My Dear Friends, I don't even know where to begin. This Christmas is by far the best one I have ever had! Ok, so what is the big deal? Well....let me tell you my story! Two years ago on December 3rd my family and I met the Horsman family. This was right before I went to Russia on the missions trip and then went to EXCEL as a team leader. It was not until the following September that we started getting to know this family more closely. It all started when the Lord began to show me that as a Christian, I have a responsibility to be serving my government leaders. I have had an interest in politics for quite some time, but had never gotten involved myself. I knew that Justin (the oldest of the Horsman children) was working as a campaign manager for several local political candidates here in the state of Maine. My dad and I asked him what I might be able to do to get involved and that was the start of an amazing adventure. Some of you may remember my Christmas letter from last year and the different things that I was involved in politically as I worked for Justin. (Justin is also the state coordinator for TeenPact here in Maine.) This past year has been one of great challenges for me, not only as I was stretched in the opportunities that God gave me to serve in the political realm, but especially as I began to struggle with a growing attraction to a certain young man. Over the past year our two families have grown very close and have spent a great deal of time together playing volleyball, riding the jet ski, playing vintage baseball (Kyle Horsman does Civil War reenactments), and doing our favorite thing--sitting around the living room singing. Justin had become a great friend, but could never be anything more to me because I had committed my heart to my dad and the Lord until the Lord gave me permission to share it with someone else. I grew to admire Justin a GREAT deal and would frequently go to my parents to "unload" and tell them how I was doing! My parents would always listen and encourage me to keep my eyes focused on Christ and the things that He had for me right then. It has been an amazing process as the Lord has been teaching me to rely on Him for my sufficiency. Little did I know that while they were encouraging me to guard my heart and leave it in the Lord's hands, Justin was already pursuing me! On April 12th Justin went to my dad and asked for permission to court me. Over the past eight months my dad and Justin have been meeting once a week and talking on the phone as they have gotten to know each other, and have come to love each other as father and son. During this whole time they were praying that God would put a veil over my eyes and keep me from knowing what was going on, in case this was not of the Lord. I had not seen Justin very much since the end of October when he went to San Antonio, TX to finish his bachelor’s degree. He arrived home for Christmas break on the 23rd and the whole family came over for supper on Christmas Eve. I have to admit that I had really been hoping a courtship would start this Christmas, but I was convinced that it was impossible. You see, I was SURE that my parents and my sister couldn't possibly keep it a secret from me when a young man did one day begin to pursue me. I really thought that I would figure it out myself and had even told them that! I had prayed that the Lord wouldn't let me figure things out prematurely and really wanted to be surprised if and when He did bring a courtship about. On Sunday my brother Caleb was sick so Mom stayed home from church. Because Mom was gone I ended up riding in front with Dad on the way home from church. When we were almost home Dad asked me what I would want for Christmas if I could have anything I wanted. I didn't answer for a minute, and then told him my honest answer--A courtship proposal! Later after lunch I followed my dad downstairs where he was filling up the wood stove. I was really struggling with this strong desire to start a courtship (with someone in particular!) and I just needed to share my heart with my dad. He encouraged me to stay focused on the Lord and said some things that made me pretty sure there was nothing going on. As we were heading back up the stairs he referred to that day in the future when a courtship would begin and said, "It will seem like just yesterday that we had this conversation." It wouldn't have made me wonder except for the fact that he said it three times! My new found assurance that there was nothing going on quickly dissipated and hope started again! Later that evening I spoke with my dad's mom and found out that she and her husband were joining us for supper with the Horsmans on Christmas Eve. This seemed a little odd to me but I went to sleep that night pouring out my heart to the Lord and asking for his grace to leave my Isaac on the altar. I was busy at work Monday morning (Christmas Eve) and then stayed busy when I got home so that I wasn't thinking too much about the Horsmans coming over that evening. I had purposed in my heart that I was not going to go out of my way to talk to Justin at all while he was home and I didn't want him to have any idea that I was interested. Before supper we all sat in the living room to sing a few Christmas carols and then Dad asked Justin to pray for supper. As soon as Justin finished praying he went on to say that he had two things to share. It is not unusual for Justin to share what the Lord has been doing in his life so I thought nothing of it, but I had not given up all hope either! The first thing that he shared was a praise for the way God had been working and helping him to get ahead in his schooling very quickly. He then went on to the second thing. He started to tell of someone that had come to mean a lot to him in the last several months, and although he didn't say any names, he did refer to the individual as being a man (STINK!) I was sitting there fighting a mental battle between hope that maybe he would pursue me and my logical reasoning that it wasn't going to happen. As he spoke of this man that had discipled, prayed, and cried with him, he turned to face me and said "Through this process I have come to know somebody else, and that brings me to you. Bethany, would you give me the honor and privilege of winning your heart with the sincere desire for marriage?" (I couldn't breathe!!!) He then told me that I didn't have to give him an answer right away. "Are you kidding?" I said. "Yes, YES, YES!!!!!!!!" Wow! Let's just say that I was floating on cloud 9 and looking at my family in utter amazement! Since that night Justin and I have been able to spend a lot of time just talking and reading the precious journal that my mom kept over the past eight months. We are both just in awe of what God has done. He has truly blessed us far beyond what we could ask or think. Neither one of us ever anticipated the sweetness a relationship can have when God is the creator of it. We are both thoroughly enjoying this time of getting to know each other on a different level. We are not engaged, but our focus right now is on building a deeper friendship with the desire for marriage in God's timing. Justin will be heading back to San Antonio on Sunday and I will be leaving for Asia on the 12th. Neither one of us is looking forward to the time of separation, but we are both confident that God will use this time in a mighty way. (Justin gave me a web cam for Christmas so at least we can see each other occasionally during this time!) I will be returning home on May 5th and then Justin will be home for 2-1/2 weeks in June. At that point he will return to San Antonio to complete his degree and study for his law school entrance exams. He will be home for good in October and, Lord willing, will begin law school in September of 2009. In the mean time I will be working on some TeenPact projects, working at the diner, and possibly doing some volunteer work as the 2008 elections approach. We would appreciate your prayers as we look to the Lord for wisdom and direction in this new season of life. It is so exciting to see Him at work and we hope that this story will be an encouragement to you. May our Heavenly Father bless you mightily in this New Year. May your hearts be filled to overflowing as you seek His will and His way.
"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" Ephesians 3:20-21