the way here, and I told the Lord that if He wanted me to know you, that you would be here."
That's all I could be at that moment. Talk about a pick up line!
I don't even think I responded. Lol.
I think I may have said, "Really?" or something like it!
But we parted ways again after we'd said hi. Crazy, after that, I know! But how do you respond to that?!
So, we ended up getting tables close to each other anyway, and he came over again to our table and asked me out officially, to an Assembly of God church service, to be exact. And yes, I said yes by this point.
Our date was that afternoon at church, and I prayed a lot beforehand. I prayed again that the Lord would not allow our "friendship" to go far if it wasn't His will, for fear of getting hurt again. At the time, Myspace was cool, and so I looked up his Myspace page. Funny how these things date themselves, isn't it? Haha. But anyway, his page was really neat, and it looked like he had been a church youth leader too, which was impressive. And, when he called me on the phone that evening and we chatted before church, things came out of his mouth that I had been specifically praying to hear from my husband. He told me he was a "professional bible reader," which was really sweet and funny at the same time. He told me he had been in the church choir. He told me he played guitar. He seemed pretty humble. I began to get really, really scared! I had met guys like this before, but no one with EVERYTHING I'd been praying for. He was cute, and he had the personality I was looking for. The two didn't go together very often for me!
But, needless to say, we clicked from that day on. He even called himself a "Bapticostal," meaning, he is Baptist and Pentecostal. I love it, because that's what I am too.
And, as if that wasn't enough, his family was awesome.
I had always, always said that I wanted to marry someone who's family I felt "comfortable" with. So many guys had had weird families, or families with lots of problems, or just plain old boring families! :) But I knew when I stepped into Justin's parents house and they welcomed me into their (big!) family (with Shelly's kiddos!), and Linda said, "We're just some old country folk," that I would fit right in. It had been on my "list" that that would be a sign to me that I should marry a man - if his family was "comfortable," and his home, "comfortable". I am so, so grateful to God for such a wonderful, loving family to marry into. So much of the time that is not the case these days!
And we were inseparable. Two months (yes, two months!) after we met, Justin proposed at the altar in the little Pentecostal church where we went on our first date, and I said yes. We just knew. We had spent almost every day together since we'd met, and we didn't see a need to wait. We got married in March of 2008.
I wish that I could recall EVERYTHING that was crazy and ironic about "us". There were just all these things that fell into place, and it couldn't have been anything other that God. Sure, we have our differences. But everyone does, and we compliment each other and are different in ways that help one another.
Justin had always wanted to marry a girl who had a younger brother.
I had always wanted to marry someone who had been blond as a child. I know, funny, but I SO wanted to have some blond children, or at least brunette!
Justin had wanted to find someone who played piano.
I had always wanted someone who was willing to go the extra mile for Christ.
And when we met, Justin had been contemplating becoming a youth pastor or a bible teacher.
The list just goes on.
But, we can happily say we've been married for seven years, going on eight now, and it's not always been easy. Nope. We've had our moments, but we've always said that divorce is not in our vocabulary. We believe that for a healthy marriage, that needs to be the case. God created marriage as a covenant. Thank Him for that!
That said, I will leave you with these pictures of our life together. It's been a good life so far, and it's only just begun. Thank you, Lord, for writing our story for us, and letting us partake in it with You.
Our very first photo, ever.
Our first real date. We both wore blue, not meaning to.
Honeymooning in the Caribbean.
Wigglesworth, our first baby, named after Smith Wigglesworth.
Daisy, our second baby.
Kaleb Lee, our first little boy, born September 22, 2010!!
And then our girl...
Brookelynn Faith, born January 13, 2012!!
Us. August 2012.
Us. December 2015.
Today, Justin is working as a gas plant operator, as he has been for the last six years, and he loves it. I am staying at home with our three children. We plan to homeschool next year, when Kaleb will begin kindergarten. We attend a non denominational church, and consider ourselves very blessed in so many ways. We are excited for where the Lord will lead us on the next step in our journey...together.
Thank you, Lord, for writing stories. You are the ultimate story writer, and yours, O Lord, are the most beautiful.