I met J.E a few years ago and she has a sparkle that is hard to resist. She preaches so much grace, but with a firmness and faithfulness that calls you deeper and higher. I've followed her sweet family for years since then and have been so inspired by the love she and her husband fight so hard for. I love her redemption story and I really think you will too!
Who knew that the boy next door would become the husband under my roof? We were just teens when we met. Middle schoolers to be exact. Then his family moved next door our junior year of high school. I had no idea what God was setting up, but He was definitely setting up our forever. The year before a man had attempted to kidnap me from a bus stop so my mom asked my then friend next door to take me to school with him. And then it started. He would throw rocks at my window at night and I would shimmy down the drain pipe to see him, even though we were both in relationships. We would hangout his bedroom and watch The Goonies nightly and be completely ungodly together. A truth that would be outed to our parents during our wedding. We were totally not the saved teen example we could have been, but still I knew that something was happening,
I would love to say that we became high school sweet hearts and the rest was history. But there was much in the middle. I was totally in love by senior year, but I was too chicken to say anything so I went off to college, and he went into the workforce. Once I finally got the courage I wrote him an “I love you” letter and he never responded (he later told me, he knew his life was too much of a mess to love me right). I would see him every time I came home from college and we just never brought this said letter up. One summer though, I came by to see him and his mom was there alone. She took it upon herself to inform me that he said that the only one he would ever marry………was me. I was shocked!
Unfortunately, that is still not where our forever began. We didn’t see each other for around two years. We were both living completely sinful lives in contradiction to the truth we both knew. Then I see a mutual friend in a theatre. She informs me that my “future husband” was in a drunk driving accident (where his best friend died) that landed him in jail. And so, forever began. I fell onto the nasty floor of that theatre in tears at the thought that I would never have him. But then one phone call changed everything. I called his mom to get all the info, and he was there. He was there! On a Saturday, we went out to dinner, where he sat across the table, looked me in the eyes and said, “You are going to leave your boyfriend, and we are going to get married.” And I said, with eyes wide open, “OK!” That night I called my then boyfriend (I would not recommend) and broke up with him. I was finally getting everything I wanted. And then Monday came!
The bliss of him not being imprisoned was short lived. The District Attorney was pressing charges and the hearing was about to take place. Thirteen months. He was gone again. Hardest thirteen months of both our lives. We were both on the lamb from God, completely lost, broken, total train wrecks. And don’t you know, that’s usually where God grooms us for the rescue. At the end of thirteen months, he came home, we moved in together (I also do not recommend shacking up), and 5 months later we were hitched! We finally made it to the alter! But we still had a long way to go. God began to woo us together. We both came back to Christ and began a journey we didn’t even know we were good enough to go on. But GOD! He healed our broken parts, together. He used our relationship as a model for His love and mercy. He showed us His grace and His mercies as He built in us hearts that wanted to chase Jesus. We became two completely different people, together. All that Jesus showed us, we wanted to show each other. The more we chased Jesus the more joy we found in “US”.
In our marriage I always say, “God preserved us in our foolishness for the plan He had for us in our righteousness.” The Lord was planting seeds for eternity not just for our love story.
12 years into our marriage, we now have 5 kids, have planted churches, been on mission, served several ministries, and are hungry for so much more. We grow daily in our love for each other and refuse to be anything less than number one to each other. All those years apart taught us that our sin is a separator, but our God is a mender of things who brings us together in His righteousness that He makes our own.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30 ESV
-J. E. Berry