“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Before I got saved I managed to survive two broken marriages and was carrying a lot of pain. In 1999, when my son Jack was barely one year old, I became a single parent. Child support was sporadic at best. I remained a single parent for almost eight years.
Growing up I felt drawn to Jesus, but my parents did not take me to church very often. As an adult, I attended church on and off, but was never taught to study the bible. I had a longing for God, but thought I could find satisfaction in the world. My relationship with Christ did not take root until I hit rock bottom. After my second divorce, I was desperately searching for a church where I would be inspired and really grow spiritually. I was desperate for something to hold onto, something that would last, something deep and true and real. I wondered if I would ever find it.
After visiting church after church that left me uninspired, a friend invited me to Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale. As soon as I heard the first sermon, I knew I was in the right place. Within three weeks I knew I had found what I had been looking for.
In March 2001, I gave my life to the Lord. All of it. The good, the bad and the ugly. I’ll never forget the moment in church during the altar call when the Holy Spirit prompted me out of my seat. I made my way down the aisle of that enormous sanctuary, up to the platform where I stood in front of 3,000 people. I was surrounded by a group of close to fifty strangers in front of the pulpit, people just like myself, desperate for new life – desperate for a second chance to make things right.
From that day forward God began changing my life, giving me purpose, strength and hope.
The verse that spoke to me was Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I felt convicted that God not only could, but He would turn my ashes into beauty,and that my pain would serve a purpose in His plan.
In 2003 I was living in Hollywood, Florida with my five year old son Jack, in a little house near the beach. This was the town I grew up in. I knew the lay of the land like the back of my hand. I was selling real estate for Coldwell Banker, and the market was on a roll. That summer I registered my five-year-old son in a Golf camp at the Diplomat Country Club.
My son Jack taking golf lessons with Pro Manny Zerman, Diplomat Country Club, Hollywood, Florida 2004
After his first day of camp, Jack came home and said “Mommy, I LOVE golf!” I thought to myself, I can get behind that. I couldn’t resist the pint-sized polo shirts and mini golf clubs, and the lush surroundings of a golf course setting.
It wasn’t long before Jack and I were taking lessons together. It became our recreation of choice, and we started golfing almost every weekend. I couldn’t think of a better sport for a mother and son. After a couple years, my golf game was getting pretty good. A friend lovingly suggested, “You need to meet a guy who is a Christian golfer. That would be perfect for you! I think there is a golf dating site. You should look into that.”
I didn’t want to be alone, but I knew that if I ever got married again, it would only be to a solid Christian man. Once I got saved, I never considered anyone who wasn’t a believer. Every night when Jack and I said our prayers, I always prayed that God would send me a godly husband, who would be the spiritual leader of our home. I prayed that prayer with Jack, every night, for years.
About four years later, after a long season of feeling very lonely, I finally took her advice, and checked out a website called Golfmates.
In the meantime…on the other side of the country, in northern California, my future husband David was going through his own painful divorce. After seventeen years and five kids, his marriage ended. David was hurt and angry, but God was merciful. He started attending a Calvary Chapel church plant in Sebastopol, where the Senior Pastor, Ross Reinman, recognized his spiritual gifts and heart for service.
Within one year David was asked to come alongside Ross as his Associate Pastor. David’s way of dealing with the difficult times of divorce was to step up and serve in the church. David said, “I found that when I kept my focus on serving others, Jesus started healing the anger and hurt.”
Private Ceremony, Ritz Carlton, Naples, Florida 2007
One of David’s ministries at the church was leading the high school and college youth groups. As time went by, the kids at church started getting ideas about setting David up. My husband is an avid golfer, so David’s response was always the same, “My next wife is going to play golf.”
As David Tells the Story~
In the summer of 2007 the thought occurred to me, “I wonder if there’s a dating site that centered around golf?” I googled the words “golf dating” and golfmates.com appeared and I clicked on it. I had two criteria as I searched the profiles: First, she had to have a good picture, and second, she had to be a born again Christian. Golf was a given. I started my search in the state of California, but soon found that the women who checked “Christian” in the religious category were not very serious about their walk with Christ. I could tell this because they wrote mostly about drinking and partying.
After exhausting the state of California, I decided to take my search nationwide but the results were pretty much the same. After I looked at about 200 profiles, I got to Florida and came across the “Golf Princess”. When I saw her picture I thought “Wow!” Then, when I read her profile:
“God is first in my life, then family, then golf. If you’re on the same page, then let’s make a date.” I thought to myself, “Double wow!”
The reality of 3,ooo miles of distance kept me from contacting her, but every time I revisited the site, I found myself going straight to her profile. A couple of weeks later, Pastor Ross stopped by and I showed him the site and Erica’s profile. I said “Hey Ross, what do you think about this?” His response was “What are you waiting for? We’re signing you up!” and he immediately helped me to create my profile as “Golf Pastor”.
Private Ceremony, Ritz Carlton, Naples, Florida. Wedding gown by David's Bridal. Smile.
The next day I sent Erica an email. It simply read “Do you have any plans on coming out to California? I came across your profile and WOW”. Emails quickly became daily phone conversations, and six weeks later on Labor Day weekend, I flew across country to meet the Golf Princess.
She picked me up at the Fort Lauderdale airport in her white Ford Explorer. She was tan, wearing a beautiful summer dress. When I saw her in person I thought “Triple wow!” The weekend was beyond anything we ever could have imagined. Erica had made arrangements for me to stay at a friend’s waterfront townhouse. Our first evening together we enjoyed dinner by the ocean. It was magic.
Over the next three days we spent time at the Lago Mar Beach Club, we played golf at the Deer Creek Golf Course, and went to church together at Calvary Chapel. I found it to be amazing that we both “just happened” to be studying the book of Romans at our respective churches.
We both felt a very powerful connection. Everything was falling into place.
On my last night in Florida, Erica and I decided to watch a movie called The Greatest Game Ever Played. The film was one of Erica’s favorites. It was about, of all things, an amatueur golfer who won the 1913 U.S. Open. It was during this movie when I sensed the Lord say to me “She’s the one you’re going to marry”. I wondered to myself, “am I really hearing from God?”
Vows on the Sand, Naples Beach, Florida
The next day I had to fly back to California. Before we drove to the airport, Erica had to meet a client and asked me to wait at her house. I was sitting in her living room and I noticed her bible notebook from church on the coffee table. God put it on my heart that I needed to write something to her. So this is what I wrote:
“Erica, the sign is not that we both go to Calvary Chapel, or that we are both studying the book of Romans, or that we both love golf. The sign to me is ‘that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.’”
David and Jack
I wanted to confirm the scripture reference of this verse. So as I got up to retrieve Erica’s bible from the kitchen, I saw what looked like a business card, face down on the coffee table. I thought, what’s this? And as I turned it over I discovered it was a memory verse card for 1 Peter 3:4, quoting the exact verse I had just written in her notebook. At that moment, the Lord spoke to my heart, “David, you are definitely hearing from me”.
It was my next visit on Erica’s birthday in October that I asked her to marry me. We picked out an antique style ring with three intertwining circles. The jeweler called it “endless love” but to us it represented the verse, Eclessiastes 4:12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. We knew that Jesus represented the third circle, that He would always be the cornerstone of our marriage.
Soon some people on both sides of the country began to ask the question, “So, how is this gonna work? She’s in Florida, and you’re in California?” But because God confirmed to us that this marriage was His will, we knew that He would work all the details out. And He did.
On December 20th, 2007 we had a private ceremony at sunset on the beach in Naples, Florida.
In March of 2008, David flew out to Florida and helped me pack up my little house and we drove across country, 3,150 miles to start our new life together as husband and wife. We have discovered that as we keep Christ as the center of our marriage, God continues to bless us more than we could ask, hope or imagine. Our marriage is filled with joy, peace and laughter. Our God truly is a God of second chances.