The Wedding Of My Dreams?
In the last issue of Above Rubies we printed wonderful stories of courtships and weddings with a difference. The following testimony did not arrive in time, but I couldn’t resist printing it in this issue. You will laugh and cry!
At a young age, I was encouraged to pray for my spouse. When I was 13 I created a prayer list, complete with specific details about looks, personality, and also protection and spiritual growth for my future husband. I prayed faithfully for him, whoever and wherever he was. I dreamed of marrying at around age 18 or 19. However, by the time I was 25 I began to wonder if my marital status would ever change from that of an old maid!
Being 25 and an eligible bachelorette, many were the matchmakers with good intentions. In fact, I was to meet a preacher boy in November (and live happily ever after). But, while all of this was in the works, a pastor friend of my father’s from Northern Virginia preached a revival meeting in our church the week of October 14th. He knew a single young man in one of his churches, a lobbyist, needing a wife. Just what I needed--another cupid to stir the pot! Kicking and screaming all the way, I sent them home with a picture and an e-mail address to exchange with their “perfect match” and hoped the information would be lost and forgotten. Quite the contrary. A week later, I received an introductory e-mail from Doug.
Now I am in a dilemma. Only four weeks away, the weekend before Thanksgiving, I have a long-time prearranged meeting with the preacher boy. And now I’m supposed to meet Doug the weekend after Thanksgiving. I sent a very cool and disinterested response in hopes of deterring him from the possible relationship. He wasn’t disheartened. He replied with more gusto! Why would God allow me to remain single until I was 25 years of age then suddenly baffle me with two mysteriously open doors to step through?
I prayed like I had not prayed in some time. On one hand, I had a young preacher, saved at a young age and raised up in the model preacher’s home. On the other hand, there was Doug who had grown up in a home where his parents were separated when he was only eight years old. He grew up in a small town public school where drugs, alcohol, and fornication were the norm. Though he was gloriously saved at the age of 18, he soon after headed to a university where again he was surrounded by partying and promiscuity and had no idea he should be growing spiritually. Certainly, the latter was not the kind of man a good little Christian girl should marry!
After two weeks of e-mailing back and forth, our e-mails became more frequent and friendly. I began to see something amazing in this lobbyist from Washington, DC. The Lord had spared him from alcohol, drugs, and lustful living--even before he was convicted by the Holy Spirit to remain pure. And though he had no formal training in the ministry, his experience in the business world, combined with his selfless sacrifices and consistent Christian life as a layman in the church for the past several years were forming him to be the pastor that he would someday become. Certainly my prayers for my future husband had played a part in the explanation of the hedge of protection as well as the spiritual growth of this man. My feet were definitely taking steps towards the open door on the east coast.
The Friday before Thanksgiving was upon me, and my bewildered heart was in agony! God was preparing me for a lesson in absolute trust and dependence upon him. After meeting with the first suitor, God made it abundantly clear that he was not “the one.” A few days later, I boarded a United jet Doug-bound. We spent five days together--chaperoned of course. By the time I headed home, God had confirmed in my heart that this was the man.
But we were 1,100 miles apart. E-mailing became our lifeline. A week after I returned, Doug unofficially informed me that I would be marrying him! He asked my father for my hand in marriage December 29th, and we were officially engaged--stunning miracle diamond ring and all! We celebrated by taking some friends and family bowling, during which time I landed square on my backside while trying to impress my future husband with my bowling skills, of which I had none. Fortunately, he didn’t ask me to return the ring.
We set a date for March 23rd--four days after my 26th birthday. We spent a total of 12 days together before we were married! Fortunately we had cell phones with free phone-to-phone minutes available to us.
The miraculous provisions in preparation for our wedding would fill chapters of a book. With our lack of time and funds, God intervened and allowed for all the necessities to provide a gorgeous ceremony. On Wednesday, March 20th, the day after my birthday, I met my mother-in-law for the first time. She flew in early to begin the process of making our cake. Doug arrived on Thursday, followed by many more friends and family members on Friday, the rehearsal day.
Our rehearsal was wonderful! Everything was perfect. It was the ideal start to the wedding of my dreams. I worked for a large, privately owned photography company and a good friend was able to provide professional photographs, which had been another dream of mine. He was present for our rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. He captured marvelous candids at just the right moments including one of me quickly and secretly, or so I thought, giving my honey an “I love you” sign from across the room. If everything thus far had been this good, I couldn’t wait for the real event!
The wedding was scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday. Our pre-wedding schedule was packed--breakfast with all “the girls” at a 50s diner at 7:30, hair appointment at 9, bridal party preparation at 10, pictures at 11. I woke up to find my mother and sisters suffering from a minor case of the flu, but nothing to be alarmed by. Shortly after that rude awakening, I received a phone call from the groom, who was so weak and ill that he could barely talk with me. He was suffering from a major case of the same flu and was now dehydrated and vomiting at the speed of light.
I called off the breakfast plans. Around 8:30, I was on my way to my hair appointment when my mother-in-law called to inform me that the love of my life was in the ER. I called off the hair appointment and made a b-line for the hospital. Expecting to find him dehydrated and weak from the illness, I was shocked to walk in to his emergency room, only four hours before our scheduled ceremony, to find him basically unconscious and unaware that I was in the room with him. My strong and mighty protector was lying in a bed unable to move or speak.
You can imagine the flood of tears and the panic as I stood at his side. We had 350 guests from all over the nation anticipating our union in only a few hours. Could we possibly postpone our plans until tomorrow? Next week? I hardly think so.
After four units of saline to rehydrate him and several doses of anti-nausea medication, the doctor released him just after noon. He could barely walk. It was countdown time. We had less than an hour before guests would begin arriving. Doug was stable but unable to stand or carry on a conversation. I was hardly the picture of a happy bride with my bloodshot eyes, little makeup, no up-do, and void of the giddy happiness of a bride on her wedding day. At 1 o’clock when Pachelbel's Canon in D should have been playing, my father was making an announcement to the well-wishers that they were all invited to our reception while the groom convalesced. In a couple of hours, we would reassess the situation. While the wedding party and friends and family enjoyed a lovely reception and chatted pitifully about the turn of the events for the unlucky couple, the bride sobbed as the groom recovered.
By 3 o’clock, Doug felt strong enough to endure the ceremony. The call was made to the reception party that the wedding would commence at 4 p.m. The curling irons, hairspray, and makeup flew erratically as my personal attendant and bridesmaids rushed to cover the bloodshot eyes and tearstained cheeks! Was this really happening? After all of this kafuffle, was my wedding actually taking place? Was Doug going to survive the ceremony? With a three-hour delay, would anyone even return? I had my doubts. But we made ready. Moments before the ceremony began, someone announced to me that the auditorium was full. All but two of the original attendees returned for the wedding!
The candles were lit, the close relatives seated, the groomsmen, pastor, and groom stood on the platform as the bridesmaids started down the aisle. The wedding march began. The doors opened, and my father escorted me to the front of the auditorium. All eyes were on me as my eyes were on Doug, with sunken eyes, pale face and ashen lips. Could he last the ceremony? The music stopped. I was standing in front of my husband. He walked down the steps, took my arm, and we bowed for prayer. I felt him swaying as he motioned for the front row to clear out--and not a moment too soon. As the prayer closed and another song began, the groom lay unconscious once again on the front row. A flurry of activity followed. The music continued, repetitiously now. The crowd sat in shocked silence. I stood in tears of disbelief.
Doug’s eyes flittered open once more. I was overcome by laughter as coherence slowly repossessed him. The crowd soon joined me in a loud roar of laughter and then applause as they wheeled in the wheelchair for the ailing groom to finish the ceremony. Unbelievably, he was able to endure to the end. He even walked to the unity candle and then to the kneeling bench as we prayed.
But the remainder of the ceremony was not without incident. The ring bearer was forced to leave through a side door on the platform, shortly followed by the best man. Both, with the same flu. We said our final “I do’s” and were pronounced “man and wife.” Doug stood from his wheelchair and performed a real marriage altar kiss on the blushing bride, to which the crowd erupted in exuberant applause! We were introduced to the crowd as Mr. & Mrs. Doug Robertson. The groom fell back into his chair on wheels, and we were escorted from the room with continued enthusiastic cheers, sighs of relief, and laughter from the happy onlookers. We greeted the crowd for 45 minutes as I stood in complete exhaustion and the groom sat in his chair, head spinning.
When he could finally handle the well-wishers no longer, he was helped across the parking lot to the parsonage where he crashed until I was able to close up shop and switch from radiant bride to nursemaid attire. After a bowl of chicken noodle soup, he once again drifted into a fitful sleep. I chose to take my ailing groom to a quiet hotel room a few blocks from home to give him an opportunity to sleep in peace and recover as quickly as possible. A friend helped me get him to the room where he crashed as quickly as he could and slept soundly the rest of the night while I suffered from a migraine, the result of hours of sobbing, alone and in disbelief at the events of the day.
After catching a few sporadic moments of sleep in the chair in the room, I awoke early and showered, hoping to be revived by some hot water on my face. Soon after, I was encouraged to take up residence in the hospital with my still very dehydrated husband. Four hours and four bags of fluid later, he was released, this time with a bit more color and coherence. The church held a “re-reception” for us after the evening service, following which we were finally able to resume our planned honeymoon.
At the end of the week, we moved to Falls Church, Virginia. The following Sunday, we joined the church in Northern Virginia where the pastor responsible for this wedding would train my husband for the ministry and where we served for four years. In September of 2006, the Lord allowed us to start a church on the west side of Omaha, Nebraska. God continues to do great things and prove himself mighty as we serve him together.
Despite a catastrophic wedding day or not, God is good. He is a loving God and gives grace when we need it. He answered my prayers of nearly 20 years for my husband. In fact, He gave me abundantly above all that I could ask or think. There is hardly a day that passes that I do not thank God for making me such a blessed wife.
Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Doug and Jaime’s blessings are Kent (5) and Arielle (3).