When You Have Doubts That God’s In Charge: How I Met Your Grandfather

AmberOBrien"

Dear Sweet Sister:

Do you delight in hearing the love story of how a husband and wife first met? I sure do! When Dave and I meet another couple for the first time, my favorite question to ask is, “How did you two meet each other?” Most often, their eyes light up as they tell the story together of how their love story began. Oh how I love to tell my story of how I met my husband of 26 years. I share this as a way to encourage the single sister that feels called to marriage but is still waiting on God to find her life mate. I share this for the married sister who needs to be reminded that God is always in control. Lastly, I share this for my future granddaughters and my great-great-granddaughters in generations to come.  How did I met my husband? I’m so glad you asked. Here you go:

Act 1.  January 31, 1986 Friday afternoon:
Alone in my freshman dorm room, I lay in my bed confused and disappointed. Tonight was the night I was supposed to perform a skit entitled, “If God Talked back” for the Intervarsity Christian Group on campus. I had practiced for hours and memorized all my lines and I was just so excited to finally use my acting skills to give eternal truths. (I performed in high school and on the Gettysburg stage during my first semester but all the effort has no spiritual message or purpose.)  When the skit was given to me over Christmas break, I was ecstatic to use my time and talent for God and to impact other students. During that Christmas break, Janice and I prayed for all those on the campus. How excited I was once back on campus to practice and perform this skit.

But my plans came crashing in when Lee Martin (the classmate who was to play the part of God) called and explained to me that he had a family emergency and needed to take a train home. This just did not make sense to me. Why would God allow Lee to leave the night of our performance? Dinnertime was approaching, but I didn’t feel much like eating or getting out of bed.

I looked upward and the poster caught my eye. In this poster above my bed, a cute plump panda happily lays on his pack in a grassy field while the words above him boldly proclaim, “ Relax, God’s in Charge.” I can still vividly remember that poster, 30 years later.

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So I had a choice to make. Would I wallow in self-pity and disappointment, or would I trust God and do the next thing which was to simply go to the cafeteria for dinner?

This one choice would change my life and if you are one of my great-granddaughters, you are alive because of it.

Act 2. The same Friday, evening:
I find a seat in the Gettysburg cafeteria at a table with my dear friend Janice. There are some new students sitting with her that I haven’t met before (she was a sophomore) and soon I am explaining my situation in true dramatic manner. I bemoaned to the group, “I have all my lines memorized for tonight’s show and then Lee who plays God took the first train out of town.” So I guess you could say I was holding onto the self-pity part just a smidgen?

Then a tall handsome young man with broad shoulders volunteered to play the part of God that night. (I had made a list years before that I wanted a husband with a good sense of humor and broad shoulders that I could cry on.) This mysterious  young man had never attended an Intervarsity Christian fellowship group meeting (despite being invited several times) and had never acted before.

You see, he also had a choice in that moment. He later explained that he had dreamed multiple times of a woman with full cheeks and lips (I once had the nickname chipmunk cheeks) who he believed was going to be his wife. She was washing dishes in the dreams (and yes I’ve done a lot of dishes in the past 26 years, but since Dave is a fantastic cook I am happy to do so).

Once he spotted me at that path-changing supper, he said I looked just like the girl in his dreams (literally). This gave him the courage to volunteer and stand in front of the intervarsity group that night.

Act 3. Later that night:
Dave stood behind me and read his lines from the script. I kneeled in onesie footed pajamas and pretended to be praying my nighttime prayers as I played an 8-year-old girl who recites The Lord’s Prayer each night without  knowing what the prayer really means.

“Hallowed? I don’t know, what does it mean?” She asks. God explains, “It means honored, holy, and wonderful.” She responds thoughtfully, “Yes, that makes sense.”  

And then she keeps on praying.   

“Give us this Day our daily bread…” and to her shock and the audience’s amusement God answers with,
“I think you’ve had enough of that bread.”  

As the girl continues to recite The Lord’s Prayer she receives help from God on how to forgive a friend’s betrayal and ultimately deepen her relationship with the Lord.

Dave enjoyed playing the part of God, and I was thrilled to perform that night to my Gettysburg peers.

The following Friday, I performed a mime as Sonbeam the clown with Janice, whose clown name was Salty, for the same Intervarsity Group.  Dave came to the meeting, and after we had hot fudge sundaes with a group at the Lincoln Diner. On the way home, with me still dressed as a clown: rainbow wig and white faced, he asked me out on a date. I’ve often kidded him that because I was a ‘mime’ clown I wasn’t able to say no. Of course I nodded  yes!

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Act 4. A few months later:
Dave and I joined the debate/forensics group on campus and visited other colleges/Universities to perform “If God Talked Back.”  But the real Act 4 is that we began to date and our love story continued. We dated three and a half years and married in my childhood United Methodist Church as our Gettysburg priest Father Phil assisted.

Dave is my best friend on this earth and God continues to guide me and bless me through him.   Our union has produced four children (three on earth, and one in heaven) and a thriving preschool business that we both enjoy.

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So dear single sister, my advice for you is to be patient and seek out ways to use your talents to honor and serve God. Join a Christian singles group or find like-minded friends. Hold out for a husband who will have self control and wait for you. You are worth the wait, my sweet sister.

To my married sister, are you sitting on your bed in self pity wondering why things are not going as you planned? Remember the panda poster and trust God that He is in control. Show this trust in your actions. Don’t hide away in your room, but let go of your tightly-gripped dreams. Release your own expectations and trust in God’s character. When things don’t go your way, repeat these three statements:

God is Good.
God is Love.
God is in Control.

When you are not sure as to what to do next, just do the next thing. Our lives are a result of our choices. Keep making small good choices for God.

To my great-grands, I love you. I am praying for you. Pray and wait for the one who will lead you closer to God.

PS.
For my sweet sister or grands who have slipped and desire to go back and start over, take heart, for it is never too late to start anew. God is all about redos and restarts.   

Love’s   Answer
(Duo for a young male and a young female)

Notarized: January 26, 2005

(Male voice)
Long ago you made a list
And gave it up to heaven
A lovely, Lonely Teenage child
Yearning for Salvation

(Female voice)
Long age you had a dream
Each night you viewed the sequel
A left-out, lonely teenage boy
Searching for the answer

(Female voice – clear and innocent)
May he be my life long love
With big and sturdy shoulders
So I can lie and cry on them
A love no tear can smolder

(Male voice)
May she be as in my dreams
With the pureness I desire
A girl who holding out for me
A love that will never tire

(Female voice – strong)
You are the shelter, who shields me from rain

(Male voice – strong)
You are the faithful friend, who finally came

(Female and male together)
Two love-sick doves, now side by side
Through every storm together we’ll ride

(Female)
You are my rock,
Sent from above

(Male)
You bring me hope,
My dream is love

(Male and female together – strong and long)
The answer
Love’s Answer
Is Always… LOVE.

4 thoughts on “When You Have Doubts That God’s In Charge: How I Met Your Grandfather”

  1. Yours is such a great love story, Amber! I can just see you in the cafeteria, feeling stressed and sad, with Dave stepping up to lend a hand and save the day! Thank you for sharing and encouraging us all!

    1. Hi Chrisie….what a gift you are to me as I sit down now to work on the greatest Love story of all…how I met Jesus.
      Thank you for your encouragement, transparency, and modeling through the years as I have watched you patiently raise such loving girls.

  2. Dear future grandchild of Grandma Amber,
    You are so loved and I know this because your grandparents are two of the most generous, approachable, faith filled people I know. I know this because family love and loyalty are two traits so very apparent in the O’Brian family. I know you are loved because God is the center of all things to them and when you enter into their glorious world, you will feel it and live it. How fun to have learned to story of their meeting. I feel blessed to have crossed paths with them…..I love the love story of your grandparents and look forward to the next chapters. I look forward to meeting you some day.
    Peace and love-cc

    1. Oh thank you sweet Cheryl…..your comment is a hug wrapped in bow. The encouragement I needed to keep doing the hard work of writing.
      I would love to read your story …I have heard you verbally tell the story…but hope you write it down and add drawings as you are one of the most creative people I know. so thankful for you in my life. God is good.

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