New Year’s Eve 2008.
It wasn’t the first time I had ever had a fore-telling conversation with God, but it certainly was one of the most memorable.
I’ll never forget it. I was alone. My three kids gone to be with their father. I had been to visit friends in VA and had returned home earlier that day to a quiet, still house. Only the cat was there to greet me … and he seemed mostly perturbed that I interrupted his nap.
I felt bone-cold in the chilly house as I waited for the heater to make my house warm. But mostly, I just felt lonely.
It was my second New Year’s Eve as a single mother. The year before I was still shell-shocked from the events that had rocked my world. I barely noticed an old year passed away and a new one started.
Now, as I scrummaged through the cabinets looking for something quick and easy to fix for my dinner, I thought about how I was ending the year in a better place than I started it. Initially, 2008 found me a broken woman, but now after months of personal counseling and learning to live life again as a single mom, I felt more confident … not in myself so much, but in the Lord and in His promises to use all things for my good.
As I ate my supper, and counted down the hours left in 2008, I sensed that 2009 would be the beginning of something new. I realized I had new goals for the coming year. New hopes and dreams for my life.
And in those quiet hours, I came to a realization. I didn’t want to be single forever.
In the days after my first husband left me, I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to love another man. But now, in these quiet moments, I realized what I really wanted was a person to share my life with … and I wondered if that would ever happen.
As it happens so often in situations like this, I started to talk internally to God about my thoughts and ideas and wishes. Not so much a typical prayer as much a chatter in my head. Jumbled thoughts poured out in a rapid, random fashion, some sort of strange cross between monologue and unwritten journal entry.
As I rambled to God about my future, whether or not it would include another marriage, I felt a strange peace wash over me. And then it came … as a small whisper, so soft I wasn’t even sure if I heard what I thought I heard.
You will marry again, Paige … and it will be a New Year’s Eve wedding.
I shook my head in a sort of disbelief. To begin with, New Year’s Eve was not really a holiday I had ever enjoyed. Fear of the future had been a personal, life-long struggle for me, and though since my divorce I had been focused on learning to overcome that fear, I still couldn’t imagine wanting to celebrate a wedding on a holiday all about celebrating the unknown year ahead.
Yet the more I thought about it, the more I saw how New Year’s Eve was the perfect day to marry. After all, it’s a day focused on endings and beginnings. A marriage is the end of a period of singleness and the beginning of a new life together as husband and wife.
It was then I knew I wouldn’t be single forever.
New Year’s Eve, 2009
I had met Jon in April. We started dating in October. Here we were at the holiday season, and we still hadn’t even held hands or shared our first kiss. Despite the slow pace at which our relationship progressed, I already knew this was the man God had chosen.
When Jon learned I didn’t have any plans for New Year’s Eve, he was appalled. “No one should be alone on New Year’s Eve!”
“Well, my kids are off visiting their dad. I haven’t been invited to anyone else’s home. My church isn’t doing an activity that night. I’ll probably just watch a few movies or maybe work on a sewing project.”
The next morning, Jon called me back. “I’ve been talking to my girls, and we’d like to invite you to join us today. We aren’t going to do anything special. We’ll just hang around the house. But the girls would love to have you come visit … well, that is, as long as we promise to keep them included. Megan is very concerned about that.”
“How about if I bring a few activities for us to do with them … some crafts, perhaps?”
And so, it was agreed. I made the long two hour drive to Jon’s house to spend, bringing along with me a big box of craft supplies. The girls and I crafted the afternoon away, while Jon dozed on his sofa and watched a little football. I made a couple of snacks for us to enjoy. Quiet, laid-back and completely natural.
Later that evening, we ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant. As Jon paid for our meal, the waitress made a comment about his beautiful family. Not quite knowing how to respond, both of us smiled and wished her a happy new year.
But I already knew. This was the man I was going to marry.
Driving along the dark roads back to my house, I watched the flickering of fireworks light the sky … and wondered how many more New Year’s Eves there would be until Jon and I were married.
New Year’s Eve, 2010
Jon asked me to marry him in October. I said yes.
But Jon was deathly ill. Even as we planned for our wedding ceremony, honeymoon and marriage, I watched the man I love slowly grow sicker and sicker. As a dear friend told me, “Paige, I’m afraid you’ll either have a New Year’s Eve wedding or funeral.“
The diagnosis came on December 22nd. A severe heart infection nearly took his life. But thankfully, God allowed him to live. Two days before our wedding, Jon came home from the hospital, a PICC line still in his arm.
The next 48 hours, we raced to get everything ready for the wedding we weren’t sure would ever happen. Somehow, the reception room at the church was decorated, a friend made us a beautiful red velvet cake, and one by one the details fell into place.
December 31st was sticky and humid.
Jon was weak from his ongoing healthy issues. Rumor had it he slept on the sofa in the pastor’s office until time for the ceremony.
Guests started to arrive.
And then … the music started and our beautiful girls made their way down the aisle.
I felt no nerves. Only the most amazing sense of joy that I have ever known.
We said our vows, and our guests laughed with us as we pledged to love in sickness and in health.
The pastor asked those in the audience to come surround us and offer up prayers on our behalf. My dad, an uncle, a family friend … each of them offered up a prayer and my soul swelled with indescribable peace.
As we walked out of the sanctuary, somehow an unplanned receiving line formed so that Jon and I were hugged and blessed over and over as our guests walked to the small reception.
And that night, as we drove to our New Orleans honeymoon, fireworks lit the night sky … and I thanked the good Lord for a trio of New Year’s Eves that had brought me to a new life He had planned for me before I ever took my first breath.
New Year’s Eve … a time to celebrate what is ending and what is yet to be. Every year I’m grateful to God for what He has done in my past and what He has planned for my future. No more fear because (as cliche’ as it might be), I know I may not know exactly what my future holds, but I certainly know the One who does know and who holds my future.
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced…” ~ 1 Chronicles 16:11-12
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11
You can read more about our wedding story and Jon’s illness at the following link:
The Wedding that Almost Didn’t Happen