It may seem a little weird but I remember what I was doing this very week 8 years ago. Jody and I were on a date. The babysitter was watching (our two) children. Madison was almost a year old. She was about as cute and as much as I thought any one mommy could handle. Tyler was 6 years old and very smitten with Madison. He was really enjoying his big brother role (now there are days he doesn't seem to enjoy that same role as much:)! I'm not sure whether we knew it or not, but I was about a month pregnant with Jarred.
This was no ordinary date. This date would be unlike any we had ever experienced in our lives. After this one night we would forever be changed. I know what you are thinking, this must have been a pretty amazing date! It was! It was the most important night of my life! So, you would think a night that important I would remember all the details right? Wrong! Neither of us remembers much. This is where I can share one regret in my life -not keeping a journal! I would love to look back and see what I was thinking. I would love to know all the details about how I felt prior to going. Did I think Jody was crazy? Would I rather be going to a club? I didn't have a clue how that night was going to affect me (I might have chickened out had I known). This is my feeble attempt to tell the most amazing story of my life.
Jody and I were meeting some very special friends Joe, Jean and another friend Vanessa at Alltel stadium. We were going to the Billy Graham Crusade. When Jody and I reminisce about this day, neither of us knows why we went. I do remember Jody calling from work to tell me what was on the agenda for the evening. I still wonder what we were thinking? What was our motivation? Did we go because we thought we would be entertained? We could have gone because my mind set was "a date anywhere would be better than no date at all". Maybe we went because it was Billy Graham and we wanted to be able to say we saw him. Any friends I would of had at the time would not have been impressed. Ultimately I know why we went, but I still wonder why we thought we were going. I don't know what we were expecting, but what happened far exceeded any expectations either of us could have ever had.
This is what I do remember and what I will never forget. Everything seemed fine, I don't think I was very emotional (I know some of you won't believe that, but I used to be pretty tough)! Towards the end of the evening I remember bowing my head in prayer. The instant I did, something in me broke. I was filled with so much emotion, I couldn't make it go away. I was sitting next Jody but I felt as though I was there all by myself. I was crying and it wasn't baby tears, it was years of suppressed tears. The ugly kind that came with lots of snot. I was pleading with God to make it stop, I was embarrassed. I was having conversations with God and he wasn't listening very well! I thought for sure Jody thought I was going nuts. Why can't I turn this nozzle off? I refused to lift my head, it was ugly and I didn't want anyone else to see me. I demanded God tell me what he wanted so this could stop. Then I remember thinking "I am not going down there. I can't answer that alter call. If I go down on that field Jody will think I have lost my mind! God, this could cost me my marriage. I can't raise these kids on my own. I can't do this. I am not going to make that walk (from what seemed like the top of a mountain) down to that field! I might get lost in that crowd, there are so many people. I might not be able to find Jody afterwards. Heck, he might be so embarrassed, he may decide to leave me here. Orange Park was way too far away for me to walk home, I'm not good with directions. God you have the wrong person, this isn't for me."
I cried and cried. It felt as though the tears were never going to stop, it seemed as though there was no end in sight. At some point, Jody very softly took my hand and placed it in his. I needed my hand to wipe the tears and snot away but I needed Jody to hold it even more. Apart from holding my hand I don't know what Jody was doing. Time stood still, those few moments seemed like hours. I was busy, I was battling God and trying to get him to see things my way! I kept arguing and praying. There was a thought that I couldn't get out of my head. It had to do with Jody and a past experience with religion. I felt like religion was going to be off limits. I felt I would have to make a decision between Jody and God and I was telling God my decision and it wasn't going to be God. I thought I would go mad sitting there. My life was just starting to make a little sense and now it was getting turned upside down all over again. "God" I pleaded "I can't do this! It will cost me my marriage. God I love this man. I don't know how or when that happened, but I love him! I don't want to live without him"
At that very moment- that man, that wonderful, beautiful, deep man whom I loved with every inch of my being, elbowed me. I hesitated to look up. I didn't want him to see me looking the way I did. He gently elbowed me again. I slowly raised my head, the tears and snot still rolling. He wanted eye contact. I was scared. I was embarrassed. I had no idea what he was thinking and I didn't want to know. I finally looked into his face. His eyes were filled with water and he gave me a look I had seen only a couple of times before. The first time I saw this look was when I tried to end our relationship (prior to being married). The next time I saw this look in his eyes was the day we got married. Again, I was seeing the same serious, deep penetrating look. It terrified and comforted me at the same time. The way he looked at me made felt like he could see into my soul. After a few moments, he very quietly said "I think we are supposed to go down there". All I could do was stare back at him. I couldn't move my eyes away from him. I just stared into his eyes. Again, very tenderly he said "I think we are supposed to go down there". This time through the sobbing and crying I responded "I do too".
He took my hand and led me down what seemed like the longest walk I have ever taken in my life. I didn't look at Joe, Jean or Vanessa as we began our descent. I was too embarrassed. I couldn't even imagine how I or it must have looked. I was hoping as we passed thousands of people we didn't know, that they wouldn't stop me. I hoped they didn't know my every secret. I hoped they wouldn't be able to tell my past. I was afraid. I was afraid someone would be standing at the bottom and they would know, they would send me right back to my seat. It seemed to take forever and I wasn't sure I would make it. I hid my face in shame. I didn't want anyone to know I needed to be rescued, let alone saved. I didn't raise my head once to see where we were going. Jody had my hand and led me the entire way. He held my hand tightly, I'm sure he knew how scared I was. He might have known given the chance I would run. I was frightened by what we were doing. I didn't know exactly how it would affect us. Would our marriage make it through something like this? If we changed would we still want to be married to each other?
We finally reached the end of the stairs onto the field. I remember thinking O.K. Now what? There were volunteers from different churches on the field. A women came over to pray for us, I think at some point someone wanted to pray separately for Jody but Jody wasn't going to leave my side. He knew I needed him, heck I might even get lost. He held me close to him, pressed my crying face up against his chest (finally somewhere to wipe all those tears and snot)! I hugged him and we prayed. I hugged him and I hugged him. He was never going to leave my side. I felt more loved in that one moment of Jody's obedience to God than I had ever felt in my life.
Our car ride home was a little strange. We didn't talk much about what happened, it was all too surreal. Those words that Jody so quietly spoke to me "I think we are supposed to go down there" are still the most romantic and sweetest words I have ever heard him say. Our lives were changed that night. I still don't know what our motivation was for going, I will probably never know. I do know why God brought us there that night. I know that since we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior our lives have never been the same.
On one hand it seems all this happened a lifetime ago. On the other it seems just like yesterday. I remember how I felt, it was a very confusing and exciting time. I could never thank God enough for what he has done. He has been so very good to Jody and I. I am so thankful for my sweet husband and the wonderful marriage God has given us.
Eight years ago we had less money, less house, more kids than we knew what to do with, but they are the most precious times of my life. I will cherish those moments forever. My fondest and most romantic memory to this day is of Jody reading the bible to me before bed, shortly after we got saved. I don't believe there has ever been a time in our marriage in which Jody has been sexier to me! It was and is the sweetest time of my life.