Relationships are so exciting, scary, thrilling, terrifying, amazing, intimidating, and absolutely just fun! Everyone likes to hear a good, sappy love story. Everyone wants to have their own special love story. And the truth is, you can! But the truth also is, the best stories are the ones that God writes for you. He’s the one who created you, and He created you with the perfect spouse in mind. It happens best in His time and in His way. So I want to share with you some things I learned over the years in my relationships. I hope and pray that first, my story will point you to our Heavenly Father. Secondly, I hope that when you find your own special someone, you’ll allow God to lead.
Let me first say that I didn’t always do things the best way. And I got hurt. Before marrying Michael (aka – my prince charming ;) ) I was engaged to another young man. While we truly desired deep down inside to honor the Lord in all that we did, eventually the Lord led us down separate paths. I wish I could go back and change those years and have waited on the Lord. I thought I knew exactly how my story would play out. But God had different plans for me.
So here’s what I learned through those years and beyond:
- Stay close to God. Simple, profound, liberating truth. In the single years of your life, focus on the Lord and learn as much as you can about Him and His Word. These years are so foundational and formative for what will lie ahead. Don’t delay developing a close, personal relationship with God. Psalm 27:8 “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” He’s calling. It’s up to you to listen and follow His plan.
- Stay close to you parents. Yup, I went there! You want to know one of the greatest blessings of my relationship with Michael? The blessing from my parents in pursuing that relationship. Open honestly with your parents now will enable open honestly in relationships later. Your parents are not perfect, but they desire to be your best friend and to help you walk through life. Honor your parents in all that you do, including relationships.
- Make a list. It’s fun! Pray about what God would want you to put on your list. And also consider what you would like to have in a potential mate. God has placed certain things in your heart that will be something that you think is important for a potential life partner. He’s able to give you those desires of you heart. Make the list without a specific person in mind. Keep reading to find some of the things that were on my list. God fulfilled every one!
- And last, seek Godly counsel. Seek the counsel of a godly pastor, friends, and/or teachers. Seek other’s advice on the person who you are considering a relationship with, and see counsel on how to approach a relationship. Proverbs 11:14 ~ “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”
Written first by God, and told by me
It was wonderful to watch firsthand what the Lord did. God brought us together and gave us a love so true! Only He could do something this great! To Him be the glory. Ephesians 1:9,12 ~ “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself…That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.”
After having my previous relationship crumble before me, I was devastated. The Lord showed me (as well as many people involved) that this is not what He had for us. This took place on August 1st,2009. All of a sudden, my future was very uncertain. I began to seek the Lord more earnestly. In spite of not knowing what to do now, I did know three things that the Lord confirmed for me within the first few weeks of August. First, my Lord had saved me and therefore, He had a specific purpose for my life. Hebrews 12:6, 7 ~ “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” I knew the Lord was chastening me, but that began to be a comfort as I realized He would not chasten those who were not His own. I read a quote in a book today: “A time of chastening is a time of love and provides proof of the soul’s salvation, sanctification, and occupation.” He had a purpose in all this that I could not see – but it was real. Secondly, during this time between August and October, He confirmed to me that I was to not only to eventually be married, but also that I was to marry a preacher of His Word. This calling had been in my heart since I was sixteen, and now, He showed me again that this was his desire for my life. Thirdly, I knew that “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). I could trust Him to bring this thing to a close with something ever greater than I could ever imagine. I realized that whatever/whomever He brought into my life, it would be even better than what I had dreamed, and greater than my wildest imaginations. I was trusting in this promise.
During the month of August, the Lord also showed me a passage in Habakkuk that has been a blessing and guide from then even until now. Habakkuk 3:19 ~ “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places…” These verses spoke to me as I realized all that Israel had their hope founded in had crumble before them. Yet Habakkuk says, ‘I will still rejoice in and serve my LORD.’ All that they had built their future on was laying waste before them. Yet he says, ‘I will not forsake the God of my salvation.’ As I read this, I related, knowing that now my future was uncertain and all my hopes and dreams lay shattered at my feet. But the Lord was ever drawing me to Himself. I made up my mind that no matter what, I would still count Him faithful, and I would yet serve Him. Though everything within me rebelled to the thought, I would still follow Him. I began again to seriously seek the Lord as to what He would have me do.
My family was still traveling on deputation, and in September, we left for a series of meeting in the Southwest region of the States; we would be there for nearly two and a half months through the middle of November. Dad and I were praying that the Lord would show us some clear direction during this time. We were thinking that the Lord would open up something to where I could use my secretarial degree that I had received from Heartland, or that maybe, he would bring a man into my life. We had no idea, but were praying that the Lord would give us some direction.
On October 17th, my family and I pulled in to Cottonwood, AZ, but we weren’t supposed to have been there. After our meeting in St. Michaels, AZ, was rescheduled, Dad called around to a few churches to see if there was any place we could stay for a week between meetings. Only one Pastor, Bro. Tim Larkly, called us back. So we headed to Faith Baptist Church, Cottonwood, AZ, little knowing what we were in for. We met both Bro. Larkly and his assistant pastor, Bro. Michael Taylor. My first thought of him was that he was married so initially, I was disinterested for that reason. Both seemed like nice men, and we were looking forward to the services the next day.
That night, as we were heading to bed, the Lord had brought me to a place where I was ready to fully surrender my will and my dreams back over to Him. (Looking back, it’s kinda funny that on this night, I was ready for this step of surrender.) For too long I had held to things of the past and silly dreams that I thought was the only way my life could go that I would still have joy. I was ready now to move on with my life, putting those things behind and looking forward to what was in store. I didn’t know what was coming, but I knew whatever it was, He would sustain me. I told the Lord that night that I would allow Him to do whatever, and I would serve Him. If it was singleness, I would follow. If it was missions, I would follow. Whatever it was, I was willing.
The next day, we went to church there in Cottonwood, discovering during the preaching service – as he was leading the congregational singing – that this Michael Taylor was single. Thanks to Bro. Larkly, this knowledge was confirmed. I also gained the knowledge that he was completely available! Bro. Larkly was rather forward about telling me that I should get to know Michael. After all he was a great guy – his only fault being his incredible shyness. His wife was trying her hardest to deter this conversation…to no avail. Still, Michael had never said a word to me or really acknowledged me in any way.
As I was being teased about this newfound situation, I began to consider it and roll it around in my mind. Could there really be something here the Lord would have for me? Could He be in something as crazy as this? What might He do here? That afternoon between services, I looked in my journal at a list I had made of things I would look for in a man. I had written it in August shortly after coming out of my previous relationship. The Lord had laid certain things on my heart that I knew needed to be in place. With just simple observation, Michael met three of the ten requirements. First of course, he had to be saved. Second, he would have to be surrendered to be a pastor – which he was, and not only that, but he was also currently serving in that capacity – an added bonus for me. Moving away from the spiritual, an unwritten desire was that he would like cats, because I didn’t want to give up my Abby. He has three cats himself and really likes Abby. Those three were pretty big ones for me! Also, I have always had two desires for a man that the Lord graciously fulfilled for me – that he would be taller than me and have blue eyes. Michael is two inches taller, and has blue eyes! There were other things on my list that I was still unsure of, but I knew if this were to work out, then the Lord would either change my heart and show me things, or Michael would fulfill all of them. (Later, I found that he does fulfill all!!!)
Sunday afternoon, as I was getting ready to go to church, I was thinking about how the Lord could use the little things in life to lead to the bigger things. I knew that every little thing I did that day could have huge impact in what would happen later. So as I did things, I rolled this consideration around in my mind. And sure enough, as I would later learn, I did one of those little things that had a big impact. As is my usual Sunday evening habit, I put my hair up in a jaw clip with a few curls hanging out the top. I do that because usually it hides the fact that I had an afternoon nap. My hair is usually messed up enough that wearing this style with my hair helps it to look nice still, and gives me a slightly different look than that morning. So I did it that evening for services. Well, apparently, some are of the opinion that if a girl puts her hair up, she is showing sign of “setting her cap” for a fellow. I was helplessly unaware of this! And I fell victim to this suspicion! So, the Larklys and Michael then apparently thought I was saying that I was interested whereas I was simply fulfilling an everyday “little thing” that I commonly do. The Lord used it. I actually did not know about this until about a couple of weeks later when I asked Michael what was one of the first things that caused him to more seriously look my way. He told me that it was my hair being up that night.
At church that night, something happened to put us together for a moment at least. I was walking into the church about ten minutes before starting time (I had been over in the nursery for awhile trying to figure out the schedule for the night and if I was supposed to be helping) and met up with Bro. Daniel Ellis. He pointed at me, speaking to someone (who ended up being his mother, Mrs. Ellis, the piano player) who I could not see in the sanctuary. “There’s the woman you were looking for!” he exclaimed. I was taken aback and must have given him a rather strange look. As it turned out, his mother was looking for me to ask if I would like to play piano for the evening services. I agreed as I do just about anywhere when I am afforded the opportunity to play. As Michael has said, the Lord was probably keeping me from remembering that he was the song leader for the church – if I had known I would not have been quite so willing! As it was, I didn’t realize this until about one minute before the service started. I literally began to shake through the notes as the realization washed over me! My thoughts were somewhere along the line of, “Oh NO!!! Michael is leading the song service…with me playing the piano for him!” Bro. Larkly didn’t know until later on just as the service had already started. As Erin reported it to me, he noticed me sitting at the piano, looked at Bro. Michael leading singing, shot a glance at Erin while pointing out what was going on, and started to laugh. I think he was rather pleased with the situation!
The services went well with Michael preaching and pretty much everything went normally. Afterwards, we were invited over to the Larkly’s house…as was Michael. Wonder of wonders! I do remember choosing my clothes carefully to go over to their house, knowing who was going to be there. I changed from my church clothes into something warmer and more comfortable, but didn’t want to dress down too far. We had pizza and ice cream and a good night of fellowship and laughter. Michael and I didn’t talk personally, but I was making some deductions about him, little thoughts were formulating, and overall it was a good time. I walked away from this night wondering what was going on, and where all these happenings would lead.
Monday rolled around and I was determined to just be myself and ignore that my whole family gave the impression of trying to hook us up. I thought the whole thing to be annoying and I wanted nothing more than to be comfortably going about my day. I set up a table with my sewing machine and quilting project to sew away the morning. He came to the church that day with several others of the men of the church to continue the remodeling project in the fellowship hall. It was awkward all over again. Once when I was catching my cat, Bro. Larkly sent Michael out to “meet the Roughton’s cat!” As I was waiting, I was walking toward the trailer thinking that if it took him more than ten seconds to come out the door, I would be safely in the trailer…it only took him two seconds! He came out the door before I could hardly form that thought and put it into action! We talked for a bit about our cats and how the project was going. For some reason, this guy held some sort of intrigue. I was left with the conversation burned into my memory and a longing to repeat the experience. I couldn’t figure him out, and that was driving me crazy. Sometimes he seemed like he was interested, then he wouldn’t send that signal at all most of the rest of the time! I didn’t know what was going on!
Then, the next day, I began to realize that he was interested (though at this point I didn’t know if it was for his own sake, or just because of what others were pushing him into. Later, I would come to know him well enough that I knew he would never go on what someone else was telling him to do.) Tuesday (day three of knowing him), I needed to use the copier to replace a song out of the family music notebook. I figured that Bro. Larkly would let me use the copier. I also knew that if I waited until Michael had gotten to the church, Bro. Larkly would quite likely have him help me out. So connivingly, I waited until I knew the opportunity would be right. Then I went over to the church to see if I could make the copy. Sure enough, it worked and Michael was sent over to help me out. We ended up talking for about an hour and a half. We didn’t talk about anything in particular, but we broke more of the ice. During the course of the conversation we discussed the fact that my family and I were going to dinner at the Aksamit’s house (a family in his church). I told him what we were bringing for dessert – our no-bake chocolate oatmeal bars. He just smiled and said it sounded good. Little did we know what he had up his sleeve!
We pulled into the Aksamit’s house that night and, low and behold, there was Michael! He was secretly invited by Mrs. Aksamit earlier that day and chose to surprise us. Shocked is a bit of an understatement! Especially for me, since it was for my sake he came. Pretty bold declaration he was making there. And when we entered the house, we found out very quickly that Mrs. Aksamit had set place cards at the table to designate the seating. Cleverly, she had situated me across the table from Michael, not beside him. This way, there was no avoiding eye contact and conversation.
And so the week progressed, us getting to know him better all the while. On Thursday, Michael officially asked my dad if he could write me once we were gone (which we were leaving that Saturday). By this time, my dad and I had already discussed the possibility that he would be asking. We were prepared for him. Dad told him that since I had just come out of a serious relationship that had ended drastically, we were not going to say no, just that we would give it to the first of the year. The plan was to communicate with him through the family until then, re-evaluating the situation in January, 2010.
In the meanwhile, we left on Saturday, October 24th, as originally planned, though with plans to come back to Cottonwood the following week (nine days later that ended up being rather long!) During the time away, Michael and the family sent about 45-50 emails! We were getting got know him better quickly. Also, the Lord began to stir my heart and began to show me this was the way and that I was to walk in it. In little ways, He began to show me how Michael fit perfectly into what He had revealed for me. I knew certain things had to be in place to enter a relationship. All those things and more were falling right into place. It was amazing to watch as the Lord fulfilled things in him that only a Sovereign God could do.
On Monday, November 2nd, we returned to Cottonwood, not knowing what the week would hold in store! At this point, I really began to see that the Lord was assuredly in this. He was ever good to me to erase all doubt from my mind. I knew this was what the Lord had for me – for us. But I was still fearful. I felt like it was moving so fast. I kept saying “Oh! It’s only been two weeks since we first met. I hardly know this guy!” The Lord kept saying, “But I know him.” I was still fighting it tooth and nail. However, the Lord was insistent and began to show me not only was this the way for me, I needed to trust Him, follow His leading without fear, and go ahead with the relationship. I was praying hard for the Lord to give me a verse, some solid confirmation that this was right.
The first major thing that happened once we were back was Michael pulling a surprise on us again. Wednesday night, we had no official meeting, but drove over the mountain to Prescott Valley to attend services there. As we got to church, we noticed a rather familiar Jeep in the parking lot. Sure enough, Michael had showed up to surprise us! I was shocked from my head to me toes. Sinking down in my seat, I even covered my face so no-one would see the extent of the feeling that was racing through me. The Lord was knocking again on my closed heart telling me, “This is what I have for you. Don’t be afraid to move forward into what I have laid before you.” As we went to church together that night, I was a little nervous, not that Michael was there, but because of what the Lord was doing. I knew He was at work, and I was still letting my fear overcome me. As we were standing around before services, the Lord drew me back to Habakkuk 3, as He had done several times over the last few months. Only this time, He drew me to verse 19, specifically the phrase “…he will make my feet like hinds’ feet…” I realized I didn’t really know the connotation of hind’s feet. “ ‘Hinds’ feet’ imply the swiftness with which God enables him…” (Power Bible Commentary) The idea here is that the hind’s feet are sure, though swift (fast, quick). God has established its goings and it is sure of its course. He showed me through this verse that though this is a fast moving situation, He was in it; therefore, it was sure. I had no need to fear to move forward; I knew God was leading. I had no reason to doubt; He had shown me numerous times. I no reason to hesitate; He had made it clear. That night, I surrendered myself fully again to His will. Only now, I had a clear direction in which to move!
I talked to my dad about it the next afternoon. He told me he had been just waiting for me to come and ask him and that he was all about us moving forward now. He knew too that God was in this, and he saw no point in waiting. We agreed that I could talk to Michael about it since I was the one who had placed the stipulations on it. Later that evening, I had opportunity and I took it before I lost the nerve!
We talked for awhile as I shared what the Lord had been doing in my heart. I told him that I had, out of selfish fear, set up January with my dad. We both knew that was right at that time, but now I knew for sure that the Lord would have us to move on. Michael didn’t seem to have any arguments with it! We decided to go ahead and move forward with getting to know each other, though neither of us knew what that meant or what we were now doing! But regardless of putting a definition to it, we knew now that we were officially moving forward toward a relationship.
We didn’t discuss it for the next six days. Going about our normal lives and seeing each other every day was enough for awhile. However, Michael was preaching out on Wednesday (November 11th). He had invited Rachel and I to go with him and I knew that the question of ‘what we were’ would come up among the people there. I was watching the Larkly’s children that day, so Michael and I (along with Rachel or Erin) were spending time over at their house. We talked about what exactly we were – and really didn’t get anywhere! It didn’t help anyway. The people of the church where he was preaching thought we were married and that Rachel was our daughter! Oops! Not so by a long shot!
On Saturday (November 14th) my family and I pulled out from Cottonwood for the final time. We had one more meeting in Peoria, Arizona before heading back to Missouri the following Monday. We prolonged the goodbyes by going out to eat, but eventually we had to part. I thought this would be the last time to see Michael for a long while, but he pulled one on us again and came down to see us (well…really to see me!) for the evening meeting at Maranatha Baptist in Peoria. It was great to see him again! I was so excited I could hardly stand still! I knew he was really starting to get burrowed into the cords of my heart. I had already been praying that the Lord would help me to love him when the time was right. I knew that in and of myself, I was incapable of truly loving Michael, and recognized that I needed the Lord’s guidance in this area. I knew if I left it to Him, He would work it in my heart when He determined it was a good time.
This day, as I was waiting for Michael to come, then as I got to spend the evening with him, I knew the first stirrings of love were awaking in my heart of hearts. He stayed late that night, talking and sharing things, neither of us wanting to leave this moment behind. As he left, I began to really recognize what was happening. Again though, I questioned the quickness of it! At this point, I had not even reached the mark of one month of knowing this guy. And I already knew of a surety that he was the one for me and that I loved him! Did things really happen this fast? Could something that happened as quickly as this really be right? I know that it can! Looking back now, I realize I had a peace about it that can only be explained by God placing in us a desire for His will. As He fulfilled that will in our hearts, the natural thing was to absolutely, unashamedly, and with complete abandon love that person whom the Lord had brought to me.
Neither of us verbally admitted to it yet, though. I knew he was feeling the same thing, especially since the Lord was working it in my heart. The way he was acting and the way he began to say things confirmed this suspicion. After he left, he sent me a text message five minutes later that said, “Have a good night, Sweety.” I knew that there was a reason behind his calling me that. And I was thrilled beyond measure!
It was the following Wednesday before he actually said it to me. We had both been considering when would be a good time to say it. I knew I was not going to say anything until he first admitted it himself! After church on Wednesday (November 18th), as I was getting ready for bed, he could hold it in no longer and told me as he was texting me before he went to work. He also later said that he wished he could have told me in person, but since circumstances wouldn’t allow for that, he said he told me then because he knew it was true and couldn’t wait any longer to tell me. I was glad that he did – especially because then I could say it back to him! Oh the remembrance of those first few days of new love! As we confessed it to each other over the next few days, I was again amazed and thankful for the fact that the Lord would give me such a man and cause me to be so incredibly happy! He had fulfilled that promise, and had given something better than I could have imagined. Knowing that He can orchestrate my life is a comfort beyond description. I knew this was better than what I in my finite mind could have conjured up! It is God’s best for my life, for our lives, and I am so excited that He would do this for undeserving little me. He is ever gracious and merciful to those that are truly His own. All that is takes is a complete abandonment to follow the Lord and His leading. He is ever faithful, I just have to reckon it to be so in my own life. I can see that it could happen for others, but now I believe and know that He can also do such great things in my life as well. He can do the same for anyone who willingly gives all to Him and His care.
After we left AZ, my parents dropped me off in Oklahoma City to spend a few days with some friends. My purpose, other than visiting some friends from college, was to talk to a few people who would have known Michael during his college days. I wanted to seek some counsel on this relationship. So I went and talked to the dean of women where we had both attended college. During the session, she also called in her husband and told him about what was going on with Michael and I. They really listened, and tried their hardest to see if they could find anything wrong with his character or conduct while he had been there. Her words were, “I’m trying to think if we have any dirt on him at all!” But they both, after much thought, said they couldn’t think of a single thing. They praised his character and both expressed that they were excited for us. I also talked to the head of the cafeteria where we had both worked while in college (of course at different times). He also had nothing but praise for Michael.
By using skype and yahoo instant messaging, we kept up a pretty steady flow of conversations throughout the holiday season. The Lord was still moving us quickly! My parents and I decided I should head back to AZ for a visit to get to know Michael better. It was arranged with the Larkly family that I could stay with them for a month while I was there. Everything was set, and I spent the month of January in AZ. On January 10th, he officially proposed, and I said “Yes!” Then began the busy two and ½ months of planning a wedding. We decided on April 1st (there’s another story) for our wedding date, and counted down every day. God has richly blessed our lives, and we give Him all the glory.