Along in October of 2005 at my Women's Bible Study, we were studying The Patriarchs by Beth Moore. One evening she was explaining how her husband would put his hand on her head and pray for her every time she would go somewhere to speak. While he was praying for her, he would pray for all the women who would be at the study... and he prayed for all the women who would watch the DVD of each study. She looks at the camera and says, "That means he is praying for you!"
My heart stopped for a moment. A man is praying for me. I haven't had a man praying for me like that since my dad died. Tears well up in my eyes and silently streak down my cheeks. I can't hear what Beth is saying because every ounce of longing in my heart had swelled up and burst from the tight container where I'd stuffed it... tears were a river on my cheeks by that time. I didn't even wipe at them because I didn't want anyone to know I was crying. How do you explain something like that? You can't. I can't explain it even now. Longing and yearning for a man who loves me to place his hand on my head and pray for me. Not only pray for me but for the women that I love and care for. What an astounding experience to have something like that happen. Beth was so blessed.
Cleve joined the choir. Now, I was starting to really pay attention. Someone, who shall remain nameless, informed me that Cleve was not married. Interesting. If you are a member of a church choir, you know how much fun we have. We are the kernel of the nuts in church. We are the carmel center! We had loads of fun and laughter.
Then one Sunday, a woman appears beside this interesting man. She sits really close to him. She's not his sister even though I wanted to believe so. I start to go over and shake her hand and welcome her, but she gets this glare in her eyes. I steer clear. Evidently she spent all day with him because she's back that night. Hmmm. I pack up all my budding feelings and put them away. It is important to note that my thoughts and feelings had gone no farther than friendship. I was still happily content in my singleness. Besides, I'm used goods. I had forgotten he'd already called me a couple of times, so the appearence of The Woman was not devastating. That evening we had a church fellowship. I had thought to go and speak to Cleve and again try to welcome her. She's clinging to him like peanut butter to bread. Every time I head that way, I get sidetracked by someone. Time slips away and they are gone before I get the chance. I did not know if that was God designed or not.
Time passes. The Woman comes back one more time, then disappears like the last piece of chocolate cake in a family full of teenagers... not even a crumb left. No reference to her at all.
I get an email: "What would you say if I were to ask you out just for something to do one evening?"
There is absolutely nothing in that question to make a heart flutter in excitement, yet my heart leaped. I emailed right back: "That sounds like a wonderful idea! I'd say, yes."
We went to dinner and I was home by 8:30 pm. We made a date the next Thursday to watch a DVD. Something happened to my fluttering heart between that Saturday evening and the next Thursday afternoon. FNR==> Frantic Nervous Reaction has to be a medical term. I had to find something to do so I could cancel. Surely that package of info would be in so I could write that grant for Abiding Grace Ministries. Yeah, that was it. "Lord God Almighty, please make that packet of info come in, then I can call and cancel."
He called that afternoon. "We still on for tonight?"
No packet of info came in. "Oh, yes! I'm looking forward to it." Funny thing is, I truly was looking forward to it even though my FNR was to the point of causing heart palpatations, but I hadn't broken out in a rash.
The movie was good. He sat in one chair and I sat in another. Good.
Time passes in this way. He would bring things to me that he would notice I wanted or needed, like a fire log to start a fire. He took the tire that needed fixing and got it fixed. Other things that he noticed needed doing, he just did. Just like my Dad used to do.
We made a date to go see The End of the Spear one Saturday. (It was such a good movie.) A storm came in and we were basically under water it rained so hard as we traveled to Monroe 70+ miles away. I felt safe in his presence; his strong hands on the wheel. I realized FNR had dissapated and I was finally able to relax. We had fun. I looked at him across the table, Chinese food piled on our plates, and I suddenly realized that I could trust this man.
He waited to the third date to kiss me. Before then, I'd scurry away from him, terrified he'd try to kiss me like the last time I'd put my toe in the dating waters. That was the first and the last date I'd permitted with that old geezer. Cleve, on the other hand, was a perfect gentleman. It was absolutely amazing how God guided him in our budding relationship. Perfection. When he did kiss me it ignited a blaze that had nothing to do with the fire in the fireplace. It burned hot enough we had to pray about it so God would keep us pure. He is definitely my HBL==>Hunk o' Burning Love.
Valentine's Day was coming up. I was truly looking forward to it because this would be my first date on Valentine's Day in about twelve years. That is a long time without a Valentine. Back in '96, I asked God that if He was preparing another husband for me that I'd definitely prefer to have The Fourth of July kind of fireworks. God remembered that request.
In case you don't remember, there was a full moon on Valentine's Day. Big, bright and beautiful the moon was highlighing the trees. We went to dinner and on the way home, he pulled off into a barren corn field and drove around a pond. The moon was gorgeous. We sat for a long while in complete silence glorying in God's creation. Then, with a very tender touch to my cheek, Cleve asked me to marry him. That is when God put on the fireworks display. We saw a shooting star and it was glorious. God is so grand!
A month later, he gave me my engagement ring and that is when everyone else found out. We'd kept the secret for that long. It is astounding how God works. We've been sitting on the second from the front pew on the right side. (Our choir goes down to sit with the congregation for the preaching.) Last Wednesday, one of our dear church ladies leaned over the pew back and said, "I've seen many a courtship turn into beautiful marriages right here on this pew."
"Are they still together?" I asked.
"Every single one of them," she grinned and nodded her head.
"Outstanding!" Cleve and I grinned at each other.
I have to admit, I had some doubts in the beginning. Was Cleve The One for me? Was God in it? What did God think about all this? You would think that God putting on a fireworks show with the shooting star after I said "Yes", would have been enough of a blessing, right? Satan loves to put in his two cents in order to destroy all things good and wonderful. He'd been whispering on my shoulder. Then the night before we were to leave to go to Birmingham to see Beth Moore, Cleve had his arm around me and said, "You be sure and pray before y'all get in that van tomorrow. I'll be praying for you, too."
"Pray for me, now?" I asked.
My Darling Love laid his hand on my head and he prayed a sweet prayer for me, but it didn't stop there. He prayed for the women who would be in the van and for all the women going to the Living Proof Live event. I am so completely blessed! I'm not used goods. God has purified me. God forgave all my sins and He has made me white as snow. God has purified Cleve and made him white as snow, even tho our sins were as crimson, we've been cleansed. Cleve told me just the other night that I was made just for him. That was so precious. Let me tell you, it is useless to fight against God and precious so I am basking in the blessings. Go count your blessings and see what God has done!
Christian Love Story Love Story