Two Shall BecomeOne
A testimony to God's love in modern day Courtship
Resting in the Lord
"Can God find husband's for our daughters?" This question was addressed to us at a home-schooling meeting in which the topic of my newly begun courtship had been brought up. And yet, this is a question for many. What is the biblical standard for our children in finding marriage partners? Is what the world has to offer in the modern dating scene our only choice, or is there a better way? Does God's Word have anything to say about the issue?
From the time I was very young my parents were praying for my future spouse. Many nights I can remember awakening to the sight of my Father kneeling beside my bed in prayer for me; for my walk with the Lord and God's leading for my life. These sights make a deep impression on a little girl's heart. As I grew up there was an understood that when it came time for me to date, that the prospective young man had to "interview with my father first." The closer I got to this age the more serious this became. But, is that the extent of interaction a father should have in a situation as this? What was the proper way? Throughout the years, the principles of courtship were brought home to our hearts through various different resources. My parents in their godly desire to protect me from the deadly temptations of the world sought for a better way. They did not want me to be subjected to the extreme pressures and snares that dating can bring. In addition to this, does a godly woman who desires to trust God with her very life need to be out "looking" for a spouse or can God providentially, sovereignly direct in bringing her a husband?
I desired this protection from my parents and earnestly longed to keep my heart pure for that one for whom God was preparing me. With this as our desire, my father and I signed a covenant the summer of 1992. My father committing to protect me from unqualified young men and I in response, desiring to follow the Lord under His authority in this area of courtship. These convictions had been forming for quite a while and were to continue to deepen.
During the next couple of years outwardly it seemed as though there was not much happening in regard to this area. In fact, when I looked around, the possibilities for a husband seemed to be very few and there were many times that I was tempted to distrust and despair. Yet, I knew that this was the right path and I could trust in my Heavenly Father. Indeed, unknown to us, God was at work in a mighty way. For God was in a marvelous way bringing His perfect will to pass. Miles away in a town in North Carolina there was a young man who also earnestly desired the Lord's direction in the area of marriage. Steven had tried the modern dating practice, only to find it full of disappointments and vanity. In his heart he yearned for a better way. "There must be a father somewhere desiring to protect his daughter," was the thought of his heart. He prayerfully sought the Lord for direction in his life.
Meanwhile, unknown to Steven, a close friend of his also looking for a spouse had heard of our family through two different sources over a period of a couple of years. This friend decided to write my father to request permission to correspond with me with the intent of marriage. Knowing the importance of such a decision, my father requested that he might get to know this young man better via correspondence. This eventually led to a visit to Texas on his part and several personal meetings. All of this was unknown to me. When Steven found out about it and that his friend was corresponding with a father regarding his daughter, his heart was overjoyed, as he saw indeed there was another way. Throughout the course of the time my parents spent with the would-be courter, it was determined that there was not that fitness between the young man and I that was so essential in a marriage. This young man earnestly desired my best and the Lord's will. He very graciously understood my parents decision in not allowing us to meet. In fact, while he was in Texas, the Lord was impressing upon his heart the tremendous likemindedness between our family and Steven. He went home with a burden upon his heart for his friend to inquire unto my father.
I will never forget the night in which my parents told me of the courtship inquiry of this first young man. How my heart was filled with excitement at the thought of the Lord bringing forth someone I had never even met from halfway across the country, to inquire about me. And even though it had not worked out with this particular young man, I knew God could and would work if it was His good pleasure concerning me. I knew there was a possibility of another inquiry from this young man's friend, but greatly desired my heart to be at rest with the Lord's will. I waited patiently for His timing and remained patiently sleeping in this area, until He was pleased to awaken me. It was truly my desire to remain as neutral as possible that I might keep my heart only for that one that the Lord had for me.
Steven's friend did return home and came to him strongly urging him to write to my family. After much prayer and contemplation, he did indeed inquire of my father regarding courtship, trusting his steps unto the Lord. Upon receiving the letter, my parents sent him a response consisting of about 25 questions concerning himself, his beliefs and walk with the Lord. These were questions that my parents and I had sat down and composed due to the seriousness of these steps. They were very serious and weighty questions and I knew that they could possibly scare him away, yet, this was of such great importance that they were altogether necessary. For how can two walk together except they agree? I also could be assured that if this was the one that the Lord had for me, He would give him the diligence to persevere. Again, during this waiting period was a time in which I needed to lay my heart before the Lord, knowing that He was indeed in control. It was an exciting time and yet I wanted to rest in His will.
Steven responded with a 90 minute audio tape, which my parents listened to. I did not listen to it, (although my parents shared his responses with me) due to the desire to remain "unattached," for even with the hearing of a voice the heart can go out. To my great surprise, my parents were very encouraged with his responses. My Father then called Steven and spoke with him by phone for two hours. At this point the groundwork was nearly laid and my parents felt as though they knew him. They invited him to come to Texas to personally meet them and if all went well, to meet me. Steven had just taken time off work and did not know if he could come until fall. (This was June!) But, it was left that he would see what he could work out. This also was a time of soul searching for Steven as this was a setting of his feet on a path in a more committed way than a dating scenario. For the next few weeks correspondence was exchanged between my parents and Steven. My mother wrote a long letter to him "from a mother's heart," she said. In the letter she shared with Steven about me, my likes, dislikes, hobbies, interests and those things that were dear and important to my heart. And so, even though we were not having direct communication we were learning more about each other every day through the correspondence he and my parents were having.
One evening in June, Steven called my parents to say that the way had opened up for him to come two weeks from that evening. We were all delighted and eagerly looked forward to the day. The arrangement was that my parents would pick Steven up at the airport and spend a few hours with him. If all went well, they were planning on bringing him home for dinner which my sister and I were to prepare. In my heart, I still knew that it would have to be the Lord for it to all work out and so I really desired to remain neutral. I knew that my parents desired the very best for me, and wanted to protect me. They knew me better than anyone else and what I needed and desired in a husband, and so I knew I could rest in their wisdom. For had not they diligently, and lovingly raised me, caring for me like no other could?
My mother called from a pay phone from the restaurant where they were. Oh, how excited she was! She said that from the moment Steven got off the plane, they could see our tremendous likemindness and fitness, and that they were bringing him home. I knew this was not a light step for my parents, whose desire was to protect me, and so their thoughts and decisions held great weight for me. It was at this point that the flood of reality began to set in. I was soon to be meeting a man who might very well be my future husband. I nervously set about finishing preparations for their arrival, stirring the spaghetti and watching timidly out the window...As they drove up, the significance of this was laid upon Steven's heart as well, for "Could this be his wife that he was about to meet?"
The first thing I noticed as they stepped out of the car, was Steven's big smile. I timidly and very nervously went out to greet them. My little brother had already run ahead and made himself quite comfortable with the situation. As I walked outside, my father introduced me to Steven and Steven to me. I responded with a quiet "how do you do," and then hastened back to stirring my spaghetti. As I finished dinner preparations, I noticed my little brother had immediately claimed his place upon the lap of my inquirer and was enjoying hearing the story Steven had started to read him.
Throughout the evening, my nervousness began to abate and we had a pleasant time as a family together. We ate dinner, took a family walk, and ended our evening with family worship. The next day (Saturday) was again spent as a family getting to know Steven. It was that night that we began to see more fully our likemindedness. As we would each share what was dear to our hearts in the Lord, we began to see how fit we appeared to be to each.
Steven was to fly home that Monday. So, on Monday morning my father and Steven had a meeting together. These Monday morning meetings were to become a regular part of our courtship and hold a special place in the hearts of my father and Steven. Before their meeting, though, my father asked me privately if I would like him to give Steven permission to begin courting me. I told him that I felt that that would be fine. Before Steven left that afternoon, we both had about an hour together outside (under the full view of all), during which we spoke on some areas that were each very important to us. As Steven left that day, we both were overwhelmed and full of wonder. We had fast become friends, and parting was difficult. In my heart I was filled with awe. It was apparent that the Lord was doing something. And yet, I wanted to be sure I was following the "Lord's" will and not my own.
Steven began writing and calling often after that. In our first conversation, via the telephone, we both agreed that our desire was that our courtship would be based upon the things of the Lord and not of the flesh. We desired our relationship to be spiritual first and not solely emotional attraction. For the feelings often come and go, but the things of the Spirit are lasting and the sure foundation. We knew that our question needed to be, "Could we serve God better together than apart?" And so, much of our conversation centered around the spiritual, and in this way we were able to see the heart of the other.
Those next few months were full of much prayer for direction and leading. Having never been through the courtship process before, we had many questions as we went along as to the "next step," but the Lord faithfully led us. What a blessing it was to be under my parents and to see Steven's desire to be under them as well. How thankful we were to be able to ask of them and rest in their wisdom and direction. Those courtship days will always be sweet to our memory. Because of the emphasis on the family in the courtship process, my family grew to love Steven as one of them. When the phone would ring, everyone wanted to be the first to talk to Steven before me. It was a blessing to see their delight in my courter. We spent many, many hours on the phone together, and then I would delightfully share with my family (who were eagerly waiting) of our conversation. Steven came for weekend visits frequently, as well.
We all knew the importance of not being unchaparoned, in our desire for a relationship of purity. My family greatly enjoyed serving us during that time, and accomodating our courtship in this way. For example: a picnic on the lawn and a candlelight dinner for two, complete with corsage, boutonniere, and a personal waiter (my father). Those were indeed special times as my whole family, and, Steven and I enjoyed God's working in our lives. For me, it was a very searching and sobering time as well. Entreating the Lord, that "His" will and not mine be done. Throughout the time of courtship, the Lord made it increasingly clear that He had brought us together. He who brought Eve to Adam, had indeed seen fit to place us here together, to walk hand in hand in this earthly pilgrimage.
On November 21, 1994 Steven proposed to me, after consulting with my father. What a blessed time that was, as we confirmed before each other that the Lord had brought us together. Both families were overjoyed. We were married before the Lord and a wonderful company of family and friends on April 28, 1995. It was a wonderful time of rejoicing.
We can now look back on the beginning of our marriage as a time of great kindness from our God. What sweet fellowship we have been able to have one with the other. There have been trials, as in every marriage, but, our God is faithful and has abounded to us in a blessed way. Being married to your best friend is a delight and joy. We desire to have our Saviour at the center of our lives. We each know that the other is but an earthly comfort. And we seek to walk with our eyes toward eternity, knowing that one day we will be called to part in this life and meet with our eternal bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our true Beloved and Friend.
Seeking God's Best For Our Children
Father and Mother's Story
"In the first institution of marriage, when there was no father to give consent, then our Heavenly Father gave His consent: God supplied the place of the father, and brought His daughter unto her husband, and ever since, the father after the same manner, hath offered his daughter unto the husband...a man hath the disposition of his own substance, so he hath the disposition of his own children..."
"Marriage hath need of many counselors, and dost thou count [her] father too many...which is like the foreman of thy instructors? Mark what kind of youth they be, which have such haste, that they dare not stay for their parents' advice, they are such as hunt for nothing but beauty...therefore honor thy parents in this, as thou wouldest that thy children should honor thee."
Yes, the above came from long ago, but here we were living in 1995, with two older daughters and one young son. Desiring to follow the commands of Jeremiah 6:16, we had become convinced that the ways of the old reformed and Puritan saints carried great weight of truth biblically. We had sought out the old ways, the old paths and were desiring to "walk ye therein." The question before us was; just how to walk in those ways that seemed so contrary to everything that we had learned.
Courtship was a term that we had not fully understood, nor comprehended. We knew that dating was not for our children, but we knew little of what would be pleasing to God. As we searched and studied we found that there was much more to all of this than we first had thought. The whole understanding of courtship was founded on the truth that in such a serious relationship as marriage, true conversion of heart and Godly piety were of utmost importance. This would be one of the greatest lessons, trials and blessings of our life.
We will try to share with you some of the treasures that have come our way and how they affected the courtship of our daughter, Jennifer. Here are some of the quotes that helped us see God's plan in choosing a spouse. They are taken from Of Domestical Duties by Wm. Gouge, 1622 and A Preparative to Marriage and Two Other Sermons, 1591 by Henry Smith.
"The Holy Ghost gives thee two rules, godliness and fitness: godliness, because our spouse must be like Christ's spouse, that is, graced with gifts and embroidered with virtues, as if we did marry holiness herself, as God respecteth the heart, so we must respect the heart, because that must we love, and not the face. It is not enough to be virtuous, but to be suitable,...we see many times even the godly couples to jar when they are married, because there is some unfitness between them which makes odds...so they which are like strive not, but they which are unlike, as fire and water...therefore a godly man in our time thanked the Lord that He had not only given him a godly wife, but a fit wife: for he said not that she was the wisest, nor the holiest, nor the humblest, nor the modestest wife in the world, but the fittest wife in the world, which every man should think when the knot is tied, or else so often as he seeth a better, he will wish that his choice were to make again. As he did thank God for sending him the fit wife, so the unmarried should pray God to send them a fit wife: for if they be not like, they will not like."
"This fitness is commended by the Holy Ghost in two words: one is in the 2nd of Genesis and the other is in the 2nd Corinthians 6:14 and that in Genesis is meet: God saith I will make a help meet for him, showing, that a wife cannot help well unless she be meet....they are couples so they may be called pairs, that is like as a pair of gloves, so man and wife should be like, because they are a pair of friends. If thou be learned, choose one that loveth knowledge; if thou be martial, choose one that loveth prowess: if thou must live by thy labour, choose one that loveth husbandry: for unless her mind stand with thy vocation, thou shalt neither enjoy thy wife, nor thy calling. That other word is yoke that Paul saith, be not unequally yoked. If marriage be a yoke, then they which draw in it must be fit, like two oxen which draw the yoke together, or else all the burden will lie upon one. Therefore they are called yoke fellows too, to show that they which draw this yoke must be fellows...so he which will have godly children must choose a godly wife: for like mother (saith Ezekiel) like daughter."
"There be certain signs of this fitness, and godliness, both in the man and the woman...thou must mark five things...which are like the pulses that show whether we be well or ill. The first mark is the report...a good man commonly hath a good name, because a good name is one of the blessings which God promiseth to good men...but a good name is not to be praised from the wicked...that is, when evil men speak well of you, because this is a sign that you are of the world. The next sign is the look...that one saith well, a modest man dwells at the sign of a modest countenance, and an honest woman dwelleth at the sign of an honest face...to show how a modest countenance, and womanly shamefacedness do commend a chaste wife...modesty should be learned before marriage, which is the dowry that God addeth to her portion. The third sign is her speech or her silence...he should be the teacher and she the hearer...by the speech we might know what aboundeth in the heart...as the echo answereth but one word for many which are spoken to her; so a maid's answer should be a word, as though she hold her breath. The fourth sign is the apparel...a modest woman is known by her sober attire...look not for better within than thou seest without...if the face be vanity, the heart is pride - he which biddeth thee abstain from the show of evil, would have thee to abstain from those wives which have the shows of evil: for it is hard to come in the fashion and not be in the abuse - and therefore Paul saith, fashion not yourselves like unto the world: as though the fashions of men did declare of what side they are. The fifth sign is the company: for birds of a feather will fly together...therefore choose such a companion of thy life as hath chosen company like thee before. When these rules are observed, they may join together and say, as Laban and Bethuel said, this cometh of the Lord, therefore we will not speak against it...how happy are those in whom faith, and love, and godliness are married together, before they marry themselves. For none of these martial, and cloudy, and whining marriages can say that godliness was invited to their bridal; and therefore the blessings which are promised to godliness do fly from them."
"In choosing a spouse there should not be a romantic passion, but a rational love, in which the affections are commanded by the will under the guidance of the reason (that is directed by the will of God). When affections keep their proper sphere, a lover does not display that divine or diabolical madness admired in the cults of romantic love; instead reason should choose the object of love and then command affections to act accordingly."
"In order that matrimonial society may prove comfortable, it is requisite that there should be some equality (suitability) betwixt the parties that are married in age, estate, condition, and piety. The parity which is of greatest consequence betwixt parties to be married, is in piety. It is very meet that the husband should be somewhat elder than his wife, because he is an head, a governour, a protector of his wife (after seeing the suitability and direction of God). Mutual love and good liking of each other is as glue. If at first there be a good liking mutually and thoroughly settled in both their hearts of one another, love is like to continue in them forever, as things which are well glued, and settled, before they be shaken up and down, will never be severed asunder: but if they be joined together without glue, or shaken while the glue is moist, they cannot remain firm.
Contrary is the adulterous and brutish practice of such as so soon as they cast their eye on any whom they like never advise or consult about a right and due proceeding unto marriage, but instantly with all the eagerness and speed they can, like brute beasts seek to have their desire and lust satisfied. Their practice (of the old world) was this, that they took them wives of all that they chose: that is, they rashly and suddenly married whomsoever they liked, without any consideration of their condition (fitness)."
Here we found ourselves believing thus: That God would have our children only marry those that were truly hungering and thirsting after righteousness and showing great evidences of a converted heart. Also, that there must be a fitness between the two of them that could be tested and found to be so. These were the things that courtship would discover. We also saw that as parents we had a responsibility before God to protect and guide our children in this area. So, we set our foundation and direction to be thus: anyone desiring to court our daughters would work through us first, that Godly sincerity and fitness might be determined. It would be then only that permission would be given for the courtship to commence. It would be during this time that the heart should be directed by the will to bring forth the fruit of a mutual love. This is where our trials began as parents. We understood the principles behind this, but how to walk in this was a new and difficult thing for us. But, God poured out his grace and mercy upon us abundantly.
Our family planned a move to Texas in the fall of 1993. As part of the journey we stopped for the Lord's Day in Des Moines, Iowa to fellowship with a very special church. We had become members, even though it was located four hours from us and we wanted to have one last Lord's Day with our pastor and friends. It was during this stop-over that the letter was delivered. That letter, though every daughter's father expects it someday, arrives as quite a surprise. It was a letter of intent from a young man in North Carolina whom we had never met. He was asking for permission to correspond with Jennifer with the intent of marriage as the end. He had heard our name a few years before while visiting with a mutual acquaintance in another state. Then that spring, while attending a reformed conference where our Pastor also was attending, our name came up again. Here we were in the middle of a move, faced with great new responsibilities and now one of the greatest situations of our life was coming upon us also. Jennifer knew nothing of the letter. This was part of our protection for her, as parents. It was something that we had all previously discussed and felt that until a young man was found to fill our new criteria of fitness for her, it would be wiser that her heart remain unattached.
Some time went by before any correspondence was sent off to this inquiring young man. A postcard was sent off telling of the move and the future intention of corresponding. Three months would lapse before a response letter was sent. In this letter we inquired further into his beliefs and walk with the Lord. In our years of parenting we just expected that when a young man would come for one of our daughters, we would already know him. It never occurred to us that a total stranger would inquire! This made the questions seem more and more important and some time would also need to be spent face to face with him. But, the letter would be the beginning and off they finally went. We knew that just the intensity of the questions may be enough to deter anyone not really serious about following after the ways of God. We also knew that with the many changes in our family's beliefs that it would take a special person to fulfill all of our expectations. Many doubts ran through our minds as we realized that the reality of finding someone that we felt would be good for our daughter's soul and believed the same way we did was in the world's eyes very small.
Again, quite some time went by before we heard any response to our letter. Then one day a very thick Federal Express letter package arrived. There it was, the 16 page response to our letter. Now, it might be a help to you to understand our living conditions at this time. We had been living in a 31 ft. Airstream travel trailer since shortly after our move to Texas, due to Nancy's environmental sensitivities. We had remodeled the inside and specially adapted it for us. It seemed to be the first time in her whole life that Nancy had a home that did not make her ill. We all felt very blessed with our new home. However, for parents in the middle of something this important, living in 31 ft. with three children made it a little more difficult to conduct the proceedings of the courtship privately. Nevertheless, it was kept a secret. The Federal Express package made an interesting date night for us at a local restaurant. We read every word with fear and trembling of heart. Great anticipation as well as great caution filled every ounce of our hearts. To make it even more exciting, the cover page was a letter explaining that the young man was flying to the Dallas area (close to where we were at the time) within a week, for a weeks visit at his brother's and requesting a meeting with us. As we read the letter we realized that it didn't give us much time to soak in all that he said before we had to prepare for his arrival. You see, we had moved and so the Federal Express package had lost a day in delivery.
We were both at the airport where we met a delightful young man attired in a suit and carrying a gift for my wife. We spent quite some time at a local restaurant that day and several to follow during that week. His beginning statements to us were very gracious and kind. He told us that his intent was for Jennifer's best interest and that if we saw anything in him or any kind of unfitness between them we should feel free to deny his request to correspond with her. After about twenty hours of intense conversation it became quite evident that this was not the one for our dear Jennifer. Oh, this was a very hard decision, as we liked him very much and found him to be a very gracious young man. However, we had learned that fitness is quite important and could see that there was a possibility of difficulty in that area. We voiced our concerns to him, which he also had sensed, and said our goodbyes. As we had been finishing our conversations he mentioned that there was yet another young man in his church that he felt might be quite fit with the foundational beliefs of our family. He asked permission to give him our name and address. We gave it gladly.
Upon arrival at home that evening we felt it was now time to tell Jennifer of the business of the past week. Even though this was not the man for her, we felt it would be an encouragement to her to know that someone had been sent by the Lord for the purpose of preparing our family for the day when the right one would come. What a special time it was as we explained the situation to our children. We realized at that time that our younger daughter had accidentally seen the first letter that had come and kept it to herself all those months. God had brought blessing after blessing to us from these events.
It was yet a few more months before another letter arrived voicing interest in our precious Jennifer. This time she was aware of the correspondence. Now she helped with the response letter. This letter became known as the 30 Questions letter (really it was only about 25 questions). Since the first young man had come and we were given the opportunity to spend as much time with him as we did, we felt it important to add several questions to our list. The first young man had received five questions. Again, we knew that this letter had the potential of turning this young man away, due to the intenseness of the content. We trusted that God would bring forth His spouse in His right timing for our daughter.
After quite some time, an audio tape arrived with a short letter. Steven had chosen to answer the 30 Questions letter with an audio tape. This delighted us. We could hear his answers from the heart. Again, date night was chosen and by this time we had our home in a beautiful campground about 60 miles west of Houston. There were recreational buildings that were open, so we chose one of them as our place for date night. The girls served us supper, while we listened to the tape. This very humble young man, with a heart to serve our Great and Mighty God, covered each and every question with exactness and thoroughness, sincerity and humility. We were greatly encouraged. Within a few days a phone call was made to invite him for a visit. He was not sure of the timing with his job and time off, but he would contact us when it was possible. It was not too long before he called with arrangements to come and meet us. He knew that upon meeting us that there was still the possibility that he would not be meeting Jennifer. Steven was coming...our family was in full excitement over this event. Not only was our family thinking that he was a potential suitor, but he was a fellow brethren with many of the same foundational beliefs as we had. And he was coming all the way from North Carolina. This time it was different as all were involved. It took on quite a different flavor.
The day arrived and Jennifer, Patti and Jonathan stayed at home preparing for a potential guest for supper, but not quite sure of his arrival. For Jennifer, there were mixed feelings, some desiring him to be brought home and others hoping that he would not be brought home. This was a new experience for her now, as a woman. This time, off the plane came a young man wearing a baseball cap and casual clothing. As he stepped towards us he waved and smiled as if we were his very dear friends. This was to shortly become very true. Steven was found to be sincere, forthright, humble and of a contrite heart. It only took a short time for us to see that this was truly a man of God. With almost every sentence an apparent like-mindedness to our Jennifer became evident. When lunch at the restaurant was over, Nancy called Jennifer. She told her to prepare for a guest for supper. Jennifer cried. There was great excitement in our home that day as the girls prepared for this special one coming. This had never occured before and brought many searchings of the heart before God.
As we drove up and introduced Steven to our Jennifer, his gentleness overcame her nervousness quite quickly. After supper and the next morning you could see a friendship beginning to build. Steven had stayed in the campground guest room that night and it had given us the opportunity to inquire of Jennifer's thoughts. This is one of the greatest joys of a parent's heart to see the woman emerging from their little girl. She had thoughts that couldn't even be put into words. She also knew the importance of a fitness and was looking through that perspective.
By Saturday evening every topic that was brought up, every question asking "what do you think about... or what is your opinion about..." turned out to be like-minded. Steven's brother-in-law had even told Steven that he had set his standards too high for this day and age. We too had thought that maybe we had set our standards too high for reality, but here we were sitting before a man that exceeded them all. The ground for our being pleased with Steven was his contriteness of heart, sincerity and humility. On Saturday evening we all sang Psalms, as is our delight. Jennifer has been very blessed by God with a beautiful voice. As we all began to sing, it became evident that Steven too had such a gift. Even in this, a great fitness was seen. We could not have provided so much fitness as was between them, even if we had tried our very best. It was evident that God had wrought a good work here.
By Monday, when Steven prepared to leave, all knew that something good had been brought about, the next question was what was the next step. Jennifer was then asked privately if she desired permission to be granted to Steven to begin correspondence with her. She gave her permission readily. Steven had requested that he be taken to the airport privately by the parents alone, so the goodbyes were made at home. On the way to the airport, questions spilled out, thoughts filled the hearts, the future dawned with great anticipation. As we said goodbye to Steven, it was with newness of heart. God had brought Steven and we all knew it. A great thanksgiving for the work that God was bringing filled our beings. Joy abundantly came to our souls. It was not just Steven that brought this joy, it was the reality that God had answered the prayers of many years from the lips of such lowly parents. We had walked down many wrong paths, thinking they were the ways of God. We had made many, many mistakes in the raising of our children, and here before us was His mercy evident in bringing us such a blessing instead of that which we deserved. God had shown Himself forth strong when we had rebelled, murmured and grumbled so towards Him. It was nothing that we had done, no good thing....no, not one, that had caused God to bring forth Steven. It was completely His mercy and grace.
In the months to follow, many, many long distance phone calls were received, many visits from Steven attended upon and the love that was based on their Savior and the fitness between them. There were many long walks at the campground where we lived. They knew that to be chaperoned was important, so they never were alone. Even at the campground, where many retired people lived, they were always watched by some caring grandparent-type friend, trying to keep up with the courtship. It was the talk of the campground. Their hearts soon became knit together. In November, Steven came to ask for Jennifer's hand in marriage. After the permission was cheerfully granted, he took Jennifer to the bench by the pond and proposed to her. She very willingly accepted.
Here is where we thought we were to begin resting, but we found the contrary to be true. We had been of the mind-set that at marriage the cutting of the apron strings occurred and the birds left the nest to entirely be on their own. Instead, as we studied we saw there were great responsibilities that parents had to their children, and children had to their parents, even after marriage. Of Domestical Duties by Wm. Gouge was a great help to us in understanding our new role. He pointed out that biblically the view is of a loosening of the reins with our children. We are to help them where they need help and assistance. They are a talent given to us by God until death parts us. We have the responsibility of watching over them our whole lives. We are to train them to walk with God and when we see that they need help, we are to give it. Zipporah's father in going to Moses was one of the examples. This gave us again, new perspectives. Our goal in all of our duties towards them was to fit them for a holy walk with God. As they walked more and more in His ways, more and more of the reins would be loosened.
Steven was living in North Carolina and it had been assumed that Jennifer would just move there when they married. As we looked at the situation with new eyes, we began to see that it may be more fit for them to live in the Dallas area. Steven's parents would then be about four hours in one direction and we would be about four hours in the other. There was a good church there and so we made the suggestion to him. After consideration all parties thought this a fit and right thing to do. Steven went job searching and the Lord provided a very good one quite readily. He then searched for their new home and also was blessed with a nice home in the country. A date for the wedding was set for April 28th, 1995.
Again, we began looking at what type of a wedding would be pleasing to God. The vanities of the world would not be the Christian's choice. We soon realized that those things we thought were quite appropriate for a wedding years ago, were not the modest, meek, and sober minded things that would please God. As we took each aspect of the wedding through an intense search, we settled on a quaint, simple service and modest, sober minded attire. We realized that the focal point of the service must be the glory of God and nothing other. The bride's attire, the church's decorations, the music...all these things that normally called attention to themselves we chose not to have as a part of the wedding. We desired simple and modest, with the view totally on God and His goodness. Psalms were chosen to be sung a capella. Jennifer's dress followed the criteria of the Godly saints of old. It was to be something special without being vain, yet very practical that could be worn again. We were not desiring to follow the Godly ones of old for themselves, as we are not to follow any man. As we found their principles we sought the biblical foundation for them. This greatly helped us in making our decisions.
Jennifer and Steven were joined in the union of marriage on April 28, 1995 in a quaint little country church, followed by a reception at the campground. At the reception they sang to each other of their commitment to God and their life together as man and wife. And after they left for their honeymoon, as we cleaned up the recreation hall, our hearts knew of the greatness of God in joining the two of these souls together. God had given us the privilege of guiding these two in this all important time of their lives. We had just seen them fly from the nest, to go off on their first flight from home. They would be back. That is what God has ordained. They would come to us again to seek His counsel. They would come to us again to bless us as our offspring. They would come to us again for further loosening of the reins. This is God's holy way.
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