Thursday, February 28, 2008

Love’s Perfect Plan…The Rest of the Story

By Danita Dalton Hiles

This first part of this story was featured in the February 2008 issue of the P31 Woman Magazine. Seven weeks after Audrey's adoption was finalized, a shocking phone call came. The Hiles family once again became a family of three.

For seven weeks, we were a family of four. The court battle was over, the paperwork was filed and our newly adopted daughter, Audrey, was officially a Hiles in name as well as in our hearts. Hurrah! It was definitely a season of rejoicing and thanksgiving.

And then the phone rang again. Isn’t it amazing how often a simple phone call and the news that it brings can change the course of our lives?

Early October 2, 2003, the shrill ringing of the phone served to change our ‘happily ever after’ into a movie of the week. My husband, Dave had collapsed at his desk on Pearl Harbor in Honolulu. And the voice on the other end of the phone was telling me that my marathon running, fun loving, all American, ‘officer and a gentlemen’ Navy husband was being rushed by ambulance to the nearest hospital. The next few minutes were a blur: frantic driving, cell phone calls to family and friends, anguished prayers with absolutely no eloquence. Simply Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! No, No, No! This can’t be happening. But it was. And at 8:30 that morning the ER doctor came out with the impossible news that my Dave was gone. Forever. They were unable to revive him following a massive heart attack at his desk.

Driving home with a dear friend, it was as if I was in a dream. Passing other cars filled with laughing, happy people going on with their lives. How can this be? Walking in the house, sunlight streaming in, it all looked so normal. But everything had changed. Telling my girls about Dave’s death is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Two –year-old Audrey was fairly oblivious, but the look of disbelief and shock in eight-year-old Kelsey’s eyes will stay with me forever.

Sometimes, as in the case of Audrey’s adoption, prayers are answered in a miraculous way and we can clearly see the hand of God at work. In other times, it seems as though the prayers were not being answered at all, but that a giant door was being slammed in our face. I have learned over the past few years that God always answers our prayers. That, as it says in the Psalms, if we have a thousand ‘why?s’ we can always count on the fact that He is loving and He is strong. And that His strength is enough to get us through anything. Sometimes, when nothing in the situation changes, when there is no miracle and the ugliness of life threatens to overwhelms us completely, we realize it ‘is what it is…..but He is who He is.

Throughout Audrey’s adoption process, I had clung to 1Timothy 1:6: ‘I know in whom I believe and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him.‘ The night of Dave’s death I begged the Lord for a verse to stand on – I knew my Bible was full of encouragement and hope but I was desperate for Him to give me a specific word. On my bedside table was a devotional book I had been reading- it was open to a devotional on Psalm 16:5-20 ‘This is my portion and my cup…the boundaries will fall for me in pleasant places…I will keep Him before me…there will be joy again in His presence.’

During the next few weeks and month these simple verses were my lifeline.

I cried out to the Lord – that is a phrase we hear a lot. When you read it in the Psalms, it is easy to romanticize the idea: telling God in poetic words how you trust Him in your situation. My reality did not feel like a romantic Psalm at all. Crying out to the Lord involved a whole lot of tears and many boxes of Kleenex. Sleepless nights. Cries of frustration, anger and abandonment. But somehow in the midst of it all I knew that He was with me. And in each day that followed there was ‘enough’ of what I needed to get through.

Four years later, those desperate feelings have eased, but some things have not changed. I am a single mother doing my best to raise my two girls to love Jesus and serve Him. I am still astounded to check the box marked ‘widow’ on my tax return, but I’m also privileged that He keeps opening doors for me to reach out to other precious sisters who have lost their husbands.

God has remained faithful to all of His promises (did I ever doubt that He would?!!) There has been joy again in His presence. I have learned to lean on Him in ways that I may never have been able to do with Dave at my side. There are still a lot of questions but ultimately His word had been true and He has been enough.

Valentine’s Day Simplified

Venture into any store and you’ll see evidence of another commercialized holiday gone wild! As soon as the Christmas displays are cleaned up, out come the fancy chocolates, flowers, stuffed animals, cards (with or without music of course) and the “can’t live without ‘em” boxer shorts with little hearts.

Is this really what you need to show someone you love them? Of course not! With a little creativity you can make Valentine’s Day special without blowing your budget.

For your husband, or anyone else you would like to feel special this Valentine’s Day, here are some ideas to get you started:
● Frame a special photo

● Make a homemade heart-shaped cake with a special message

● Write a poem, song or a list of “What I Love About You”

● Assemble a small and simple scrap book or photo album

● For your husband, prepare his favorite meal at home complete with candlelight and tablecloth, and arrange for a babysitter if necessary

● Write an “I Love You” message on their car window or leave a note in their vehicle

● Send a special text message or email to the recipient at work

● If you have children, have them create homemade cards for family members

Since Valentine’s Day is all about love, what a great time to share the love of Christ with family, friends and neighbors. This particular holiday can leave people feeling lonely and left out, so take this opportunity to put a smile on their face with homemade cookies or a simple hand-made valentine card.

A Wife’s Reconciliation

By: Abi Olukeye

I frequently joke that I was born to be my parent’s first son but somehow came out as a girl. From the youngest age that I can remember, I have had the strongest passions and most aggressive dreams. My mind has always been rock strong and my heart independent of customary approvals. When I got married and realized that “me” had to somehow fit into “us”, I didn’t think it would be that difficult. In fact I figured it would just happen. But then, questions like these started flooding my mind: “Why isn’t he more like me? Why doesn’t he have a billion dreams and desires? Why is it always my idea to do this and that?”

By Abi Olukeye

A few months before my husband, Isaac, and I met he had just decided to rededicate his life to Christ. It was evident that his decision was sincere, and I acknowledged his healthy and steady growth. Nevertheless, I struggled with whether he was going to be “spiritual” enough to be my husband. I had warned my heart to commit itself only to someone spiritually stronger, so that, if for some reason I fall off the wagon, he would restore me. I guess I pretty much wanted to marry Jesus!

Even though I wrestled internally with reconciling this amazingly sweet young man’s love with my religious notion of a spiritual husband, I couldn’t deny God’s reassuring whisper that Isaac was His choice for my life. So I let my heart go and trusted God, constantly reminding myself of the assurances He had given me concerning Isaac.

As we grew together in our courtship, I started to realize that I had assumed the role of spiritual leader in our relationship. Every time we prayed together and waited for answers, God would speak His answer to me first. And, just like a child jumping out of their seat in order to get called on to answer a question, I would pick up the phone and call Isaac, screaming excitedly:

“Baby, baby, I know the answer!”

I thank God that Isaac was secure enough in his own personal relationship with God. He would lovingly say, “Wow! This is great; I just need some time to marinate on this. Let me also pray about it.” That response would frustrate me. In my head I would scream, “Hello!! Marinate??? This is the answer we’ve been waiting for, TRUST ME!!” After several instances of this, I went complaining to God, feeling sure that God would take my side. But, in His usual fathering way, God helped me understand that He in fact shared everything with me ahead of time, so that I could keep both Isaac and what I had received in prayer. In His time, He would reveal the same to Isaac but I must submit to his leadership.

It took a lot for me to learn to hold back, but I eventually did, and God was right; Isaac always ended up coming to the same conclusion God had hinted to me, sometimes months before. I had learned my lesson and was happy; but little did I know that I was still in training.

After only a couple of months of marriage, I found myself in the “forefront” again. Most of our discussions were about my passions and my purpose and my ideas for these fabulous things that we could do for God. I didn’t intentionally want it to be all about me. Isaac just hadn’t voiced any passions or ideas that we could pursue; instead he was incredibly supportive and encouraged my creativity. It eventually started feeling awkward, being all the way out front with my husband supporting me from behind all the time. So I stopped and cried to God for insight into His plans for our marriage, not just my life.

Mary (the mother of Jesus) portrays a beautiful example of a woman privileged to receive the promises regarding a loved one way ahead of time. I can only imagine the amount of patience she employed while waiting 33yrs to see the manifestation of the word she received from God about the sacrificial mission of her baby. I don’t trust myself not to have enrolled Him in seminary, instead of first grade, to speed the process up. Regardless of what her internal disposition might have been during the life of Jesus, the Bible notes a wise thing that Mary did as the signs of Jesus’ calling began to show: “His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. (Luke 2:51)”

That is the ability that I need and seek from God: the courage to hold “these things” dearly and deeply within myself, and to not automatically plan our lives with them. As wives, God sometimes calls private meetings with us, sharing many wonderful promises. I do not think He does so because He secretly views us as the “real” heads of our families. On the contrary, He does so because He trusts us to pray and believe those promises into manifestation.

The answer to my prayer for insight came at about 2:13am one morning, after God successfully dragged me out of bed to deliver the truth that would set me free. God reminded me that my life was His plan and His idea. He then opened my eyes to see myself as a part of a whole within my marriage. As a result, I fell in love with my husband all over again, placed him back at the head of our family (where he belonged), and wrote him a beautiful letter to celebrate my dramatic re-alignment.

God has Isaac’s heart, and I am learning that is enough. He jealously fathers him just as well as He does me. And, as He promised in Jeremiah 29:11, He knows His plans for both of us, to bring us to His expected end (not mine!). I can be assured that God’s purposes will punctuate our lives as long as we are submitted to Him.

Abi Olukeye lives in Huntersville NC with her darling husband Isaac. She is the creator of Love, Pearls, and Swine ( an e-zine that candidly discusses issues affecting single, dating, and newlywed young women. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, sewing, music, and reading.