Tod and Erin are Getting Married!

Hello friends!!

This is a post I am so very excited and thankful to the Lord that I get to write – I am engaged to be married to Tod Berkey and God has provided an amazing man to not only be a fabulous husband to me, but an incredible Daddy to Paxson and Preston!!!  God has truly gone above and beyond all I ever prayed for and imagined when I envisioned He might have someone for me.  It’s such a great story, and is one that has God’s leading and peace all over it.  Only He could draw two hearts so clearly together from 4,700 miles apart and use things like eHarmony, email, texting and Skype to do so!  If you read the last update, you know a little about what God had done before my trip to Chile to visit Tod from June 7-12. If you didn't read the last update, you can go here http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/laynecole/journal to read that post.   When I posted that update, I was amazed at how God had worked but had no idea how much more HE would do during that trip and how He would show us even more clearly what it looks like to be in the middle of Ephesians 3:20-21:

“Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen!”

Also when I last wrote a few weeks ago to announce I was dating someone I was at the DFW airport getting ready to board the plane to fly to Santiago to visit Tod and now I’m writing to say I’m engaged so I’m sure some of you are thinking we are crazy and “wow, that sure seems fast!”  I’m going to attempt to share some of the wonderful things God did during our time together here on my business blog because I also wanted to include pictures (sorry I'm hijacking Treasure Photography's blog, but since that's the only one I have, if you want me to take your pictures I'd be honored! Ha!). 

There is so much to share but I’ll try to hit the highlights!  If you like romance and awesome God stories, you’ll love the long part that starts below!  If you don’t want to spend your day reading my update, here’s the super short version of what God has done in our relationship!

Tod and Erin were matched on 2/16/13 on eHarmony while Tod was in Santiago, Chile and Erin was in College Station, Texas.

Started communication 2/27/13 through eHarmony,
including 5 questions, makes or breaks, 3 more questions and eH mail.

Started normal emailing 3/18/13.

First phone call 3/25/13.

Started texting 4/3/13.

First Skype call of many 4/5/13.

Met in person 5/11/13 when Tod flew to College Station for a four day visit.

Began dating exclusively 5/15/13.

Erin flew to Chile to visit Tod 6/7/13 to 6/12/13.

Tod told Erin he loves her 6/7/13!

God confirmed in our hearts He wanted us to get married on 6/10/13!

Got officially engaged on 7/1/13!

We're getting married 10/26/13 at Grace’s Southwood campus at 3:20 p.m.!
Praise God!

Here is where the long part starts with a recap of my trip to Santiago!  We truly had an amazing time while I was there and it was incredible to watch God give His peace and clarity in our hearts in many ways!  The flight there took ten hours and though it was an overnight flight, I didn’t sleep super well because I was super excited to see Tod, and also woke up with a cold that morning so wasn’t feeling so great.  I was determined to push through it and have a great time though!  I arrived in Santiago around 8 a.m. and Tod was there to pick me up.  He had emailed me instructions about where to go in the airport, how to pay customs fees, etc. and said when I got to baggage claim to look in a window on the second floor and when I saw him I jumped up and down!!  It was a sweet reunion with lots of hugs and both of us amazed that I was actually in Santiago with him and would get to spend six days there doing life with him and experiencing what he has been doing for the past year!  Tod had our whole time together very intentionally planned out and had done a lot to prepare for my arrival.  We drove to his flat and as I walked around, it felt very surreal to be with him there and see the place I had only seen on Skype.  I unpacked some stuff (I stayed there for the whole visit and he slept at a church family’s home close by) and then we headed out to the Andes mountains.  I didn’t know what was coming—he really knows how to start trips out right!

Tod had planned to take me to three places in the mountains that were significant because he had gone to the same places on Good Friday a few months before and spent time praying about whether or not God wanted him to commit to another year of ministry in Chile or not, along with praying about pursuing me.  Tod felt God gave him peace in the mountains that day about not staying in Chile and about pursuing a relationship with me.  So, he took me to each of those three places and we prayed at each one.  It was a beautiful day, and the mountains were gorgeous!  Here’s a pic from the first stop where we prayed for God’s peace to rule in our hearts as we sought to hear from Him in the midst of all the excitement about our relationship:

At the second stop we prayed for God’s provision in Tod’s transition to College Station in late August, and on our way to the third stop I wasn’t feeling so great from the cold I was fighting so we stopped on a trail and he said he wanted to give me something … a little back story is needed here.  When we decided to officially exclusively date, he gave me a bracelet that he had worn the whole time he was in Chile to signify the change in our relationship.  It was a red RoadID bracelet that had a metal plate on it with his name, phone number, parents number, etc. so if he was out running in Chile and got hurt or needed assistance someone would know who to call if they found a random gringo on the side of the road!  He took off the metal part and gave me the bracelet that night in College Station.  Meanwhile, he had a new RoadID package mailed to my house before I left for Chile but said I couldn’t open it and wanted me to take it with me.  So on the trail in the Andes mountains, before I opened the package, he told me he loved me for the first time (YAY!) and then gave me the new RoadID bracelet which says this (this picture was taken on the plane ride back from Santiago):

He proceeded to tell me many of the reasons he loves me and went on and on until finally I had to interject and say, “Can I say something?  I love you too!”  It was a priceless moment I will never forget to hear those words and get to say them back for the first time.  We both had known for a while we loved each other, but I think also knew we didn’t want to communicate that over Skype or email.  We would say things like, “I really really really like you a lot!” so the transition to actually being able to say “I love you!” was exciting and weird in a great way!  Here’s a pic at that place right after we said we loved each other:

I was so very thankful he started the trip with intentionally taking me to the mountains to tell me he loves me because we could enjoy the remaining six days being able to say it, out loud!  It was said A LOT too! :) 

That night I had the blessing of getting to go to Tod’s middle school youth group and LOVED seeing him in ministry action.  It was at a family’s home and was his last official time with the kids and their parents and I loved meeting many of the kids and families Tod had poured into in the year he was there.  Many people told me how wonderful he is and how he had been influential in their kids’ lives in the past year.  Several people said things like, “Why are you taking him away?!”  I said they better talk to God about that!  I fell even more in love with him as I got to see a glimpse of the work he had been doing and how greatly God had used him in his work through San Marcos church.

Saturday morning we went to a high school Bible study Tod leads that meets at the Starbucks in a mall (felt just like America!) and I was again amazed at his many ministry gifts in the ways he led the kids through God’s Word.  We had lunch with his pastor, Sam, and his wife Lois, and it was a blessing to spend that time with them and hear more about Tod from them.  Oh, and Sam and Lois are able to be in the States for our wedding so Sam will be marrying us!  Here's a pic of me with Sam and Lois after lunch. 

We spent the afternoon discussing some future things which was very fun.  Since we knew God had given us a great love for each other, we talked about what He might be leading us into if He continues to lead us.  We knew if God kept giving us the deep peace we had about each other that getting married was likely the next step and started talking about possible wedding dates.  We both liked October 26, 2013, but decided to hold onto that very loosely until God confirmed in us that’s what He wanted.  

That evening we planned to have a normal date night with dinner and a movie and Tod was also very intentional about what that would look like.  Our dinner was great, and then we decided to watch “Courageous.”  If you haven’t seen it, see it!  It’s a fabulous movie about what it means to be a great dad and commit to leading and loving your family well as a dad.  I had been told not to see it because it could be hard for me to watch since my boys do not have a dad so I hadn’t seen it yet. We both laughed and cried as we watched it, and when the movie was over, I hugged Tod for at least ten minutes and couldn’t even speak.  I was overwhelmed with the thought that he wants to not only love me well, but wants to be a fabulous dad to Paxson and Preston.  I kept thinking, “How could I ever ask Tod to marry me and come into our family to be the kind of Dad they want and need?”  When I finally got that out, Tod affirmed that God has done amazing things in his heart towards Paxson and Preston and that he loves them and wants to be not just a stepdad, but an involved and loving Daddy to them. 

Side note--another great detail I missed from Tod’s trip to College Station was when he knew he really loved me!  Two of our days together during his trip were spent going to San Antonio so he could see his family and I could meet them.  We had a great time with them and I loved meeting them—they are amazing people who I would choose as friends and will get them as in-laws in a few months!  On the drive back from San Antonio to College Station I was sharing some things about my family and past and he looked at me in a way he had not before and I could see something big was going on in him.  He said later in that moment strong liking turned into a deep, unshakable love for me and that God had totally expanded his heart for me kind of like in the Grinch when his heart grows several sizes at once!  He expected the same thing would happen with Paxson and Preston when he was in College Station, but it didn’t until he was flying back to Santiago from Panama that God did a huge work in his heart for the boys.  I had emailed him a picture of the four of us and when he opened it on the airplane and looked at it, God opened his heart to love them as his own boys and as he teared up, he knew that we were meant to be his family. Here’s the pic I had sent him:

So back to the movie night!  Tod reminded me after we watched the movie of what God had done in his heart for the boys, HIS boys, and I was again amazed at the kindness and goodness of God in answering one of my biggest prayers about getting remarried.  I prayed many times for God to provide someone who would not only love me, but love my boys as their own and desire to be an amazing dad, not just a stepdad who would tolerate his new wife’s kids because they came with the package.  God had done more than I prayed for and I prayed big!  Since that night Tod has called them “my boys” and “our boys” many times and it melts my heart every time.  He’s excited about parent-teacher conferences, flag football games, piano lessons, wrestling in the yard and all the other blessings that come with being a family!!

On Sunday, we went to San Marcos for church and I met many more people!  Tod even introduced me to the entire church during the service!  That evening I attended his last high school youth group and enjoyed that time with him and about 80 people, including kids and their parents.  I was again amazed at the many ways God has gifted Tod in leading others, loving others, and loving God as I watched him lead games, show a video of pictures from his year of ministry to them and hear many people praise God for how He had used Tod in theirs and their kids’ lives.  Tod also said he loved watching me jump into the events and help him as he led games, get to know others and be a help mate to him there.  If you know me well, you know I’m not shy and was happy to allow God to use me there to bless many!  It was also amazing for me to see more of the incredible ministry he’s had and the people he’s been blessed to pour into.  I was blown away at the thought of what he is happily giving up to move to College Station.  They asked him to stay on and pastor the church when Sam retires and though pastoring an expat church is something Tod has always wanted to do, God has so clearly led him to marry me that he’s saying no to that for now (we don’t know what God will do with us in the future!) and trusting God’s hand is guiding him to us in Texas instead.  Thank you Jesus!

The next day, Monday, we had a tour of Santiago!  We didn’t know what God had in store for that day but He did!!  We rode the subway into town and explored the city, then went to the top of a famous place called San Cristobal Hill where there is a huge statue of Mary and you can see amazing views of the city below with the Andes mountains on all sides.  There is a beautiful little church up there on the hill, and as we went in to explore it, we found ourselves alone in that church and sat on the first pew to stop and pray.  We love praying together and pray often but this time was different.  As we sat there and prayed for our relationship and for God to continue to lead us in what He desires for us, our prayers changed from, “IF the Lord leads us” to “WHEN the Lord leads us.”  Tod stopped praying and said he knows God is leading him to marry me, to love and serve me for the rest of his life and to be an amazing dad to Paxson and Preston and I said the same—I told him I have complete and total peace from God that He wants me to marry Tod and have the incredible blessing of being his wife for the rest of my life!!!  We prayed about getting married on 10-26-13 and were both so excited, yet so at peace at the same time.  We knew God was calling us to spend our lives together and it was cemented in prayer in that sanctuary.  As we left the church, we both felt a noticeable change in us and I was literally shaking and taken aback at the goodness and kindness of God for showing us so clearly what His plan for us is.  Of course, me being the photographer I am, I set up the camera and got a shot of us right where we prayed:

 That night as we enjoyed a sushi dinner at a restaurant close to Tod’s flat, we began discussing more about getting married in October and what that might look like!!!  YAY!!!!!

The next day was my 38th birthday!  We headed out for the hour and a half drive to the beach and before we left, Tod gave me a mix CD (yes, like back in the day when a boy would make you a mix tape!) we listened to on the way.  He chose songs about relationships, marriage, Jesus and leading well as a husband and dad.  The beach was beautiful and we had a blast taking pictures in the sand.  Tod took this one with his iPhone!

We spent some time touring a famous Chilean guy’s house (Pablo Neruda) that is now a museum and continued to be amazed at what God was doing in our hearts for each other.  We had decided before the trip that we wouldn’t kiss until we knew God was leading us to be married and discussed that a bit more that day.  After touring the house and having lunch at a restaurant that overlooked the water, we drove to a different beach, climbed up onto some rocks and watched the waves crash in as the sun was going down.  Tod brought his phone with him, played a few worship songs and then when the song “Lead Me” by Sanctus Real played, he clarified his intentions and told me, “I love you and I want you as my wife, but without a ring, I’m not saying those four words (will you marry me?)”  He had actually looked for something that would work as a ring in the gift shop at the museum but didn’t find one.  We discussed the fact we had a wedding date set and that neither of us had any doubt God was leading us together.  We felt that was enough for us to lift our “no kissing until marriage is certain” rule so at sunset, with the waves of the Pacific ocean crashing in and the song “Lead Me” playing, we shared our first kiss.  God continued to do “immeasurably more” than we could have asked or imagined!  

We then drove back into Santiago and enjoyed a birthday dinner at a fabulous Peruvian restaurant and praised God for the ways He had moved in our hearts!

The next day was my last day in Santiago so we did some souvenir shopping and went to a prayer lunch before we headed to the airport.  It was hard to say goodbye, but we knew we’d see each other in three weeks.  Tod was flying back to the USA for good on June 28 and we knew we’d be together again in College Station on July 1.  As I flew the ten hours back home, I praised God for all He had done and how He had so clearly led Tod and me in what He wants for our future!

During that three weeks apart, there were many video phone calls including most mornings started on FaceTime with me, Paxson and Preston talking to Tod.  I REALLY wanted to tell Paxson and Preston we were planning on getting married, but Tod and I had decided we wanted to tell them together so it would have to wait until his visit to College Station, plus we weren’t officially engaged yet.  Paxson asked me several times if we were getting married and I kept saying, “we’ll see how God leads us!”  The day I got back from Chile, as we headed to HEB to get groceries for my empty refrigerator, Paxson asked, “when are you going to get married so I can start calling Mr. Tod Daddy?”  So sweet.  The boys and I headed out on a trip to Angel Fire, New Mexico with all the Coles June 24-30 and Tod planned on coming to College Station the day after we got back home—yay!

During our time apart, we decided to tell Paxson and Preston about our plans as soon as possible and wanted to do it the night he arrived (July 1).  He got into town and after we enjoyed a dinner I made, we told the boys our plans.  We had ordered them RoadID bracelets just like mine and I also got Tod a new one that said on it, “I love you Tod!” and “We love you Daddy!” along with his name and my contact info and of course, Ephesians 3:20.  We all became bracelet buddies and tried to explain to the boys what was going to take place. I don’t think they really got it because after we told them Paxson asked Tod when he was going back to Chile.  It may take a while for it to sink in!  We both put them to bed and as we read the Bible and prayed together, I was humbled and amazed at God’s abundant provision for us in giving us such an amazing, Godly, loving, caring, intentional and fun future husband and Daddy.

Little did I know what was coming up next!  After the boys were tucked in bed, Tod said he had a present for me.  I said I felt kinda bad because I didn’t have anything for him!  It was actually five presents, numbered in the order I was to open them.  The first was a bottle of Chilean wine from a vineyard we drove past on our way to the beach that we opened a few days later.  The second was another mix CD with songs he picked out to play while I opened the rest of the presents.  The third and fourth were 18 tealight candles in clear plastic containers and he had written a character trait about me on each one.  There were things like wise, fun, beautiful, encourager, intentional, and more.  He said he wanted to light those as a representation of how I light up a room when I enter it, and how I shine brightly for Christ in the presence of others just like candles illuminate a room when it’s dark.  So kind of him!! 

The next present blew me away!!  It was a digital photo album he had spent many hours creating that tells the story of our relationship from his perspective.  He included many details about significant things that had happened, pictures we had sent to each other, and pictures from both his trip to College Station and my trip to Santiago.  I couldn’t believe he had made it, and put so much thought into it—I can’t think of something else that would speak to my heart more than a photo album!!  Here’s a link to it on Shutterfly if you want to see the whole thing:

I still did not know what was coming until he turned to the last page which had this picture:

That’s Tod in his shower back in Chile and he had written “Erin will you marry me?” on the walls of his tile shower with dry erase marker.  Writing in showers is a normal occurrence for Tod. :) 

Way back during Easter weekend he had written what’s pictured below in his shower as a daily reminder to lead us well and pray for us. 

And when I arrived in Chile he wrote in my shower “38 Things about Erin” with things like wise, giving, gentle, helpful and some of the same things he wrote on the candles.

When I saw the page with the picture of him asking to marry me, I teared up and listened as he read the other side of the album page which said this:

Erin, I love you with all of my heart.  “Immeasurable” is the only way to describe how wide, long, high and deep this love is that God has given me for you, Preston and Paxson.  I love how you love Jesus and others so incredibly well that I’m encouraged to love Him and others more. I love how you have loved our boys through good days, hard days, and everything in between.  I love that you allow me to call Paxson and Preston “ours.”  I love how joy, love and Christ’s life beam from you.  I love how you joyfully and intentionally seek ways to bless others.  I love that you look to build me up publicly and privately.  I love how you patiently wait and allow me to lead, even when I’m slow.  I love praying with you because it’s different, deeper seemingly more powerful than praying on my own.  I love how when I hold you I feel home – not like I’m at home, but the actual feeling that makes a place home.  Erin, I love you!  I have no doubt God is calling us to be husband and wife; that He is joining the four of us together to do great things for His glory.  And while I have peace that God is leading us together, I don’t want to assume anything.  So Erin, will you give me the privilege to love you, Paxson and Preston for as many years as God provides?  Will you allow me the opportunity to serve, honor, lead and protect you with every ounce of strength given to me?  Will you allow me to join you in serving God wherever He leads?  Erin, will you marry me?”   

Just typing that out right now melts my heart all over again!!!  As he finished reading that I of course said yes, yes yes!  He then gave me a blue Sharpie (my favorite color) so I could check the yes or no box and I drew a heart in the yes box. :)  

There was still one more present!!  Inside the last one I opened up a ring he had custom made in Chile to match some birthday jewelry he also had made for me that he gave me when I was in Santiago.  He got down on one knee and asked me again, “Will you marry me?!” as he put the ring on my finger.  It’s beautiful and I love it, and is a perfect addition to the jewelry he already gave me.  We also both knew the real engagement ring would not be ready for quite a while because we are so thankful we are able to use the diamond from my mother’s engagement ring from when she married my stepdad Greg 22 years ago.  She went to Heaven about eight years ago, and Greg has had her ring ever since.  When I started telling Greg about how Tod and I wanted to get married, he offered me her ring to use however we wanted to.  She had wanted me to use it someday but at that point did not know it would be for me to get remarried because Layne had not been diagnosed with his second brain tumor before she passed away.  It’s just another example of how God’s provision is so deep, wide and above and beyond what we could hope for.  We are both extremely thankful we can use part of her ring and have the significance of the love it represented.  Tod knew all that about the ring we would likely use, and knew it would probably take one to two months to have that ring ready—he didn’t want to wait to ask me to marry him so had this ring made instead:

It has wonderful symbolism represented in the design and the design of the engagement ring will be very similar.  The center stone represents God, who is the center of our relationship, the outer bands represent me and Tod and the inner bands represent Paxson and Preston indicating they are on the inside so we can seek to protect them from the world.  He also had “Te Amo Mi Erin” engraved inside.  I love what he chose, and love the meaning behind it!!  Like I said, Tod really knows how to start a few days together!  In Santiago, he began the trip with telling me he loves me, and this time we got engaged! :)  No pressure for the next visit, right?!

After getting engaged and enjoying calling each other “fiancĂ©” a lot, we began planning for the big day!  We are getting married October 26, 2013 in College Station at Grace Bible Church’s Southwood campus and will have a reception following in the church foyer. We’re going to get married at 3:20 p.m. to represent the Bible verse that has signified our entire relationship, Ephesians 3:20!  It’s likely going to be small and simple because not only are we paying for it this time, all we really care about is getting married to each other and not what kind of flowers or centerpieces there are.  We just want to begin our lives together and honor God as we do!  We did choose an Aggie home football game weekend so I've worked on a few wedding details that need to be booked but have a long way to go! One thing I'm thrilled about is having Paxson and Preston walk their Mommy down the aisle. :)

We plan to go somewhere local for the first couple of nights but then come back home so we can enjoy Halloween with our boys (our first official family event together!).  Then we will leave to go on our longer honeymoon the following Saturday, from Nov. 2-9, and we are going to Jamaica!!  WOO HOO!!  After that, Tod will move into my house and we plan to stay there for however long God leads before we buy a new house together.  We want to make the transition on the boys as easy as possible so though we had thought we’d move right away, we feel staying in the same house for a while will make introducing Tod into the family not as shocking as it would be if he came with a new house and possibly a new school.

Where is Tod going to live in College Station until we get married and when is he moving there?  Great question, and another fabulous way God has provided!  He will be in and out of town this summer as he already had several summer post-Chile trips planned.  He’ll move in late August into some great friends of mine’s garage apartment (Chuck and Suzanne Moreau) and stay there until we are married.  It’s the perfect answer to what we had prayed for because we didn’t want to move his stuff into a place for a couple of months and then move it again once we’re married.  Tod owns a house in San Antonio he rented out while he was in Chile and all his furniture is in storage in San Antonio.  We've decided to sell his house and are thankful for ways God is already moving to make that happen.  We plan to somehow merge our things into my house and use some of his stuff along with mine, and store the rest until we know what we might want to use in our next home together.

I think that’s all the important details (plus much more than you probably wanted to know!!) but I also wanted to brag on God quite a bit.  I have been so humbled and amazed at the depth of His provision, and how He answers prayers in ways far beyond what I ever expected.  There are so many things I prayed for when I talked to Jesus about the possibility of being blessed to be married again, including many things I didn’t really expect to happen because I thought I was praying so big.  God has done them all!!  

When I even began considering dating again, I prayed that if I was to be married again that God would allow me to seriously date only the man I would marry.  I didn’t want to date someone and watch me and the boys get attached to them and then break up, and do it all over again several times until God brought the right one.  My desire was that if God led me to date anyone, I’d marry them.  Check!  

I also prayed REALLY BIG in asking God to bring me someone who would want to stay in College Station.  Not because I’m not willing to move wherever God leads me to because I am, but because I have such an amazing community of people, a wonderful church, my photography business is based here and more.  I fully expected to have to say adios to College Station because surely getting remarried would mean me moving to where my man was already was established.  God blew my socks off on that one too because with Tod just finishing up his time in Chile, he can move anywhere, and he’s moving here.  Check!  

I also prayed that God would somehow work miraculously in the heart of a possible husband to love Paxson and Preston as their own and desire to commit not only to me, but to them as well and want to be a fabulous Dad.  Check!  

I prayed God would bring someone who loves Jesus and people well and would want to use our home, time, talents and resources for serving and blessing others even at the expense of our convenience and comfort at times.  Tod LOVES people, and does it well, and we have talked many times about how excited we are to partner in ministry to many in whichever ways God leads.  Check!   

Those are the big ones, but there are also so many more things I prayed for that God has done in His provision for me in Tod.  He’s literally everything I prayed for and more!!  I can’t wait to marry him and have the blessing of loving and serving him well for the rest of my life.  I’m humbled that God would bless me in this way!  I shouldn’t be surprised though, because I have seen God provide in ways I never could have imagined for YEARS.  God has never let me down, never left me to fend for myself without His help, has always been good and has always led me to His best plan for me, even when I was in the midst of walking through brain cancer with Layne and then losing him.  God is so good!! 

Something that has really challenged me lately in this amazing season of abundant blessings with Tod coming into our lives is that yes, God is really, really good, but would I still believe God was good if I was still a widow and single mom with no prospect of a new husband?  Would I be amazed at His love, faithfulness and provision if He wasn’t doing what I wanted Him to do?  I sure hope so.  He very faithfully allowed me to walk with Him the past three and half years as a widow and single mom with an attitude of thankfulness and desire to cling to the truth that He is good and was doing what was best for me in every season.  Yes, it was really hard being mommy and daddy. Yes, it was a challenge to provide for the three of us by myself.  Yes, it was not fun doing manly things without a man.  Yes, I missed Layne often and wanted so badly for my boys to have a Daddy to love them in daily life and show them what it means to love and serve Jesus as a Godly man.  And yes, I am overjoyed and thrilled that the days of me doing this all by myself are coming to an end in a few months because God has brought me exactly the man we need at just the right time.  And so thankful that man reminds me often that he is with me, and for me, is honored to join me in life’s adventures and that we are just as much God's perfect provision for him as he is for us.  I’m so thankful for the season of doing it by myself because I had to rely on Christ to live His life in and through me to try to be the mom He wanted me to be.  I failed miserably many times as I got tired and frustrated but God remained faithful.  

My season of relying on Christ is by no means over either—it’s just changing a bit.  I’m trading one challenge for another.  I know I still have to rely on Christ to not only equip me to love my boys well, but now also to love and serve my husband sacrificially and unconditionally.  I can’t love Tod in the way he deserves out of my own strength and desire—I must allow Christ to rule and reign in my heart so I can be the kind of wife he needs and wants.  I don’t think God ever puts us in a season where we don’t absolutely NEED Him.  Some seasons might feel harder than others to us, but we need Him to succeed in overcoming the challenges of seasons of joy and seasons of sorrow.  I’ve lived through both and still have many more to come, and am so thankful to know Christ is with me through it all and will continue to lead and guide my every step when I stay in constant fellowship with Him!

If you’ve gotten this far, I’d high five you if I could!  I would love to ask for y’all to pray for us as we embark on this new adventure!

1. Please pray for me and Tod to hear God’s voice and seek His direction as we make many decisions about our family—for us to love and serve each other and Paxson and Preston well and for us to allow God to help us create a blended family who loves Jesus most and honors Him in marriage, parenting and ministry.
2. Please pray for God to clearly lead Tod in what He desires for Tod’s job.  We have some ideas and have been presented with some great options and want to pursue whatever God leads.
3. Please pray for Tod as he makes this major life transition and is entering a new marriage, new house, new city, new job, new church, new family and new kids.  There’s no nine month preparation time in parenting for him—he’s becoming an instant dad of two great kids and he’s excited about it but please pray for God to work mightily in him as the leader of our home.
4. Please pray for Erin as she discerns how to follow the great leader God has provided for her and for her to know how to love and serve Tod in ways that blow his socks off. :)
5. Please pray for Paxson and Preston as they figure out how to do life with a new Daddy in the house and for the transition to be as easy and smooth as possible.
6. Please pray for us as we plan our wedding and that we would be wise in decisions made and time spent on it.  We want to prepare for our marriage much more than our wedding so please pray our focus would be on the right things.
7. Please pray Tod and I could continue to honor God in every aspect of our relationship and that we would have supernatural self-control in certain areas. :)  I’m so thankful God has given me a man who wants to honor God more than anything else and has led very well in the physical area but we also both know how challenging that will be as the wedding draws closer so please pray our desire to honor God would be much stronger than our desire for each other until the proper time.
8. Praise God with us for all He has done, for how He has so clearly led us to each other though we were 4,700 miles apart, for the merging of two (three, really, with the awesome in-laws I already have) amazing families and for His upcoming creation of Team Berkey who will prayerfully be a powerful tool for Him to use in many ways!!

Here's our attempt at a family picture after Team Berkey became bracelet buddies!  Even the professional photographer sometimes has issues getting a nice family picture! :)

THANK YOU for loving us enough to read all this, rejoice with us and pray for us.  We are so honored and thankful for the people God has given us to do life with!  I told you it’s a great God story. :)


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