Part 3 - the conclusion of why we are dating again!

I am so excited to finally write part 3 of this blog! Mark and I can laugh about it now but there are a lot of painful memories that we had to re live while writing part 1 and part 2. But part 3 doesn’t consist of any pain. As I see it, part 3 consists of miracle after miracle as God softens Mark and my heart as we marvel at  God’s plan and His grace in both our lives.

Before I get ahead of myself…. Where were we??  O yes, part 2 ended off “bleak” aka- life sucked for our relationship. There was zero hope.

A part of me still knew (if you need refreshing here is part 2) that Mark was a man I wanted to be with. After months of zero communication we talked for twenty minutes. Driving home on August 4 2011 I knew I had made the biggest mistake of my life breaking up with him and I knew for the first time that I really loved him. Slight problem: I was leaving the country in seven days for a year and Mark had asked me not to contact him ever again.  The only thing I knew to do was pray. I asked God that if He didn’t want Mark and I to be together to close the door to those feelings, but if it was His will to soften Marks heart to be ready to love me again. I didn’t hear an answer from God (God answers in His perfect timing, never in ours) so I started to write. I bought a journal and wrote an entry to Mark on August 4, 2011 openly writing for the first time that I loved him and was going to be praying for him.

Africa kept me pretty busy but my heart ached. I longed to share the funny stories with Mark and share my heart with him. I longed for us to pray together and just talk. Mark was the only person I really opened up to and with him gone it was a hard void to fill. From August- December Mark and I only facebook’d a handful of times. He didn’t seem interested in me at all. I continued to pray and write. I wrote about the things I was learning and the ways God was changing me. I was terrified that when I returned to Canada I would be so different, so changed that Mark and I wouldn’t have a fighting chance, so I continued to write. I wrote all the important details, bio’s of the kids to keep him in the loop.

You see, I was changing. It’s amazing what God can do with a willing heart. That was one the biggest lessons Africa taught me. God doesn’t want you to be ‘accomplished’ in some way before He wants to use you – He just longs for you to be willing to let Him mold and shape you into His likeness. Every morning I asked God to use me in whatever way He saw fit and prayed that He would rule and reign in every aspect of my life. He did. Every day.

I got very sick (pneumonia, collapsed lung) and was bed-rest for a few weeks. Life went on hold and God used that time to really wake me up spiritually. He told me that if I wanted to love my beautiful children that I lived with, with Christ’s love I had to first fully accept God’s love for myself. This was no easy task. I believed for so long that God couldn’t fully love me and that He didn’t want to fully use me however I was desperate to love these orphaned and abused children and I knew they needed God’s love and not mine.  So on bed-rest I started reading my bible- all day every day. I fell in love with God and His promises in the bible and eventually became so full of His love that I could then love the kids with God’s love because I was so full of God’s love and not mine. This was the one thing that was lacking in my relationship with Mark all these years. I didn’t love myself and therefore couldn’t love and respect Mark the way He was supposed to be treated and loved.

I stand in awe at how God used my sickness, depression from being away from home and gorgeous children to teach me such an important lesson and prepare my heart to love Mark.

Late December I sent a ‘desperate girl email to Mark’ asking him if he would be interested in skyping me.  After nine months of no communication he responded with a “sure, whenever works for you” GASP!!!!!!! I freaked out! I thanked God so much for just giving me the opportunity to show Mark that I was different and totally in love with him. The skype happened late December 28 (after cancelling on him Dec 25 with my near death experience) and we talked for over 2 hours… like nothing had changed. It was incredible.  I knew that Mark wouldn’t have just skyped any girl so this was special, yet Mark gave me no promises or hope of a future together.  I continued to wait for him and be patient as I let God do his work and heal Mark’s heart (if that was God’s plan).

We continued to skype every few weeks and continued to grow deeper in our relationship once again. We would talk for hours and hours and it would always feel like ten minutes to both of us. When my parents came in February I told them that I loved Mark and wanted to be with him. It was the first time I had vocally ever said my feelings for Mark out loud and it felt so good. By the end of February Mark had committed to me once more and we started “dating long distance.”

I continued to write and we took the relationship very slow but as time continued Mark started to trust me even more and at the start of April he told me he fully trusted and forgave me.  Mark’s birthday is on April 30 and since February we would skype every weekend for hours and facebook whenever I had internet. I know longer needed to write in the journal because I told him everything on the weekends. I wanted to send the journal for his birthday- showing him in actions not in words that I love him and was fighting for him even though he had given up. Mail is super sketchy coming and leaving South Africa so I sent it on April 3 hoping it would arrive weeks before his birthday. The 30th rolled around and no journal had arrived. We skyped on the 30th (Marks morning, my afternoon) and Mark said those three words that meant everything to me. I knew from five years of dating Mark that he was only going to say “I love you” to the girl he wanted to marry so it was a pretty big deal (of course I said it backJ). I got a text at 3am SA time and 9pm Mark’s time (on the 30th) saying he received my journal. That was the best miracle ever!! There is no way that journal should have come on the 30th after Mark had said those three words.  He got to read all the times I told him I loved him and realize that I prayed for him every day since August 4.

From May-July was a mix of excitement and anguish. I just wanted to be home to be with him and see him but I still had three more months of service. I loved South Africa and wanted to be there for those three months so time did fly fast.

There was a part of me that was terrified coming home. I was worried that we would be a lot different in person than over skype and that I would go back to my old ways, my old insecurities and hurt Mark all over again.  But I was finally rooted and grounded in God’s love. I knew I was loved, cherished and could be confident that God wanted to use me more than He did in SA.

I won’t get all mushy on you (I’m thankful you made it this far in our story) but when we first saw each other on July 25 every single fear and worry disappeared and I was filled with a peace that can only come from God.

We were going to wait to start officially dating however we were in love so that didn’t make any sense. One Saturday afternoon Mark and I spent the afternoon praying for confirmation from God that it was okay to start dating and that our relationship had the potential to glorify His name.  After both feeling at peace we went back to his parents house and told them the story and that we were ‘official.’ Marks mom pointed out that evening that today was August 4 2012. I couldn’t stop smiling at the detail God has put into our story. So exactly one year after I knew I loved Mark we started dating once more, even though Mark and I had no idea of the significance of the day until his mom pointed it out.

So that’s the story… from my perspective at least! God has taken Mark on an incredible journey learning to love me when I didn’t want his love and learning to forgive me as I broke up with him over and over.  Mark has learned so many amazing lessons so he will share his perspective on the next blog. I pray by hearing his heart you will find encouragement.

Stay tuned for Mark’s side of the story! 

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