My story is not just my story. It is the story of all those who follow Christ, and theirs is mine. All because our Story is really God's story!
I met Leah in 1996. She was just 15 years old. This next part is going to sound creepy, so please read the whole story, ok? Thanks! I met Leah because I was an intern at the church she attended (Keep Reading). The truth is that Leah's parents didn't attend this church, they were busy helping plant a church. Leah's grandparents attended this church and before her parents were church planting, they attended this church. So in the summer of 1996 Leah came to youth events and sometimes class. In 1996 Leah was just one of the students and I knew the rules on not to even think about being involved with a student. And I wasn't and I didn't. In fact, I kept a journal that summer and Leah shows up in that journal three times. Each time is just me saying she either attended one of our events or I had to give her a ride home (I promise it wasn't creepy like that). I went back to that same church the next summer. The dynamics of the group had changed and the community kids outnumbered the "member's kids." There was a reward type system going on and if you weren't committed to the group through attendance (especially on Sundays) you weren't going to be able to enjoy the big or fun events. It was a covenant they signed and had to keep. There was one Sunday when certain people were being discussed because of their lack of attendance at a formal meeting of the student leadership. Leah was mentioned. Mainly because she was attending her parents' church plant when she wasn't at this church. It's a long story, but basically this same kind of thing happened to me when I was a youth group kid at my home church. It was for different reasons and I didn't have anyone to stand up for me, so I stood up for myself. Leah wasn't at the meeting, so I stood up for her, knowing her circumstance through her friends at our church. She was excused from the strict attendance rule. In 1998, Leah's family were on a trip and going through Waco, where I was interning that summer. Somehow they ended up coming to church and I got to talk to her, her parents, and her sister. At this point they had dissolved the church plant and were attending a different church in Houston. It was neat to see a past youth group kid when I was at a different place.
In 1999 I graduated college in December. Which meant that I had an extra semester that my friends did not have and most were either gone or married. Leah had her first semester in college. She saw me in chapel and we talked about old times. About a week after that encounter my fiancé broke off our engagement and I in turn broke off our entire relationship (it needed to happen). That left me without any social world. Leah didn't attend ACU Leadership Camps or Blue Haven camp and therefore was having a tougher time breaking in to already set social groups. At the chapel encounter Leah and I both made that popular empty promise to catch up with one another. Well...my mind went back to that conversation when I found myself alone and we made a time to catch up. In the next few weeks we became good friends. Really, it was just friends. Our first date is an ongoing debate between us. Leah thinks it was when I took her to one of my Highland students' musicals. She thinks this because I opened the car door for her and bought her ice cream. Whatever! During this entire time of being good friends, Leah kept trying to set me up with her new friends from her dorm. At this point, though all I could think about was what it would be like to date Leah. And so on November 2, 1999 we began dating.
Leah and I dated for 3 1/2 years before we were married. The crazy part is I left Abilene in December, even though Leah thought I should start my masters. She finished school at ACU a semester early. On October 25, 2001 I asked Leah to marry me and she said yes. Leah had a rule when we dated. She would graduate with the last name Bivins. She graduated in December 2002 and we were married April 12, 2003.
I have never known love, like the love that Leah showers me with every day. I had never experienced the kind of love that is like fine wine and gets better with age, until Leah. While I still don't believe in destiny, fate, and that there is only one soulmate for everyone; I do believe that Leah and I are blessed as one through our covenant of Marriage and God's agape love for us. I never want to make another choice. I love Leah with all of my heart! It's not perfect, but it is awesome, holy, right!
We don't travel paths alone. Our story is never a solo act. Leah really joined my story almost 20 years ago. We joined as one, ten years ago. Our story is God's story and I wouldn't want anyone else to join my story the way that she has these past 14 years. And because of Leah my story is richer, fuller, more beautiful, and more reflective of God.
Thank you so much, Leah for joining my story. Happy Birthday Sweetheart! You deserve all the riches of heaven and blessings of the earth. I praise God for you!