I’m writing this blog as I’m 30,000 feet in the air flying out of Dallas after a profound weekend at the Christian Women in Media national convention. On my way home I’ll change planes in Sacramento.
Last time I visited the Sacramento airport was January 27, 2014. During my layover there I made the game changer of a phone call to Ross Holtz and embarked on what has now become a whole new life as a pastor’s wife.
Funny that it was 3 years ago this weekend that God began something that I had no idea was going to lead to my over-the-moon-in-love romance with a man whom I once knew only as my pastor.
I was sitting on the couch at a gathering of women when Cathy Holtz looked me dead in the eye.
Athena, I told Ross if anything ever happened to me, he should marry you.
Stunned, I stammered around for a response, thinking, Uhhhhh really? And what am I supposed to do with THAT information?
The conversation turned to a friend whose mother-in-law passed away and how her father-in-law remarried so quickly that the family was reeling from the lack of grieving time and emotions flared high. They all saw it coming at the memorial service, as he had fallen in love with his late wife’s caregiver and best friend. It was traumatic and devastating for the family and some would not even attend the wedding.
Well, that saved me having to say much else about the statement Cathy made, but believe me, it haunted me for a long time. After all, he was my pastor. And truth be told, I used to sit in church and think to myself as he preached, Lord, can you give me someone like that someday? A man who loves You and loves his wife and family. A man who’s not a flirt, and who is transparent and humble. God, please? Can You do that for me?
So, of course, Cathy saying that to me pretty much freaked me right out. Way too many head games ensued … does he know that I know that she said THAT?!
It was about 6 months later that my brother asked me to help him with my ailing 90 year old momma in Texas, and I was glad to go there to start a new life. In fact I told God I’d never return to Washington. Ha. So much for telling God what I would (or wouldn’t) do!
As I built my life in San Antonio, I joined an amazing group of ladies, The Christian Women’s Small Business Association headed up by Anna Quesada. It was at one of those meetings that God orchestrated not one, but two divine appointments. The first was with Karen from KSLR Talk Radio … after a short conversation she cocked her head, and squinted her eyes as if wondering something…
How’d you like to have a radio show?
That significant question began my amazing journey into radio ministry.
Then I listened to former TV sports anchor, Lisa Burkhart Worley, speak on allowing God to be our GPS, and how he will guide us if we are willing to give Him control. Divine appointment number two. As I stood in line to buy her book and tell her how much she ministered to me, God spoke to her heart that she needed to know me. We met the next time she was down from Dallas with her ministry team, and that meeting led to another pivotal relationship with Deb Ford. God had a plan for Deb and I to encourage one another while I was in Texas, and that we did.
When I joined Christian Women in Media (CWIMA) earlier this year, I had no idea how many of my industry friends were involved, and was so excited to open the national conference brochure to see Lisa facilitating a panel on TV ministry. Not only that, CWIMA was honoring Wendy Griffith, co-host of The 700 Club, with their prestigious Platinum Award for Excellence in Media. I’d interviewed Wendy on my radio show about her book, “You Are A Prize to Be Won” on Valentines Day weekend 2014. Her story of heartbreak had so resonated with me during that interview and here I was reconnecting with her as a giddy newlywed! Arriving at the hotel in Dallas brought so many surprises as significant women who came into my life during my stay in Texas appeared before my eyes. The stories within the stories of my sweet friendships with Marlene Salcher, Joy Ware Miller, Lisa Burkhart Worley and Deb Ford flooded my heart as we hugged and laughed and wept and celebrated all God has done in my life since my time in Texas. And of course there were so many new friendships formed and strategic partnerships developed, the most significant being with Donna Skell’s Roaring Lambs ministry. Literally, I am just stunned with the way God orchestrated this weekend in Texas, and blessed beyond measure by the CWIMA team. Grateful for what Suellen Roberts founded and the fellowship and encouragement shared by women with a calling to media ministry.
And then there was the final full circle of the Dallas trip that just blows me away. Kemilee Rainey and I met during CLASS (Christian Leaders, Authors, and Speakers Seminar) in Dallas in 1993. Our hearts were knit together and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. Not long ago God encouraged her to move from Houston to Enumclaw to be my right hand person and help bring in more new authors at Redemption Press. This visit in Texas was the first time I’d seen here since the Glorietta Christian Writer’s Conference in 1999. Just months before my detour into deception.
As I sit in this aisle seat, high above the clouds, pondering the significance of all of these relationships, and how God will use each one of them in the future, I am feeling extremely grateful, in awe of the faithfulness of God, and a little weepy, but in a good way. Tears of joy actually. So amazed at how much God loves each one of us, and how He cares about even the small details of our lives.
He is working behind the scenes is such significant ways, bringing us full circle to glorify His name.