Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Testimony Tuesday- Kara!

Waiting, Why?
 You have heard the saying, “Good things come to those who wait.” This is so true in so many different ways. Whether you’re waiting for the day you will graduate from high school or college, being patient for your meal you just ordered at your favorite restaurant, a relative who is in the military to come home soon, Christmas morning and opening of gifts, waiting for the “right one” to come along, hoping the person you’re dating will ask you to marry them soon, having children when you’re married, finding that perfect “job,” etc…, most can relate to these and other events in life.  For many women today, our struggle happens to be in the area of waiting for our “Mr. Right” to come along and after we meet him, waiting for our lives to begin together. But what does it mean to really wait and by that I mean, wait on God for what He will do in our lives?  It also comes down to: Why Wait at all?
In my own life, I can truly say “waiting” on God for my Mr. Right was what I did. Looking back, I am so thankful I waited.  In order to tell you about God’s teaching me to wait in my own life, I have to give a lot of the credit to my own mother.  She is a perfect example of someone who waited for her Mr. Right and God honored her in every way as a result. My mother and father both prayed to receive Christ as their Savior when they were in their early 20s—my mother was 18 years of age and my dad was 20. They met soon after they were both saved.  My mom’s parents always wanted her to marry someone with money and prestige.  Of course, my grandparents had good intentions.  My grandfather was a pharmacist and always plenty of money to provide for his family. He naturally wanted the best for his daughter’s future.  One of the ideas he had was my mom should possibly marry a doctor or someone like that with plenty of money.  My mother was nurse—what a perfect combination.  But life is not always what one thinks it will turn out to be.
 At that time, my dad was up and coming in the ministry.  He was called to doing the work of the Lord right after he was saved.  He loved being about God’s business.  But he was someone who didn’t have a lot of money.  In fact, he lived on faith support—praying, seeking God for His provision for everything.  Faith support is not easy but my dad was willing to do that in order to be in the ministry.  On another note, he also had an eye for my mom.  With both of them in the same city, they were able to hang out as friends, go to bible studies together, etc… Pretty soon after they got to know each other, my dad felt very serious about my mom and vice versa.  So he went to ask my grandfather if he could marry her.  My grandfather, realizing that my dad didn’t have any money of his own, was concerned for his daughter’s future. He told my dad that he would get back to him about that decision.  Well, my dad waited for my grandfather’s answer but it never came.  My dad realized that it was not the right time to marry my mom.   So he told her it probably was best that they not date anymore.  He also said they should both be free to date other people.  By this time my mom and dad were in their 20’s.  They could have eloped if they really wanted to.  But they knew if they did, they would be out from under the will of God for their lives.  My mom didn’t want to be against her parents even if she was of age to make her own decisions.  She decided on her own to wait—wait for God’s will for her life.  My dad also waited.  When I say they waited, they didn’t just sit around and do nothing.  They went about their lives and dated other people. 
A year or two went by and my dad felt it was time to pop the question again to my grandfather.  What do you think my grandfather said?  My dad got the same answer, “Let me get back to you about that.”  Even though my grandparents weren’t saying “yes” or “no” to their relationship and possible marriage, my dad knew that if my grandfather was not “for it”, then God was not “for it” either.  From this one can see that both my mom and dad were so yielded to God’s authority.  Was God finished with them yet? No way!!  My mom and dad tried to date again but felt they just couldn’t.  They knew they loved each other too much and couldn’t just go on dating.  It was either marriage or no marriage for them.  So they continued to date other people and go about their daily lives.  Another couple of years went by.  I am here to tell you it was a total of 7 years they waited for each other.  It reminds me of the story in the Bible of Jacob who loved Rachel and worked 7 years for her “because of his love for her.” 
After a long time of waiting, my dad asked my grandfather a third time for his daughter’s hand in marriage.  But my dad had prayed to the Lord, “Lord if her dad says the same thing again and doesn’t give me a “yes” or “no” answer, I am not going to go back to him anymore.  I will give her up to You God.”  When he asked my grandfather, he told my dad he would give him a call. My grandfather also said he needed to think it over.  My dad didn’t know what the outcome was going to be.  It sounded kind of like the same answers he had previously been given.  But lo and behold, my grandfather called him back and gave him an affirmative “Yes.”  Wow, God had truly answered their prayers and it was time!?  They were married in 1981, my mom at the age of 26 and my dad at the age of 30.  They truly waited!  At any point they could have been married and made their own decisions for their lives.  After all, they were in their mid to late 20’s.  But no, they knew how God honors men and women who delight in Him, who seek to please Him in all they do, who will not disobey and go their own way but do exactly what the Lord wants of them.  They also knew if parents weren’t accepting of a marriage, how could they possibly be “happily” married?  They realized they would be unhappy with that one thing haunting them and plaguing them in the back of their minds.  As a result of their waiting, God honored their life in so many ways!  They have been married for 30 years and love each other more and more each day.  God has given my dad much fruitful ministry along with my mother who ministers in their church.  I tell this story to say that I have learned what “true waiting” looks like and can be certain that God blesses above and beyond when two people are yielded to Him.
In my own life, I remember wanting to have a boyfriend from the time I was a freshman in high school, maybe even before that!  I was just one of your average girls who wanted a boyfriend just like every other girl.  My parents were of the mindset that I needed to wait until I reached college for that sort of thing.  They were right.  Looking back now, I realize how right they were to encourage me to wait for the right guy to come along and not try to date a lot just for the sake of dating.  A lot can be said about perimeters on dating.  I never had rules put before me to follow but with loving and godly parents, they taught that a girl needed to wait on God for the right guy to come along and at the right time.  She didn’t need to just go out and date hundreds of boys before finding the right one, nor did she need to be impatient about God’s timing.  She did not need to give her body away physically to a guy just because she desired closeness and love.  She just needed to be about the Lord’s business and walk with Him.  If there was a man in the plan, God would bring him and if not, then that would be ok too.  Sometimes the concept of: “If there is a man in the plan, if it truly is God’s will, then great and if not, then fine too” was hard for me to swallow but I realized I had to rest my “Mr. Right” in the Lord’s arms in order to be free in my heart to walk with my Savior. 
Back to high school days: I wasn’t ready for a relationship in high school.  I had guy friends in high school but never dated anyone—not until college.  During college days, I had several young men interested in me.  I remember one guy told me that we were meant for each other only after 2 weeks of dating.  He was a lot older than I and didn’t have the same Christian standards as I did.  I realized very soon that would never work.  All during college I struggled really hard with the idea of “waiting.”  Why wait, why not just go out and say “yes” to the first guy that was interested in me?  I felt that way many times.  There were guys that were interested during the four years I spent at college.  But I had made a commitment to my music professors there.  I was on 80% scholarship and had to finish my degree in 4 years time. If I didn’t finish on time, I would not have the scholarship.  Knowing God wanted me to finish well what I had started to do, I realized I had an obligation.  I needed to not get so “sidetracked” with dating relationships while at college.  Even my dear, older piano professor would tell me, “Kara honey, you have plenty of time for that.  Why, I married my husband after I finished college.  You just do well with your piano studies.  Everything will be fine.”  She knew what she was talking about.
 At the time, some young men were asking me to date them.  I wanted to get into a serious relationship but in the back of my mind I also knew if I did, I would get “off focus” and wouldn’t be able to do well in school.  I know for some girls and guys, they are able to date one another without getting side-tracked in their studies.  But because I take life very seriously, especially relationships—giving it my all—I couldn’t give 100% to school and 100% to a relationship.  So once again, God was saying, “This is not the right time for you Kara. You must wait.”  I didn’t like to wait; I am one of those people who is not very patient; I just want it to happen right now.”  Do you reader ever feel that way?  It certainly is a normal feeling but one that has to be dealt with if you are going to be all God wants you to be!
My grandfather—the man who gave permission for my parents to be married—was one person I really looked up to.  He loved the Lord and always wanted me to do well with whatever I was occupied with at the time.  During my college days, my grandfather kept a diary of his life which included his grandkids’ lives and family events.  After he went to be with the Lord my mother saved his journal to give to me one day in the future.  This past year, 2010, I received it as a gift.  In the journal my grandfather wrote about me being at college.  In one of his journal entries, he wrote how I was doing with my junior year at college.  He said, “I don’t think Kara wants to continue in school right now.  She seems unhappy.  She would like to have a husband…”  Well, little did I know that my unhappiness was showing on the outside to others.  Even though I knew I needed to finish college, I also had a burning desire to be married, to meet this Mr. Right.  I was often tempted to just date a guy who would ask me to go out with him.  I will tell you it was God who held me in His Righteous Right Hand.  It was God who kept me from giving in to my emotions, my wants, my desires.  It was God who truly knew the desire of my heart and yet was trying to teach me a lesson in “Waiting.” 
Four years came and went by like a whirlwind.  Before I knew what was happening, I was walking down the aisle to receive my undergraduate degree.  God had been faithful to me.  But once again, in the back of my mind, I wondered, “Where is Mr. Right?  Where is he now?  Did I miss him during college?  Did I mess up somewhere that God would withhold him from me?  What is going on and when will I ever get married? “
Pretty soon after college, I met a young man and we started dating for about a year. I thought that this might be Mr. Right. In fact, I had prayed years before this particular prayer, “Lord please allow the first guy I seriously date to be the right one for marriage.” The problem with that prayer was I told God what I wanted Him to do.  I did not say, “If it is of Your will Lord, please allow the guy to be my Mr. Right.  But if it is not Your will, then I will yield to that to You.”  That is what I should have prayed but I did not.  Often times we pray prayers that we think are very spiritual and ones we think He will naturally answer in the way we want.  But God doesn’t always do things the way we want Him to.  He knows better what we need than what we think we need.  At any rate, I had waited for so long and thought it was time for me.  I thought God was answering that prayer.  I was out of college; I had kept my commitment to God and finished school successfully.  Surely now, I was ready to be married.  But was God ready for me to marry?  Was it time for me?  That was something I had to ask myself during that dating relationship. 
The next year, it became very apparent this was not the right one God had for me.  In the midst of the relationship, I had become very much consumed with this guy, very controlling of my relationship, wanting to have it all my way and wanting to have the marriage happen right away.  I was in such a hurry to get on with my life thinking that marriage would fulfill my every expectation.  My life had changed for the worse.  I no longer was listening to God’s heart for me; I was only listening to my own emotions.  I was tied to my heart yearnings and nobody could reach me.  One day I just broke down emotionally and cried out to God.  I was miserable.  My hand was not open to the Lord putting in it what He wanted; I was clutching at what I thought I wanted and needed.  I was holding onto this relationship as if this was the only thing I would ever have and God would not bless me with anything else ever. 
Through my emotional hurts, I began to receive some godly counsel.  My heart was broken and I couldn’t believe the Lord didn’t answer my prayer I had prayed long ago.   I was very confused and muddled, hurt and angry at God, disappointed in Him and at life.  How could this have happened to me?  I had read several love story books written by people who had met the love of their life right out of college or some who had been childhood sweethearts.  Everything seemed to work out perfectly for them but why not me?  In a way, I was living in a fantasy world.  I was not the people in the books; I was Kara and I had a life of my own to live.  My God was painting a tapestry of His colors and textures through my life for His glory.  He was creating a tapestry that didn’t look like anyone else’s, a beautiful portrait that God wanted to portray His own life and goodness through.  The many tears of this broken relationship led me to my knees.  I knew that only God could cure me of my broken heart.  I also knew I had to start over in my thinking about Mr. Right.  I had to wipe away what I thought I needed and wanted and let the Lord have His way in me.  I had to say, “Lord whatever You want for my life, whenever You want the right guy to come along, however You want to work this out, You take over and do with me what You please. And if you do not wish for me to have my “Mr. Right” that is fine.  I am Your daughter, a daughter of the King.”  I prayed a prayer much like the virgin Mary in the Bible who said, “I am your handmaid servant, be it done unto me as Thou wilt.” 
As a result of yielding my life once again to God, He truly healed my wounds from the past relationship.  He is a Good God and knows what is best for me!  After that, I was not thinking of meeting anyone.  I was healing from the past and basking in my own Father’s love for me.   
But can you guess what happened next?  It was not long after I prayed that prayer and gave it all to the Lord that He brought the most wonderful and godly man along to meet me.  By this time, I was not in an all anxious hurry to become serious because of all I had suffered from the previous relationship.   I was cautious and didn’t want any relationship that God didn’t want me to have.  You see, if I had not gone through the first relationship and had heartbreak and devastation, I would not have known how to handle this relationship.  God was painting His tapestry in me.
 This wonderful man’s name is Ryan Lancaster.  He called my father one evening to see if I was going out with anyone and if I wasn’t, could he have permission to date me?  My dad was fine with the idea.  Soon Ryan called me and asked me to go to dinner with him.  I was nervous because I had known of Ryan for years and knew that he was a godly person and had very high standards for a future wife.  I kept thinking to myself, “Oh he won’t like me, I am not good enough…”  Our first dinner was wonderful and we realized we had a lot in common. We stayed at the restaurant and talked for 3 ½ hours!  Pretty soon, we started going out regularly but Ryan never told me what our relationship “status” was.  I kept thinking we were dating but it was not stated out right to me.  About 2 ½ months later, I asked Ryan where we were in terms of our relationship.  He told me he liked me a lot and that he was serious about me.  Wow, I had no idea! HA! Yes, I did, girls pretty much know when a guy is interested in them even if they don’t state it in black and white letters.  But it was nice to hear him say it and finally know where we were headed.  I knew after that talk we weren’t just dating for dating only but there was an ultimate purpose in it.  I am so thankful Ryan dated me for a purpose.  I had been on the other end with the prior relationship where dating was the only thing in sight, nothing else.  That was not fun and that is what breaks people’s hearts.  With Ryan it was totally different—he was a man with a plan!  Halleluiah!  In Jan of 2007, he asked me to marry him.  On a side note, I had committed to God to wait and kiss the man I would marry at our engagement.  I am so glad I waited to kiss Ryan until that time.  In fact, we both believed the same way about the physical side of a relationship.  It was so wonderful to have a godly man who stood for what was right to do and honored both our standards.  Wow, God’s time had come!  I was just “riding” through God’s plan, I wasn’t striving, feeling anxious about having to marry Ryan “right now”, I was just enjoying the “ride” God had me in at the time.  It was so nice to have my hands off the relationship and let God be God in me. Well, we had only been dating for 3 months.  Of course we knew that we loved each other and wanted to be together forever.  I had waited all my life for this man!  And he had waited for me all his life too!  We knew God was calling us together.  Plans for the wedding began, everything from buying the perfect wedding dress, ordering wedding invitations and monogrammed Kara and Ryan “thank you notes”, registering for wedding gifts and making the guest list.  I had my engagement ring on, I was totally happy and in love with the man of my dreams!  Everything was so good and yet there were some things that weren’t fitting together.  We had not known each other very long and had some issues had arisen—issues that needed to be worked out in order to be married.  Our wedding was scheduled for June of that same year. 
A month and a half before the big day, things came to a halt.  It wasn’t that we didn’t love each other enough or that we weren’t happy with one another but God intervened.  We both realized we needed to work a few issues out that would hinder us from having a blessed marriage.  We called off our wedding and broke off our relationship.  Two people who do not have everything settled before marriage should not go through with a marriage.  We gave our relationship up with the attitude that if God wanted us back together, He knew how to bring it all back together.  I gave up the love of my life for the sake of God’s holy and perfect will.  As a result, my wedding dress went into the closet, I gave my engagement ring back to Ryan along with our monogrammed “Kara and Ryan” “thank you” notes. The wedding invitations had to be thrown out and the guest list went into a drawer.  I knew I could not marry him unless we had God’s complete will in it.  This was one of the hardest times in my life.  I had yielded the love of my life to God but once again, God was calling me to “wait on Him.”  That summer was tremendously hard.  A whole summer went by and I thought perhaps I would never have the man I truly loved.  It really tested my faith in so many ways.  But I knew my God was in control and God gave grace to meet the everyday challenges of desiring to marry, not having Ryan around, etc…
It wasn’t until late August-early September that Ryan contacted me to talk things over again.  God had been working in both of our lives.  Miraculously, God intervened and resolved the issues that had once divided us.  We started dating again and used the next nine months to get to know each other more, learn how to communicate as a couple, etc…We received a lot of wise counsel and pre-marital counseling. Again, God was teaching both of us how to wait. You recall we waited to have our kiss at our engagement?  Since we had already kissed the year before, I still felt the same way—I wanted to wait until our engagement to kiss him again.  So we did just that.  Nine months was difficult but we waited to give each other that kiss.  It was August of 2008 when Ryan proposed for the 2nd time!  Everything was worked out and God’s perfect time for us to be married had finally arrived! 
 We were married on Nov. 8, 2008 and let me tell you it was well worth the wait!! All the issues that had been between us had been resolved.  We stood for one another and together as one couple.  There was complete unity and the most glorious day for us!  I cannot imagine what would have happened had one of us not waited on the other for the right time.  Our marriage would not have the honor and blessing in it that we do and always will.  If we had not waited, our families would not have been able to give their blessing.  God would not have been pleased.  But as a result of waiting on God, He blessed us in more ways than I can ever put on paper.  It is to Him we give all the glory and honor!! What a Great God we have!! Praise His Name forever!!  Now it’s your turn.  Ask yourself the question, “Why should I wait for…” You feel in the rest of the sentence.  If you are waiting for that Mr. Right to come along, remember that God knows the exact moment you should meet him.  If you want so desperately to get married but you don’t know the guy yet, be patient.  God knows, doesn’t He?!  After all, He created you for His purpose and He is always good.  Waiting on God doesn’t always mean waiting on the right person.  It may mean you are waiting for a new job, a chance to go on the mission field, etc…Whatever you are waiting on God for, don’t give up!! Press on, be not faithless but trust in your loving Creator who knows what’s best for you.


ajfcello said...

what a wonderfully encouraging testimony!! Thank you so much for sharing Kara!!

Emmy said...

That was a really wonderful testimony!! Thanks for sharing!

Amber Noella said...

Amazing! I loved reading this.

Rae said...

Wow... thanks so much for sharing...

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♥beccaboo♥ said...

So inspiring, thanks for posting!!