This is my version of our "pre-courtship" story. ~ Janine
In ‘96, I journaled a prayer for my future husband, if this was in God’s will for me some day. I asked for guidance in the choice of a marriage partner and prayed that when the time was right he would make it very clear to me with whom I was meant to unite my life with. I asked the Lord to make my future husband the man of God he would have him to be, and that we would only unite our lives together in marriage because we could each serve God better by being together rather than by being apart. For a long time, I almost forgot the prayer I had journaled so long ago.
A couple years ago, my previous roommate, Larie, invited me to join her for the
Soon after that school year got started, Curtis took a leadership position at Advent HOPE, and so we worked together on planning some prayer events for our young adult church group. By this time I had become involved in a long distance courtship with someone, and of course the thought of anything between Curtis and I was even further from my mind then it had been when I first met him. To say it plainly, Curtis was not an option.
As it turned out, that summer my family and other mentors began advising me that personality-wise, I was not well matched with the guy I was with, and through much prayer, we called off the courtship. After that, I had no plans to enter another relationship again unless God nearly hit me over the head. Through that experience though, God was able to teach me a lot about my own self, and grow me in ways that I believe made me a better person.
That next fall, I sprained my knee, and actually could not teach for several months. Strangely, this turned out to be one of the greatest blessings. During that time I had nothing better to do, but pray for God’s presence in my life and his leading for me in all areas of my walk. One of my mother’s close friends, who is a true prayer warrior, challenged me to pray for real answers and almost out of the blue, encouraged me to pray that God would bring me my future husband that year. During my injury, guys seemed to come out of the woodwork to help me, and so I almost began wondering if my mother’s friend was really on to something. Maybe, just maybe, I should be praying with more faith! One guy in particular seemed especially helpful as I was on crutches, and I questioned if he may have the kind of character I was looking for in a possible life partner. I was committed to seeking a courtship kind of relationship, if I was to enter a relationship again, one that would be based on principle and that had a solid foundation of friendship before emotions ever become involved.
That fall, we had the Messiah’s Mansion, a life-sized replica of the sanctuary, set up in Loma Linda. I invited my family to come tour the sanctuary, and afterwards one of my relatives asked some questions regarding some topics covered in the tour. In my effort to address the questions, I emailed Curtis and Eric, knowing they both had key involvement in the Sanctuary project, and might have answers. Both guys shared valuable resources and feedback over email, and at one point, Curtis agreed to meet with me over a church potluck to discuss the topics further. I came a little late to the lunch, and once I got there I noticed he was sitting with the guy who had recently been showing me extra attention. I wondered how talking with Curtis would be perceived by the other guy if he was indeed interested in me, but I figured if that guy was checking me out I would in turn check out how he thought about deeper theological points. As it turned out, the other guy didn’t have much insight to share on the topics, and I found myself deep in conversation with Curtis. It still did not really dawn on me that he could be someone to pray about, it simply confirmed to me that the other guy who I had though was interested in me may not be the kind of person I was really looking for.
Over the Christmas break, I attended GYC, a revival conference for young people. While there, I was tempted to entertain “if only” thoughts, wishing my previous relationship could have work out. My mother was with me on the trip, and after briefly sharing my feelings with her, she counseled me to stop allowing my mind to dwell on there, as those thoughts would only hurt me in the long run. It was a struggle, because I realized I had been holding on to an effort to make things work in my own human strength.
At the conference, I ran into Curtis and he asked how my Christmas had gone. We talked briefly and he helped carry my backpack over to where I was to meet my mother and a couple friends. He introduced himself to my mother, wished us a good evening, and we went our separate ways. Back up in our room, my mother and I somehow began talking about Curtis. She had a soft smile on her face and at one point in our conversation my mother turned towards me and said, “I could really see you with Curtis… Now that’s the kind of guy you need.” I wasn’t expecting this response from my mother, and I told her why I thought he could not be an option and that I had even heard he had a long distance relationship. My mother listened but didn’t seem convinced. That night, I lay awake for awhile thinking of my mother’s words and praying for God’s guidance.
I woke the next morning to my mother and girlfriends singing ‘happy birthday’ to me. That day, somehow, Curtis ended up sitting at my table during lunch and since it was my birthday, everyone at the table shared their ages. I learned that Curtis and I were much closer in age than I had thought, and quite interestingly, I still wasn’t seeing him with any girl.
That night at Vespers, the speaker David Gates gave a powerful message followed by an alter call to surrender all to Christ. I went forward, and tears came to my eyes as I knew God was calling me to surrender my own all to him – specifically the hope that I had of getting married and also my fears that accompanied that hope. When we came forward I found my friend Rachel standing next to me and somehow after the prayer we slipped away to talk and pray on our own. I shared my heart with her, both the knowledge that I needed to make a full surrender to God in the area of relationships, and that I had fears of considering new possibilities. During that talk, Rachel shared something I will keep with me for the rest of my life. She said, “Sometimes, in life we need to experience a death to a vision before we can be really ready for God’s true best.” That thought hit me like a ton of bricks; I knew I needed to lay to ‘death’ my hope of every being married someday, and truly surrender my own ideas and desires to Jesus, for he knows what is really best for me far better than I ever could. During our conversation, though, another revelation came to me, as well. I shared with Rachel that my mother had noted someone who could be good for me, but that I had fears of considering anyone else again. I hadn’t planned to tell her just who that guy was, but somehow that fact came out. To my amazement, Rachel wasn’t surprised at all and shared that she had actually felt Curtis and I would make a good match way back when she had first met me and seen us both together in group settings. We ended in prayer and I realized I now had much more to continue praying about.
Back home during the next months that followed, from January to April of 2006, I embarked on an amazing journey of prayer and discovery. I continued to ask God, regardless of whether Curtis was meant to be in the picture or not, to purify my own heart and give me a true “death to a vision” experience so I could follow him to the fullest, whether it was his plan for me to be married someday or to remain single for the rest of my life. In early January I prayed for strength to overcome fears and in February and March, I became a student of both God’s Word on the subject of relationship, and of Christian friends’ and mentors’ word on the subject of Curtis Farnham. Interestingly, the more I prayed, read, and observed, the more I became convinced that Curtis might indeed have the kind of character I desired in a man who could become the spiritual leader of my home someday. As I observed him humbly leading the Restoration team, genuinely showing an interest in the people I brought to the student evangelistic series, and prayerfully seeking God’s leading for his own life as his medical studies met with challenges, I gained greater confirmation that my mother’s observation may be God’s leading. By late March and early April, the Lord had given me a peaceful sense of assurance that Curtis was a worthy young man I could consider…
Just before my April break of 2006, our young adult group went on a hike to
Over the next couple months we entered a phase of deepening in friendship. Early during this time Curtis decided to meet with my mother to ask if he could spend more time together with me for the purpose of considering courtship. When he came to see her, she greeted him as warmly as if he was already her son-in-law, and even before he could explain the intent for why he wanted to talk with her, she proceeded to give him a two hour Bible study on the Biblical principles for courtship and marriage! Needless to say, when he finally had a chance to ask for her blessing on his spending more time with me for the purpose of considering courtship, she did not hesitate to grant it.
At the end of my final quarter of school and intern teaching, Curtis had arranged for me to fly out and spend the week of July 4th together with him and his family at their cabin on