Growing up I was always taught to guard my heart for the one man that I would marry and so I grew up having high standards for the man that I wanted to marry. My parents did not allow me to talk to boys on the phone or give out my email address so although I had many guy friends I never developed close relationships with them. When I was about 21 years old I first started noticing a young man that I had grown up knowing about but never really talked to. We went to chapels that were similar and three times a year the youth gathered for a conference and so I had seen Joshua Shelor and his family but we never had really gotten to know each other. However I remember observing that he seemed to be a great man of God.
Summer of 2006 I got a unique invitation to participate in a friend's Star Wars fan film. He had written in two girl characters and I was one of them, little did I know it was kind of a romantic role in a funny way and I would be playing the role against Joshua. I made fun costumes for the week we filmed and had a blast acting and being silly. However that was the first time that Joshua would propose to me...only that time I said no! In August of 2006, I remember confessing to my Mom that Joshua was kind of a distraction. I had worked at a Bible camp that his parents were directors of during the summer and had gotten to spend some time with them through the camp and on weekends in between. I also had attended Aletheia Springs Christian Education Center for a week at the same time as Joshua and had gotten to have some interaction with him and was able to observe his character a bit. My Mom suggested I pray and just trust the Lord leaving everything in His hands…so I did and time passed on.
In March of the next year my world started to change, the brothers in my life started to leave. First my brother Zach, who growing up was my best friend and confidant met an amazing young lady and started to date her, as time went on our conversations became less and he grew more in love. I had another adopted brother named Bobby who is older than me and had become a good friend and he moved away to another part of the state. I felt like the Lord was taking the guys out of my life that had filled that space of longing for male companionship and I wasn’t sure why.
The following month in April of 2007, I started to struggle with guarding my heart. We had a youth conference where I saw Joshua—he was involved with leading music and being the quiz master so I got to see a little bit of him. He was also involved with directing the play the Importance of Being Earnest down in his area during the next week and I was planning on going with a friend of mine. So I remember getting directions from him at the youth conference and him giving me his cell phone number in case I got lost…I must have looked happy after that as one of my brothers asked if he had given me his number! I was conflicted about going to the play and staying with his family since I was feeling interested in him. I was eventually persuaded to go and on Monday I drove down there, that was also the day of the VA Tech shooting and since that was where he was going to school I remember nervously and awkwardly calling to see if he was alright. We had a wonderful time at the play and the next day Joshua and his brother taught us how to shoot hand guns. I remember when I got home that I talked to both my parents and told them how interested I was in Joshua and I gave my heart to my Daddy to protect and we all started to pray. Unbeknownst to me my Mom didn’t think I had a chance of Joshua even knowing I existed. So meanwhile I went around doing what I was involved in, struggling inwardly and also missing the companionship of my brothers.
In the summer of 2007, I worked at Bethel Bible camp and Aletheia Springs and had a lot of contact with Joshua and his family. I struggled but became friends with Joshua although we never really had any serious conversations or anything like that. I was pretty guarded and spent the time observing Joshua and the way he acted around family and friends, all of it confirmed that he was an amazing man. I remember being sad I wouldn’t be seeing him very much anymore and him saying he’d have to come up with an excuse for us to see one another. “Father, I have tried not to think of him—not because he is undesirable but maybe because he is too desirable. I do not want to be distracted or consumed with that which is simply a dream!” I also became good friends with Joshua’s younger brother Daniel.
After the summer I was not sure what would happen so imagine my surprise when in August I got a call from Joshua asking if I and my sister Beth would like to join he and some friends on a trip to Kings Dominion. This was the first “excuse” Joshua came up with for us to keep up our friendship. At this time I also was going through some pretty hard emotional situations, I had another guy friend who was somewhat interested and I had a friend going through a break up and then two good friends left for college. I remember going through many tears and being very frustrated. Slowly I learned to surrender and wait, though sometimes it felt like a daily battle and I was so exhausted mentally.
In October Joshua invited Beth and I out to his family’s house for Daniel’s birthday party and we got a chance to visit and see each other. I was content to wait and see what the Lord was doing. Later in the month our family hosted a dance and to my surprise Joshua came with a friend and stayed at our house for the weekend. It was wonderful and I enjoyed the weekend very much! The day after he had gone home I was at work and feeling very confused because I liked him so much and then he called me…I didn’t answer, I was working and too confused to talk to Joshua. He left me a message just thanking me for the weekend…I wanted to return the call but my Dad said no but said I could respond by email and that started our friendship over email.
In early November it just so “happened” that we were both planning on hiking in the mountains to catch the beautiful fall colors. We both decided to combine our plans and go hiking together with my sister and his brother. It was a beautiful fall day when we hiked Mount Buffalo and that is where Joshua and I had our very first serious conversation. It was where we realized that although Joshua was quiet he felt comfortable talking to me and that was where I heard some of his heart for serving the Lord and I decided there that “I think this is the man I’m going to marry!” My Mom cautioned me to just back off and wait and see what would happen, I struggled and at work had a break down where my employer Mama Suggs prayed and told me to wait. Then came another Virginia Youth conference and Joshua was in an accident on the way. I remember being so afraid for him and when I saw him giving him a great big hug! After the youth conference Joshua called me a couple times and I remember telling him that he would have to call my dad and ask him for permission to talk to me on the phone as I didn’t call guys. I remember putting Joshua on the altar and wondering if he was really the one…I didn’t have to wait long, he called my dad the next day and asked to get to know me as a sister in Christ and a friend on November 26th.
So started our weekly phone calls, mostly on Sundays where he told me what was going on in his life and about the different assemblies that he was speaking at and I chattered on to him about what went on in my life with a big family. We both spent much time in prayer seeking the Lord’s will and I kept my parents very involved and updated with what was going on. At my birthday in December Joshua came for the weekend and I got a special surprise because we went out for ice cream with my sisters on Friday night and Joshua said he would answer any questions that Maddie was dying to ask. I remember being so excited as I heard a few things that I had wondered about answered—how he wanted a large family, wanted to live in the country, etc. It was amazing how easily he slipped into my family and everyone loved him. At Christmas time I realized that I was starting to get very attached, we were both out of range for our cell phones and spending time with family so we didn’t get to talk much and I realized that I missed him.
On New Year’s Joshua came to celebrate with my family, I was so glad to spend time with him and see a whole other side of him that comes when you stay up late…when he left on January 2nd I remember getting before the Lord and saying—“I am ready to wait for as long as you want me to but I know this is the man you have for me.” And I left him on the altar, I had complete surrender. That night my Dad came into my room and sat on my bed with a silly expression on his face, suddenly my phone rang, it was Joshua. He told me that he had just talked to my Dad on the phone and was wondering if he could get to know me as more than just a friend in view of marriage if it was the Lord’s will. With tears in my eyes and quite speechless for the moment I agreed and that started a long conversation that went late into the night. You wouldn’t have known that we had just spent the last few days together…
Those conversations grew longer and more frequent as the weeks went by. We saw each other when we could on weekends, spending time with friends and family. We emailed and talked on the phone and wrote letters thru the mail. Come summer we were able to spend a lot of time serving the Lord together at Bethel and Aletheia and then after a visit that my sister and I took to India we had two weeks left to spend with each other at Bethel and Aletheia. In between the weeks Joshua, Beth, Daniel, Kaitlyn and I decided to go hiking… of all places at Buffalo Mountain…and I didn’t suspect a thing! We got to the top of the mountain and I asked Joshua where the spot was that we had talked last year (I totally set myself up), and he led the way to the little ridge where the first seeds of love had started growing for both of us…somewhere along that path we lost Beth, Daniel and Kaitlyn—which I thought was odd but Joshua didn’t seem to mind…and there on the cliffs of Buffalo Mountain Joshua completely surprised my by telling me for the first time that he loved me and asked me if I would marry him!!!! Of course I said yes…and that is the beginning of the story of how the Lord has woven our lives together…it just gets better with each passing day! The Lord has been so good through every detail and planning a story that was better than even I could have hoped for...He is so worthy of our trust!
“Although she had spend little time with him she already knew he was the type of man that she dreamed of marrying. Now with tears in her eyes she learned that he had noticed her as well.”