The rain came

A few years ago, in the wake of my wife’s death, I added a second floor to my one-story bungalow. My counselor and I had a conversation about how the project was progressing. I was building my house on a promise that I felt was from God. That promise was that I would be married again someday and get to have more children. (As it was, my two kids and I didn’t need the extra space.) It was a promise I believed, and so I added a second floor.

As I discussed this with my counselor, he said he was reminded of Noah. Noah was told by God that it would rain, and so Noah built an ark (per God’s instruction). I was told by God that I would be married again, and so I built a bigger house. I followed my counselor’s idea, and wrote on some of the construction: “The rain is coming.”

Well, the rain came.

On Wednesday, January 13, I had my parents and girlfriend over to celebrate my birthday. After dinner came the opening of presents. The last present I opened had some slightly more — shall we say — unique gifts. The first item was an angel with the Noah’s Ark story depicted on the bottom of her dress. I pulled it out, recounting to Julie the conversation I had had with my counselor years prior. She thought it was cool, but still thought it was for me, so I pushed it towards her. “This is actually for you.”


As she surveyed the angel, I returned to my box and took out a dozen roses. I then turned to kneel in front of her. She had posted on her Facebook years ago just before Christmas, “All I really want for Christmas is for a wonderful man to send me beautiful roses, with a note saying how much they love me and don’t want to picture their life without me. Then for that sentiment not to change for next infinity of Christmases! :) Now that would be absolutely amazing!”

And so, as I knelt in front of her, I told her, “You’ve wanted a man to give you roses and profess his love for you. Well, I do love you, and I want to spend my life with you. Will you marry me?” After her answer, some tears and smiles, and hugs and kisses, I presented her with the final item from my box: an engagement ring.

After we embraced each other in celebration, I returned to my dwindling stack of presents. I grabbed the last present and gave it to Julie’s 2-1/2-year-old daughter, Hannah. She opened it to find a plush Noah’s Ark with animals stored inside. And I told her that I would love to be her daddy. I asked her if she would like that. She, like her mommy, said “yes.”

As I have read the story of Noah recently, I have taken note especially of how he sent out a dove so that he would know when land could be found. I liken our relationship to that story. It began raining last summer as I met Julie; the flood endured while we got to know each other and dated; and now, the dove has come back to me having found land. She is the land I have been searching for all these years. And now, my house can be fully used as we add two beautiful ladies to our family.

Here is Julie’s take on that night.

Encouraged to lead

In the Christian dating sphere in which I spend a lot of time, the conversation comes up regularly about how women can encourage men to take the lead and to be stronger leaders. They express wanting to be respectful in how they present the encouragement. Well, while I was at a singles conference in Colorado Springs recently, one of the ladies gave a perfect example of how to do just that.

A group of about a dozen of us set out to hike up Pulpit Rock. Thrusting up out of the earth, Pulpit Rock offers a couple different experiences of varying difficulty. We chose the more difficult, which involved some climbing near the summit. When it was time to head back down, there was a little bit of hesitation about how and where to start our decent. Where again was the spot where we climbed up?

It was at this point that Lindsey spoke up. “Well, Brad’s really good at forging a new path. Why don’t you lead the way, Brad?”

There it was. That was all I needed to hear. I wasted no time in stepping forward and being the first to head down the slope. I could do this. I knew I could do this. One person believed I could do this. So I did this. There was no question in my mind.

I also wasted no time in thanking Lindsey for her kind words, encouraging confidence, and supportive trust. She had done — in my mind — exactly what men need from women as respectful encouragement to lead.

She called out the ability she had seen in me. She affirmed it, acknowledging that she knew I would be a great candidate for forging the path. She then called me to live into those attributes she had seen in me. She had set the bar for me, and told me that she believed I could reach it.

Men love to be issued a challenge. If I say to a guy that I can beat him in a game of one-on-one, it won’t be long before he’s playing me to prove me wrong. If a guy next to me at the stop light revs his engine, I’m likely to hit the gas hard once I see green. (Although, if I’m smart like Marty McFly, I’ll put the car in reverse first.)

When a challenge is made, the bar is set. Sometimes, the bar seems too high. If that’s the case, some men will give up before even trying. (I’ve certainly done that before.) But, if there is someone there to tell the man he can reach that bar, he’s much more likely to try; especially if that someone is a woman he loves.

Certainly, this framework would be a great way to encourage anyone to take the lead. But, I think it is especially effective for men.