April 6, 2014

Six Months

Six months ago found me walking down a street to a restaurant I had never been to, to meet a man I had never seen face to face before. A last tug at my clothes, a few deep breathes, convincing myself not to throw up or cry I kept going forward. Someone was sitting on the wall outside the restaurant and he stood up as I approached.
"Hi, Erin." He said
"Brett," I replied and we smiled nervously at each other.

A table was reserved for us, and we sat down. Made small talk until the waiter came with menus and drinks. At that point I knew the possibility, but I had no idea how much the next 3 hours would impact the rest of my life.

Let's go back further, a few months before that.

 .   .   .   .   .

I was getting on, you see; 27 and still single in Christian circles is a bit of a rarity. My real fear was not that I wasn't dating currently, but that I had never dated. Ever. There had never been any boy who had decided I was worth getting to know better. I wondered, if no one had thought I was worth getting to know up to this stage, what would change that? I was 27 and had never been on a date, never held hands, never been kissed. As most possibilities found their match, and my friends married I wondered if Gods plan was for me to remain single.

I hated that idea, but I also wanted to follow God's will for my life. I hated the idea of being single and without a family of my own for the rest of my life. But I hated the idea of being with someone who didn't love God and his people as much as I did even more. Better to be lonely in this life, than live in disobedience to God I believed.

I prayed desperately for God to answer my prayers. To grant me my hearts desires. Or if not, then I asked that He take away this longing. Stop my heart from breaking every time I hung out with friends and being the only single there. Stop my arms from longing for a child of my own every time I held my friends babies. Stop this utter desire for love and companionship that I didn't know what to do with.

Yet God did not take away that desire. I still ached most days, wishing I could say that God was enough. Knowing He was enough and would always be enough, yet not able to quench this longing.

For about a year, or possibly longer I had had a few people suggest that I might like to try internet dating. I had dismissed it, thinking it was a selfish step, going behind God's back. But more and more people would mention it to me, some in passing, some in genuine conversations. Then the leader at a course I was doing at church told me that she had started dating someone recently that she had met online, and gave me suggestions on how to do it safely and within God's will. That God can use all situations when we surrender them to him. That something may come of it, or maybe nothing will, but at least I had tried.

I prayed. And thought. Decided to do it and then backed down. Talked about it with close friends. Finally I decided to go ahead and do it. Found a Christian online site, filled out the form and payed the money.

For about two months nothing happened. Then a few emails from guys. One I was not interested in. One I corresponded with for a while before deciding our beliefs were very different. One I agreed to meet up with, but he pulled out at the last minute.

Then I got a message from someone. His name was Brett, I checked out his profile and was impressed by his love of Christ, his genuine commitment to God and God's people, his humility and friendliness. I sent a message back, and we began to email.

I was in Kiama with my parents during the school holidays when we started emailing. At first I was hesitant, but soon I was waiting impatiently for the next email. We had very similar beliefs, enjoyed similar interests and wrote long emails back and forth about everything under the sun.
2 weeks after emailing he suggested meeting up and I was ready. I wanted to see if this connection was real, better to find out sooner rather than later. A phone call that went longer than I thought with giggles and easy conversations and working out connections (Sydney Christian circles!). I did a bit of goggling that night, to make sure he was who he said he was (what I found on line backed up what he said).

Which brings us back to lunch at the restaurant. We ended up chatting for 3 hours - which if you know me is a miracle in itself. I don't normally talk easily with guys, especially ones I only just met. As my friend said when I phoned her that evening all confused "Hun, if you can talk to a guy you just met for 3 hours without running out of things to say, there's something there."

We agreed to meet up 2 days later. A week after our first meeting we had another date and ended up spending 7 hours doing the Bondi to Coogee walk and then sitting on the beach talking. I closed my online dating account that night. We made it official the week after.

And six months after that first face to face meeting we are still going strong.


I'm in love. And Brett loves me back. And I am so full of thankfulness and joy. We look back and say God was our matchmaker. We live on opposite sides of the city, and both so involved in our local churches and in different professions there is not much chance we would have met any other way. But God stepped in and used online dating to bring us together. All in his perfect timing He brought the man who was most perfect for me into my life.

Happy dance :)

This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:23
 
 

March 16, 2014

Two things

This was a thought I wrote down from a sermon a few weeks ago, that I just reread and was reminded of how true it is.

There are 2 documents that say in black and white what you value and what you invest in. Those two things are your bank statement and your calendar. You can say you value a certain thing, but these two documents will show if you actually do. You can think you don't really care about certain things but these documents will show if you actually do or not. because these two documents will show how you spend two of your most valuable resources; your money and your time. And that shows what you actually value.

March 10, 2014

Drive

While at other times in the car I listen to music, podcasts or the radio for some reason the drive to work is always silent.
My mind is still waking up, moving between sleeping and a new day.
I think about the day ahead. Run over the schedule in my mind. Remind myself of things I want to do, parents I need to talk with, how I will run group times, what activities I want to set out today, messages I need to pass on, what things I need to do when work finishes.
I muse over the day before, conversations I had had, something I had read, grocery lists, cross things off my mental to-do lists.
I pray; for my kids, for the other teachers, for things on my mind, for relationships, thanking God for things, asking for wisdom.
I sing songs in my mind, hum softly to myself.

I use to be afraid of silence.
But it doesn't scare me anymore. I'm not afraid of what I will think.

Sometimes I get to work and I wonder how on earth I got there. The backstreets I take to avoid traffic all merge together and nothing is ever different enough to catch my attention.

February 2, 2014

All nations

I never finished up the end of my trip diary, but it was only a day in LA before I came home that was so uneventful that I don't think I even took photos. And as soon as I came home I hit the ground running; catching up with everyone I missed while I was away, starting back at work 2 days after flying home, celebrating Australia day.

This last weekend I had the privilege of attending a friends wedding. A beautiful wedding, full of love and Christ. One of my favourite things was the way that the couple included the grooms Chinese culture into the service. Everything in the service book was in both Mandarin and English, and both the readings and prayers alternated between being in English and Mandarin. It was really special and a great reminder that language is no barrier for knowing God.
At the reception several of the speeches were also translated. Our church has a community of Mandarin speakers so it's great to see this culture being celebrated in the marriage of 2 members of our congregation, one from an Anglo Australian culture and one from a Chinese culture. 

 
Then this morning we had a special combined service where all the congregations came together for a service in the morning. I saw that Be Thou My Vision was one of the songs we were going to sing; it is my favourite old hymn and very recently taken a special place in my heart - so I was excited to sing it. Then it was announced that we would be singing the hymn simultaneously in both English and Mandarin. The guy leading the Mandarin out the front did so well to keep concentrating while the other singers and 90% of the congregation were singing in English.
But two hear the two languages melding together in praise,  was one of the most moving experiences I've had at church in a long time. I didn't want the song to end.