I stared at this blinking cursor for longer than I usually do. I thought it may be because this story houses so much that it could be better written as a novel. However, as I stared watching and waiting, the LORD pressed on my heart, “Remember.” So I have had a camera reel of memories that I have been watching with a commentary that has been written by me, but spoken to very few. A story that is soon-to-be shared with a greater audience after clicking ‘publish’. I will remember, LORD.
In 2010, Colin proposed to me in the Lake of the Ozarks on a beautiful balcony overlooking the lake. It was one of the first places we vacationed together years before while we were dating. When he got down on one knee and asked I did not say a word. I do not know how long the silence was, but I remember staring down at him with his sweet, red face and him saying, “Um, Lindsay are you going to answer??” with a crack in his voice. It was like he shook me to the core with that question (the second one) and as I reoriented myself I said, “Colin, oh my gosh YES! Yes of course! But I need to sit down because I think I am going to be sick…” He rushed to grab a chair and get my feet up. Being 11 floors high on a large, outstretching balcony can do a lot to the equilibrium to a woman who is four months pregnant! That’s right, I was pregnant with our third baby before he proposed, and delivered that babe before we were even married. Grace and Gage were 13 months old when we brought Carter A. home.
When I became pregnant with the twins, Colin and I were talking one evening and I suggested to him that we should maybe try going to church. I can count on one hand how many times I have seen him look at me with such bafflement. He responded, “Why would we do that?” I explained to him that I thought it would be good for them to have the exposure to such things. Initially, I thought it was a good idea so at least if they did not believe in Jesus, they would have an educated response as to why. Unlike Colin and I who had no reason, other than we simply did not know a thing about Him. Being the gem that he is- he agreed.
We attended a Sunday service, that so happened to be right before Easter. We chose Cherry Hills Baptist Church to attend. We had every intention on ‘church shopping’, finding a place that we would feel comfortable attending. Or, one that we didn’t feel ashamed to be attending. So there we were, never having been to church in our adult lives; unwed, pregnant, twin infants at home and sitting in the pews. I will never forget that that first Sunday Colin wore a marvel comics graphic tee with Batman icons on it. I was dressed in one of the three maternity dresses I owned, because we were pretty close to destitute at this time. We were so happy. As we sat I watched and listened to a woman sing, and the voice was so familiar. Naturally, we were sitting in the very last row so I could not make out the face. Colin kept laughing and saying, “Lindsay we are in a church, I am sure you do NOT know who is singing on the stage.” He dozed off and I continued to listen, to watch. Sure enough, I knew that angelic voice and I recognized that smile. I approached her and she had about the same baffled expression that Colin did just the week prior. She embraced me like a moment hadn’t passed although I had not seen her in almost 10 years. Her name is Jenny- and through my writings’ she will be someone you will grow to know.
It was not just Jenny that embraced us so warmly in the church we would later call home. It was the entire team of pastors, the team of volunteers in the Sunday school ministry. It was the handshakes that went from foreign to a little more familiar in the coming weeks.
As we were growing in knowledge, in the collection of information, we were also involved in a transformation that was happening in our hearts.
Changes from what our conversations looked like, to what our desires and habits looked like. Jesus was working, and we did not even see it… Colin and I had a destination wedding planned that was almost a year away. We were incredibly excited as we planned our wedding abroad. However, one Sunday the LORD spoke so gently, so patiently to me and said, “are you living like you believe in me?” I thought, “well of course LORD!” So many things were brought to mind and I began listing the ways we were demonstrating our obedience and commitment to living lives worthy of the calling we had been given. There was a zeal that continued to burn deep in my bones. To know Him and to make Him known. “LORD why would you ask that, I am doing things just the way you say?” Then it hit me, I was in fact trying to dot my I’s and cross my T’s. Practicing unlearning habits that took a lifetime to develop. Yet still I would find myself doing these things on my own, independent of God.
I continued to pray for the LORD to search my heart and unearth from it what it was He was trying to speak to me. What I found was that we were living together, unwed, and well we had babies so we need not get into how they came to be. I expressed to Colin I felt this was out of alignment with what God had called us to live like as believers.
God was speaking very clearly that we were to do something, and He wanted to do it WITH us.
After meeting with our pastor and discussing the options, we were given the blessing by our pastor to be married. We would do so in the privacy of our home church. No band, no expensive rings, no florist, no reception and no photographer. Just us, Jenny and her husband, Pastor Jeff and Jesus. In a group so small I do not know if I ever remember feeling like I was surrounded by so many. The love housed in that day is one of my fondest memories. That cloudy day in April.
Later that year we did still have a more traditional ceremony in the presence of some of our family and closest friends. It was one of the most spectacular weeks of my life. I was thankful for the chance to shop for ‘the dress’, taste all of the delicious cakes and food, and hear Colin’s voice say “I do” all over again. Most people did not know that we were already married. That in front of the most important audience, Jesus, we professed our commitments to one another months before. We did, and that was enough.
So we celebrate both of these. Our April date is more a reminder of how we made a counter-cultural decision that we know God has blessed since the day we exchanged those vows. A milestone in our walk as followers of Jesus, and the day He joined us as one. Our November date is one that we celebrate with great joy as this is the day that we invited people we treasure to step into the commitment of supporting us and our union as one on a bright, sunny afternoon on a beach in Jamaica.
I have been asked questions such as: Do I think that God honors any one over the other, nope. I truly don’t. Do I think it is strange that we ‘did it twice’, a big NO to that too. Although on paper it does appear that we were married twice, in light of eternity it was truly only once, and then celebrated with a second ceremony.
If you have found God speaking to you about realigning something in your life that may be out of line with His will, I invite you to listen. If He calls you to something that feels strange, awkward, impossible, or uncomfortable I have found that this is usually conformation that it is in fact Him knocking. Step out in faith, unapologetically. I mean hey, you could end up walking away with two anniversaries’ to celebrate! I’d say that isn’t too bad of a parting gift.