Ashley And Ody

Joseph and Ashley For those of you that have known me for some time now, you know that I have offered these past 10 years to the Lord completely. You also would know that before that I was a complete compulsive dater. I always had to have someone by my side in order to feel complete. After I met the Lord, he quickly showed me that men and relationships were idols in my life and that I need to pursue him and him alone.

Don't get me wrong, I have not mastered this or have even come close but I am more aware of my deficiencies and I have been continually looking to him for help and guidance in this situation. I didn't kiss dating goodbye completely, as my head was turned towards him and my eyes were fixated on him, my desires began to change.

I no longer wanted just a Christian man but one that relentlessly loved God as I do. I desired a man that when asked to give, gave without any thought. When asked to change a behavior or get rid of anything that would cause harm, didn’t hesitate to obey. Someone that would go where God would lead them no matter the place. Someone that would seek God’s leadership, in every situation, no matter how small it may seem. This commitment led to years of singleness.

I wish I could say I enjoyed every moment of it or that I trusted God in every step or that I never cried about it but that would be a lie. I had wonderful moments with the Lord through it. I also clung to HIM through the times of tears. Yet I continued to hear “wait” or “not that one”. I was starting to believe that maybe a life of singleness was for me. Until a dear and beloved “sista” of mine said that she had never called herself “single” over her lifetime as an independent woman. That statement stuck with me and shortly after that another dear beloved brother said that the desire to be married was placed in me by God that we would trust God would see it to fruition in HIS timing.

This past April the Lord brought to Grace Falls Church a man named Joseph but many knew him as “Ody”. He was a new believer exemplifying strong convictions and a heart to bring as many of his loved ones to our “family” as possible. His joy was so contagious and I found myself wanting to be around him, wanting to talk with him and hear God’s story in his life. The more I got to know him the more I found myself in his answers. I could relate to his convictions and his heart to surrender and be “all in” with the Lord.

We began dating in July. I found myself having a hard time making commitment. Not because I didn't like or trust Joseph but because I was anxious and nervous after not dating for so long. We sought God’s approval and acceptance in this relationship and continue to do so. The thing that has captured me is that Joseph loves me just as I am.

When I am anxious and nervous about the next steps, Joseph loves me and trusts that God will lead us through the process. God’s word has been faithful to guide me through this relationship and I thank HIM for it. We continued to date with the idea of getting married while continuing to look for any sign from God that we should end the relationship.

On October 25, 2014 Joseph asked me to marry him! I said yes. Again, I wish that I could say that I said yes without any nervousness or anxious feelings but again that would be a lie. The beauty of it is that Joseph allowed me to process through everything with God, to go to him and allow him to see me through it. I am truly grateful that God has given me a man that is not afraid of my anxiousness or the time that I needed to process all of this.

These last few months have been hard with the economy in Atlantic County, three casinos have closed and 10,000 people from those casinos are out of work, making hard for non-seasonal jobs to come by. Joseph has been struggling to find consistent work that isn't seasonal. Joseph continued to apply and apply with no response. Seasonally work was given and we were grateful, yet nothing lasting.

Over the Christmas holiday we as a church family read through an advent book that really spoke to Joseph and I about “waiting” and how “God is in the wait” and that “He is working when He is silent”. This comforted Joseph and I to know that He was moving even when we weren't hearing answers from HIM. So we waited and trusted that He would provide.

I visited Florida in October and when I did my eyes began to open and I began to wonder if Joseph would ever consider moving back to Florida? His answer was that he always loved Florida and always felt that he would go back there. So we began praying about Florida and would God have us move there.

As we continued to pray we decided to take a trip to Florida just to see if God would lead us there and see if any answers would come. Boy did they ever. After day one Joseph had two potential jobs and a place to stay until we got married and by the end of the week he had two jobs, a car and a place to stay. Everything fell into place and very rapidly. God answered very quickly and loudly.

Joseph immediately began training for the two jobs and stayed in St. Petersburg while I flew home to Jersey. Again I wish I could say that took all of these swift answers gracefully but again I’d be lying. Yet, again my sweet Joseph allowed the Lord and continues to allow the Lord to lead me through this change and process.

I will be leaving Grace falls at the end of February to move back to St.Petersburg, Florida to be with my fiancé. God has used my time at Grace Falls to help me grow as I helped my sister and my brother in law.

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement through this process! I have grown tremendously and I have become a stronger disciple of Jesus here in Atlantic County.