Category Archives: Love and Marriage

The Birth of Our Daughter

20160713_182447Nearly a whole year has passed since the birth of our sweet little girl. In honor of her upcoming birthday I’m finally sharing her birth story (raw details and all) here on the blog. What a difference a year can make! We are incredibly thankful to God for having entrusted us with this bright-headed little lady! Our year together has been a real gift from Him. She brings us such joy!20160514_163939

This story begs for me to give the backdrop and it starts out with me feeling fearful. God used the birth of this child to relieve my fears and redeem my mentality towards the experience of birth. Around ten weeks pregnant I went into my appointment with the midwife kind of hoping they would discover that I had twins so that I could just sign up for a c-section and not have to go through labor again. I was super sick, overwhelmed, weak and discouraged at that point. Throughout my pregnancy I expressed a real fear of labor. The midwives at the birth center were so kind and took extra time with me reassuring me that it would most likely be better the second time, and they would completely support me if at the last minute I decided I wanted to go to the hospital and get an epidural.  

I didn’t know what to do. I so loved the midwives and greatly valued their time and support, but I just dreaded going through the painful valley of birth again. I couldn’t pinpoint where the fear exactly came from with my last experience. I didn’t have a horrible first birth. Most people said it was perfectly normal and good for a first time mom. Maybe it was driving to the birth center during transition, maybe it was pushing for 2+ hours, maybe it was the tears, or the excruciating stitches afterwards, maybe it was that I was exhausted for weeks afterwards, maybe it was because I came down with mono (which lasted for six months), maybe it was because I felt weakened by the whole experience, maybe it was the postpartum depression, or maybe it was the feelings of complete exhaustion (and yet still couldn’t sleep at night). Whatever it was, I couldn’t put my finger on the precise thing I dreaded, but the whole process and the aftermath had left a genuine fear on my heart.

The verse I’d chosen to claim for this labor was Isaiah 50:7 “For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” I would quote it again and again when fears would arise. Also, on Elisabeth Elliot’s radio program “Gateway to Joy” she was talking about how a mother cooperates with God to bring life into this world. I loved that word picture. “You’re the only one who can do this.” The Lord would tell me. “You’re the only one who can bring this very unique and special life I’ve created into this world. You can trust me to help you in giving birth to this baby.” How kind of my Savior to whisper these comforts to my heart. I thought on this over and over again as the time for birth drew nearer.

We decided to have this baby at home since leaving the house in labor was stressful last time. (It’s a good thing we made this decision too, or we would have had this baby in the car!) I’d also decided that I didn’t want to find out the gender, I needed that reward of a surprise at the end of labor;though I had a strong feeling this baby was a girl right from the beginning.

Anyway, this brings me to the point in our story where I was past my due date by five days. Since our son was born five days early I felt like I’d been pregnant for 10 months! In those final days I struggled between listening to my feelings and thanking the Lord for His perfect timing. I decided to focus on all the good in my life and thank God for everything I could. That exercise helped me keep my sanity and made me a sweeter person to be around!

C360_2015-07-13-19-59-25-195

By now Hubs and I were trying every trick in the book to try to get this baby out! Spicy foods, red raspberry leaf tea, love making, evening primrose oil, long walks, stairs, pressing acupressure points, you name it we probably did it! I just decided to enjoy life and try to have fun each moment at a time until these contractions would actually turn into the real deal! And Hubs and I were having fun together. We tried to laugh a lot. And thankfully, my sister was here to help with our toddler when Hubs was at work and she really helped make the slow passing days easier.

On Friday, the 24th I awoke at 3:30 AM and started thinking maybe this was the big day! I ate some cheesecake and decided to send some emails. I called the midwife to give her a heads up when I couldn’t type through contractions, but still didn’t think the birth was anytime soon.

I woke hubs up around 4:00 and he sprang into action helping me clean up our room, finding my special hair clips, and filling up the birth pool we had rented. By now I was breathing heavily through the contractions and really trying to surrender to them and the pain. They were still about 5-6 minutes apart though. I kept thinking “stick your stomach out” and that would help me stay relaxed through the contractions.

Then I started feeling this strong nesting urge. I was like “our room is not clean enough to have a baby in” and I started scurrying around in between contractions trying to tidy things up a bit. I began diffusing my favorite oil “Gentle Baby”, my sister brought me some homemade “laborade” and then the ambiance was all set for some action and boy, was it coming!

Through the intense pain of the contractions, I kept hearing a sweet friend’s voice, Molly singing the song “The Potter Knows the Clay”. This brought such comfort to my heart.

I know you are going through the fire
Its getting hard to stand the heat
But even harder is the wondering
Is God’s hand still on me
Its lonely in the flames
When you’re counting days of pain

Chorus: But the Potter knows the clay
How much pressure it can take
How many times around the wheel
‘Til there’s submission to His will
He’s planned a beautiful design
But it’ll take some fire and time
Its gonna be okay
‘Cause the Potter knows the clay

Friend I just came through that fire
Not too very long ago
And looking back I can see why
And that my God was in control
But on the hottest days I’d cry
Oh Lord, isn’t it about time:  Chorus:

Around 5:20 AM, Hubs called Lisa, our midwife who lives an hour away. Right after he called her I started shaking uncontrollably and I knew we should have called for her sooner. Within a few more contractions I was feeling the urge to push. I kept asking, “Where’s Lisa? Why isn’t she here already? When is she going to get here?”  When Hubs responded with “in about 20 minutes” (and he was kind of fudging on that time) I was like “No, that’s too long! I need her NOW!”

Hubs brought a plate of scrambled eggs in to our room. The smell of those eggs were disgusting to me at that point, and I was so crabby that he had brought those near me, but by now the labor was intense enough that I didn’t have the wherewithal to ask him to get those eggs OUT. We were in the same room, but completely different worlds and I had lost the ability to communicate. All I knew was I was super crabby about that grossly intense egg smell. (You kind of have a right to be crabby when you’re in the middle of pushing a 8.5lb person out of a hole normally the size of a Cheerio! E.g. the cervix.) Just sayin’! 🙂

Hubs was my “calm and steady” through the fast-paced intensity of this birth drama. He was there praying over me, telling me words of scripture and affirmations, assuring me that I could do this. He would rub my back when I wanted and then quickly stop when I’d cry out “don’t touch me.” He was incredibly confident too, fully prepared to deliver this baby. I kept saying, “No you can’t deliver this baby. I need Lisa and I need her NOW!”

When Lisa walked in at 6:14 AM (precisely 14 minutes before our daughter made her debut into this world) I cried out, “Lisa, I need you!!!” I was in absolute agony at this point, but it was short lived. “I know, honey. I’m here to help. I sped the whole way here and I’m ready to help you.” She replied. Her presence brought comfort, and as soon as she arrived I felt the liberty to really bear down and push!

The next instant I felt like I was about to throw up the cheesecake I’d eaten not too long ago. (Oh, why did I do that?) “I’m going to throw up!” I called, and Lisa grabbed a large bowl, sprinkled some peppermint oil in the bottom and set it in front of me. The pungent smell of mint helped me fight the urge to get sick.

Five minutes before our baby emerged, I looked up and saw a woman walk in with towel dried hair. I saw her and her crazy hair and in all the intensity of labor I thought, “who is that crazy lady and why is she here?!” I wanted her to ask her to leave, but I had no ability to form a sentence in that moment. I just told myself, “Stop, worrying about everything else and just get this baby out!!!!!”  The “lady with the crazy hair” was the nurse from the birth center whom I just hadn’t met before. She had left her house with her hair wet in her hurry to make it to our fast-moving birth. For the record, nurse Peggy is a beautiful person and a dear soul. I was just very disillusioned in those final moments of labor. Sweet Peggy was so helpful to me after our daughter was born, and I’m very thankful she made it in time to see my baby into this world.

Things were happening so fast. Now down to a couple of minutes before, I began to scream, “I can’t do it, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t! It HURTS, IT HURTS, IT HURTS, I CAN’T DO IT!!!!”  Lisa calmly and firmly said, “you’re doing it.” To which I just answered with a deep, heavy moan. I had no other choice than to “bite the bullet” and just do it. Then my water broke. The warm liquid puddled on our bed and around my knees. (I’d never left the all fours position.) Next baby’s head popped out. Then I got a Charlie Horse in my right calf. “My leg, my leg, somebody rub my leg!!!!!” I screamed! I didn’t have time to think that I was going to die like I did with my firstborn, but I did feel completely tortured at this point.

The next thing I knew my baby was out!!! It was 6:28 AM. I took a second of moaning in pain, before I looked down and between my knees was the most beautiful baby girl!  She was so pink and chubby, a beautiful redhead child! It all happened so fast. “We have a ginger!” Lisa exclaimed joyfully! Where did this child come from? I wondered. She looked nothing like I’d ever imagined, and was a ton cuter than anything I could imagine. I leaned down and began to kiss her wet head. “Mommy loves you, baby, mommy loves you. I know, it was so hard for mommy too. I know, darling.” And we both cried together. “I like her, I love her! She was worth everything! You were worth everything. Mom’s gonna have to get lots of fun girl clothes.” I cooed on excitedly. 🙂

Daddy said when he saw her little face pop out, he instantly knew she was a girl. Her face was just so feminine. (He had run around to see her head when it popped out.)DSC_0704

I can’t describe the joy of holding our chubby little ginger-haired baby girl! I just thanked God over and over for sending her to our family. I felt guilty for how I had complained during her pregnancy. Suddenly all the nausea, the horrible hip pain, the sleepless nights, the dozens and dozens of stretch marks, the back pain, the pain of labor, it all seemed as nothing. “I can’t believe she’s ours. I love her so much.” I said over and over. For the next couple of weeks, I sort of lived on this joyous high of overwhelming gratitude for this baby girl!

One of my goals with this labor was not to tear and so in the weeks leading to labor, I started using Frankincense oil which helps your skin with elasticity and stretch-ability. 003Then once I knew this was the real thing, I had hubs put it on heavily again. We were such a team working together for this birth. It was wonderful! And oh, was it a better experience for sure. I survived with only one small tear, and that was only because she had the princess wave thing going as she made her way through the birth canal (her little hand was raised high.) Funny thing is that during that last month of pregnancy I kept saying “It feels like she’s digging her fingernails into my cervix.” I kept feeling these sharp claws causing sudden pains. Now I think it was actually her scratching me with that little hand she had up by her face. Lisa said that if her hand had not been up, Hubs would have delivered her for sure. That little hand slowed us down just enough, and because I was waiting to push until Lisa arrived, it gave me time to stretch. The Lord worked out the timing of everything.

My baby was face down and that helped so much! I largely credit that to the chiropractic adjustments during the last trimester. My pelvis was in near perfect alignment before she was born and so she had the space to move into the correct position. Thank you, Dr. Katie Shay! <3

Lisa left almost an hour after our baby girl’s birth. We told her we were trying to give her the biggest bang for her buck. We wanted to give her a good deal by making it speedy. Just kidding! We never even used the birth pool we had rented. It wasn’t full at the time I wanted to get in.Maybe for the next baby. Below are some pictures of Lisa and baby.         

Sweet Peggy stayed with us for several more hours to make sure we were all thriving. She washed our bedding, helped with nursing, and looked after all the little things. We both laughed when I told her my silly first impression of her while I was in the most intense part of labor. 

DSC_0801   DSC_0774

Baby Dear weighed 8lbs, 8oz and was 21 inches long.

DSC_0716DSC_0783     005

Our son was calmly eating his breakfast through all the noise of labor. Mom screaming didn’t phase him one bit. His auntie was amazed at how chill he was. 🙂 She brought him into our room to meet his little sister almost as soon as she was born and then my sister blessed us by taking these pictures for us.DSC_0731 Big brother didn’t show too much interest in the baby, but he wanted mommy to hold him, so I held my bigger baby, my precious firstborn while daddy held our little daughter close to his chest to keep her warm. <3 She even tried to nurse off daddy. 🙂  

 

As our little family sat on the front porch that evening, DSC_0861the neighbors walking by couldn’t believe I’d had a baby that day, and they were ultra shocked when we said “Yes, we had her right there in our bedroom.” “On purpose?!?” was the common response. “Yep, on purpose.” 🙂

DSC_0859  
We gave our daughter a name meaning “Beloved Grace” and she is a testimony of God’s precious grace in our lives. We cherish the time He has entrusted her to our care and we pray that God will use her in a mighty way so she can show others His beloved, precious grace to mankind. We love her so much!      DSC_0819DSC_0900

006 (1)     007Our happy little family of four!

Lessons from Lovely Linda

It was around Christmas time, when life was all in a hustle and a bustle, and I ran into my friend, Lovely Linda in the cheese section at Wal-Mart. This woman is such a joy-filled, radiant, beautiful Christian and just visiting with her for 5 minutes that day filled my cup. For as long as I can remember, I’ve called her Lovely Linda, and we go way, way back. She actually made my birthday cake when I was 4 years old.:-) Shortly after hubs and I got married, we had Lovely Linda and her dear husband over and they gave us such great advice for a newly married couple, and completely refreshed our souls.

After the brief encounter at Wal-Mart, I felt the Lord say, “You need to share her. She could be a real blessing to some of your friends.” So I said, “Okay, Lord who should I share her with?” and He put some ladies on my heart. The Bible says that the older women are to teach the younger to love their husbands and when we love and reverence our husbands, we are loving Christ. With this in mind, I wanted dear Linda to come teach on something she does very well and that is loving her husband. When I called her to see if she could come, her response was she needed to check with her husband to see if he was working that day, “Because I don’t like to be away from home on his day off.” I thought “And that is exactly why I want you to come share on being a good wife!” Case in point. Thus my little lunch party with Lovely Linda as the guest of honor came about. As she shared her wisdom on being a godly wife, I was busy scribbling down notes so that I wouldn’t forget anything (so that I could share with my sisters, and you, my dear readers). Here are some of the points of wisdom she shared. It is not completely verbatim, but you’ll get the gist of her advice.

 -As a wife we need to really look for the good that God has done in our lives. God inhabits the praises of His people so we should be praising Him all day, if we want Him to be near us (Psalm 22:3).

-Everyone is different, that is why we have to accept our husbands just the way they are and just choose to love them. Choose to accept your husband just the way he is. Each of you is different. Don’t try to change each other. Two halves make a whole and you need those differences. You will be “heavenly sandpaper” to each other whether you like it or not. Marriage will show you how selfish you are.

-Remember what the Lord has done and rehearse it verbally. Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb 13:8). He is still the same God today.

-Think back to why you fell in love and what attracted you to that man.

-Be discreet and don’t be too detailed. Your husband needs to know that he can trust you. Even with best friends be very careful what you tell them.

-Let God change your husband. You just pray, pray, pray and then pretty soon you probably won’t care anymore (“I love that part” she said). You can’t change him ever, and if you could, you wouldn’t like what you’ve changed. Our job as women is to just accept them the way they are and to pray. In times of praying and waiting for God to work, many tears were shed while in prayer. God keeps a bottle up in heaven of those tears.

-Ask the Lord for joy to greet your husband every time he comes home, for joy to serve him and for your home to be filled with joy. When he gets home, look into his eyes with joy and listen to him.

-There might be a time when your husband is very lonely. Try to be in his world enough so that he never feels alone.

-If bad thoughts come to your mind, take it straight to the cross and say, “Jesus died for that for me, so I don’t have to be in bondage to that thought or sin.”

-If you feel angry with your husband say “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”. Call unto Him and take it to the Lord in prayer. You will find it melts away when you pray.

-If ever your husband asks you to do a job and you think, “I just can’t do that for him”, then do it for Jesus.

-As wives, we control the atmosphere of the home. It is up to us to keep things light. Don’t make mountains out of molehills. Many a husband could be won just by the wife keeping things light. You may think you don’t have a sense of humor, but try to make your husband laugh. Ask God to help you and give you ideas.

-Maybe you’ve studied a little more of the bible or think you know more than your husband. That is dangerous. Self-righteousness is dangerous, very dangerous. He is where he is supposed to be spiritually. He is the head. Let the Lord teach him and not you.

-If you’re feeling overwhelmed as a wife and a mother, take a gratitude walk around the block. Look around at God’s creation and find everything you can to be thankful for and verbally thank the Lord. Be grateful for everything, all the time you do have with people, and focus on all that the Lord has given you, instead of what you don’t have and still want or think you’re not getting.

-Put on the whole armor of God every day. Jesus can’t put it on for us, we have to intentionally put it on every morning. Pray at night before you go to bed, just talk to Jesus. He is our best friend. Put up that shield of faith.

-Every morning ask the Lord to have His way where you sit, stand, how you react, and in conversation.

-You can have everything, but that is not enough. You must get your satisfaction from Jesus.

-If you love your husband with all of your heart, the way the Lord wants you to love, then you cannot believe how much he will love you.

-You grow in the Lord by praying for other people! We are powerful, we are warriors, we are in a battle and we have to bind the enemy. Lift up your husband and other people to the Lord. These days are evil, but Jesus is depending on us to pray. Praying is the best thing you could ever do. When you are Spirit-filled and praying, the enemy and his demons flee! We have power when we pray! The Lord will change hearts and circumstances when we pray. We have a tremendous responsibility to pray!

Thank you Lovely Linda for all of this wisdom!

Stinkin’ Thinkin’ and How to Combat It

How goes your mind, goes your attitude and your actions.  Which is why it is so important for us as Christian women to be continually purging our thought life.  Many times we have to take extra measures to keep our thoughts from running wild so that they don’t lead us into a train wreak of hurt and bitterness of spirit.  Well, I just know that I personally have to take extra measures!  🙂 

Petzoldt-27

I’m thinkin’ about you and it’s a happy thought!

Before I married my dear man, my mother, who has a beautiful marriage, gave me some incredible advice.  I want to share it with my readers because I believe it can be a help to  others, like it has helped me.

She told me to make a list of the 50 things I like about my man and keep it in my dresser drawer.  Whenever I feel a negative thought arising towards him, the first thing I should do is go read over that list and meditate on all the things that I do like about him and all the ways he means so much to me.  Then if I need to address him regarding the source of the negative thought, my heart will be in a much better place to do so.

Well, you can imagine that once I’ve filled my mind with those 50+ things that I love about my hubs, there’s not much room for that prior negative thought.  My heart is overwhelmed with gratefulness for all that my husband does do for me!  The list has changed and been added to as we grow closer together and face life’s challenges together. I can’t get through my list without a smile breaking across my face.  

I thought about sharing my list with you all, but I don’t want anyone to compare.  Your husband is a completely different individual than mine, with different strengths, and I’m sure he does completely different things for you that you appreciate.  No doubt that no two lists will be alike.  Plus, some of my favorite reasons for loving my man, the reasons that make me smile the biggest, are quite intimate and probably shouldn’t be posted publicly. 🙂  I’ll just leave it at that! 🙂

Song of Solomon 2:15 says, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.”

Keeping a list of those 50 things I love about my man has been such a good way for me to keep the “little foxes” out of our marriage.

By the way, if you aren’t married, this concept still works on other people around you. No, I do not have a bunch of lists of the 50 things I like about everyone in my life.  But it does help to change your attitude about someone if you can find several things that you do like about them.  And yes, there is a time and a place for discernment, but there is no place for negativity towards anyone, especially amongst believers and those of your own household, as it just becomes the breeding ground for bitterness.

Hopefully, this idea will bless your house as it has mine and keep that stinkin’ thinkin’ at bay!

In His Love,

Elizabeth 

How I Met and Married My Man

To start off my blog, I thought I’d share the story of how God led to bring me my super-duper, studly, hot hubby!  We originally type up this story to share on our wedding website.   All the good, juicy details are below!   I’m so thankful for my man and so thankful to my Lord for His hand in orchestrating our life-long love story!  How good it is to walk with Him!

The story of how God brought Brent and Elizabeth together:

In a nutshell, Brent was interested in me,but I did not share the same interest. Then three years later, God brought us back together, the timing was right, and I fell head over heels in love with him.

 1200x1200_1431208758-9b77271bcdabb8b6-IMG_1175

Many many months ago, I wrote this verse in my journal with a few thoughts on my future life partner:                        

“The thing proceedeth  from the Lord: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.” ~Genesis 25:50 This is what I want to be able to say when God brings a man for me. I want it to be so clear from the Lord, so orchestrated by His hand that all that people can say is “That was done by the Lord. It proceedeth from Him.”

Our desire is that when you read our story, you will see the hand of the Lord at work in each of our lives, because without the hand of God bringing us together, we would definitely not be planning our wedding today.  We serve a God who cares about the most infinitely small details of our lives.  We can trust Him and He is honored when we seek Him. He can redeem any situation, any life, no matter how messed up, and make something beautiful out of it.   We all need to place our trust in Him. The Creator of the Universe cared enough about mankind to send His only Son, Jesus Christ down to earth to pay the penalty for our sins – to make a way for us to have fellowship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ.  Only through Christ can we be redeemed and rescued from the bondage of sin, from eternal separation from God.  God is not willing for any to perish, but He is gracious and patient, not forcing Himself on any person, but waiting for them to turn their hearts toward Him.  God cares for us……….

He cared about my life partner….and Brent’s life partner………1200x1200_1431208637-8f815f20c42185d3-IMG_1205

Alright, some of you (especially you girls) are probably curious about all of the details on how God worked, so here is the long version of our story:

About 12 years ago, our families met at a home church in St. Louis Missouri, held in the home of mutual friends.  Our families kept in contact through Christmas letters and saw each other occasionally when my family would go back to St. Louis.  In 2007 our families sat next to each other at a friend’s wedding reception.  I remember thinking that they looked like a really nice family, and I enjoyed visiting with Brent’s mom.

Fast forward to 2008 and I was trying to be a matchmaker. 🙂  Though I hardly knew anything about Brent, I thought that he would be a perfect match for one of my girlfriends.  I told my Mom we just had to invite their family to Kansas so that these young people could meet.  After all, people need help – so I thought. 

They did make a trip to Kansas in January of 2009, and Brent said he noticed me right away.  I was neutral towards him and just thought of him as a nice guy.  After all, I had mentally matched him up with someone else.  😉

Shortly thereafter, Brent’s Dad, Mike called my Dad and wanted to get together again.  So they came down in March for the NJCAA basketball tournament that my Dad helps run. I remember thinking, “That was a long trip to make just to watch basketball games.”  We did have fun with their family.  Our families meshed well together and enjoyed each other’s company, but I just thought of them as nice friends.

Shortly after that visit, Brent called my Dad and stated that he wanted to get to know me. Dad’s response was that I had too much going on in my life at that time, and he told Brent to wait until I had graduated to start conversing with me.  My Dad talked with him over the phone for several weeks, and through the course of those weeks, I figured out that something suspicious was going on.  Eventually I put two and two together and realized that Brent was interested in me.

This made me very upset and I desperately wanted to put a stop to the whole thing, but I didn’t know how I could bring it up out of the blue to my parents.  I just kept hoping that they would tell me of Brent’s interest and then I would set them straight as to how I really felt.  It was a frustrating time – and during that period I grew from having neutral feelings towards Brent to utterly disliking him. In fact, “dislike” is not a strong enough word to describe how I felt.  I believed he was ruining my life and I never wanted to see him again.

Well, poor Brent had no idea what was going on in my heart, and innocently attended my graduation ceremony.  Afterwards, I made it super clear to him that I was NOT interested in him at all.  He got the message and needless to say, my parents were not very happy with me.  

That summer Dad said to me, “I believe Brent is a very fine young man and I want you to know that we ARE going to his wedding.” To which I replied, “Great! I’ll be there with bells on. That is going to be the HAPPIEST day of my life because then he’ll be taken!”  Now three years later we are all laughing at my prophetic words. 🙂1200x1200_1431208722-a4a0d7674732439a-IMG_1128_20_2_

Our families continued to see each other occasionally, but there was always a bit of awkwardness. I think both of our parents were really hoping that some spark would ignite between us, but I made sure I was cool enough for that not to happen. 

In the meantime, I spent many months wrestling with surrendering the issue of my future spouse to the Lord.  I would pray “Lord, I can’t surrender this yet, because that means I’ll have to include Brent in the picture and you know I just can’t do that. You know we don’t go together Lord; he is just not my type.” (Thank you Lord for unanswered prayers!!)  How the Lord must have been amused by those prayers.  During this entire time I was fervently praying that Brent would hurry up, meet a girl and get married. Sadly, I didn’t even use his name when I would pray or talk about him. I would just refer to him as “that person,” and my family and the Lord knew who I was referring to.

On January 6th 2011, I was still wrestling in my spirit with this issue of surrendering to God’s future plan for me.   I finally broke, praying and weeping before the Lord, and surrendering to Him.  I told Him that I was not in control and I truly just wanted His will for my life.  The very next day I found out that Brent was seeing a girl and I was incredibly happy!  I thought to myself, “God loves me, He does hear my prayers!”  I felt like God was telling me, “I’m just asking you to surrender to me. I’m not going to make you do something that you don’t want to do. I’m just asking you to surrender.”  Here is an entry from my journal, dated January 7th 2011 .                                                                                                                                 

“God is so amazing!  He is so wonderful and worthy of our praise! He is so trustworthy!  He gently tests us by shielding the answer to the matter of our concern from us, until He knows that we are fully trusting Him and completely surrendered, and then He gives the answer that He knew all along and was the very thing that we had so prayed for.  He is a God who can be trusted and He cares about us to such a deep depth. My heart is overflowing with thankfulness and joy to Him.  If only I would learn to trust Him sooner, and rest, knowing He controls all. “

So as you can see, I was very, very happy with that news!

Several more months passed and yet, I was still haunted by the memory of Brent. I kept asking myself, “Must I go through life with him always in the back of my mind?”  By now it was spring of 2011 and the Lord was at work on my heart.  The Lord began to convict me of my need to repent to Brent for how I had treated him two years ago, yet in my heart I was thinking, “No way, that would be too weird!”  But the Lord would not let me run away from the things I needed to face.   I had allowed bitterness to creep into my heart and I felt like God was telling me to apologize to Brent and sort of close the lid, so to speak, on the things of the past. 

In a matter of days, several things happened that showed me that I needed to clear my conscience.

The first sign came from a girlfriend who made a very derogatory comment about a guy to me; I was angry at her lack of respect for her brother in Christ.  As I found myself quite upset over this, the Lord told me in His still, small voice, “Elizabeth, isn’t that how you treated Brent? Whether it was consciously or unconsciously, your heart was  similar to this girl with whom you are upset.”  Ouch, that hurt!

Then out of the blue, my Mom suggested that perhaps I should just write a letter to Brent and apologize to him.  What, how did she know?   I assured her that would be way too weird.  Too much time had passed and I could not do that.  But on the inside, I was thinking to myself, “Perhaps this is another sign from the Lord.”

Also, for my birthday, I had been given a Bible study book, God’s Priceless Woman .  As I was reading that book, I was utterly convicted about my role as a Christian woman.  I realized that I would be a hypocrite to get up and lead a young girls’ Bible study and talk about the respect we should have for our brothers in Christ, when I knew in my heart this was not how I treated Brent.

Finally, the young adult Bible study that I was attending was discussing confessions and the need to confess wrongs that were done, even if years had gone by.  Another ouch!

Through all of these signals, I finally realized that clearing my conscience should be my top priority, instead of worrying about how Brent was going to take it.   So I sat down and wrote out a letter to him.  Tears ran down my cheeks as I wrote.  It was just so good to put my thoughts down on paper and know that God had forgiven me.  In fact, the next day I had so much energy, I woke up at 2:00am thinking it was 6:00am. I got dressed and bounded downstairs, only to realize the time.  “Wow, this is what a forgiven heart feels like!” I said to myself, and it felt so good.

 1200x1200_1431208682-27051192e6333100-IMG_1286 

Though I had written the letter, I had no plans to send it.  I thought, “ Well, that was a good experience organizing my thoughts, and God knows how I feel, so I am not going to send it.”   I folded the letter up and put it away in my dresser drawer, not telling anyone about it.  Little did I know, that letter was burning a hole, not in my dresser, but in my heart.  A few days passed, and I could still not get the letter out of my mind.  I knelt down outside in the grass beside our silo, and asked God to give me a sign on what I should do.  I didn’t realize how quickly that prayer would be answered.  The next day our family received an apology letter in the mail from someone who wanted to clear his conscience.  I couldn’t believe it!  We had never received a letter like that.  Amazingly, this person had written his apology letter the same day I had written mine, only he had sent his and I hadn’t.  I really didn’t think that this person even needed to apologize, but I sure admired how he was clearing his conscience.  Well, by now I was sure that I needed to clear my conscience in a bigger way than this person did – so I decided to do what was at one time the unthinkable – send my letter.  I showed my letter to my parents and they agreed that yes, it was very appropriate and that I should send it.  So I sent it, but with no return address because I was still praying that somehow it would get lost in the mail.  Yes, the Lord still had work to do on my heart!

Although I was not at all expecting to hear back from him, Brent sent a gracious response in the mail.  I decided to return the ball back to his court and respond with another letter. Our letters were very general, and I made it clear that if he didn’t wish to respond, that would be fine, I would completely understand.  I didn’t hear back from him and I was perfectly happy with that.

In July, our family took a vacation to Colorado and we decided to climb an almost 14,000 ft mountain, the West Spanish Peak.  All was going well, until we lost the trail above the timberline, and we ended up climbing what could be called the equivalent of a rock slide. It was extremely steep with hardly any traction, and I was about to pass out due to my fear of heights.  I was praying the entire time (and crying) and literally have never felt so close to death.  Somehow I made it to the top and the first thing I did was drop to my knees to pray and there I surrendered  everything to the Lord.  I felt so out of control, so incapable of choosing my own way.  I relinquished all of everything that I so tightly was holding on to.  One of the things I told the Lord was that if He wanted me to marry Brent, I’d marry Brent. 🙂  Soon after that moment of confession, some professional hikers showed us the actual trail – which made going down so much easier.  On the way down, I was thinking to myself, “Brent is actually a nice guy, he’s sweet, you know, he really is sweet.”  My sister, Katherine likes to remind me that I kept her up until 1:00am that night talking about all the sweet attributes of Brent.  It wasn’t that I suddenly liked him, it was just that I was now noticing and remembering him as the sweet, kind, caring person that he is.

Months passed and I was completely at peace, no longer haunted by Brent. I just genuinely cared about him, appreciated him as my brother in Christ, and truly wanted God’s best for his life.             

In February 2012, the Petz Family stopped by our house for lunch on their way home from a ski trip to Colorado.  Well, all of us young people went for a walk.  My sisters seemed to be jogging and soon it was just Brent and me walking and talking alone together. (My sisters had thought that we were a wonderful match three years ago, and they were still sort of hoping that something would happen between us.)  I was just happy that we could enjoy sweet Christian fellowship and encourage one another in the Lord.  I was not looking for anything more out of our time together. 

One of the things Brent and I talked about on our walk was different ministries, and so the next day (February 18th)  I sent Brent an email with a link to some of the prison ministries we had discussed.  He responded saying that he’d like to get to know me better through emailing.  My thoughts were that we could and should encourage one another in the Lord, but that was truly all I desired.  We continued to email throughout the month, and Brent’s emails kept getting longer and longer.  He was asking more and more questions, and he was responding rather quickly.  I finally told my Mom, “I don’t have time for this.”  She encouraged me to take my time, be honest with him, but not to just stop responding.  So I waited a week and a half to collect my thoughts, then I responded. 

A few weeks passed. By now it was the 3rd week of March, and Brent and I had gotten into some pretty deep discussions in our emails.  I commented to my sister, Katherine, that it would be so nice if we could discuss some of these topics over the phone .  It was getting hard to communicate on some of these deeper matters through emailing…….and it was taking lots of time. 

Saturday the 17th, we had a busy day with lots of  company, and I spent the day giving horse rides to dozens of children. The entire day, Brent was on my mind.  Finally, after finishing the horse rides, I ran upstairs to take a much needed shower.  Before I did that though, I talked to the Lord and told Him, that if emailing Brent was not from Him that I wanted it to cease.  I prayed, “ Dear God, I don’t feel led to stop responding, but please, let Brent stop emailing me if this is not from you.”  I came downstairs from my shower, and Dad said “Elizabeth, I want to talk with you.” He proceeded to tell me that Brent had called him that evening and asked if he could start calling me on the phone to get to know me better.  I was delighted, and replied, that I would like another opportunity to get to know Brent.  I didn’t want to be prejudiced against him, like I was three years ago, but genuinely desired to get to know him as a friend.  Dad informed me that Brent would call the following evening.

That night I couldn’t sleep, so I prayed for Brent, and for our church (the next day was Sunday.) I thought to myself, “ I just know the message tomorrow is going to be on marriage or relationships.” I was excited as I felt sure that the message was going to be appropriate for me. Sure enough, the message that Sunday was from Ruth chapter 3.  Our assistant pastor had been going through Ruth, but it was taking him a long while since he only preaches every 6 or 7 weeks.  For some reason, he was filling in for our main pastor that Sunday, and the Lord knew that his message was just what I needed to hear. 

His message was titled “Surrendering to Our Kinsman Redeemer”.   He paralleled the story of Ruth going to Boaz for redemption, to our coming to Jesus.  We are to come to the only One who has the right to redeem us from our debt of sin that we owe to God.  God wants to show Himself mighty on our behalf, and we like Ruth, are to ask Him to do this, but He first requires us to surrender to Him.  We must surrender our rights to Jesus.  Pastor Don listed 12 rights that we need to yield. The first one was self, and Pastor Don stated that we need to yield up the right of dating and ask “Lord, who do you want me to date?”  His message seemed like it was completely directed to me.

That evening, Brent and I talked together for the first time over the phone.  Brent told me that he wanted to pursue a relationship with me, with marriage in mind.  Whoa, I was a little taken aback.  But I appreciated him being so upfront.  We agreed to hold our relationship with an open palm, and just to take it one day at a time.  I was a bit nervous, and even though we talked for an hour, it was a little awkward. 

My journal entry for the 18th of March says : “This was definitely not my will or my agenda, but I must ask, ‘Is this God’s will for my life?  Is He leading us together?’ I just need to be surrendered to Him and rest, knowing He works out all things for our good…….no matter what becomes of all of this, Brent has been a blessing in my life.”

Getting to know Brent has been more than just a blessing, it has been incredibly exciting!  He is such an amazing man and I marvel at his heart for the Lord and for people. 

1200x1200_1431208465-f5469a40c7605f0d-IMG_0974

We have only missed one day in talking with each other since March 18th and we have no intention of ever missing another. 

Brent came to visit the last week in March and we went on our first date.  I asked him some deep, crucial questions right from the start, and Brent answered all of them perfectly.  As we continued talking over the course of the next couple of days, I was so amazed at how we have some of the same visions in life —to serve and minister to people, to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and to raise godly children.  I marveled what a kind, gracious person he is and just how he walks with the Lord and strives to follow Him.  The more I learn about Brent, the more I am amazed. He truly does build me up in the Lord.
Becoming best friends with my dashing fiance has been so exciting and more magnificent than I could have ever imagined!  I feel so blessed to have a man who reads the Bible to me, prays with and for me, and encourages me with the scriptures.  We are currently reading through Proverbs together and memorizing various passages and chapters of scripture together.  God is extremely good to us and we are overwhelmed by His awesome grace and mercy.  Truly He does make everything beautiful in His time! We both feel so extraordinarily blessed by our Sovereign Creator who could see the big picture ALL of the time. How marvelous it is to be able to trust in Him and see Him bless each step of faith! WOW! I’m so glad that God redeemed and revived our relationship!

“The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.”   Psalm 126:31200x1200_1431208835-56d928f270fa7c31-IMG_1263_20_2_

On May 18th, the love of my life drove 7 hours to take me for a blissful walk around Sterling Lake.  The wind was furiously blowing, but we hardly noticed as we walked around several times.  Brent led me to the little peninsula that juts out into the lake. While standing on the peninsula, Brent held both of my hands and told me how much he loved me.  Then while still holding my hands, he dropped down on one knee and delivered a heartfelt speech ending with “will you marry me?”.  In utter amazement at the goodness of the Lord, I stared into his eyes and  spoke my answer,  “Brent, it would be my life’s greatest honor to be your wife! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes a thousand times, YES!!!!!”  We were so exuberant as we embraced each other.  The Lord has been incredibly good to us and we give Him all the honor and the glory in bringing us to this point in our lives.

1200x1200_1431208597-b0692bc4d278b6b8-IMG_1219

Additional notes from Brent…

I would like to add a few comments to Elizabeth’s rendition of our story for some additional perspective.  As Elizabeth mentioned, the Lord has done so many mighty incredible works in our lives, particularly in bringing us together – and He deserves all the credit and the glory!  I hope that these additional comments can be an encouragement to those of you reading them, and ultimately that they will glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well here we go filling in some additional details to the story…

For the benefit of those who don’t know Elizabeth, I’d like to spend just  a few sentences describing her, outlining some of her characteristics that jumped out at me when I was initially drawn to her (and continue to be part of who she is!).  Her relationship with Jesus Christ is clearly the most important thing in her life, and everything else about her is a result of her walk with Him.  She has an incredible servant’s heart, she cares about others and has a heart for the lost.  She has a sweet cheerful disposition and is a joy to be around for everyone.  She has a strong desire to live the godly life God intended her to live, and she is consistently involved in ministering to others.  I really could go on and on.  (and in case you are wondering, I consider her the most beautiful girl in the entire world!1200x1200_1431208540-e0fe31d4bce727a4-IMG_1048_1_

Back in 2009 when I was conversing with her father, Randy over the phone regarding Elizabeth, I was naturally getting pretty excited as time went by.  I was getting closer to an opportunity to develop a deeper friendship with her, and to potentially enter a relationship with her where we would be seeking God’s will pertaining to marriage.  I will admit that back then, I was fairly clueless as to what all that would entail, but there was no doubt that I was praying that God would make her my wife some day.

Things didn’t go exactly the way I was hoping they would, and it is fair to say that I was pretty torn up that Elizabeth was not in any way interested in me.  It was a real trial, but God was so faithful.  The book of James in the Bible talks about how the Lord can use trials for our good, to perfect us.  That was what He was doing for me.  Looking back on it now, it is so clear to see that the timing was not right, and that God had work to do on both of us (especially me) before we were ready to pursue marriage.   A verse that really spoke to me during that time was Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.”  In my mind, I had plans of my own (namely, to find a wife at that time).  He was directing though, in a different way.

In the midst of this trial, I cried out to Him, telling him that if a relationship with Elizabeth wasn’t His will, He would need to take away my desire for her.  I couldn’t shake that on my own.  Within a few weeks to a month, He had graciously granted that request, and I felt completely at peace in moving on and letting go of the ideas I had concocted.  I felt like He had closed the door.  The Lord is so faithful in answering prayer!

Now let’s jump ahead to 2011 when I received Elizabeth’s apology letter.  I was blown away and completely humbled that she would be that obedient to God’s voice.  It’s hard to describe, but I could just sense this refreshing level of respect in her letter.  As a guy, I can’t begin to tell how meaningful that is to me.  I felt a need to respond indicating my complete forgiveness to her, as well as confessing the slight grudge I had been holding towards her.  I began to think about what a godly woman she was, and all the character qualities that had originally attracted me to her.  However, I chose not to continue correspondence with her for a few reasons – I felt that God had closed the door already, I was no longer “attracted” to her (even though the barriers to being just true friends had been lifted), and I didn’t want to lead her along to think that I was again pursuing her.

As my family’s February 2012 visit to her family’s farm approached, I began to wonder what would come of the visit.  Would it be awkward?  Elizabeth had sent a 2nd letter in 2011 to which I never responded.  Our families hadn’t visited in person since before she had sent her original apology letter.  I also wondered if feelings from the past would reignite.  I wasn’t looking for that to happen, but I was open to God leading in that direction if He so chose.

Elizabeth and I ended up talking together a lot during the visit.  We were able to share what God had been doing in our lives since we had last seen each other.  As we talked in their house and on the walk, I found myself getting breathless and my heart was just pounding.  God was reigniting the spark in my heart.  After our families exchanged goodbyes, I was prayerfully considering “trying again” with Elizabeth.1200x1200_1431208500-784d946b80975fb1-IMG_1283

The rest of our story has been a whirlwind beginning with corresponding via email only in February/March to our engagement now.  God’s hand has been evident all along the way, orchestrating so many intricate details that could have caused things to “not turn out” had He not been involved.  Elizabeth is so much more than I could have ever dreamed of or asked for, and I’m so excited to see how the Lord will call us to serve Him together!1200x1200_1431208574-6caa8c35cf28f1df-IMG_1311

As an encouragement to my single friends reading this, I’d really like to stress the importance of seeking the Lord on who He wants you to become, and encourage you to not get caught up in trying to find the “right one”.  God will so richly bless you if you will do that.  Elizabeth and I can take no credit for us coming together, it was truly the Lord’s work.  Psalm 37:4 says that if you delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart.