God-Ordained

1. I had heard of Dustin through my sweet friend, Laura. He’s like a brother to her, and she spoke VERY highly of him. I met him BRIEFLY at a conference, but wouldn’t have been able to pick him out in a crowd.

2. Officially met Dustin on New Year’s Eve at a camp reunion. We enjoyed a 2 hour conversation in the kitchen. Encouraging, fun, drank lots of DP, talked with Joey, etc. I learned that he was headed out to Southern in a few days. We had a long conversation about teaching, the IMB, doctrine, and we laughed and talked and laughed and talked. I admired him, respected him, but didn’t think much of it, because he was going to Southern and I was still pretty guarded and a little overwhelmed at the time because I was about to start a new job. For all I knew, I would never see this super guy again.

3. So, time tick-tocked by and I got settled into my very sanctifying new job as a 5th grade teacher. It was hard. My friend Laura encouraged me by sending me to our friend Eron’s website where he discussed why Christians should not hate their jobs. I printed it and referred to it OFTEN. One day, I was looking at this much-needed post… again and I looked at his links. Saw my pal Blake had a blog and checked it out. Looked at his links. One caught my eye,  so I hit the link and found Dustin’s website. I decided to shoot him an e-mail (but I did not initiate, for the record) to see if he ever ran into my friend Kevin and see how he was doing at school.

4. So, on February 11, Dustin awakes to find a “random” e-mail in his inbox.

5. Well, Dustin e-mailed me back. Having been a teacher, he was extremely encouraging about my new job. I wrote back. He wrote back. We kept corresponding and visiting about everything from families to beliefs to favorite brands of ice cream. He was a leader, guiding the conversations. I could feel myself being simultaneously “girly” (oh, wow, an e-mail from Dustin!) and guarded (I can’t believe I’m letting myself enter into a close friendship with a BOY, there is a “risk” of getting hurt and is it smart to get close to a guy, that may very well be someone ELSE’S husband). I started praying about all of these emotions in my heart and my respect and admiration for him was growing constantly and quickly. What is up with these desires, I wondered. If he was having a bad day, I FELT it. I wanted to pray for him and encourage him. I wasn’t wrapped up with the idea of love, for the sake of love, but I was just crazy about HIM.

6. Well, sure enough Dustin wrote and basically said that the more he knows me, the more he wants to know me, and he asked, very appropriately, if I would mind if he called me. After my heart started beating again, I reminded myself that this was a wise move on his part. You can only know so much about a person through e-mail, and we do live in different states, after all. I decided this was more wise than scary, because he wasn’t just calling to shoot the breeze, but I knew it was with intention and that he wasn’t the type that just called girls all the time. Although I knew Dustin was guarding my heart with his words and actions, I also begged the Lord would guard my heart, because I already felt myself going crazy about this guy. I didn’t want to hurt him or get hurt. It seemed “risky” but God is IN CONTROL and I knew my security was IN CHRIST. I had learned that the hard way, but it was a lesson I wanted to remember now more than ever.

7. Dustin had a wedding to attend, and he had a layover just minutes from my casa! I had been sick that week and my boss had told me to go ahead and take off Friday, just in case. Friday was the day he was coming through town and I woke up feeling much better (providential?). Dustin had called and we had previously joked about me bringing lunch up there so we could at least hang out a little in person, but now that I was home, it was actually a possibility. I brought Taco Bell and well, he had forgotten his cell phone, so needless to say, it was an adventure finding him at the airport. When we met up, we had about 15 minutes before he had to board. We inhaled our food and talk, talk, talked. He gave me a book (his prof. wrote it!) and a card in which I was instructed not to open until I got home. He basically explained how he looked forward to getting to know me more….

8. Fast forward to March 8th. Dustin calls and then basically explained how even though everything had been so quick, we had talked enough to know that the non-negotiable things (things you should break up over if you disagree) we agreed on, that he’d been praying about it, seeking counsel, and he said many other things (I remember them all, and they are in my journal, but I don’t want to make this more posts than it already is!), different reasons he really liked me, and asked if I would be interested in entering into a courtship with the intention and goal of marriage. We talked about how he didn’t know my dad yet, but he was certainly willing to talk to him and little did I know, he wrote my dad an e-mail later that night asking for permission, counsel, blessing, etc.

9. Dustin came in town for his Spring Break and we had a blast hanging out, meeting families, getting to know each other in PERSON, not just a voice in the phone or print on a screen! I think we both had been a little nervous about this week, knowing it was our first real time to hang out in person since expressing our feelings and wondering if we would really click, if it would be awkward, etc. It was great!

10. Eventually… with many details in between, we realized that we were looking at a really LONG courtship (I’m a teacher, year-long commitment, he was in seminary) or a really short one. We analyzed it from every angle, seeking the counsel of our family, friends, elders, etc. It was a very weighty decision (to be engaged early summer, marry late summer, move), but after MUCH prayer and discussion, (Dustin leading, guiding, and setting the pace of these discussions) we both wholeheartedly agreed that this was a wise decision in our situation. We knew there was much to learn about each other, having barely been in the same town, but we knew enough to know that we wanted to marry and prayed for wisdom as we stepped forward to prepare.

11. All this said, we obviously weren’t OFFICIALLY engaged yet. He had plans to come to our city for the summer, so I knew we’d get engaged pretty soon after he got here, but there had been no talk of a ring. When he got here, I was winding up the school year and he was a huge help. The day before the last day of school was Wednesday, May 24th. Dustin had said that while I was at work he was going to go to his hometown to drop off some things with his family and take care of some things. He was being so vague, I started getting the idea he was picking up a ring! He kept saying that we were going to have a Dustin/Jamie day soon (cell phones off, no schedule, not 5th graders!) so I figured when he got the ring and came back in town, he’d propose. Plus, he was going to talk to drive to my parents’ house on the way out of town to have “the talk” with my dad, asking for my hand in marriage. He was so open and honest with me about the when’s and what’s (it went great) of that visit, I thought there was surely no way to surprise me. Fine by me! I was just pumped about everything… we already had a date. The Lord had been so gracious. So, Dustin heads to my parents and then to his hometown and I head to my job, ALSO joyful that I was finally at the end of the sanctifying new job I mentioned earlier. :) So, I was working away that day when he was headed out of town and he called to see how my day was going and I asked if he had a nice drive. I was working later than I anticipated. He thought I’d be home around 2:00 (early dismissal) but I worked until 5. He kept calling to see how I was doing, and encouraged me to take it easy and go home and get some rest.

12. Finally, I did head home. I had a huge stack of CUM folders to work on and my hands were full when I walked up to the door and saw a note. Nothing fancy, just a folded sheet of computer paper. I grabbed it and walked in and put my stuff down. What? There was a white rose on the counter. I knew that Dustin had access to my house and I figured he left if before he went out of town. How sweet! I opened my note and it said that there was a gift for me on the counter and more in my room. So, of course, I was flipping out because that was really thoughtful. More roses from Dustin in my room. What a guy! =) I was grabbing my cell phone about to call him and say thanks, while walking to my room.

13. But… what’s going on? I heard music, I saw rose petals as I came to my door that was cracked open. I saw candlelight. Surely he didn’t leave candles burning when he went out of town! So, my heart’s beating faster and I am starting to figure out that something is definitely up. There’s Dustin! All dressed up, with more flowers and a Bible next to him.

14. I flipped out at first just for the mere fact he was there. I thought you were at your hometown! You’re here! You’re here! Hugs. Laughter. Funny story about how he’d been there since 2 and the candles had definitely been burning for awhile!

15. The sweet stuff: So, Dustin says he can finally tell me his story he’d been saving all this time. Apparently when we met (see #2 in this story) he was interested and went home and prayed and asked the Lord that if he could have his choice in who he could marry, he wanted to marry me. (Wow.. humbling even to write, I’m so undeserving) He was going to seminary, however, and we were in two different states and he barely knew me enough to pursue. So, he didn’t know what to do, but just brought his desire before the Lord. I didn’t think I’d see him again and had NO CLUE all he was thinking from the start. He says that it one of the best days ever to see an e-mail from me in his inbox that February day. He finally was able to say how he loved me, read from Ephesians 5, got done on his knee, said some really amazing things (girls never tell that part so I guess I won’t either) and proposed! Also.. I got to finally give him a card I had started for him since the airport adventure. I had been adding to it ever since, so it read like a journal. We later saw Anna Kate, who was flipping out over my “gorgeous” (how adorable! a 3 year old who says gorgeous) ring and how she got to wear a pretty white dress at our wedding! Then, we headed to Olive Garden (my fav!) and later, back to the house, where Dustin helped with my cum folders. He came to school the next day and met my kiddos, who loved the fact that I was engaged and they just LOVED Dustin.

16. The summer has been flying. Guest list, registering, counseling, oh my. It’s been nuts, but we are learning so much and thrilled.

The rest is history (in the making)

Other things have been “confirming” but we really trace God’s wise, faithful, and Sovereign hand in our lives and enjoy each other so much.

Pre-Wedding Thoughts

Dustin and I are thrilled that we are almost 3 days out. I sit here on the floor of my empty room and kind of reflect as yet another season comes to an end. Usually you just jump from season to season, or in my case, from house to house (I’ve been somewhat of a nomad these last few years), but this one brings HUGE change. We were talking about how if, in fact, your ministry/relationship with your spouse should come even before your children, then this is indeed the second most important relationship in your life (if you are a Christian). This logically makes your wedding day definitely in the running for the second most IMPORTANT day of your life, second only to conversion. When all of the hustle and bustle of wedding planning blows by (some girls live for this stuff, but it’s just not quite my thing, though much of it is a blast), you sit and go… wow, this is HUGE. Insecurities may even attack if you really stop long enough to examine the weightiness of it all. How on earth are we, selfish beings, going to love and serve the other person, according to our Biblical roles, even on days when life HITS! (Grace and diligent obedience, that’s how…) So, I’m trying to keep this in my thinking. Right now, we are on top of the world!!! Three days until so many things…. so much to look forward to! We are so stinkin’ in love that we could just stare at each other for a year and call it the best year of our lives. :) But… we know ourselves to be human, people, sinners, REAL. And I can’t help but wonder how we will react when marriage is not so “giddy” (for lack of better terms). When the cake is gone and the honeymoon is over…

Sweet Dustin and I had a great conversation about this tonight. Your vows aren’t something to take lightly. They are vows… solemn, serious, permanent, binding. Right? May the Lord give us grace to think HARD about what we are about to do. Have a wedding? Yes and no. That will come and go… rather quickly it seems. Have a honeymoon? Sounds great, but it’ll be over in a week. Do life together? Yup. Pray for us that the Lord would give us grace to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit to one another, to pray for and with each other, to love, to laugh, to hold, to mess up together, to confess sin, to forgive, to learn, to grow, to live. We are extremely excited. I’m just one of those people that when I close one chapter of life, I look back and think, think, think. I did that at the end of teaching last year – regretting, examining, analyzing, wondering. I look back and ahead tonight, while looking around my empty little room and sitting on the floor since our desk is at my parents’… and think about how much the Lord has done! How I deserved wrath and on a smaller scale, I deserved God to somehow give up on me during faithless seasons, but He remained faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. He has healed, helped, provided for, taught me… He has loved me with an everlasting love. He has given me such rich friendships, some of which we enjoyed even tonight! He has given health, joy, food, jobs… He has given Himself.

I just feel like I’m so ungrateful. Ever feel like that? Like a spoiled American somewhat like the 9 lepers who “forgot” to go back and thank the Lord who so graciously healed them. I remember valleys. I remember praying for, waiting for certain things. Hoping in the unseen. Or… not hoping. Losing hope. Forgetting. Scripture is so full of this mandate to remember. To stop in your tracks and choose to remember what God has done.

I’m crazy in love with Dustin, my “almost husband”… but I want to distinguish between the “just giddy” part of it (which there’s no way around.. it’s just so stinkin’ fun right now) and the real, lasting, joy that springs first from knowing and being known by the Father and only then will lead to godly love within our marriage.

I don’t know if I’m making sense. I haven’t slept much. Not that there’s anything to be pumped about…

Please pray for us as we make VOWS. Serious vows. Not just giddy vows. Although this was a “whirlwind romance” (as a lady I know recently called it), we wanted all along to not be flippant about it. American dating culture says do what feels good.. if it doesn’t work out, break up, you can play with people’s hearts, give your heart (and purity) to whoever, whenever, without any responsibilities, but we wanted so much to “figure out” how to do it right. Don’t think we magically did that. But just hear my scattered thoughts and as you contemplate the seriousness of marriage, do keep us in your prayers as we approach this exciting yet very serious day. Not to sound cliche, but it’s really not about us. It’s just not. Life. Marriage. It just doesn’t revolve around us. And it’s wonderful and sanctifying and as a dear friend told me, every bit as much wonderful as sanctifying/hard, but also every bit as much sanctifying as wonderful.

Jamie and Dustin2

Scattered Thoughts – a final pre-marriage post

What a day! We are now earning HUGE checkmarks (thank you, Mrs. Peek) on the to-do list. Programs, check. Packed, check. Stuff moved to my parents’ house. Fun, too. We went to a sweet little princess party for Anna Kate and then Dustin and I went out with Michael and Julie to a fun Mexican food hole-in-the-wall place that was yummy. We had a blast!

Dustin and I are thrilled that we are almost (technically here in a few minutes) 3 days out. I sit here on the floor of my empty room at the Stones’ and kind of reflect as yet another season comes to an end. Usually you just jump from season to season, or in my case, from house to house (I’ve been somewhat of a nomad these last few years), but this one brings HUGE change. We were talking about how if, in fact, your ministry/relationship with your spouse should come even before your children, then this is indeed the second most important relationship in your life (if you are a Christian). This logically makes your wedding day definitely in the running for the second most IMPORTANT day of your life, second only to conversion. When all of the hustle and bustle of wedding planning blows by (some girls live for this stuff, but it’s just not quite my thing, though much of it is a blast), you sit and go… wow, this is HUGE. Insecurities may even attack if you really stop long enough to examine the weightiness of it all. How on earth are we, selfish beings, going to love and serve the other person, according to our Biblical roles, even on days when life HITS! (Grace and diligent obedience, that’s how…) So, I’m trying to keep this in my thinking. Right now, we are on top of the world!!! Three days until so many things…. so much to look forward to! We are so stinkin’ in love that we could just stare at each other for a year and call it the best year of our lives. :) But… we know ourselves to be human, people, sinners, REAL. And I can’t help but wonder how we will react when marriage is not so “giddy” (for lack of better terms). When the cake is gone and the honeymoon is over…

Sweet Dustin and I had a great conversation about this tonight. Your vows aren’t something to take lightly. They are vows… solemn, serious, permanent, binding. Right? May the Lord give us grace to think HARD about what we are about to do. Have a wedding? Yes and no. That will come and go… rather quickly it seems. Have a honeymoon? Sounds great, but it’ll be over in a week. Do life together? Yup. Pray for us that the Lord would give us grace to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit to one another, to pray for and with each other, to love, to laugh, to hold, to mess up together, to confess sin, to forgive, to learn, to grow, to live. We are extremely excited. I’m just one of those people that when I close one chapter of life, I look back and think, think, think. I did that at the end of teaching last year – regretting, examining, analyzing, wondering. I look back and ahead tonight, while looking around my empty little room and sitting on the floor since our desk is at my parents’… and think about how much the Lord has done! How I deserved wrath and on a smaller scale, I deserved God to somehow give up on me during faithless seasons, but He remained faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. He has healed, helped, provided for, taught me… He has loved me with an everlasting love. He has given me such rich friendships, some of which we enjoyed even tonight! He has given health, joy, food, jobs… He has given Himself.

I just feel like I’m so ungrateful. Ever feel like that? Like a spoiled American somewhat like the 9 lepers who “forgot” to go back and thank the Lord who so graciously healed them. I remember valleys. I remember praying for, waiting for certain things. Hoping in the unseen. Or… not hoping. Losing hope. Forgetting. Scripture is so full of this mandate to remember. To stop in your tracks and choose to remember what God has done.

I’m crazy in love with Dustin Butts, my “almost husband”… but I want to distinguish between the “just giddy” part of it (which there’s no way around.. it’s just so stinkin’ fun right now) and the real, lasting, joy that springs first from knowing and being known by the Father and only then will lead to godly love within our marriage.

I don’t know if I’m making sense. I haven’t slept much. Not that there’s anything to be pumped about…

To you, my family and friends, most of you that read this (unless you just stumble upon this from random links) are dear friends. Please pray for us as we make VOWS. Serious vows. Not just giddy vows. Although this was a “whirlwind romance” (as a lady I know recently called it), we wanted all along to not be flippant about it. American dating culture says do what feels good.. if it doesn’t work out, break up, you can play with people’s hearts, give your heart (and purity) to whoever, whenever, without any responsibilities, but we wanted so much to “figure out” how to do it right. Don’t think we magically did that. But just hear my scattered thoughts and as you contemplate the seriousness of marriage, do keep us in your prayers as we approach this exciting yet very serious day. Not to sound cliche, but it’s really not about us. It’s just not. Life. Marriage. It just doesn’t revolve around us. And it’s wonderful and sanctifying and as a dear friend told me, every bit as much wonderful as sanctfiying/hard, but also every bit as much sanctifying as wonderful.

Anyway. See you… soon, I hope! :)