Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Guy from Africa, A Girl from Arkansas and a Miracle :: Hearts at Home

"Have you experienced any miracles in your life?" is today's Third Thursday Thought.

Have I experienced any miracles?  Well, it all depends on your definitions.

Merriam-Webster defines 'miracle' as "an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs."  Calling my experience 'miraculous' all depends on if you believe they were extraordinary events or that God intervened.  I'll tell you the story and let you decide.

In the spring of 1993 there was an eighteen-year old guy living in Zimbabwe, Africa.  Though an American, he grew up in Asia and Africa and only visited the States when his missionary parents came 'home' on furlough.

That spring the young man discussed college choices for the fall with his parents.  Other American missionaries who lived nearby strongly recommended a small Southern Baptist university in rural Arkansas.  After learning the university offered more scholarship money for missionary kids than any other school, the young man decided to enroll there.

His first visit to the university's campus came in the fall of 1993 when his parents settled him in his dorm room before freshman orientation.

In that same spring an eighteen-year old girl living in northeast Arkansas discussed college choices for the fall with her parents.  Her options seemed limitless:  a local community college, at least 5 different state universities (with full scholarships), a Christian university in Florida, or a small Southern Baptist university about three hours from her home in Arkansas.

The young lady eventually decided to attend the small rural Southern Baptist school.  When her parents dropped her off for freshman orientation she felt like she had returned home.  As a young child the girl had lived in an apartment on the same campus while her parents earned their degrees.  She had visited classes with them during school vacations, attended student movie nights, and listened for the chapel bells to know when her parents were coming home. 

Sometime during those first couple of chaotic weeks as freshmen the boy from Africa and the girl from Arkansas met.  Neither one knew their meeting would change their lives.  Neither one would even remember the meeting!

Fortunately they fell into the same group of friends and 'hung out' together.  But were just friends.

Friends that is until the summer of 1996 when both stayed for summer school while most of their friends went home.  I'll spare you the sappy details and just say that by the end of the summer our young man and young lady were dating and, a week after graduating from the small university, they married.

That's my story, but was it a miracle?

Was it a miracle that the other American missionaries just happened to have attended and sent their children to the Arkansas university?

Was it a miracle that the Arkansas university offered the best scholarships to missionary kids of all the other Southern Baptist schools that year?

Was it a miracle that the girl chose to return to the Southern Baptist school instead of attending a free state school?

Was it a miracle that they both decided to attend summer school?

The Boy and the Girl now with their 3 boys and 1 girl!

By Merriam-Webster's definition there was no 'extraordinary event' but there were a lot of little nudges from God as he divinely intervened to cause a boy from Africa and a girl from Arkansas to meet, fall in love and get married.

So, yes, I've experienced a miracle.  Have you?


Rachel said...

What a sweet story! And it makes me miss Africa too. :)

dfulkman said...

Beautiful story, beautifully written!

Alissa:Adventurer said...

Wow! I never knew that your husband grew up overseas!

That is a totally awesome story though :) and I don't know about others, but I feel like you don't have to spare us the details :):) in fact, bring em on!

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Thanks Rachel! Remind me again when and why you were in Africa? The ol' mommy brain is rearing it's forgetful head.

Thanks dfulkman!! I treasure your encouraging words.

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Alissa, Joel was born in Indonesia, moved to Zimbabwe at 13 years old and came to the States at 18 for college.

You want details? LOL! Well we spent the summer hanging out and "just friends." I knew I wanted to be his girlfriend but he took a little convincing for the idea. To this day he says I schemed on him. Yeah, I sorta did! :) By the end of the summer we were holding hands. He went to my grandparents' house with me for Thanksgiving and we had "the talk." We each went to our parents' homes for Christmas and prayed if it was God's will for us to get married. My prayers were more along the lines of "please God make him say yes!!!" In January we got engaged. In May, exactly one week after graduation, we got married. We'll celebrate our 14th anniversary next month! My how time flies!!

For all you single girls reading, I feel I should point out that I had a whole whopping 3 dates before Joel and I started dating. Also, our courtship happened really fast - but we had been friends for 3 years. And last but not least, my hubby is the only man I've kissed - a fact that I've never regretted!!! :)

Ann said...

I love this story! I look at ours as a miracle in pretty much the same way. God definitely "pulled the strings" to get us together, with OBU at the center of it.

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Thanks Ann. I know our Ouachita story isn't unique but it is fun and special to us. Someone ought to collect all those OBU marriage stories out there and put them in a book.

Jill said...

I love this story, Stephanie!

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Thanks, Jill! It's a fun story to tell. :)

Alissa:Adventurer said...

So you knew he was for you, but how did you go about this scheming business? Haha.

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Alissa, you are too funny! The simplest way to describe it is that I made myself available (and NOT in a bad girl kinda way!). I invited him over a few times for supper and videos (back when we used .gasp. VCRs!). Every day I would take the mail from my campus job to the on campus post office and would stop by his campus job (in the same building) and say hi. We went to the same church so that made Sundays easy to see him. Basically everywhere the poor boy turned I was there - but not it a scary stalkerish way. lol. I'm not saying I recommend my methods. Just that they worked for me. :D

Mandy said...

Love your story! Mine to my husband is definitely a miracle (and is every day!)... I was a pastor's kid, never going to be in ministry. he was a single guy never going to marry. We met, got married, and we were never going to have kids. Almost 9 years later, we're in full-time ministry with two little ones. Never say never to God! =)

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Mandy, you are so right! Never say never to God!! (BTW, I'm also a PK. Yep, a PK married an MK.)

Alicia said...

Love your miracle, Stephanie! And the four sweet miracles that have come from your union :) God placed my husband next to me in the fifth grade.. never regretted finding him young! All the more years to savor together :)

Thanks for stopping by my blog today, too. So nice to "meet you."

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

Thanks Alicia! 5th grade, wow!! I thought marrying at 22 was young. We thought we were so grown back then. LOL! My husband and I have done a lot of growing up together in the last 14 years. :)

Wherever HE Leads We'll Go said...

Even though I already knew this story, I loved reading it! God knew what He was doing! : )

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