Posted by: thebellalife | August 2, 2009

A Little Chicken Soup for the Soul

God Listens From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories of Faith

 

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

~Psalm 143:8

“God, if you ever want a man in my life, you will have to put him there. In fact, he will have to be standing at my front door wearing a T-shirt that says you sent him.” Those words, spoken from bitterness and disappointment for the crushed relationships in my life, stated exactly how I felt about men, as a single mother.

Years passed, and my busy life centered around church, my four sons and my job. My parents lived out of state, so our church became our family.

Slowly, I turned all my joys, heartaches and triumphs over to God.

During those healing years, my youngest son established a friendship with a man who assisted our youth music minister. Dean was a quiet, somber man, but one who lived a life modeled after our Lord. He urged youth to find their identity through God’s unfailing love. I admired Dean’s patience, understanding and giving ways. More so, I appreciated his friendship with my sons.

At first, I felt suspicious of him spending time and effort on them, and I researched his background to ensure my sons’ safety and well-being. He received glowing reports for his integrity and devotion to God. I decided he had been sent to fill the void in my sons’ lives and to be the role model they so desperately needed.

Over the next year and a half, Dean spent more and more time with them. He took the youngest to Cancún during Christmas break and took two of them to Branson, Missouri, shortly afterwards. He purchased one of the boys a car so he could take a part-time job. Dean showed him how to pay for gas and insurance and still have spending money. He listened to my sons’ escapades and problems, and he never judged or condemned their behavior. He and I were great friends. I felt no threat, because Dean was twelve years younger than I.

One summer day, the doorbell rang. Dean stood in the doorway wearing a T-shirt with the logo “God Listens.” At that moment I remembered the words I had uttered years before. I felt the color rise to my cheeks, and my stomach knotted. Dean handed me five additional shirts with the same “God Listens” logo printed on the front.

“I got these at the Christian bookstore, and there’s one for each of you,” he said.

All I could think was, “Oh no, Lord, not Dean. He’s not the right one. He’s too young, and he’s – well, he’s my friend.” Naturally, I said nothing, but thereafter the “God Listens” logo haunted me. I attempted to rationalize the entire incident, and I asked God to handle the matter for me. He did.

Two months later, Dean proposed. The boys were excited, and I realized how happy our lives had become since he first began a relationship with us. Still, I felt nervous and fearful of being hurt again.

Dean and I talked a great deal about a Christian marriage and the value of open communication. We made a budget, attended premarital classes, prayed together and talked about our future.

Neither of us had family nearby, so my sons and a few close friends were all we wanted to attend the ceremony. We scheduled the wedding for ten o’clock on a November morning. Shortly before 9:30, the boys and I drove to the church where one of Dean’s friends waited outside to video the whole thing. I’m not very comfortable in front of a camera, but I tried to relax and act normal―whatever that is.

Once inside, I stared amazed at the number of friends who had come to share in our vows. My best friend, my sons and I stood in an empty office while a photographer snapped various poses of us. Of course, the video rolled on.

Promptly at ten, the pastor stepped in and announced it was time for the wedding. We walked down the hallway to find even more friends waiting.

But Dean did not stand among them.

The pastor reached inside his suit pocket and produced a folded piece of paper. “Dean could not be with us this morning, but he did leave a letter for DiAnn.”

A hush fell over the room, and I teetered between hysterics and sheer bewilderment. Why couldn’t the pastor have pulled me aside to break the news? My heart pounded furiously as I stood there in total humiliation and disappointment. Too stunned to even utter a protest, I watched in horror while the pastor unfolded the letter. Suddenly, the thought of fainting held merit. If only I could stop him – but it was too late.

With heartfelt words, Dean began his letter explaining how he had gradually fallen in love with each member of my family. He stated how his friendship with me had grown from admiration to a deep love. His first love was Jesus, and he knew I shared the same feelings. Together we would establish a loving, Christian marriage and realize the blessings of our Lord. His love and commitment extended to my sons as well.

The letter concluded that he waited for us at a secret destination. There, he awaited me at the altar.

The pastor tucked the letter back inside his suit coat and escorted me to a church bus. I didn’t know what to say for fear the lump in my throat would explode into a pool of tears. Where could Dean be?

We boarded a church bus, with the video still filming my every emotion, while I searched futilely for a possible wedding location. Each time I thought I knew where Dean intended to meet me, the bus drove right on by. We continued driving, and my mind raced with the possibilities. Then the bus turned into a lovely subdivision. There stood my husband-to-be in front of a beautiful and spacious new home. In the front yard, a sign leaned against a huge pine tree. It read: The Mills Residence, established November 24, 1993.

Inside, in the dining room, I found a wedding cake and food for all our friends. Candles and baskets of pink flowers surrounded a kneeling bench in front of a marble fireplace. Dean stood there, arms outstretched. A black grand piano filled the room with the music of love.

Dean’s T-shirt had been right―God does listen! 

Live with Intensity and Purpose,

CarlaYour browser may not support display of this image.

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