Saturday, February 28, 2015

True Love Stories: It Began with A Song

Fireworks happened on the 4th of July. No, not the kind you see light up the sky in brilliant streaks of red, white and blue. It was the kind that lit a deep love in the hearts of CJ and Deedré. It is a love that led to marriage and a lifetime of happiness between this couple not only committed to each other, but to God and His people. 

Today's featured true love story is a real gem. I hope you will not only enjoy it but be encouraged by the journey God took CJ and Deedré on together. It's a beautiful story. I believe you're going to love it. 

But don't take my word for it, see for yourself...

It Began with A Song
CJ and Deedré's true love story

Our story begins in Plantation, Florida—a suburb west of Fort Lauderdale—on a Friday night, during praise and worship rehearsal at my local church. 

As the rehearsal was getting ready to start, in walks a new face with one of the members of the praise team. Her name was Deedré and I was immediately captivated by her eyes but tried to stay focused on the rehearsal. She was later invited to join us in a song. After hearing her beautiful voice, I was convinced she needed to be a part of our praise team. Little did I know that she was also trying to recruit me for a singing group with a mutual friend. The next day we exchanged phone numbers, both intending to recruit the other. When I finally called her a week later, we spent hours on the phone laughing like two old friends. It felt like we had known each other for years. This was the start of a friendship that was originally brought together by music. It was at a time when neither of us were looking for a relationship, yet simply enjoyed being in each other’s presence. 

A few weeks later, I invited her to a potluck at the home of family friends. Somehow, everyone left the two of us together and ate in another room. We talked, laughed, played Truth or Dare and by the end of the evening we shared our first kiss. It was 4th of July! 

About a month later, after another potluck, I walked into the living room where Deedré was with a sticky note and a pen stuck to my back. The sticky note said, “Will you be my boo? Yes, no or maybe?” When I walked in, she didn’t see it at first. So I pretended to have an itch on my back and asked if she could scratch it for me. Then I turned around so she could see the paper. She began to laugh and then checked “yes” while hugging me. This was now two months after we met and we were now officially boyfriend and girlfriend.

Not long after we started dating, Deedré got the chicken pox. My family and I took her in and took care of her until she recovered. Whenever we tell this story, Deedré shares that this time meant a lot to her because it showed her that I would be there for her no matter what. This was evident when I had the privilege of meeting Deedré’s mother, Dulcie, who’d been battling cancer. She passed away a year later. One of the last things she said to me was “Take care of my daughter”. It was as if she knew what was coming and wanted me to be there to pick up the shattered pieces of Deedré’s heart. It was later confirmed by God when I asked Him what I should do for Deedré during this time of grief. He stopped me and told me, in a clear voice, “Show her my love!” From that day, I vowed to do just that.

Deedré always told me that if I ever proposed to her, it should be as private as possible. So I decided to make it as public as possible! Our church planned a trip to the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida. At the end of the day, I caught Deedré totally by surprise by having her arrested and brought to the Temple mount by very convincing actors who played Roman Guards. With the entire park as my witness, I proposed to her. About 9 months later we had a beautiful wedding filled with friends and loved ones at our local church. 

Our journey has not been easy. We’ve been through things that would’ve broken more seasoned couples, yet through it all, we are there for each other and God was and is the supernatural glue that keeps up together. We’ve been married for over 8 years and are more in love now than we have ever been before. We challenge, yet complement each other and I thank God every day for giving me such a beautiful gift.

Author bio: "CJ" Claypole S. Cousins Jr. is simply a man who is in love with Jesus. His passion is to live, preach and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

CJ serves as Associate Pastor for Restoration Praise Center in Lanham, Md. He serves in the areas of evangelism, discipleship and multimedia. He also served as intern pastor at One Place and graduate assistant for grow groups at Pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of Andrews University

CJ holds a Bachelor's of Business Administration, majoring in Human Resource Management from Florida International University in Miama, Fla. He also has a Master's of Human Resource Management from Keller Graduate School of Management of DeVry University. He has completed his Master of Divinity with an emphasis in church growth and evangelism at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University.

CJ is married to the lovely Deedré Nicole Cousins who is a wonderful support and partner in ministry. 

He is passionate about sharing God's love as seen through the gospel of Jesus Christ in the context of Revelation 14:6-12In addition to preaching and teaching, CJ also loves to sing and write about Jesus.

Mrs. Deedré Cousins' professional bio: Deedré's affinity for multimedia and technology was evident at a very young age. Throughout her childhood, Deedré developed a keen ear for music and a sharp eye for visual art which led to the completion of three degrees—an associate of arts in music, a bachelors in music technology and a masters of art in multimedia communications. 

Her academic and professional achievements have made her passionate about creating innovative and contextual media on multiple platforms. Whether it's producing a news segment for prime time television or creating a human interest web series, recording music projects, capturing still photography, or giving seminars and consultations on social media marketing strategies, Deedré can conceive, create, publish and promote your next big idea.

Bonus feature: CJ & Deedré's Love Story video on YouTube 

Friday, February 27, 2015

True Love Stories: I Did Not Know Real Love Until I Knew God

"In my heart, I would talk to the Lord. I would read my Bible. I would meditate. I devoted my evenings to spending quality time with Him, and the more time I spent with God, the more I craved His presence. I communicated with Him and He communicated with me. I felt loved. I felt desired. I felt secure."
 ~Positivity Inspires

The true love story featured today is about how a currently single woman who is known by her writer name, "Positivity Inspires" found her calling, purpose, passion and identity in building a solid foundation of a relationship with her Creator God.

Broken by the lessons of life in the "real world," she turned to Jesus Christ and He saved her from becoming trapped inside the fortress of an emotional wall she built in order to safeguard her heart and prevent people from causing her pain. 

Only as she took time each and every day to seek the Lord and walk in His purpose and plan for her life did she begin to trust again. Only after she became complete in Christ was she able to open her heart to love again.

There's a quote that says, "Why wish upon a star when you can pray to the One who created it?" Positivity Inspires prayed to the Maker of the stars and He healed her heart. 

I hope her story inspires and encourages you as much as it encouraged me to seek safety in the care of the One who created the stars and my heart. 

I Did Not Know Real Love Until I Knew God

Written by Positivity Inspires

I was a sheltered child who was raised in the church. Ever since I could remember, my parents taught me about Jesus and how much He loves me. They instilled in me the importance of maintaining a relationship with Him. Being the obedient daughter that I was, I attended church faithfully and did everything I felt I was supposed to do – pray every morning and night, study my Bible faithfully, sing in the choir, pay attention in Sunday school, etcetera. I grew up knowing of God, but I oftentimes questioned if I truly knew who God was.

Time passed and I found myself in the working world exposed to various people. I was away from my family, but I made friends. I dated, and needless to say, after discovering what the real world truly entailed, I was terribly disappointed. I learned some lessons – lessons about people in general, lessons about men, lessons about relationships, lessons about life.

Brokenhearted and dispirited, I built my own emotional wall. I was determined that I would allow no one, other than my immediate family and of course, the Lord, to gain access to my heart. I was terrified to open my heart to others, and I was in desperate need of God to reassemble all of my broken pieces and repair me. I needed emotional healing, and the Lord knew this.

I was not aware of what was occurring on the inside of me at the time, but I noticed that I began making it a practice to come home every day after work, sit in my favorite chair, and ensure my television and electronic devices were off. In my heart, I would talk to the Lord. I would read my Bible. I would meditate. I devoted my evenings to spending quality time with Him, and the more time I spent with God, the more I craved His presence. I communicated with Him and He communicated with me. I felt loved. I felt desired. I felt secure. I was blessed to have a special kind of companionship that words cannot describe. I was getting to really know Christ. I was falling in love, and all of those tiny fragments that were scattered about were coming together. The Lord was repairing my heart. Actually, He was forming a new heart. In this timeframe, He gave me a crash course in “what love is” and “what love is not”. Infatuation is not love. All of those times I thought I was being loved, I discovered that I was not. All of those times that I thought I was in love, I discovered I was not. I did not know real love until I truly knew God.

Also, during this time, the Lord taught me the importance of patience – patience to wait on my God-appointed husband. Do I want to get married one day? Yes. Would I like to have children one day? Absolutely! I look forward to that special appointed time when I will meet my spouse. However, for now, I am enjoying my relationship with Christ. Every day our bond becomes stronger and stronger. He gives me everything I need and more. His love is the ultimate love, and no one can surpass that. 

Author bio:
Better known by her pen name, Positivity Inspires (trademarked) is a writer, speaker, and servant of the Lord. She was introduced to Christ at a very early age and was raised in the church. Her ministry focuses on encouraging Christians to continually strengthen their bond with Christ, study His Word, and live it daily.

Although Positivity Inspires writes in more than one genre, she is best known for her Christian/Inspirational works. Some of her blogs can be found on her website and on the “The Christian Post”, a major Christian newspaper based in Washington D.C. She is currently writing her first book “Adversities and Adversaries: You Can Overcome," which is tentatively scheduled to be released in 2015. At the suggestion of a radio host, she also plans to produce an Internet-based radio broadcast in the year 2015 or 2016 in an effort to reach an even wider audience.

Positivity Inspires has spoken at several churches and has been recently interviewed by the hosts of the “Morning Show” on Missions Radio. 

As a successful career woman who has earned a doctorate in her field, she also greatly understands the importance of placing God first and cherishes her relationship with Him. She is one who is passionate about her ministry and possesses a strong love for Christ and for others.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

True Love Stories: ZayLo

Perhaps today's featured true love story is best summarized by a quote from the writer who is well, a professional writer! 

"I met her in 2005/Two years passed, she learned I was alive/Fast forward some years...just about seven/Together blissful, it’s been like heaven."
~Zay Garza

Read on for the story of how God sent "Cupid's arrow" as Zay calls it, straight into the hearts of Louri and Zay, transforming the friends into lovers with an affection that led to marriage and their own happily ever after. 

Zay and Louri's true love story

Of course the summation in our attached description is to be simple, poetic and fun, but our tale as a couple begins because of my old inoperable BlackBerry and a reliable addiction to Facebook in February 2010.

I was five weeks liberated from a previous relationship, while Louri hoped for new love but constantly drafted lists of bad dates and incompatibles.

Since my youth, I have always desired to romantically love someone and feel that reciprocation, but my life was without such luck that I was always wanting.

For weeks, I attempted to organize a date with a woman that I was interested in, but each time, I was without luck. I did not know what to do because I did not want to spend this day alone.

Logging onto Facebook, I checked all of my notifications comments of my current status update. I scrolled down my page and saw a recent thread between me and my friend about her most recent poor dating experiences. Her name was Louri Aaron.

After I finished reading our conversation, I remember hearing of people in stories spend time with friends on Hallmark’s day of love.

Not wanting to appear creepy, I became increasingly uncomfortable for some reason. I reached for my BlackBerry to offer the invitation for a simple night between friends. Yet as fate would have it, my phone immediately rebooted itself and once it returned to its normal position, her contact information was removed.

After praying to God I would be viewed pleasantly, I sent what now I know to be my last invite to a woman for a first date (though this was not intended to be a date), through Facebook.

I invited her to join me at the Busboys and Poets restaurant at the corner of 14th and V street Northwest, Washington, D.C.. 
Plagued by the remnants of Snowmageddon, I suggested we take the Metro because parking would be difficult. At arrival, I found Louri in the restaurant’s bookstore studying the newest available book-spines. As our eyes met, we friendly embraced, and allowed the hosting staff to escort us to our seat. Sitting next to each other on the restaurant’s lounge-inspired couches, it immediately dawned on us that we had not once spent time alone, outside of our group of friends.

Surrounded by Cupid’s spell, we jovially joked at how all previous Valentines days were wretched and unromantic. 
While John Legend, Jill Scott, and Corinne Bailey Rae chorused us through the speaker system, our food arrived, matching a smell to the emotional peace on this couch. And yes, I even remember her meal, the Spinach Pesto Lasagna.

Laughing and talking about politics and comic book characters, we quickly deduced that the wait staff became irritated by our inaction after our meals were completed, but we cared nothing for their inconvenience. We were caught in pure comfort and embraced this new enjoyment we found in each other, just friends.

Glancing at the clocks on our phones, we both realized we each had a BlackBerry and exchanged mobile numbers and individual BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) contacts, preparing ourselves to leave because we had work the next morning.

Bundling ourselves for the cold, I remember looking at her, and I knew I didn’t want this evening to end. Was this romance? I was unsure. What I did know is that never before had I felt so relaxed. Never before had I felt such comfort. Never before had I felt such happiness.

Nearing eleven that evening, I decided I did not want her traveling alone on the train.

Looking over to her, I suggested, “Why don’t you ride with me to my house in the city and I can give you a ride to your car?” Knowing she’d refuse and I would have to pressure the issue further, I prepared a verbal parry, but to my surprise she said, “Okay.”

From the U Street Corridor to Capitol Hill, we exited the Potomac Avenue Metro train station. To me, this was a neighborhood I’ve known my whole life, but to her, she was seeing it for the first time. Covered in snow and ice mounds everywhere, we walked cautiously.

Reaching to help her down the ice mound, I was immediately overwhelmed, as when our hands touched, God unleashed the Cupid arrow and a shock of electricity moved throughout our bodies, moving us from “just friends” to “husband and wife” on May 25, 2014.

Everyday, I thank God for my wife, the one He prepared for me. Everyday, I thank Him for my friend that reciprocates my affection. I thank God that I’ve finally found her. I thank God that I finally found the one that I’ve prayed for all of my life.

Author bio: Juan-Jose “Zay” D. Garza and Louri “Lo” K. Aaron-Garza have been married since May 25, 2014. The both were raised in Christian homes and both have personally accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. Christ is the center of their relationship. They are both members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church denomination. They live in the Washington Metropolitan Area.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

True Love Stories: Blind-sided by Love

The word "blindside" by definition means, "to hit (someone who is facing in another direction) suddenly and very hard." It's a term often used in the sport of American football. 

But is it possible to be blind-sided by true love?

Lee Carver certainly thinks so! But don't take her word for it, be the judge as you read the story of how she met a Texan with "beautiful blue eyes" who stole her heart.

Blind-sided by Love
Lee Carver’s true love story

I was a graduate student, recently 22, on full fellowship at UNC Chapel Hill with a car and an apartment for the first time. The woman with whom I shared the apartment, several years older than I, came home with the news that she had given our phone number to a fellow student in her German class after having coffee with him. When he asked her for a date, she told him her age and suggested I’d be a better choice for him.

My mouth dropped open. The nerve of her. She knew I had a distant relationship with the understanding that I would wait until my boyfriend returned from the war in Vietnam. Studying biochemistry and bacteriology, I had no time for dating.

“He’s from Texas, and he has beautiful blue eyes,” she said of Darrel Carver.

By the time he called, I’d decided to let him down gently. As we talked, he suggested we go to the football game on Saturday. This struck a chord with me, because the season ended soon, I’d never seen a UNC game, and I had a card in my purse for free entry. Furthermore, he’d been required to give up his car in order to accept a job on campus, and I had a car. It would be “no skin off his teeth.” A free date. He knew where to park and where students could enter and sit. I accepted.

“But wait,” he said. “Don’t you want to meet first? I could come over for coffee.” Months later, he admitted he had to know if he needed to get sick before Saturday.

As he arrived punctually, I hid in my bedroom smearing cream on a severe case of poison ivy. My legs were a mess, and women didn’t wear slacks then. I couldn’t even cover up with hose. Gathering my courage, I exited to meet my blind date.

Texan, but not tall. Not rich. But she was so right about the blue eyes.

He kept the football game date. I’d stayed up until 3 a.m. sewing a lined wool suit to wear, and wound up with a horrible migraine that followed me for the date that went from place to place over thirteen hours. During the day, I swallowed codeine for relief, only to be dumped back into more pain. I liked the guy, but knew he was just being nice when he said, “I’ll call you.”

Yeah, right.

He called. We dated again. Soon we “studied” at the medical library almost nightly. I was smitten.

Four weeks after that blind date, we sat in the apartment living room, both amazed at the emotional wave that had washed over us. “And you know, I mean, how…I feel,” he stumbled.

Maybe I did, but needed to hear him say it.

“I think I love you,” he said with great caution.

Not wishing to give away my feelings to a greater degree than he had, I said, “I probably love you, too.”

We laugh about those lines now, and they found their way into my novel, Love Takes Flight.

We married only three months later. I made my wedding dress, and my father, a minister, officiated at the wedding. 

Forty-seven years, two children, and five grandchildren later, we continue to grow together by the grace of God. I never got that PhD in biochemistry, but taught biology and chemistry in high schools during his Navy pilot years. Then Darrel got a Masters of International Management (MIM) and accepted a position with Citibank, which led to a career living in Greece, Saudi Arabia, Atlanta, Argentina, Indonesia, Brazil, Spain, and back to Brazil.

He took early retirement to accept God’s call to be a missionary pilot in the Brazilian Amazon. We prayed about this step for ten years, especially after his near death due to a ruptured appendix, undiagnosed for three days. (Read the story in Flying for Jesus.) We served there until his parents needed us to come home. We didn’t get to keep them here for long, but never regretted that decision. He still works with missionary aviation.

I began writing novels, an excellent way to fail at retirement. And the story goes on. May God be praised.

Author bio: 
Lee Carver lived in the Brazilian Amazon for six years, the hardest and best years of her life. She and her husband served in retirement as volunteer missionaries with a Brazilian organization, Asas de Socorro (Wings of Help), formerly MAF-Brazil. Her husband flew the amphibious ten-seat Cessna Caravan over jungle area half the size of the United States. Their home in Manaus—the largest city in the world with no road to it—was a free guesthouse for missionaries, pilots, mechanics, and medical volunteers. She went on missions, speaks the language, and knows the people whose story she tells.

Lee lived in Brazil a total of twelve years, including two transfers to São Paulo while her husband worked for Citibank. Other foreign postings were Greece, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Indonesia, and Spain. She studied nine languages and visited over forty-five countries. The Carvers now reside in Texas and are still active in Brazilian aviation missions.

Lee is a member of ACFW and president of its local chapter, DFW Ready Writers. She freelances as a grammar/punctuation editor and formats manuscripts for e-book and POD uploads.

Blurb for Lee's book Love Takes Flight:

Volunteering in the Amazon to escape a broken heart, American R.N. Camille Ringold fears she has lost the chance to be married to a doctor and live well in suburbia. Serving two weeks with missionaries living out a sacred calling, she considers whether a more meaningful life might be hers. 

When the Wings of Help plane is hijacked, she and missionary pilot Luke Strong escape into the jungle. Aided by a river village, they recover the plane, but she may be fired for returning to the U.S. late. Two weeks become four when she chooses to care for Luke through his malaria. Priorities change as experiences of faith mount. Where is the intersection of God’s will and her selfish desires?

Returning to Alabama, she discovers the controlling side of her rejected sweetheart. He covers his lies with rationalizations. Dangers of the Amazon fade compared to threats from the man she once wanted to marry.

Connect with Lee:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

True Love Stories: Complement - "something that completes or makes perfect"

The story of The Taylors is so beautiful that when reading it, you just may cry! Tears of joy may cascade down your face as you learn secondhand of how beautiful a love story can be when you allow God to write it! Only God can bring together two people who perfectly complement each other in every sense of the word. 

Okay, so you may not experience waterworks when you read this story but you most definitely will smile as you read the journey Jared Taylor took to the altar with his wife Vanessa. You will learn the value of patience as a virtue and you will be reminded that friendship first with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone is the foundation that helps romantic relationships last and flourish. 

So go ahead, pick up a box of Klennex (just in case you cry) and be prepared to believe in true love again as you read how God brought a "French Girl" known for her beauty and love for God, together with a man with a passion for Jesus Christ, who was raised in the home of his heritage, Trinidad.

Yes, the story is THAT good. 

Complement- "something that completes or makes perfect"
Jared and Vanessa Taylor's true love story

I met her in college--an exotic beauty. The “French Girl” we called her. We were friendly but not friends. At the time she had a boyfriend whom she seemed really into, plus I had other interests, including her roommate.

Fast forward a few years to the heyday of the social networking site Hi 5! I stumbled across “The French Girl’s” profile and sent her a friend request. Surprisingly she accepted. Turned out there was an attraction on her side as well. We exchanged numbers but our conversations were off and on.

Shortly thereafter “The French Girl” whose real name is Vanessa, completed grad school at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan and moved to Maryland. We hung out from time to time, even dated occasionally but we both had other things going on so we never became more than friends. However we became close, confiding in each other, encouraging and supporting one another.

The first time the idea of Vanessa being more than just a friend happened was in October 2010. I had received some disturbing news one Friday evening and I called to share it with her. She dropped what she was doing, came over to my apartment, prayed with me…and just held me. I’ve had people pray for me before, but there was something different about the way this chick spoke to God. Where most people seem to be detached and formal, she seemed way more intimate and familiar; like He was someone she really knew as a real person and not an abstract concept. It was a breath of fresh air! I took notice and thought to myself, “That’s what I’d want in a wife!” Then the moment quickly passed and life continued on as normal…for a few months.

In January 2011 I enrolled in a Master of Arts in Youth Ministry Leadership Program and was required to attend an “intensive” session in Daytona, Florida. On the 12 hour drive home, my friend Keith included me in an email to his friends with a YouTube link to a sermon series by Pastor Henry Wright entitled “The Holy Spirit a& Choosing A Mate.” I listened to pass the time and found it enlightening. I wasn’t actively looking to get married, but I was looking to give my attention fully to a single individual and I found this sermon helpful in evaluating my options, which at the time didn’t include Vanessa.

The end of that semester found me having to conduct surveys for a project on how people viewed God. Vanessa was one of the persons willing to be interviewed. We made plans to go to the movies and decided to meet early to knock the interview out before other people came to the theatre. As I recorded Vanessa’s responses I had several of those “That’s what I’d want in a wife!” moments. We ended the interview, watched the movie and went our separate ways, but unlike the first time, the moment didn’t pass. My curiosity was piqued. I purposed in my heart to take a closer more intentional look into Vanessa and see what she was all about. So I began using her love of food to create opportunities for my investigative endeavor!

When I left Trinidad to return to the United States in 2004, I had a firm grasp on where I believed God was taking me and what he wanted for me. Listening to Pastor Wright's presentation in 2010 helped me get a clearer picture of what a complement to that would look like. To my very pleasant surprise…in 2011, it looked like Vanessa. I recognized it pretty quickly but took time to do my due diligence, spending time in prayer, just to be sure.

I shared my intentions with Vanessa but she wasn’t really feeling it. We were cool, but she wasn’t feeling me like that. Yet, she didn’t say no! In that moment I saw a glimpse of God’s love for me, the certainty of His love and His continual demonstration of that love despite my reluctance to fully accept it. I determined to mirror the love I received from Him in my interactions with her, until she made a decision one way or the other! It wasn’t easy being around while she explored her options. It wasn’t fun being referred to as vegetables (the stuff that you know is good for you) as opposed to Fritters (a favorite food that excites). 

However God kept on loving me and likewise I continued to demonstrate my love for Vanessa, until eventually she returned the love I showed. On December 1st, 2011 I proposed to her and she said "yes". On May 27, 2012 we were married. 

We thank God every day for the opportunity to experience His love in such a marked way and desire to share it with everyone with whom we come in contact!

Author bio: Jared Renaud Taylor is a graduate of the Huntington University Masters of Youth Ministry Leadership program. He also holds a Bachelor degree in Computer Information Systems from Andrews University.

Jared is the author of New Lenses: How I Met Jesus on MTV. He is also the creator, producer and host of Water For The Thirsty, an online web series which facilitates daily personal devotion and Bible study.

Currently Jared works at CGI Federal as an IT Support Specialist.

Jared has two charming sons, and lives in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area with his wife Vanessa, whom he loves dearly.

Monday, February 23, 2015

True Love Stories: The Cutest Nurse in the Navy

God knew when Laura would marry the man of her dreams and so did her Mom!

But who knew God would inspire Laura to speak four little yet oh so major words to her boyfriend Steve during a water gun fight in her apartment? Four words that changed their story forever.

What were those four words and what was Steve's reaction? You'll have to read today's featured true love story to discover the answer! :)

The Cutest Nurse in the Navy
Laura Hilton’s true love story

My story begins before Steve and I met. Two years before I traveled with my then-boyfriend to his parents’ house for the weekend. As we left Springfield, Missouri, I knew—God speak?—that the man I was with wasn’t the man I would marry. I could “see” my wedding and the man waiting for me. I couldn’t see his face. But I knew it wasn’t the man I was with. Sure enough, we eventually broke up.

In April of 1987, Mom told me, “You’re getting married this year. I feel it.” And she started preparing. I humored her, but thought she was being kind of silly. After all, while I dated, it was different guys and no one I wanted to spend forever with. In fact, I figured I’d remain single forever. I didn’t think I’d ever love anyone like I had the guy I’d dated for four years.

In August, I went home to visit Mom. I went back to Springfield on Monday afternoon, and a guy I was friends with, but not dating, called me up and invited me to a Backyard Bible Study. I was the one who’d started Greg’s involvement with Backyard Bible Studies, when he went with me to a few I attended. Greg didn’t fit in with the particular group that I mostly attended, since he thought more outside the box. So he started his own with other kids that didn’t fit inside that particular box. I didn’t really like Greg’s choice of people he invited to his, but I went to both—one for the fellowship and the study, the other to support Greg.

Anyway, that afternoon when Greg called, I was tired and didn’t really want to go out. I wanted to curl up with a book, but to be polite I asked Greg who would be there. I intended to refuse, begging off with exhaustion. Greg started rattling off names. And then he said “Steve.” I knew a Steve. I knew several men named Steve. But something made me ask, “Steve, who?” And Greg told me. “He just got out of the military, he was back in Springfield, and he attended church Sunday.” So I decided to go to check out the new guy.

Steve and Greg were playing Bible-opoly when I arrived at Greg’s. They put the game up and we went outside. To this day, I don’t remember who else was there, but when I saw Steve—another God speak?—I knew this was the guy I was going to marry.

I am, by nature, a very quiet, shy person. But with Steve I was rather forward. I remember Greg staring at me in shock. I asked Steve about who he was and what he did in the Navy. He told me he was a Navy “doc” stationed with the Marines. A “doc” is kind of the equivalent of a RN. I think I surprised everyone there when I told Steve he was probably the cutest nurse in the Navy. But it piqued his interest.

After the Bible study, Steve and I went to McDonalds and continued talking and getting to know each other. And from that moment on, we were a couple.

One Sunday night after church our single’s group went to McDonalds for our usual outing. It was pouring down rain, and Steve wanted to be a hero and drive my car up to the entrance so I wouldn’t get wet. I drove a 1969 VW bug named Twinkie. I told him “She won’t let you in.” Steve laughed at me. “It’s a car.” So I gave him the keys. He went to Twinkie and tried ten minutes before I went out and opened the door. He claims I didn’t tell him there was a particular trick to opening the car door. I never thought there was. I just knew that no one else could unlock Twinkie. I figured she knew me and wouldn’t let anyone else in.

In October, Steve and I had a water gun fight in my apartment, and I opened my mouth and said words that I still don’t remember saying. It must have been God again.

Steve stopped shooting water and froze. “Yes.”

“Wait. What did I say?” I look at him. Stared, probably.

He said, “You asked me to marry you. I accepted.”

“No, I didn’t mean to say that!” I don’t even remember thinking it!

Steve shook his head. “Too late. I already accepted.”

We married December 19, four months after we met. 

I was right. I don’t love Steve the way I loved the other guy… I probably didn’t even know what love was back then. But Steve and I have been married twenty-eight years now. I am glad God knew, better than I did, who I would marry.

Author bio: Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband Steve, and their five children make their home in Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor.

Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (winner of the 2012 Clash of the Titles Award in two categories), and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love (finalist for the 2013 Christian Retail Awards), Surrendered Love and Awakened Love followed by her first Christmas novel, A White Christmas in Webster County, as well as a three book Amish series with Whitaker House, The Amish of Jamesport series, The Snow Globe, The Postcard in April 2015, and The Bird House in September 2015. Other credits include Swept Away from Abingdon Press’ Quilts of Love series. 

Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer.

Read Laura's book blurb for The Snow Globe:  

Victor Petersheim has left the Amish and works on a river boat on the Mississippi River, spending three months on the river then having three months off. During his off-work months he returns home to his Amish community and helps out on his grandparents’ farm. When he returns home after his most recent absence, he discovers his grossmammi has developed health problems and they’ve hired Esther Beachy to be a “mother’s helper.” Victor is unsettled by this woman living in their home, but has to accept it. Esther loves listening to Victor’s grandmother’s stories and while puttering around in a store while the grossmammi’s in the hospital, she discovers a snow globe that depicts an area where the Petersheims used to live. She buys it as a gift for the grossmammi to cheer her up during her hospitalization. Victor is touched by Esther’s gift and her care for his grossmammi, and strives to be friendlier. Will Esther’s gentle heart draw him back to the community? Or will he return to the river once again? 

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

True Love Stories: Long Distance Love

They say long distance love relationships don't work. 

Max and Claudia's true love story proves the critics wrong.

Read how this couple made it work...

Long Distance Love
Max Elliot Anderson's true love story

Some couples talk about their long distance relationships, but we took the concept to a whole different level.

I met my girlfriend early in the summer that year while working in my father’s film production company. She came from Virginia to work at a nearby Christian conference grounds for the summer.

We actually met, for the first time, on a movie set. Claudia, and a number of other summer workers, had come to the studio to sit in a restaurant set as background extras.

As the season continued, Claudia and I were together as often as our work schedules permitted. It was not long before our love grew.

At the end of the summer, I drove her back home to Virginia so I could meet her family. In September of that year, my draft board sent me a “Greetings” letter, and I was inducted into the U.S. Army soon after. To complicate matters, this also happened to be right at the height of the Vietnam War. But after a few months on a post in Washington, I was reassigned to Germany.

It’s important to note that our relationship developed before the time of cell phones, computers, or any of the other communications methods young couples have available today. We had to rely on phone calls and letters. But, before I left for the army, I bought two small recorders. Ours were reel-to-reel tape machines. They enabled us to send recordings to each other, in the mail, which helped keep a more human connection between us.

Claudia and I had talked about getting married, but it didn’t make sense because there was always an uncertainty that I might be sent to a war zone.

My father’s film production work required him to travel the world. I knew he had a trip scheduled to Brazil for business. He also had a contact there who specialized in diamonds.

“I can get you a really nice one for a great price,” he told me. Before I was sent to Germany, I picked out a setting, but hadn’t seen the stone yet.

Off I went to Germany where my assignment landed me in an armored battalion. My first job was as the loader on a tank. The funny thing is, I’m a little over 6’ 4” tall. That meant, when I stood straight up, I could see out of the loader’s hatch when it was open.

Later my dad made the Brazilian trip and my new diamond was placed into the setting I had previously selected. I’d also asked Claudia’s father for permission to marry his daughter when I visited them a second time in Virginia.

“Yes,” he said, and promised to keep it a secret.

It turned out to be a good thing I’d had a typing class in high school. While in basic training, I took a typing test which showed how many words I could type per minute. As a result, my records indicated that a job I’d be qualified for was a company clerk. Not long after arriving in Germany, I heard that the clerk in my new unit would soon be returning to the states, so I put in for his job.

On a subsequent business trip, my parents later traveled to Europe and arranged to visit my base in Germany. There they were able to show me the finished engagement ring.

“It’s beautiful.” I said. The diamond sparkled in the early morning sun, and the setting looked perfect.

“What do we do next?” my mother asked.

“When you get back home,” I said, “mail it to Claudia. Be sure to include instruction not to open it until I call her, and I’ll tell her the same thing.”

About two weeks later, after I knew for sure the ring had arrived, I called and asked her to open the package while I was on the phone. I heard a scream as the phone dropped. She picked it up again but could hardly speak.

That’s when I asked, “Would you be my wife?”

The tears and excited screaming on the other end of the line told me she had accepted. We were engaged, over the phone, by long distance, with an ocean between us.

We decided I would return home on leave a few months later and we were married one year earlier than we had originally planned, allowing us to start our life together in Europe for the first year of our marriage. And because I had been promoted to the clerk’s position, I had a fairly normal office job for the rest of my time in Germany. We rented the off-base apartment, bought a very old Volkswagen Beetle, spent our first Christmas together, and traveled around Europe.

Looking back, we’re both amazed at the way God brought us together and how He has kept us together through forty-seven anniversaries since then.

Author bio:
Max Elliot Anderson grew up as a struggling reader. After surveying the market, he sensed the need for action-adventures and mysteries for readers age 8-13, especially boys. 

Using his extensive experience in the production of dramatic motion pictures, videos, and television commercials, Mr. Anderson brings that same visual excitement and heart-pounding action to his stories. His books include different characters, setting, and plot as well as two series.

Ten middle grade books are published, sixteen more are under contract, with several additional manuscripts completed. Young readers have reported that reading one of his books is like actually being in an exciting movie.

Connect with Max: 

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

True Love Stories: Worth the Wait

A common scene in Christian circles is the scenario where a single Christian lady is approached by a wife-seeking Christian male who declares, "GOD told ME that YOU are my WIFE!"

Depending on the person, such a comment can make you or break you. If you've been praying to God for Him to send a spouse to you and a guy at church tells you this "news," you may or may not be happy to hear it. If you like him you're elated but if you don't like the man you're deflated. 

Luckily, if you have a good relationship with God--one where you are spending devotional time with Him in prayer and are living for Him every day--then you know His voice. God will give you wisdom to tell the difference between a man who's pursuing you from His heart vs. a man who wants you for the wrong reasons. So then you're not troubled by this common scenario because as they say when you "know" you "just know" who the person is that God has called you to spend the rest of your life with on this Earth. So clearly you can tell the counterfeit mate from the genuine, God-sent match for you to marry. 

Such is the case with the married couple in today's featured true love story. Natasha and Mario sought God before they sought each other. They knew the importance of being a complete person in their walk with the Lord and they embraced the practice of praying for their future spouse even before they met. So when God worked through a church lady named Karen to bring Natasha and Mario together, they "just knew" the timing was right.

Read the rest of this wonderful couple's true love story and be encouraged as they share their journey. 

Worth the Wait
Natasha Broussard’s true love story

“Three years and seven months ago, Mario placed receiving a wife on the altar to God. It was the exact same time that I started praying for God to send me my husband…and approximately one week later, Mario and I met. Seven months later, we were married. God is and will always be our foundation!” 
~Mrs. Natasha Broussard

About four years ago, Mario was asked to record a devotional thought for his home church in Columbus, Ohio. After the recording, one of the church members (Karen) asked Mario if he was single, and stated that she had a single friend. She asked Mario to look at pictures of me on Facebook to see if he would at least be interested in giving me a call. Smiling at my pictures, he promised Karen that he would send me a message, in hopes of meeting me one day.

On Friday June 10 2010, I received this message from Mario:

“Hello! It was a pleasure hearing about you from Karen. Her description of you was intriguing, so I decided that I wanted to (at the very least) be associated with such a great person. Hope to hear from you.”

I wrote Mario back that same day because I, too, was intrigued. However, two weeks went by without a response from him. I had even went out on a limb and left him my number in the message.

One day while talking to Karen, she asked me if I had heard from Mario. I told her only once, and she suggested that if I ever saw him online, to just start a conversation and see if it lead anywhere. Although hesitant, one night I did see him online and we ended up “chatting” via Facebook for hours.

Circumstances kept us from talking on the phone that evening, but he called me the next afternoon. Not far into the conversation I said “God is going to do some amazing things with you – He has so much planned for you!” Mind you, I am saying this to a man who was nowhere near where he wanted to be in his life, so he laughed at me. But I felt the Holy Spirit when I spoke to Mario, and we had not even met face-to-face yet. We talked until I had to go to class that evening, and decided to meet each other the next day.

Mario met me at my apartment and all we could do was smile; it was such a sweet moment. Again, we spent hours talking. The next day, God told me that Mario was my husband. I had spent years praying and waiting for this, so it was almost hard to believe that my husband was finally here! But I did not tell Mario what God told me – I waited for him to hear it for himself. 

We saw each other almost every day after our first date, and soon after, we started dating officially. One afternoon we were at the State Fair, and Mario received a phone call that there was a position for him to take in Maryland. I was confused because I knew God had told me he was my husband, but now we found out that he would be moving 325 miles away!

Despite selfish disappointment, we were both excited for Mario’s transition, because this was a door that God opened. We stuffed his car with his belongings, and drove from Ohio to Maryland. Only a few hours after arriving, I had to catch a plane back to Ohio. Mario dropped me off at the airport, and we embraced each other, trying to hold back tears.

We spoke every day, making the best of our long distance relationship. About a month after Mario moved to Maryland, he called me and said “God told me that you are my wife!” The holidays were approaching and Mario came back to Ohio for winter break.

On January 3, 2011 Mario got on one knee, and held a sign that said, “Natasha, will you marry me?” I believe my response included approximately twenty YES’s! We knew we were supposed to be together and wanted to wed soon, despite being long distance, so we set a date. Soon after, I received a phone call that I was chosen for a job in Bethesda, Md. and that they wanted me to start one week after our set wedding date–this was confirmation from the Lord!

So on February 20, 2011 Mario and I married in Takoma Park, Md. 

Everything fell into place perfectly, because we let God take control. After the proposal, amazing friends paid for our wedding insisting that they wanted to be a part of our journey! We even received the Presidential Suite at a beautiful hotel in Washington, D.C. practically free of charge, for three nights after the wedding.

Mario and I want our story to be a testament to the fact that future spouses are worth the wait, and current spouses are worth the fight. The Lord gave us a series of confirmations throughout our journey, leading us to the altar together, which reassures us during our tough times. Although it has only been three years, we remain in the “honeymoon phase".

I hope that in thirty years, you will see that we have never left this spot!

Author bio: Mrs. Natasha Broussard graduated from Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio where she earned a Master of Science in Business Administration. She also has a bachelor’s degree in Management, with a minor in Accounting. 

Directly after high school, Natasha served in the U.S. Army for four years as a Unit Supply Specialist. Her duty assignments after training included Ft. Polk, La. and Yongsan, South Korea. After returning back to her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, she began working for the Defense Logistics Agency as an Inventory Management Specialist which was her position prior to moving to the Maryland area. 

Currently, Natasha works as the Branch Financial Manager for the Nuclear Weapons Surety Division located in Washington, D.C. Her short term goals include becoming a Certified Financial Planner, and owning her own agency to help others understand and manage their finances to a greater degree. 

Natasha and her husband of three years live in Silver Spring, Md.
They enjoy outdoor activities and traveling. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

True Love Stories: Romance With the Help of a Matchmaker

It's a sweet yet daring story of a young man visiting a church and changing the course of his life. No, it's not because he found God though that is important. It's because he noticed a young lady playing the organ. 

However, it's not her skills as a musician that captivates him at first sight--it's her unrivaled "beautiful eyes." He determines that night that he wants to know more about this mesmerizing girl but there are challenges such as the fact that she's only 16 at the time and he's an experienced 23-year-old man. 

So how does a young adult man go about approaching and courting a teenage girl without causing all sorts of trouble?

You'll have to read today's featured true love story to find out. :)

Romance With the Help of a Matchmaker
Sandra Robbins' true love story

I grew up in a small college town, and every fall my girlfriends and I would get very excited when time for school to start rolled around. It wasn’t because we were glad to be back in class, however. The beginning of school meant that new college boys would be arriving in town, boys who were much more mature and more interesting than the ones we’d grown up with and known all our lives.

Although my parents would have grounded me for the entire school year if they had thought I even set foot on the college campus, there were other places like the local movie theater or the drive-in restaurant where all the kids hung out that chance meetings might occur. And then there was church, the last place I expected to meet the love of my life.

I was a sixteen-year-old high school junior that fall when he transferred from two years at another college to the one in my hometown. He had grown up in a rural community about sixty miles away and had decided he didn’t want to live in the dorm. Instead he rented a room in the home of an elderly widow who was a good friend of my parents. I don’t remember the first time I saw him, but he has told me he remembers. He had come to our church, having been invited by the lady he rented a room from, and he saw me playing the organ. He said he thought he had never seen such beautiful eyes in his life, and he wanted to know me better.

Over the next few months he returned to church again and again, and I got to know him better. I could tell there was an attraction between the two of us, but he didn’t ask me out. I was about to give up hope that we would ever be more than friends at church when one day my mother received a surprising call. The lady who rented him the room was calling to ask if my parents would object if her young boarder asked me for a date. By the time she got through extolling his virtues and how he respected me and my parents, my surprised mother could do nothing but agree to his asking me out. Needless to say I was elated.

That first date turned into more, and before long I discovered the reason it had taken him so long to come to a decision about starting a relationship with me. I had known when I first met him that he was older than me by a few years since he was a junior in college, but I was shocked when he told me that he had also served in the army. So the young man I thought was about four years older than me was really seven years older. I was a naive sixteen-year-old-girl, and he was a twenty-three-year-old man who had a lot more life experiences than I had. He couldn’t help but fear my parents would think he might be the sort of man who would see a quick conquest in their daughter and leave me with a broken heart when he moved on to someone more sophisticated and worldly. But that wasn’t his motive, and he wanted them to see him for the Christian man he was—one who was already falling in love with their daughter and wanted only the best for her. That was why he paved the way to mine and my parents’ hearts by enlisting the help of a lady we all loved and respected to be his matchmaker.

Now years later I can only shake my head in wonder. What would I do if my sixteen-year-old daughter wanted to date a twenty-three-year-old man? I doubt that I would have been as understanding as my parents were. But then I think they saw in him what I did—a young man who loved the Lord, who respected and loved me, and who honored my parents’ concerns about me.

Through the years he’s been a loving and faithful husband, a dedicated father, and a respected member of the community. I wonder sometimes how different our lives would be if he hadn’t come to school in my hometown, hadn’t rented a room from our family friend, or if he had gone straight through college after graduating from high school. I often tease him that I was in fifth grade the year he was a senior in high school, and he just smiles. We both know that God had a plan for our lives, and we’re still living it each day until ‘death us do part.’

Author bio:
Sandra Robbins, former teacher and principal, is a best-selling and award-winning multi-published author of Christian fiction who lives with her husband in Tennessee. To date she has published ten romantic suspense novels, one cozy mystery, one novella, and eight historical romances. Angel of the Cove, her first book in the historical romance series Smoky Mountain Dreams, was named the 2013 winner in the Single Title Inspirational Category of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. This award is given by the Birmingham Southern Magic Chapter of Romance Writers of America for excellence in writing romance. 

Also in 2013 her Love Inspired Suspense books Shattered Identity and Fatal Disclosure were both awarded HOLT Medallions in different categories of the Virginia Romance Writers of America contest to honor outstanding literary talent. 

In addition, her books Final Warning (Love Inspired Suspense) and The Columns of Cottonwood (Barbour) have been finalists in the ACFW Carol Awards, and her cozy mystery Pedigreed Bloodlines (Barbour) was a finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award given by the Kiss of Death Chapter of Romance Writers of America. Sandra's novella Christmas Comes to Bethlehem Maine released in November, 2014, and made the Evangelical Christian Publishing Associations BestSeller list.

Sandra's latest book Fugitive Trackdown in the Bounty Hunters Series released in February, 2015, and will be followed by Fugitive at Large in May, and the third book December.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

True Love Stories: East Meets West…in the South

"From This Moment On" by Shania Twain is the song that comes to mind when I think of today's featured love story.

It's the story of a lovely lady who fell in love with a man who broke her heart. But that's not where the story ends. After going through a painful divorce and feeling like she hit rock bottom, God surprised Erica. 

Yes, the Almighty God is full of surprises! :) The Bible says He wants to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). God believes in you and He's got the best in store for your life! *Jeremiah 29:11*

So what exactly happened to Erica after her divorce? How did she survive heartbreak? And what kind of surprise did God bring into Erica's life?

Read on to discover the answers to ALL your questions and more! :)

East Meets West…in the South
Erica’s true love story

Like any girl I believed in fairy tales and true love. I married thinking that everything would work itself out so long as we were both committed and in love. My world was crushed however after I soon found myself in divorce court. I couldn’t believe I had become part of the 50 percent statistic that I had sworn to never be a part of. Heartbroken and completely mystified, I decided that maybe I needed to work on myself first before I gave love another chance. I explored new hobbies and routines, but mostly worked on my relationship with God. My mother claims that God was sick of hearing me cry and sob that he finally said: “Okay enough already! I have something lined up for you.” That’s kind of what happened actually. One lonely afternoon as I was sitting by myself in the home my ex and I had built up together, my roommate asked for me to come meet someone.

He wasn’t in her room or anything; in fact he wasn’t even on the phone. She showed me his Facebook page and asked: “Would you mind if he came to visit us during Thanksgiving?” There he was, this adorable Marine Corp pilot all suited up and dashingly handsome. My goodness I thought “I’m in trouble.” David was a childhood friend of my roommates; they had gone to academy and the same church growing up. Their families were good friends too. He liked to come down to the southern tropics of Florida where we lived and visit my roommate from time to time. My roommate wanted to make sure we knew each other first before he made an official visit to our home. I figured since he was a good friend of hers, he could be my friend too. Besides it’s not like he would be interested in a train wreck like me—divorced, broke, and exhausted from life.

David didn’t care though, and I truly believe God had other plans. From the moment I started to talking to him, I knew he was different. I was of course skeptical because I remembered having those exact same butterflies when I had fallen in love before and it had resulted in total heart break. I introduced myself and told him that my roommate and I were happy to host him for Thanksgiving so long as he respected my house and my rules. Not only did he understand, he was comforting. He wanted to be my boyfriend right away, but I insisted on taking it slow and becoming friends first—he agreed, sort of. After hours and hours of telephone conversations, skype chats, and text messages David flew down and spent the holidays with us. He was everything and more. A true southern gentleman that swept me off my feet with his opening line of “Hello sweetness,” coated in a southern accent. I melted right away. Lord have mercy…I needed to stay strong.

It wasn’t easy but I managed. David was persistent and patient. He called me daily and even purchased me an iPad so that I could communicate easier with him. I was constantly showered with gifts and flowers from afar. He was finishing up instructor pilot training in Texas and I needed to fulfill my teaching contract in Florida. Long distance wasn’t easy, but we made it work. I think we both knew deep down this would end up in marriage, but I didn’t want to jump the gun. I wasn’t used to all this attention and was skeptical of his intentions and his legitimacy. Looking back I’m amazed he kept at me because I would constantly throw him lines like: “Why do you even like me? Don’t you realize I’m damaged goods? Stop calling me pretty, I have 10lbs to lose!?” Maybe it was his military training, but he persevered at winning my heart. A few months later with a custom made ring in his hand, he asked me: “Would you do me the honor of being Mrs. ***for the rest of your life?” Tears in my eyes I hugged him and said: “YES!”

As “Nicholas Sparks” as this story may sound, it really did happen. David not only won me over, he won over my family too. He met my parents; he conversed with them and asked how he could make me happy. When he asked my father for permission to ask for my hand, he agreed on the condition that we attend pre-marital counseling. Within 24 hours he had made an appointment with the base chaplain. When I met his family there was an instant connection. I was so nervous initially because I grew up in the suburbs of Portland, OR and here I was in the deep woods of South Carolina meeting my future family. That nervousness was quickly squashed as their true Christian character was revealed. I quickly realized that he had a wonderful family and his two loving parents had demonstrated to him day in and day out how to love.

This all took place when I least expected. I was in probably the lowest point of my life, and not even contemplating another relationship. I didn’t know it at the time, but my heart was getting ready for the love it deserved. God had a plan for both of us and we were both fortunate enough to benefit from it. Our wedding was nothing short of magical and one for the record books. 

Marriage is never easy, it takes work. A LOT OF HARD WORK. “But what God brings together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6). Never have those words meant more to me than now. I know that as we grow together and begin a family we will face trials and tribulations and triumph every time. Not just because of the love we have for each other, but because that our Creator (God) is the center of it.

Author bio: Erica and David have been happily married for three years now. They currently reside in California as her husband finishes his assignment. Every few years they pick up and move whatever the needs of the Marine Corp may be.

Erica has taught in the classroom for five years. She received her bachelors from Excelsior College in Albany, N.Y. and is pursuing her masters in Spanish Education online from Nova Southeastern University.

After California they will be heading to Georgia where Erica hopes to put her new education to use in a high school classroom.

They hope to be parents in the next year or so and ask for God's blessing as they embark on the journey.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

True Love Stories: A Better Love Story

Is it possible to be single in this modern world and content? 

My guest today says "yes" to that question! Welcome Emilie Anne Hendryx, a professional photographer who captures true love stories of real-life people with her Nikon DSLR camera, a writer who's working on her first romantic suspense series and a musician with a heart for the Lord. 

Today, she has a special message for all the single ladies (and men) who are searching for true love or not content because they have not met "The One" person who makes their heart skip a beat, the one person they cannot imagine life without, the one person they want to marry and be with forever. 

I hope you are reminded as you read Emilie's story, that before meeting "The One," you need to be content in all God has given you. Pursing romantic love is a natural and needed aspect of the human experience. But falling in love with Jesus Christ and being secure in your relationship with Him as your Lord, Savior, Redeemer and Truest Friend is key to establishing a romantic relationship with "The One" on a steady and firm foundation that can only be found in Christ.

But don't just take my word for it, read Emilie's story and enjoy her refreshing view on singleness, waiting on the Lord and finding true love.  

A Better Love Story 

Emilie Anne Hendryx's true love story

How do you write a love story without an ending?

I guess that’s assuming a love story must have an ending. As a writer of romantic suspense, I think of love stories that way. Sure, my characters may be running for their lives but there’s still the beginning of romance, the admission of true love, and an ending that leaves no doubt the couple will be living happily ever after in some way or another.

I can’t say my personal story is as neat and tidy as that, but I can testify to the fact that God has created a beautiful romance in my life and in my heart.

I was four years old when I accepted Jesus into my heart, as the saying goes. Growing up in a Christian home created a lot of opportunity for my faith to develop and be fleshed out, though I still saw lots of insecurity in my appearance and a desire to “hide” from the perceived judgments of others.

Entering into Jr. College, the pull from the Lord became stronger. Like the point in a story where the heroine must risk embarrassment by admitting her feelings for the hero. 

Thankfully, there is no embarrassment when admitting you desire to go deeper with the Lord. There is only grace and truth. 

I remember those years very vividly. I made a renewed commitment to know God. It wasn’t about the faith of my parents or even the faith of my friends, but my faith and desire to obey and follow Jesus—no matter what.

Fast forward to today. I sometimes feel like Rapunzel in the tower, waiting for her Flynn Rider to flash the “smolder” look my way. 

(Flynn Rider and his "smolder" look)
He hasn’t found me yet, but I feel no less loved because of it. Part of that contentment comes from understanding that knowing God is enough. More than enough, actually. 

But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. - 1 Timothy 6:6

I want my life to be focused on practicing godliness and actively loving God, not on what I don’t have (insert what’s true for you: a husband, a child, a better job, a house). When my eyes are focused on Him, I find the ability to love others. My trials fade in the face of His love, developing into something even more beautiful than what I could create on my own. And the cycle continues daily through His renewed strength.

That, to me, is more beautiful than any happy ending.

Author bio: 
Emilie lives in Washington, D.C. and fills her time with creative pursuits. She writes, takes pictures, reads, plays guitar, and drinks too much coffee. She’s a member of ACFW and My Book Therapy. 

Emilie is currently working on a romantic suspense series while dreaming up a YA dystopian world on the side. She’s got a soft spot in her heart for animals and a love for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. 

Connect with Emilie on her blog, Facebook author page, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.