Today Anthony and I celebrate twelve years of marriage–just the beginning of our forever life together.
I love reading people’s stories about how God brought them together and the amazing journeys they have been on. I love reading about the extraordinary things God asks ordinary people to do. I love God’s love stories–the way He takes a man and a woman and puts them together.
Our story? Our history began in 1996. I was a 24-year-old public relations officer working for the tourism association that marketed the South African city I lived in. I loved my job. I got to meet people from all over the world as I traveled and did the PR thing. I had done my fair share of traveling, spending 18 months visiting 18 countries in Europe. I was so over the travel bug. I knew there was no way I could ever leave my beloved country again. (Just as well God doesn’t reveal the future to us!)
One winter day the front door to our office opened and in walked this man–tall, dark and extremely handsome. Little did I know what God had in store for this girl, raised in a small town in South Africa, and very tied to her roots. To say that he got my attention is an understatement. His mission? To find a map of our city. He had arrived from the States the day before and needed some direction—I
happily very eagerly obliged and gave him all the information he needed.
The most amazing thing happened that day. After many failed relationships and an inability to trust men—I instantly knew in my heart that this one was different. I knew I could trust him. So much so that I loaned him my brand new car to go and look for an apartment. Crazy girl—after just two hours of knowing Anthony, I loaned him my car. Needless to say, friends that I worked with told me I was completely insane. They assured me this man, whom I did not know from a bar of soap, would sell my car and that would be the end of that. But, I knew that I knew it was okay. Of course, he brought my car back!
Over the next days and weeks we were inseparable. I soon learned that Anthony had recently retired as a top international model. He had lived and traveled all over the world. But God had chosen Port Elizabeth, South Africa, as his mission field. He had arrived in my beautiful city because the Lord said go. Not knowing anything about the place, in obedience he packed up his belongings and arrived where God had sent him.
Soon after arriving in Port Elizabeth, Anthony got the drive show on the local Christian radio station. He loved every minute of it. He also did a very evangelistic show–where many, many people came to know the Lord. Through radio he was able to use the creativity God had blessed him with.
Three months after walking through the door of my office, we were engaged. Our engagement is definitely one of the most special memories of my life. Anthony had pre-recorded part his radio show and played that part while listeners assumed it was live. He and friends had arranged for me to go over to their house for coffee. Unbeknown to me, it was all a very well-thought-out scheme I knew nothing about. While our friends’ house, they had Anthony’s radio show on. While I was listening, he started talking to me–remember, it was all pre-recorded–asking me to open the front door of our friends’ house. Heck! I had no idea what was going on. One friend opened the door and I saw Anthony standing there with a huge bouquet of flowers. In the meantime, his voice was still coming across on the radio. During a part when he was proposing to me on-air, Anthony dropped to his knee with a ring in front of me and let his recorded voice do the proposing! It was such an amazing moment, a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life. So, my seriously creative hubby proposed to me over the radio while still being with me.
On March 8, 1997, we were married. Our wedding was small and intimate, just the way we wanted it. We saved our first kiss for the altar. From the time we knew that God had put us together, we had made a decision not to kiss at all. Both of us had learned from our past–kissing could easily lead us down a road we did not want to go. This time we were doing things right. We saved all physical contact for our wedding day. Was it hard? Heck, yes! But so absolutely worth it.
This is a collage we sent friends and family overseas of our wedding and honeymooon. With Anthony being American, and me South African, we started our married life with family spread out across the world, and that is the way it has stayed. It has been hard, but God has been gracious in allowing us to make it work.
Our first five years of marriage were spent doing mission work in South Africa, and occasionally, into other parts of Africa. God gave us an open door to speak in assemblies of public high schools! We also did workshops where we spoke about sex and God to youth in eleven high schools throughout the city. Soon we were invited as speakers of camps, conferences, and seminars, and God gave us an open door into a maximum security prison. Meanwhile Anthony organized large city-wide crusades using local musical talent and giving an altar call afterward.
In April 1999, we welcomed our first son, Connor, into the world. Motherhood fitted me like a glove. I loved being a mom. But, I was determined that I could only handle two children. That would be my limit, I told my dear hubby. We agreed to have our second (and last) child soon after Connor was born, and in September 2000, we were blessed with our second son, Kellan.
Soon after Kellan’s birth, we felt the Lord calling us out of South Africa. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Leaving the place I knew and loved, and the family and friends I spent my entire life with was so tough. I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest. The Lord had opened up an opportunity for us to serve as missionaries in Australia–not exactly around the corner from home.
In July 2001, we arrived in Perth, Australia. The Father was so kind and gentle with me, giving me the grace that I needed to begin life in a new country. It was an amazing time of growth for us–God used our time there to stretch and grow us. Being separated from family and friends was a time of learning what it really meant to lean on my Father in heaven. We served the Lord anywhere there was need–in large churches, small churches, house churches, teaching English to immigrants, writing and directing evangelistic plays. You name it. Through it all the Lord challenged us and called us into a deeper relationship with Him.
When our youngest son turned 18 months old, God did something amazing in my heart–He gave me a desire and a passion of another baby. I never would have imagined I would ever want another child. In December 2003, we conceived the baby God promised me. But that was not all that was happening at that time. Our home was on the market. God was moving us on again. This time to the U.S.
When we arrived in Virginia in May 2004, I was five months pregnant. In August 2004, our third son Cade was born. But God was clearly not done with us yet. We never thought He would bless us with another child. While living in Australia, the Father had given me an incredible burden for the Chinese orphans. I thought I was just called to pray for them (Chinese children are not allowed to be adopted in Australia), but after Cade’s birth, God showed us that there was so much more to what He had placed on my heart. Another exciting adventure was about to unfold.
In March 2006, we traveled to China to adopt our first daughter. God had so clearly led us to her. Miracle after miracle unfolded before our eyes. We were amazed. This time in our lives became a time of learning what it truly meant to surrender ourselves to the Lord. I mean, complete abandonment to His will for our lives–not asking Him to surrender to the plans we had for our lives. God changed us from the inside out–after declaring to the Lord years before that we would only have two children, to so willingly accepting that He was not done with us yet after our third child. By the time we adopted our fourth child we were finally at the place God needed us to be, the place of saying, “Whatever, Lord!”
The end of 2006 was such a hard time for both Anthony and me. In August we lost Anthony’s dad to cancer. Then, just one month later, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Three months after her diagnosis she took a turn for the worse and the kids and I got on the first flight to South Africa. The Lord blessed us with six precious days with my mom, then she was gone. She was just 58 years old. Two months with family and friends (and sun, sand and beautiful beaches) in South Africa gave us time to recover emotionally and seek Him on what He would have us do next.
In February 2007 we flew back to the U.S. Colorado was to become home. I had never been so cold in my entire life–after two months of hot weather, my first winter in the mountains was a serious shock to the system. I was very ready to pack my bags and head on out, but God intervened! He enabled me, not without my having to do some major attitude adjustments. Soon after arriving in Colorado I came a across a little girl waiting in China. And once again the Lord showed us clearly that He was not done with us regarding children. Would we be willing to trust Him. Would we be willing to step out of the boat and trust Him to calm every storm? Absolutely, yes! In September 2008, we headed back to China to adopt Haven.
The last twelve years have been an amazing journey, filled with amazing highs and painful lows. We have lived on three continents, made a home in 17 houses and packed up our belongings way too many times. I have become an expert at packing up house. The journey has been incredible. The Lord has blessed us with the most amazing people in our lives. Yes, the places we have been and the things we have done have been fun, exciting and adventurous, but the people, that is truly what has made the difference in our lives. Some have come and gone, but some, we know, will be friends for life. How richer our lives are because of the precious people God has brought across our path!
I am so blessed that God chose me to be Anthony’s wife. What an adventure it has been. I can honestly say there has never been a dull moment. We have learned so many things in our twelve years together–the greatest thing being to live a life completely sold out to what God wants. We have learned to never say never. We have learned that life as a Christian is so much more exciting when you’re living on the front line, when you’re living on the edge–ready for anything God sends your way. We have learned that, unless we are completely sold out to whatever God wants, we will never be satisfied. And most of all, we have learned that taking the easy road, the comfortable road, will never bring us fulfillment.
How blessed I am today. God has given me a husband who loves God before all else. A man who serves God with passion and determination, never being willing to settle for less than everything God has for him. I am so proud my husband. He will never be persuaded to take a job that pays more, but will always be true to the call on his life. I married a man who is passionate about getting people saved, even to the very last second as he serves as a chaplain for a hospice. Not many people can spend their days with dying people, but He does it as unto the Lord. This is his mission field. I am so thankful for a husband who will go to the ends of the earth to see me fulfill my dreams, no matter how crazy they may seem—not to mention the fact that he puts up with my ever-changing hair-color, my obsession with changing the paint on the walls and the fact that the furniture never stays in the same place!
I am so excited to see what God does in the next twelve years. With all my heart I can say, “Here we are, Lord. Have your will and have your way in our lives!”…and we mean it!