After breaking up with a long-time college relationship, I was talking with my best friend Jill about how I just don’t seem to be able to pick “the right guy”. She agreed that she also struggled with this!
During our conversation, we talked about a friend of ours who made a plan with her dad. They agreed on a specific gift that the father would give a guy when he asked for her hand in marriage. If the father approved of the guy, he would give him this gift to give to his daughter when he proposed. Jill and I both loved that story, but the reality that both of our dads were out of state, and not really around to give counsel/see the guy in more than just a “dad-pleasing” mode made us think of another way it could work.
We both prayed about it, and asked our Heavenly Dad to put an idea in our heads of something that He would impress on the heart of the “right guy” to give us when he proposed. For her, the image of purple roses came to mind. For me, it was orchids.
Now, neither of us really thought that it could really be the Father putting this on our minds, so we didn’t really put much stock in the images, but we definitely held onto those ideas!
And, it even turned out that when Jill’s now-husband proposed to her, he gave her purple roses, not knowing anything about the simple prayer that she had prayed years before!
Fast forward a few years to when I was in full-time ministry… When I lived out of my car traveling the US, I distinctly remember a conversation I had with a youth pastor in Springfield, MO. He had just gotten back from a mission trip to China that had changed his life. He talked about how passionate the Chinese Christians were to share Jesus… and how they were willing to pay a price for the Gospel. I remember the drive from Springfield to Tulsa, and asking God what MY price was…. and I remember that the first word that came to my mind was “marriage”.
I had had a rough time in relationships… desperately wanting to be in one, but feeling like I was settling whenever one would present itself. It was during that 3-hour drive that I surrendered that part of my heart to Jesus and truly died to the idea of ever getting married. I went from bitter whenever I would see my friends find the love of their lives, to content knowing that I was enough as I was, and that Jesus was enough for me.
I can honestly say that I loved being single and serving Jesus. I had such an authentic, intimate relationship with Him at that time… so many miles on the road with just the Word, worship cds (yes, before ipods), and my own songs sung out the car window. It was a really sacred time.
Fast forward to a month before I went to Colombia. My friends Jake and Bridget organized a prayer/worship night for me as I was about to head out to Colombia. It was such a great time being with old college friends! After everyone left, it was just the 3 of us on their couch, and Jake said “Lilia, I feel like the Lord is going to awaken something that He called you to put to death. I feel strongly that you are going to find your husband in Colombia.” I laughed out loud! I honestly hadn’t even been thinking about it… but made some kind of comment about finding a Jesus-loving, dark-haired hippie musician.
Fast forward to the week after I got to Colombia. The pastor’s family had a kind of death of their own in the family, and people started bringing over beautiful bouquets of flowers, many of them containing orchids.
I asked the pastor’s wife about it, and she said “oh, you didn’t know? The national flower of Colombia is the orchid”.
In that moment, the Lord confirmed the word that my friend Jake had spoken…
And He answered a prayer that a silly 20-something broken-hearted girl had prayed years before.
Because of immigration issues, Leo wasn’t able to meet my family to officially ask for my hand in marriage, but the day that we were legally married Leo presented me with
a bouquet of orchids.