It was 1978, I was 18 and had never gone out on a date nor had a boyfriend. I wasn't weird looking but it seemed as though God had put a large "kiss off" sign on my forehead to keep members of the opposite sex away. I was commuting to Los Angeles daily on the public bus to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (“FIDM”) where the chances of meeting a normal, nice Christian male interested in the opposite sex were extremely dismal. I had just become a Christian the year before and was spending my hour long commute nagging the Lord daily about wanting to go out on a date. I was feeling quite desperate!
On one particular day I think the good Lord had had enough of my "kvetching" and while ‘lucky dipping’ through my Bible, the following scripture jumped off the page at me. I could almost actually hear the Holy Spirit yelling the verse at me: "DELIGHT YOURSELF IN THE LORD AND HE WILL GIVE YOU THE DESIRES OF YOUR HEART!!!" At the same time, a still small voice in my head told me to write a story that would portray my wishes being fulfilled.
I went home that day, uncovered my Smith Corona typewriter and began typing away. The title of the book was: "Jesus Wave-walker, Jesus Joy-giver", a pretty lame title now that I look back on it but it turned out to be a pretty prophetic tale. I put myself in the story and described how the Lord called me up on the phone to take me out on a date and during that date He “introduced” me to the man He had chosen for me. At this point, I must digress and tell you that the name for my future husband, whoever he was, was always “Michael”. I prayed for Michael by name and even made a list of all the attributes I desired in my future mate: a good Christian, funny, handsome (to me anyway), had a large family, nice friends, a good work ethic, responsible, trustworthy, kind, handy, played guitar….and oh yes…had kept himself pure from women. Whenever I would tell my friends this last one they would shake their heads at me and whisper “Good luck!” under their breath. I finished my short story naming the character of the man he chosen for me as Michael. I then illustrated my book (drawing myself the way I wished I looked) as well as my “dream man”, Michael.
Fast forward four years. I was at my 8th or 9th College and Career Church Retreat in the hopes of meeting a nice Christian boy. In the past 4 years I had left FIDM, gotten a job and moved to Orange County, met my first love, Barry, (who had died 4 months previous from a brain aneurism) and was still grieving even though my feelings for him had been unrequited. I was friends with a house full of Christian men but was still being treated like one of “the guys”. I was quickly becoming resigned to the fact that I was going to die an old maid when I looked across the crowded room of the retreat’s dining room and saw a face that caught my eye (just like that verse in the song “Some Enchanted Evening in South Pacific). He was pretty handsome and I remember thinking that he was probably stuck up because he was so handsome! The next thing I knew, he was sitting next to me.
We exchanged smiles and introduced ourselves.
“Hi,” I said. “My name is Marlayne.”
“I’m Michael,” was his reply.
My ears perked up but I said nothing about his name for fear of scaring him away. Interesting, I thought. We talked politely for a few minutes then said our goodbye’s when breakfast was done. From that moment on I was his shadow. We ended up talking for hours about cartoons, my first love then his first love; the fact that I was a Messianic Jew and on and on until the stars came out and it was time to go to our respective cabins. It had snowed that weekend (despite being April) and we threw snowballs at each other the next day. I didn’t even mind when he put his arm around me and kissed my forehead (which normally would have scared me off). The last day of the retreat I was starting to fret because Michael still had not asked for my phone number. After Sunday morning’s Bible study we would all be going our separate ways and if he didn’t ask for my phone number I would probably never see him again. With that in mind, I asked to see his Bible. He handed it over to me and I wrote my name and phone number inside the front cover and handed it back reasoning that I rather come off as forward than die a spinster.
The following day, back at home I told my roommate about meeting Michael and how we had hit it off. As I left our apartment to visit Barry’s parents, I gave her some very specific instructions: “Now, Theresa, if a guy by the name of Michael calls… don’t say anything to him but call me at the Henriot’s house and let me know.” She agreed and to my delight while I was having dinner with Ruth and Al, she called and sang out: “Michael caaaalled!!”
I was ready at that moment to call him right back (impatient person that I am) but I distinctly felt the Lord instructing me to wait an entire day. If you know me at all you would know what absolute torture this was but I obeyed and waited.
The next day I called Michael back and in a very nonchalant voice said: “Hi! I heard you called yesterday.” (Little did he know that I was jumping up and down for glee at that moment.) Michael then asked me out on a date for the following weekend with his sister, her husband and another couple to go to Westwood to see the rerelease of Fantasia. I went right out and bought myself a whole new outfit for the occasion and when I opened the door of my apartment the following Saturday and saw Michael standing there I couldn’t help but think “Oh my… is he ever handsome!”
After the movie we went to Hamburger Hamlet for dinner as a six-some. Little did I know until several years later that something very unusual took place during that date while I was in the ladies room. His sister’s friend, Tina, who had never laid eyes on me until that night, had turned to Michael’s sister, Debbie and asked her: “Well, what do you think of Marlayne?”
“She seems nice,” had been Debbie’s polite response.
“Well that’s Michael’s future wife.” Tina informed everyone. Michael was instantly incensed. He couldn’t stand this girl and how opinionated she was, so the fact that she had just said this to him instilled the exact opposite reaction. NO WAY NOW! Were his thoughts at the time but God had other plans.
We dated for the next four years but 9 months into our relationship I finally got up the courage to show him my story with his name and face in it. It was a good thing I had waited until he was really “hooked” because if I had shown it to him early in our relationship he would have high tailed it for the hills! Almost five years after we met we were married. I put my prophetic story on display at our reception so everyone could see how God had brought us together – and haven’t seen it since. It simply disappeared.
My list? Oh yes, Michael fulfilled everything I had put on my list, including the last item!!
That was almost 23 years ago and we are still happily married. Michael and I were recently discussing that story and my history of other men avoiding me like they had seen a giant “kiss off” sign plastered on my forehead when Michael said one of the sweetest things to me I have ever heard:
“Well, honey, I didn’t see the words: ‘kiss off’ on your forehead…” he reassured me, planting a tender kiss on said spot. “I saw the words: KISS HERE.”
Cypress Hideaway -- Releases in October
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