How Our Life Together Began at the River {An Engagement Story}

We’d been walking for a few miles. The humidity was thick and my jeans stuck to my sweaty legs. It was our fourth day in Israel and Jordan and my boyfriend Jeremiah and I were with our seminary professor and classmates, visiting and learning about all the sites Jesus once walked. We were so excited to see the Jordan River for the first time. Both having grown up in the church, we had learned about it all our lives, and now we finally got to experience it.

We arrived at the bank of the Jordan and it was more narrow than I thought. I sat my backpack down on a rock so I could take pictures with friends. After a few minutes, I went back over to my bag to get my hairbrush out which was so random because I normally wouldn’t stop and brush my hair in a moment like this. When I reached for the front pocket, I stumbled upon a small black leather box with white stitching on it.

What is that? I wondered. Then something clicked and I was sure I knew. My heart raced. Was this really it?

Jeremiah rushed over and took the box as if I wasn’t supposed to see it in my bag. He looked really nervous and excited.

He smiled, opened the ring box, and got down on one knee. I started giggling.

“Samantha, just as John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River and it represented the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, I want this to represent our new life together in marriage. Will you marry me?

I laughed some more and started crying.

Jordan River 2“Yes! Yes!”

He slid the ring on my finger and it fit perfectly. We hugged and kissed and I couldn’t stop smiling.

Our professor captured the proposal along with some of our friends. I finally took the time to really look at the ring and I couldn’t believe it. It was beautiful, classy, big, round, and flawless. During our 7 months of dating I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at rings. Jeremiah and I had shopped a few times for fun but I figured if he knew me well enough, he would know what I liked. And did he ever! I couldn’t stop looking at it. Its brilliant sparkle reminded me that life was certainly about to change. I would get to spend the rest of my life with the one I loved. The one God had given to me.

I was on cloud nine on the trail back to our bus. I couldn’t believe how he got me and surprised me out of nowhere. He had asked my dad for permission to marry me a few weeks before the trip when we were visiting my parents in Texas. I thought for sure he would have popped the question after Israel. But he carried the ring on the plane, through customs, security, several hotels, and excursions for four days. Needless to say he was happy to have the surprise off his chest. I thought more about how it couldn’t have been more perfect to be engaged right where we were.

Our next stop happened to be the Dead Sea, often called the Salt Sea, which borders Jordan to the East. A classmate offered to hold my ring while Jeremiah and I went for a dip with everyone. We floated on top of the water and it refreshed our souls from the intense middle eastern heat. Jeremiah held me in his arms and it was as if the world had stopped. The embrace of my future husband was all I need. I was going to be his and he would be mine. I had given my word to him, my promise. Our wedding day and new life together was on the horizon.Jordan River 1

Looking back on that significant day eight years ago {June 4, 2005} brings me nothing but great joy. There are those moments in life that God gives and you feel nothing but his sweet presence, where his love for you is absolutely overwhelming. It’s almost as if he gives you a little taste of the perfection that will be awaiting in heaven.

Jeremiah and I knew from the beginning that our relationship wasn’t just about us, but what God was doing and he has always confirmed that in our hearts. I have believed that all these years. In December we will celebrate our eight year wedding anniversary.

Before marriage, we had no idea the trials that would come our way. We didn’t quite grasp the hard work that’s required to be one as a couple and how we would have to fight daily against our selfish, sinful natures. We wouldn’t learn all of this through a book or classroom but by sitting in the school of experience.

We also had no idea how God would fashion and shape us more like him and give us the sweetest, most precious gifts we have ever tasted within the sacred covenant of marriage: unity, servanthood, companionship, fulfillment, purpose, passion, sexual intimacy, friendship, forgiveness, satisfaction, mission, the blessing of children, and unconditional love just to name a few. We had no idea how God would show us the true meaning of sacrificial, * till death we do part * love and commitment. And we are praying by God’s grace that he will give us many more years to have together.

There’s no doubt that the love I have towards my husband is deeper and wider than when I said “yes!” It is a different kind of love yet it is still the same. We are still the same people we were then yet we’ve changed and grown in so many different ways. Today on our engagement anniversary my heart is grateful for God’s faithfulness.

Through the calm and the storms in our lives, He has always been faithful just as he was that day on the river.

Conflict Resolution: The Need for Face Time

0019I’m not writing anywhere specific today but someone I know who is really awesome and amazing is! My husband! Today Jeremiah is writing his first article for  StartMarriageRight.com, helping us discern how much we should share digitally verse face to face communication in our relationships.

He gives practical wisdom on what to do when you sense a conflict arising over any form of digital communication- email, texting, social media, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and how you can handle it biblically.

I think he did a great job and I really enjoyed editing the article. We would love to hear your thoughts or any wisdom you’ve gained over the years on this topic:

“We’ve all been there. We’ve either witnessed it or have personally shared the anxiety of working through conflict using digital communication. With life running at the pace of email, texting, Facebook and Twitter, solving conflict on these mediums has become almost as natural as breathing. But is this always the best way to go?”

Read the rest on Start Marriage Right

Mama, Let Your Light Shine

How is changing diapers, cleaning up messes, and doing it all over again the next day making a difference? Can I be influential, even when I struggle? How can God use me to be on mission with my children? What does God expect from me as a mom?

These were a few questions my husband Jeremiah helped answer in his sermon this past Sunday called “Mama, Let Your Light Shine.”

And let me just tell you…

This message was one of my favorite mother’s day sermons I’ve ever heard! And I promise you I’m not biased. I’ve heard a lot of great messages from some really great pastors.

In November, we started interning at a church plant in a Dallas suburb and the pastor has been kind to give Jeremiah several opportunities to teach God’s word. This was Jeremiah’s first official sermon preached in front of a congregation (not a classroom) since being a student at Dallas Theological Seminary. After he delivered the message, several mothers went up to him saying how much they loved it. One mom asked me, “Why didn’t your husband tell us to bring our kleenex?”

Jeremiah works as an R.N. and one of his patients, who happens to be a famous female actress (I wish I could tell you who!), wanted to listen to it while in her hospital bed and she loved it.

Okay, so enough of me bragging on my husband. I wanted to post the link here for you to download and be encouraged in your mission as a mother. Even if you’re not a mother, I think you’ll be encouraged in your faith.

Download: “Mama, Let Your Light Shine” (38 min., mp3 file)

My “Straight A” Husband

dts-754138So today calls for me to brag on my husband a bit.

A little over two years ago, we moved to Dallas for Jeremiah to attend Dallas Theological Seminary to further his study in God’s word and to better prepare him for full-time ministry. This past semester, I worked part-time at Bluefish (still do) and put him through school so he could focus on his studies, internship at our church Watermark, and our apartment ministry without wanting to pull his teeth out.

I’m really proud to say that Jeremiah just got his grades back and he got 2 A+ and 2 A’s! So, straight A’s! All semester, he worked so hard in his reading, studying for tests, and writing papers while simultaneously propping up a bottle for John or studying with him on his lap.  DTS isn’t an easy school and it’s one of the best seminaries in the world. Some of our favorites have come out of there like Andy Stanley, Tommy Nelson, David Jeremiah, Tony Evans, and Dennis Rainey.

Jeremiah wasn’t concerned on getting the best grades necessarily but on learning the content. We’re still unsure of what God has for us ministry-wise in the future, but for now we’re trying to live in the present. We don’t really know what the upcoming semesters will look like work-wise and time wise, but we’re thankful for God getting us through this far.

[Photo: Campus of DTS]

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