I honestly don't remember the first time I met John but I sure do remember the impression he left on me and it wasn't a good one. He struck me as a little too sure of himself and just not a very warm person. Again I can say with all confidence, I was ridiculously wrong on that estimation! :) It was around the time when I first moved here over 4 years ago that I was introduced to John. A couple years after meeting him and seeing him around or hearing his name frequently, we both got hooked up with the Watch of the Lord and more specifically to friendship with the Scofields. It seemed that since that time, we just would consistently be with the same group of people pursuing the same interests and with a similar zeal for the Lord. When I'm honest with myself, I can say that I saw him as a great catch (although I would never have been caught dead saying that out loud to anyone!) while at the same time, somethings about him really bothered me. A man pursuing God and growing and changing more into the likeness of Jesus over the years... although not perfectly, allowing himself to be changed. I loved that about him and did often say to friends that I really respected Him as a man of God. I loved seeing him run after God, leaving his past behind him and pressing on. I could totally relate to that... that whole weak but lovely to God thing. At a few points, some mutual friends of ours would either try to hook us up or just drop crazy hints about us getting together (Charis, Shaun, Joe, Christina... you know who you are!). This was COMPLETELY OUT OF THE QUESTION. It was more then obvious that I *furiously* irritated him and we would never quite move past "just getting along for the sake of honoring God and nothing else". I mean, how could I even possibly let down my guard with a man who made me question myself to the degree that he did. How funny that is now. Eventually our dislike of each other crescendoed into an outright argument in the middle of a home-group one night. It was terrible! It actually became uncomfortable and awkward for everyone there. That was the breaking point with me. I couldn't take it anymore, I was so frustrated that over time I had repeatedly tried my very hardest to be nice to him and his reciprocation was less friendly then ever. I remember saying to my friend Will that I guess I couldn't ask John to just like me because we're both believers or even have a hope for that... but he told me, no Jenn... you have a right to want him to like you as a friend. It's ok to want to get along with him. Either that evening or the next day I texted John that we HAD to sit down and come to some terms of respect for each other... JUST TO GET ALONG! We met that Monday or Tuesday but by the time we actually sat down to talk John had already decided to just be nice to me from now on... wow. so awesome of him. really *dripping sarcasm*. Our conversation basically went like this....
John, "so I decided that I'll be nice to you from now on"
me, "wow. so what revelation hit you and made you decide that?"
John, "well, I just decided"
me, "why didn't you decide it before now?"
John, "because you really annoy me"
me, "ok thanks. so glad to finally move on"
ok, so that's my take on it... but I think it's pretty right on.
We left Starbucks that day and he honestly treated me better from that moment on. If fact, he was nicer to everyone, as some of my friends will attest to. Over the next 6 months I saw him growing in tenderness and maturity. If you ask him, he'll probably relay his favorite testimony of the whole ordeal... he actually went to a respected "elder" (hehe) and expressed his annoyance of me. That awesome "elder"(hehe) encouraged him with the beatitudes take on it. He said to John, " you know what you need to do if she's bothering you that much". and John's response was.... I guess I have to pray for her, because she makes me so angry...!
can I just say
yes. I was his enemy and he prayed for me. Now we know that Jesus' wisdom in this is unsurpassed... praying for your enemies REALLY tenderizes our hearts for those people. I ask John to no longer pray for any enemies, as he can only have one wife.
Anyways, on with the story.
I really did notice that John's heart was changing quite a bit, although I didn't read into it at all. I knew that the Lord was doing something with him and I was grateful that he and I would finally get along. Around the holidays I heard that a few people from the Watch of the Lord weren't going back home to family for Thanksgiving. I absolutely love inviting people to come to my families for holidays, I love hospitality and this was a good opportunity. I invited John and 3 others to come down for the holiday. I didn't expect him to come, although the invitation had been given. He never was a really really social person, so it surprised me that he decided to come. We had a great meal and afterwards all prayed for a few others that weren't from Bethel and had come to my parents for Thanksgiving. This was a very important part of the timeline because my parents were able to really see John's heart and passion for the Lord. This really caused them to love him and think very highly of him, which turned out to be good for my heart later.
This is the very important prayer time :)
Early December I extended an invitation to John and another friend from the Watch to come for Christmas lunch, knowing that they would be coming down that way anyways. So... 2 holidays down (and a few really bad movies. the road. ninja assassins) now the rest of my life to go... That Christmas, John was strongly considering asking me out but at one point we got into a little tif, which was actually just a misunderstanding, and it silenced him a bit longer. Oh well, I know that God's timing is absolutely perfect. Now more then ever.
So, to backtrack a little, John has started an Israel home-group a few months earlier and I had been going regularly. I liked this home-group and loved how John led it, I got to see a whole new side to him. During a prayer time in the first week of January, I felt the Lord encourage me to start having "date" time. Having been a single momma for so long meant that I rarely had time to myself to be around other adults and have fun. What the Lord said to me had to do with preparing Aliyah for a time when I would meet my husband, while he and I would be building adult relationship (little did I know how soon that would be) separate from building relationship as a family. The first opportunity I had to go out and have a fun dinner with some friends came quickly. I decided to get a sitter and go for it. The group was a few girls and a few guys. We went out to eat and then they went on to a movie while I went on to the Israel home-group. When I arrived, John asked me how I was doing and what I had been up to... since I was a little dressed up. I told him I went on a "date"... only referencing back to what I felt like the Lord told me to do, not that it was with a guy. John's response was very mild, but afterwards and thinking back on it... he seemed slightly perturbed by it. We went on, I didn't think of it again until later. Somewhere early in December or maybe even earlier then that, my friend Shaun teased me one night at worship pratice... "Jenn, what about John Wandler... you know, you and HIM?". So funny because I made a comment about how God would need to reveal His father heart to John before John would be a good husband for ANYone. The next day I woke up with such a conviction that I not he was DESPERATE for a revelation of the Father. Then I had to repent to my friend for saying such a thing about another! oh gosh. how weak I am! Ok, back to January. So after that night, I guess John made up his mind that he didn't like the idea of me being with any one else. So funny, some of the things that help guys along the way. The whole while, I was COMPLETELY oblivious to ANY OF HIS FEELINGS FOR ME. I mentally blocked out even the chance he could be" the one" because of our history. Well, my sister decided to come up for a spontaneous trip that weekend. She came up Friday. She came to the Watch on Friday night and then we did something on Saturday... gosh I can't really remember, but we saw John and my sister asked him if he wanted to chill later and grab some coffee with us. Again, it surprised me (and gave me the wrong idea... the idea that he was crushing on my little sis) but he accepted and we made plans for later that evening. We ended up at Starbucks chatting away, all 4 of us. It was interesting, but it's the first time I remember John asking questions about my history or life before Redding... it was the perfect time to do it because my sis was there to kind of back up my history and give her own input on it and her own history. It was a nice evening, but I still had no idea he even thought I was a decent person or that he could possibly be interested in me. The next day we met up with John and our other friend at another Starbucks before leaving to Sac. Here is a pic from that coffee time:
As we were getting ready to leave for the drive back, John asked me if I minded if he went along. It kinda threw me for a loop, but I just figured he was really into my sister and, knowing he was a good man, I didn't want to get in the way of that.
TALK ABOUT MIXED SIGNALS?!?!
He sat quietly in the backseat the whole ride there, I wonder if he was so nervous. Once we got there, we met up with my parents in the parking lot of the Black Bear and then turned right around to come back. It was pretty cloudy and getting dark out so I let him drive back. We decided to stop in that same town at the Burger King because we were hungry and needed to stretch. While we were in there at one point I got kind of chilly and John tried to take off his shirt and give it to me, but it REALLY and I mean really freaked me out... because he had never been that nice to me. We got back in the car and headed home. I was just making conversation but pretty soon into the drive John tells me, "I'm kinda into you". That was IT. HOW Truly ROMANTIC... ha! Actually I don't think it hit me but I was just going with it and we were talking about it all the while little miss ears was in the back seat hearing about how her life was about to change. She still will tell me, "momma, I was in the backseat the whole time!!!!". funny. even though it literally shocked me that evening, I knew it was right and I totally accepted it as God's perfect plan from the moment he said it. I knew immediately that ONLY GOD could do such a crazy thing...
There were a few God things that are notable.
First, the night my sister slept over either Sat or Sun morning I woke up from the strangest dream and told her right away, although she was half asleep... It was this. In the dream I was sleeping in an circa 1970's limo underneath an highway overpass. All of a sudden one of the female leaders of Bethel along with a crap load of BSSM students started piling into the limo and she peeled out of there... all the while I was trying to climb over everyone and get out of there... but to no avail. next scene I'm in a house looking out windows and not really looking around. then I feel arms around me and hands on my belly and I look around and it's John... and I kinda freak out and tell him to get off me but he says, ever so calmly, "I know what I'm doin". Then I woke up freaked out and told my sis. Also, I never had dreams about John before that.
Second, that Friday night during our worship team debriefing... during something that we had every week, same thing... I looked across the hall at John and my heart was super moved by him (for the first and only time I ever noticed it that significantly). I just saw him completely different... but I just thought I was going nuts and told myself to quite being so strange.
Third, I expected my mom and Tony (dad) to not be happy... because up until that point whenever a man or the idea of a man or relationship would come up they would not be into it at all... I also expected it to really shock some people... Well, my mom and dad actually wept with joy when I skyped and told them (as soon as I got home). that was relieving and a confirmation if I ever had one. and then when I called my friends, only a few of them were surprised at all. Most of them just were waiting... so apparently I was the last one to be clued in.
Fourth, I completely trusted John with Aliyah. In December, I was desperate for someone to stay with her for a little while so I could get some Christmas presents for her and he was the only one available. I honestly thought about it many times and felt so comfortable with her being around him. And although she was nervous at first with him, by the time I found them, they were in the shoe section at Kohl's shopping away and having fun. It was really precious!
Things that are true about my husband:
I love his strength
He fights for me and loves to protect me and Aliyah
He absolutely loves Jesus and is so committed to walking it out
He loves Asic sneakers, specifically Onitsuka Tiger
He makes me laugh more then anyone ever has
He has a servants heart
He's an amazing dad who really takes that responsibility seriously
He's so much more then I asked God for
He promised me he would watch "The Business of Being Born" and he did, although he looked like he might puke at some points. hehe
He isn't the same person that so aggravated me, long ago and far away
I'm so in love with him
Here's the finished product of that love story:)
We'll have been married for 8 months on the 29th of this month and, although marriage isn't a easy peasy, it's so worth it. I love it. I love it and am grateful to God everyday for His kindness in bringing John to be my family.
***disclaimer: my husband says that I exaggerate on some things... but not on the important stuff.