On the Grand Opening Sunday for the new building at Sienna Ranch Baptist Church, I re-met one of my neighbors, Lori Hudson. Tim Raines, who also lives in our neighborhood, invited her to come. I first met Lori on Trinity Baptist’s last Sunday before we merged with Colony. We had that last service at Tim and Gayle Raines’ house and Lori and her husband Dave came by for the Bible Study time (they were going to another church at the time). About 7 months later Dave passed away from a sudden cardiac arrhythmia. Lori was 5 months pregnant. When all this happened, Tim let me know and asked me to pray for them. So even though I had only met Lori briefly once, when I met her again I already knew quite a bit about her. We talked for a little while before the Grand Opening Service. From this point on, I began to pray about and consider dating Lori.
After that Sunday, I randomly ran into Lori and her son, David, who was 13 months old, as they went for walks around the neighborhood. We would stop and talk for a little bit and a few times I joined them on their walk. For a little over a month, these truly unplanned meetings took place. All this time, I was praying about the possibility of dating Lori. I did not want to enter into this relationship lightly for both Lori and David’s sake. One morning, after I had prayed awhile the night before, I woke up with Jeremiah 29:11 going through my head. That verse reads, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Along with that verse God gave me a peace and assurance that dating Lori, and ultimately marrying her, was His plan for my life. I have longed for that peace about a relationship for a long time now. Every time I have dated someone and prayed about where it might be headed I would get an uncomfortable feeling about the relationship, which fairly quickly led to me breaking up with the girl (unless she beat me to it). This was obviously and overwhelmingly different. I continued to pray about this relationship and how to be sensitive to Lori while she still misses Dave and wants to be honoring to his memory and his family.
While I was praying about dating Lori, God had been working in her heart to encourage her to be open to the possibility of getting married again. She was struggling with how she felt versus what God was telling her to do. She wanted the Lord’s will and wanted to be content in whatever circumstance God placed her, single or remarried. It was only shortly before we met again that she reluctantly moved her wedding ring to her other hand. Over the following weeks, not knowing how I felt, she began to be open to the possibility of getting married again. She felt that if God was going to work this out it was going to take a miracle in her life. She began to pray in very specific ways. She prayed that this person would be a godly man who loved the Lord with all his heart. That he would be accepting not only of her and her son David, but also Dave and his family, the Hudson’s. She prayed that he would be open to keeping Dave’s memory alive and allowing David to know about his dad. She told God that this man would have to make the first move because she wouldn’t. She also prayed that this person would feel led to pursue a relationship with her, knowing what that would entail. Ultimately, as she prayed she knew that the deciding factor that would reveal that this man was from God would be that he would voice that a relationship with her was something that he felt the Lord has placed on his heart.
This all came together as we went from randomly (though I think God probably had something to do with this making it not so random) running into each other in the neighborhood to going on a date. We got frozen yogurt and played bocce ball at Oyster Creek Park. We also talked for a while. Not knowing what she had been praying about, I told her, “I think it’s obvious that I like you and with that I know what all that entails.” Then not knowing what she had prayed about, I began to talk about each of her desires in our conversation. They were all things that I had thought through and prayed about as I considered dating Lori. There were many other aspects of subsequent conversations that were answers to prayer.
Fast forward to December 23rd. We were at my parents’ house celebrating Christmas with my family. While I was showing Lori around their house, she saw the word widow in a framed meaning of my name on the wall in my room. So without telling me what she was thinking she asked me how long it had been in my room. I answered, “As long as I can remember.” Then I got quiet as I read it. I looked at it often growing up, but that night I noticed something for the first time. It has my name, “Chad”, under that is written the meaning of my name, “defender”, and under that the verse Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” After reading it I said, “Wow! It takes on a whole new meaning now doesn’t it?” And she said, “It does.”
This whole time we have seen God at work in our relationship and have grown to love one another and I have grown to love David. This process has not always been easy as Lori has sought to honor Dave’s memory and be respectful of how his family and friends feel. She has sought to grieve in a way that will bring glory to God in the midst of brokenness as well as in the joy of a new relationship. All the while I have desired to walk alongside her to be the one she can lean on, confide in, and trust to be there both in her grief and as we look forward to life together.
I will condense the rest of the story to… after talking with my parents, Lori’s parents, and Dave’s parents, over the last few weeks, on January 5th I asked Lori to marry me and she said, “yes”!