Just like every girl I always dreamed of having my own prince charming. I dreamed of someone coming into my life and sweeping me off of my feet, making me feel special and loved. As I grew up I began to wonder if that would ever happen for me.
At 20 years old I was a single mom to my daughter and the heaviest I had ever been in my life. I felt ugly. I felt like if anyone was going to love me that I would definitely have to lose weight and look perfect. My hope for finding a husband was diminishing. I made a list of qualities that I wanted in a husband and I began praying for this man. I desired a husband that loved God more than me, loved my daughter as his own child, respected me, and treated me like a daughter of the most High King. I even added that I would love it if God would let my husband be taller than me since I'm 6 ft. tall. Lol!
God brought that man into my life in November of 2000, but it definitely wasn't the way that I pictured. God seems to do things like that does't He? He doesn't answer our prayers the way that we thought He would, but in the end it's always better for us.
My friend Loretta had been reconnected to her childhood friend, Michael, who was serving time at the McConnell unit in Beeville, Texas. Scotty showed up on that unit as a very angry and hard hearted man, but God had other plans. Michael loves God and had been praying for someone to disciple. He knew that Scotty was that person even though he didn't want to hear about God. Michael began loving him with the love of Jesus and was a friend to him. No matter how Scotty treated him, Michael continued to love him and show kindness. That's not an easy thing to do when someone is as angry as Scotty was! God gave Michael so much grace for him and it's because of that, Scotty's heart was won over. Love is what draws people in and that sure is what happened for my Scotty.
A couple of months later, December 15, 2000, Scotty gave his life to Christ in his cell. He woke up that night to go to the bathroom and he audibly heard God say "Read Romans 10:13". It freaked him out because his cellie was asleep so he wondered where it was coming from. The voice was so real! Scotty laid pack down and tried to go to sleep, but the voice wouldn't go away. It's important to know that Scotty had a Bible, but didn't know the word of God at all. His sister had sent him a Bible, but he would tell you himself that he only used it to write peoples addresses and phone numbers in. He knew that his Bible couldn't be taken from him so that's where he kept important information. Finally, after he couldn't ignore the voice any longer, he opened up the Bible and read Romans 10:13. It says, "All who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." That night Scotty gave his life to the Lord. He surrendered his own will and told God that he needed Him to take over. Scotty knew that his way wasn't working so he was ready to let God take control. That was the beginning of an amazing adventure!
Michael and Scotty began studying the Bible together every day. Michael was discipling him and teaching him what it means to live a life for God. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between them. One day they were studying the Bible and Scotty saw a picture of me and my friend Loretta. He asked Michael about me and told him that he wanted to write me. When Scotty tells the story he says that he knew he would marry me from the moment he saw my picture even though Michael was telling him there was no way I was going to write him. Lol!
Side note: The picture that Scotty was looking at was me at my heaviest weight. I hadn't lost any of it yet and honestly was at a very low point. I was very insecure in who I was.
My friend Loretta told me that this guy named "Trip" wanted to write me (everyone in prison has a nickname and that was Scotty's. He got that name because he would fight all the time and people would say that "he's a trip"). All she knew was that he was Michael's friend. I decided to let him write me, but I never planned on visiting him. He was going to be a pen pal and that was it. I thought that I could bring some encouragement into his life. He was going to be my "ministry project" at the time. Lol!
I got my first letter from Scotty on November 30th, 2000. We began writing back and forth, sharing about our lives, how we grew up, our families, and even the hard times that we had been through. He would share with me about what he was learning in his relationship with God and I would do the same. It was all so new to him and he loved learning. I loved watching what God was doing in him. He was so excited about this new journey! It got me excited and was helping me to dive deeper into my relationship with God as well.
We wrote for 2 months and grew very close. Scotty felt like a friend that I had known all of my life. It was easy for me to share everything about myself with him because I didn't fear his rejection at that point. Writing letters allowed us both to be open and honest, which ultimately made me want to know more and more about him. Scotty shared a lot about his life as well, but he also told me that he had to give me pieces at at time so that he wouldn't scare me away. Lol!
During the months that we were writing, Scotty would tell me that he wanted me to come and visit him. I was definitely intrigued and wanted to meet him face to face. I had asked him in one of my letters what his voice sounded like and he told me that he sounded like a "county boy". Boy did he ever! Haha! Even though I wanted to meet him in person, I was also very fearful about him seeing me in person. I was afraid that he wouldn't like what he saw because I still hadn't lost any weight. My identity was completely wrapped up in my outward appearance so in my mind I believed that as soon as he saw me, he would no longer want me. But God...
February 10, 2001, my friend Loretta and me went to the McConnell unit in Beeville. She was going to be visiting Michael and I would have my first visit with Scotty. I was VERY nervous!!! I told Scotty how nervous I was in letters and he kept telling me not to worry because he would do all the talking! Lol! If you know Scotty, you know that talking is never a problem for him. He is quite the extrovert and is rarely at a loss for words! Before I got there that day I knew that God brought Scotty into my life for a purpose. I knew that I was falling in love with him. When I would pray I told God that Scotty was everything I ever wanted in a husband. I would ask Him, "Why did I have to meet him in prison? Why couldn't you allow us to meet in the free world?" God always has a reason for what He does and He had a plan that He was working out in our lives. We had no idea what all that would entail back then. All we knew was that we wanted to be together.
March 3, 2001, Scotty came out to our visit and he had a scripture that he wanted to share with me. Romans 16:2 was the verse. Not only did he quote it to me, but he began to explain to me exactly what it meant to him and how God had given Him permission to love me. Scotty told me that he had messed up every relationship in his life and he didn't want to mess this one up. He wanted God to lead the way! He told me that he knew he loved me long before March 3rd, but he waited until God gave him confirmation that he could tell me. The verse says, "I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also." My heart overflowed with love for him! God was answering my prayers right before my eyes and all I wanted was to have this man in my life forever!
At that time I knew that Scotty had a 48 year sentence and that his next parole review was 18 months away. He had served 7 years at that point. I didn't know anything about the Texas prison system, but I was about to learn a lot! I thought that 18 months was a long time, but I was willing to wait because I knew that God brought Scotty into my life to be my husband. I knew that I loved him and I wanted whatever God wanted for us. God gave me a scripture about Scotty as well, which would later help me when we began to doubt that God would bring him home. Ruth 1:16-17 says, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me."
Long before I met Scotty I had a journal and I would write out my prayers in it. One of the prayers that I wrote was about Jordin. I prayed that whoever God brought into my life to be my husband would love her as his own child. This man would be her father and would have a love for her that came straight from God. That was the desire of my heart and I prayed it for years. One day in the spring of 2001, I was sitting at a visit with Scotty and we were talking about Jordin. She was five years old at the time. With tears in his eyes, he told me that he had an overwhelming desire to protect and love her as his own child. What??? Are you serious??? Tears started pouring from my eyes because the words he used were the exact words that I prayed so many years before. I was amazed at God in that moment! Not only did God answer my prayer, but He answered it in ways that showed me that He cares about every detail of my life. He showed me that His ways are so much higher than mine and He knows what He's doing. Scotty doesn't know his biological father just like Jordin doesn't know hers. How awesome is it that God gives her a father that not only wants to love her and be her dad, but also can understand exactly what she feels! Only God can do something like that! It blew me away and was the beginning of God showing me just how faithful He is!
The journey for me and Scotty during this time of our lives was full of ups and downs, emotional turmoil, growing in our relationship with God and each other, and perseverance. In my mind I honestly believed that because God brought us together, surely He was going to bring Scotty home right away, right? This had to be God's plan didn't it? He wanted us to be together. He wanted us to be happy didn't He? I always describe this season as the best and worst time of my life. I went through six parole denials with Scotty. Six no's. Six experiences where people kept telling us that we couldn't be together. My faith wavered. I began to question God and His plans. I believed lies about God, thinking that He just didn't want me to be happy. God must not truly care about me if He won't allow me and Scotty to be together.
Eight and a half years is how long it took for God to open up the prison doors and set Scotty free! God brought him home on May 4, 2009, a day that will forever be imprinted on my mind and heart. From the time I met Scotty until the day he came home, neither of us were the same. God changed us. God built us up. God built our faith and taught us that His plan is the only way and that His timing is perfect. God changed me from the inside out. I learned about my identity in Christ and who He said I was versus what the world said. I started to heal from past wounds and I allowed other people into my life to become part of my community. God showed me how to open up and be vulnerable. He taught me to desire Truth and to seek out friendships that would speak Truth to me and not just tell me what I wanted to hear. As I was changing on the inside, I also started to lose weight (140 pounds) and become healthy. I was becoming free and learning that God had a purpose for my life that only I could fulfill. He taught me that this season didn't mean that I put my life on hold and just wait for Scotty to come home. He wanted to use me for His glory while I was going through the desert. He wanted me to share my experience with others. He wanted me to share my story and what I was learning.
When you're in the desert it's hard to see what God's doing. It's hard to see past your situation. Even though I knew God had a plan it was still hard because I missed Scotty. I was tired from being a single mom, working full time, being involved in my church, and traveling to see him on the weekends. All I wanted more than anything was for Scotty to come home so we could live life together. I wanted other people to see why I loved him so much. Instead of just talking about him to my friends, I wanted them to know him and be around him. I wanted to spend holidays together. I wanted to eat dinner together, go to a movie, sit on the couch next to each other, talk to him every day, and experience all of the ups and downs that life brings. For eight and a half years we had letters and 2 hour visits on Saturdays (Texas put phones in the prison system the year after Scotty came home). During the times when I felt hopeless, God put people in my life to remind me of His promises. When I wanted to isolate myself and have a pity party, God would put a friend in my path that would draw me back into community. I honestly don't know how I would have made it without the people God gave me. None of us are meant to live life alone and this time of my life was proof of that!
One of the promises that God gave me early in my relationship with Scotty was Psalm 91:14-16. It says, "Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation." This verse was a constant reminder to me that God would come through for us. I knew that He didn't bring us together to be separated forever. I didn't know when Scotty would come home, but I knew that God would honor His word to me. That's what I held on to for eight and half years.
I know that our story is just beginning. There is so much more that God has for us and that is exciting to me! I want to live a life of purpose and allow God to use me however He wants to. I know that all we went through wasn't for us to keep it to ourselves, but to share it. Someone out there needs hope. Someone needs to hear that God is faithful and will fulfill His promises! He will! He doesn't know any other way. It's who He is!