The date was set. We’d be getting married at our church on Saturday November 18, 2011. We had finalized a date and finalized where our reception would be.
Today we went to Brackett’s Crossing Country Club. Steve wasn’t picky about the details of the wedding, but he really wanted the reception at Brackett’s. I figured that was a good compromise in my book. He’d choose the reception venue and I’d pick out everything else.
We invited my sister and my parents to our tasting. We tried several amazing foods and made final selections.
It was crazy to think that in just six short months, we’d be getting married.
I have to admit, I had little freak out moments about getting married post proposal. Of course I never voiced any of that to anyone.
I had dreams about marrying the wrong person, and to be honest, that was a fear of mine. What if I choose the wrong person? There was nothing in my life that had occurred to warrant this fear, but it was present.
Who you’ll marry is one of life’s frequented wonderings. I still couldn’t believe that this question was finally answered for me.
I continued to pray about it and asking God if this was FOR SURE what HE wanted for my life. I already knew the answer and realized this fear was something I was periodically hanging on to and allowing to get in my way.
I often wonder what God thinks about us when we question him and let fear creep in…when that fear is present only later to be found silly to be uncertain about down the road. We submit our prayer requests, give him thanks, and ask him for direction.
Then when He answers our prayers we question if it’s really true and right for us. We question if this is truly “it” because the answer to our prayer looks different than we originally planned. We have our opinion about how our lives should look and God has his. The key is knowing what God’s Will is for our lives and surrendering our will to being open to what He wants for our lives. Hopefully we’re not only open to it, but allowing him to lead.
As Susie Larson wrote in her book Your Beautiful Purpose: God’s Will for you is your best-case scenario.
Notice it doesn’t say “Ashley’s will for her life is her best-case scenario…” or (insert your name here) will for his/her life is his/her best-case scenario.
Any way you slice it, God’s WILL is always the best. This includes the disappointments, heartbreak, illness, uncertainty, etc. Instead of questioning His plan and allowing unwarranted fear to creep in, we have to choose to trust him.
Now me being engaged and having small moments of fear or doubt is one instance where fear ultimately didn’t change my mind or prevent me from being married, but sometimes that’s not always the case. We say “I do” to fear and allow it to rule and take residency in our lives. Your relationship with fear then begins to grow and your relationship becomes intimate. Fear speaks to you in the deepest places of your heart, allowing you to doubt everything you know. Fear will literally set up camp in your life until you decide to do something about it.
This is why reading God’s Word is so important. It’s not so you can check it off your to-do list or so you can feel good about yourself, it is so you are prepared with the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:10-18). Not just any truth, GOD’S TRUTH! This means that we are in the word. We hear it, read it and seek to understand and know God better though His word. The more we get to know Him, the more we can hear His voice above all others. We distinguish truth from lies by knowing who HE is, by getting to know His character.
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
My challenge to you is to examine your life and be honest about the roadblocks in your life; those fears that are straight up preventing you from experiencing God’s best.
- What roadblocks have you allowed to set up camp in your mind?
- What situational roadblocks are you allowing to cloud God’s truth?
Dive into God’s Word and see what He has to say about you and your life.
He already knows you, do you know him?
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105
It was May 6, 2011 and it was a sunny day. Both Steve and I worked and then I went over to his townhome after work.
I looked forward to days like today because we’d get to spend time with JT. My sister Mel would also be coming over today. Steve, Mel and I spent a lot of time together, and since he was dating me, my sister was part of the package deal.
Mel is a speech language pathologist and she works with 3 and 4 year olds. Any day that Steve and I would have time with JT, Mel was automatically invited. JT loved when she was there. Mel has a gift with kids. Not only did she play with JT, but she’d teach him at the same time.
Steve and Mel had several nicknames for each other. Steve called her doctor, because her initials were MD, but that wasn’t even the best one.
When I was training for a competition Steve was on a similar diet regime. He was doing the same amount of carbs I was on any given day. My sister was my roommate so she knew that this particular day was a zero carbohydrate day for me, which meant no complex carbs.
Mel had just arrived at Life Time to workout and saw Steve sitting in the Life Café She went into the café to say hi and he was eating eggs and had a stack of toast on his plate.
“What are you doing? You’re not supposed to be having toast!” giving him a “gentle” reminder as if he forgot. “You’re on a zero carb day!”
“Don’t tell your sister,” he said with a smirk.
Of course my sister didn’t keep that from me. When she got home she told me all about it and Steve knew that she would.
The next time I was at Steve’s house, we invited Mel over. She walked in the door and greeted him “Hi toast.”
“What’s up Judas?” he joked. She had busted him for eating toast and Mel had narked on him for not following our diet. Those two nicknames stuck from that moment on. Mel wouldn’t let Steve forget that he got caught, nor would he let her forget she was a nark.
There was so much joy when all of us were together. Our time together was always lighthearted and we were either laughing with each other or at each other.
Today Steve, JT, Mel and I went on a walk. I loved going on walks with Steve. He worked very hard at his job and it could be very stressful, so walking was a great way to spend quality time together and he could decompress after his day. Of course we loved it also because we could take JT to the park and get in more exercise.
We walked up to the park and Steve took JT out of the stroller. He couldn’t walk yet so Steve brought him over to the swings and put him in one.
I loved playing with JT, but I also loved to watch the two of them together. I couldn’t help but fall more in love with Steve every time I got to witness him in daddy mode. JT filled Steve up with so much love. He was such a proud dad and he talked to JT so tenderly even though JT couldn’t respond in complete sentences (obviously). It was still as JT knew what his daddy was saying to him. He hung on every word and action of his daddy. He showered him with kisses and told JT that he loved him.
The giggles were contagious. JT squealed with delight shoving his hands in his mouth as Steve pushed him in the swing.
I found myself reflecting in that moment, as I often did when the three of us were together. I thanked God for blessing me with my boys. I was thankful that he humbled me when I thought there could be no way this life could be right for me.
There I was, blessed to have this sweet baby in my life and his daddy.
I couldn’t believe how right Steve was for me. I had dated guys before who I thought they were right for me, and then things changed. I either ended up being broken hearted or realized they weren’t the one for me.
Steve and I shared the same passions and values. He understood my stubborn and quiet side, or maybe he just learned how to deal with it. I loved how he was so selfless in everything he did. Whether it was at work, a random stranger, friends or family, he would do whatever he could to help any one who needed it. I couldn’t help but love his giving heart. He was my biggest cheerleader. He never set limitations on what he thought I could do but supported me in my big ideas and dreams.
For the first time I had felt like I was with someone who appreciated me, all of me. He didn’t try to change me or forced me to be someone I wasn’t. Simply by being Steve Toms, he inspired and helped me to be the “best me.” I loved this man and I had no doubt that he felt the same way about me because he told me every day.
The person you’re with and the person you choose to spend your life with should make you a better you. They shouldn’t detract from who you are or cause you to be less than the person God designed you to be. God didn’t intricately design you so you could pretend to be someone else. God already knows your potential and we need to wake up and realize how amazing He thinks we are.
How Steve made me feel reminds me of one of my favorite motivational movie speeches by Coach Carter, in the movie Coach Carter:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
My challenge to you today is for you to get out of your box and let your light shine! Stop downplaying your God-given gifts and talents. The world needs you to be you. You are ONE OF A KIND.
The beans were finally spilled. Both Steve and I could heave a sigh of relief! We didn’t have to keep things a secret any longer.
I finally felt like I could move forward to some degree in our relationship.
Valentine’s Day was approaching, so I figured I should get Steve some sort of card. I needed a card that communicated how important he was to me, without totally spilling my guts to him.
As you know, he had already told me that he loved me, and you guessed it, I still hadn’t told him.
There were times when Steve would tell me that he loved me, and I almost threw it out there that I loved him too.
One time I even started the sentence, “Steve I… (Oh my gosh, am I really going to say this?) I…l—ic oa yoo.”
“Ha ha, what did you say?” he prodded.
“Did you just say you licorice me?” he chuckled.
“No, of course I didn’t.”
It was as if the words I love you would bubble up like a pot ready to boil over, and then suddenly the words wouldn’t come. The heat was turned down and I had nothing to say.
He didn’t pressure me about the fact that I didn’t actually say it, but rather continued to tell me that he loved me and was patient. He knew I would tell him when I was ready.
One thing I’ve learned from my mom through the years is the art of showing people how much you care about them and how to make people feel special.
For Valentine’s Day I thought I’d get crafty and leave Steve a display of my “care” for him.
I had been working on a surprise during some of my free time at school. I used the die cut machine to cut out hearts and letters that read “Happy Valentine’s Day” so I could hang it on the mirror in his bathroom. I figured I wasn’t telling him “I love you” just yet, but he needed to know I thought he was wonderful. I also put a hand written note “Happy Valentine’s Day! I Licorice you,” on a heart. I knew he’d get my point.
While he was sleeping, I snuck over to his house and taped up my beautiful masterpiece so my message could be read as he looked in the mirror. I was so excited, but nervous. I thought for sure that every pull and tear of the scotch tape was going to wake him up for sure. Things always seem louder when you’re trying to be sneaky about it.
I pulled it off. Operation Valentine was complete. He was sound asleep and I managed to escape without being noticed.
Steve had made dinner plans for the two of us so we could enjoy some quality time together. I loved our quality time. We would laugh and joke about everything and have in-depth conversations as well.
Gosh, he was so good at making me feel special. Through no prompting of my own, he signed us up to do “Couples Yoga.” A special Valentine’s Day yoga session, doing poses with my sweetheart.
Us two meatheads were going to give this yoga thing a go.
These poses were hilarious. As a meathead, you always try to muscle your way through things and if something is hard, you grin and bear it.
Not only did we have to figure out how to maintaing stability in these poses individually, but we also had to work together as one cohesive unit. If either of us tried to do something on our own, our whole pose would be thrown off and we’d fall over.
Although it may seem like a silly exercise, trying something adventurous together that day was good because it challenged our communication. We came up with a game plan and then gave it a shot.
Often times in relationships we assume that what we are thinking is obvious. Maybe you are in a current situation of frustration simply because there was a lack of communication.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw
One challenge for you today is to reflect on the communication in your relationships. Are you holding a grudge or letting a miscommunication negatively impact your relationships?If so, clarify your feelings with that person. Try to explain your thought or idea using different language and if you feel as though you have been misunderstood, clarify what you meant. Sometimes using an analogy helps to refine what you were trying to say.
I also want to challenge you to go the extra mile to show the people you care about that you love them. Whether it is a love text, a phone call, or voluntarily doing an activity that they love, you can always brighten someone’s day by showing love.
At one point I was the proud owner of a 2008 Lincoln LS; a four-door sedan with a V8 engine that I loved.
This car was pretty, and pretty much a ball of trouble ever since the day I bought it, or rather since my dad helped me buy it.
I was so excited the day I got my Lincoln. I had always received the hand-me-down car from my sister. My first car was a maroon four door Buick Skylark that had what my sister and I called a snowplow grill. It was equipped with everything a teenage girl could want…power locks and a cassette player!
My brother, sister and I would ride to school in that thing, leaving the house with just enough time to get to school tearing down the gravel road with a cloud of dust trailing behind us. Heaven forbid we arrive to school early!
My brother and I would fight over who got to ride shotgun. We’d yell “shotgun” and then race out of the house to claim position in the passenger seat. You had to lock the door from preventing the other sibling from pulling you out of position.
My brother was a pesky little sneak. I’d call shotgun, put my backpack in the front seat, and then realized I forgot something. I knew I had to hustle because little Scruffy was a pest, waiting for his opportunity to pounce on my position as co-pilot.
I’d go back outside only to find him sitting in the front seat, my backpack on the driveway. There he sat with his smug little grin staring back at me. I attempted to open the door, and he beat me to the power lock button. The smug face turned into a rub-it-in your face, tongue out celebration. Jerk!
We had our regular jams we’d listen to on the cassette tape and belt out as we blazed down the gravel road. “Piano Man” by Billy Joel and “Goodbye Earl” by the Dixie Chicks. We still reminisce about it today.
My Skylark was followed up by a teal green, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, then a Lincoln LS. My LS caused my dad and I many headaches with both engine and transmission problems. I figured I was going to give up on this car before it gave up on me. That’s for sure.
So one day Steve and I decided it was time to go car shopping. Steve helped me decide what car to buy and what to do with my Lincoln. His idea was to buy my LS from me so he could give it to his parents. A win win for everyone.
It was just like to Steve to think of others before himself, especially his parents. He loved them so much and always wanted to make sure they had what they needed. He actually moved back to Minnesota because his mother was ill. She had/has a terminal heart condition. Being that he was an only child, he uprooted himself from his California lifestyle to come back to Minnesota to take care of her.
So there I was, in the market for a new car. I didn’t have enough money to buy a reliable car. I’ve always liked classy cars, and as you know, with classiness comes and expensive price tag.
I wanted something sharp like my Lincoln, but better. It was then Steve and I went to a local dealership and I purchased a 2008 Infinity G35X. Now that was a hot car!
If you know anything about Steve, he could be a tad impulsive and liked nice things just like me, and I was naïve in my finances at the time. I wanted this specific car even though I had no business “making a purchase” of a car I could not afford.
When I say I could not afford it, I made the decision to drive away with this vehicle after putting ZERO DOLLARS DOWN, which meant my payment was ridiculous! I didn’t own my car the lenders owned me!
We spent hours working out a deal and I got the car I wanted.
We then drove away from the dealership feeling great about my new wheels, but I have to admit I was feeling overwhelming feelings of buyer’s remorse. What in the world did I just do?
I was dating an older man; surely he knew something about this car buying process that I didn’t, didn’t he?
Have you ever made a purchase and later had buyer’s remorse? If so, what was it and how did you handle the situation?
It was real. Steve was a father and our talk of him becoming a dad was reality. Gone were the days when we’d discuss the what-ifs and how we’d handle things because this baby was here.
Now this situation wasn’t your typical parenting setup. Being that Steve and the mother of his son weren’t in a relationship, they set up time for Steve to have quality time with JT every day. As you probably know, newborns don’t spend time away from their mothers for obvious reasons, so Steve made daily visits to see his little dude.
My role was unique in that, the day that Steve would be able to have JT on his own was far off, so I didn’t know when I’d actually get to meet him. This meant that I’d only know and experience JT from what Steve shared with me. This little boy was a major part of his life, and my role in loving him was still from a distance. Every time Steve would go visit him, I’d ask how he was, what he did, what it was like to see JT at her house, and of course I wanted to see pictures of him. The fact that Steve was now a father gradually became easier for me, except for one thing.
My parents had no idea.
I was keeping the biggest secret of my life from the people that I loved the most. It was incredibly hard to hide something so huge from them. There were times that I felt I was living a double life and being deceitful, but I knew that I wanted to respect Steve’s wishes. He wanted to tell them himself.
The Parentals Meet Steve
It was a blazing hot summer day and my family (Dad-Brian, Mom-Jody and Sister-Melia), Steve and I were at Centennial Lakes Park for some mini golfing. This was the first time Steve met either of my parents. I’m not sure why we picked that day, because it was ridiculously hot, but we golfed anyway. That day was the sweaty equivalent to my previous Nickelback date with Steve.
My family is very competitive. We usually make some wager in whatever sport or game we’re competing in just to up the ante. I’m not sure what was on the line, but we all wanted to win.
It was Steve’s turn. We were all circled around the outer portion of the green and my dad just happened to be standing behind Steve. Steve positioned himself to make his putt, when he turned around with a witty grin on his face and questioned my dad, “Are you looking at my butt?”
My dad was stunned! His face turned red, as he assured, “Noooo!”
Steve chuckled and went about business as usual, continuing to take his turn.
I glanced at my dad and gave him a wide-eyed, pursed lip, shoulder shrug. My measly attempt to say I’m sorry, trying to pretend that awkward exchange never happened. Sometimes I felt Steve and his humor needed a muzzle or a mute button, even though I was fully aware that’s who he was. He always had to take things one giant leap beyond comfortable.
I wanted to give Steve an elbow, hoping he’d get the hint to pipe it, but really, I was most embarrassed for my dad.
What was Steve thinking! I was fully aware of Steve’s lack of a filter, but cripes! He had just met my dad and was up to his Steve Toms antics.
It was many months later that I asked my dad what he thought of Steve, hoping that Steve’s comment was long forgotten, but of course it wasn’t .My dad said, “Well, I thought he was weird.” He told my mom, “That guys, gotta be weird. What a terrible way to try to impress me.” We had a good laugh about it, but man was it uncomfortable at the time.
My parents were getting used to Steve being part of my life and theirs. We discussed when the appropriate time would be to tell my parents about JT. We went back and forth about it several times.
Steve wanted my parents to get to know him for the man that he truly was, and then tell them that he had a son. He was taking full responsibility of telling them himself and he wasn’t going to shy away from the situation. He had to tell them the truth. I was relieved I wouldn’t be the one to break the baby news to my parents on my own.
Keaton and Mel knew– of course I told Mel right away. She’s my sidekick and I needed to confide in someone.
Like I said before, I was raised with strong Christian values, in that there’s order in life. God gives us guidelines and expectations to live by for a reason. He has gone before us and knows the difficulties, heartbreak, and disappointment, and all the other consequences that we’ll face from living a life misaligned from his will. I still believe that God knows best and that getting married before having children is the best plan. I also know that God can take a mess and turn it into something beautiful.
I just prayed my parents would be able to see it the same way.