David and I are married! In the future I would like to chronicle God’s love story between David and I in greater detail. The following is what I shared at our wedding as a testimony of God’s hand in our relationship. A truly divine romance.
For me, Our Story begins in Brazil. The summer of 2017 I went abroad and worked in a women’s rehab for 4 months. Coming from a broken home, marriage wasn’t a beautiful thing for me and I had more than a slight aversion to the word “submit.” However, all throughout that summer I found myself surrounded by good, Godly, healthy couples and I knew God was healing my heart and my view of marriage. Friday, June 16, 2017 I wrote:
I am in Goiania, Brazil. It is a beautiful evening. Sitting on my front porch I see city lights twinkling in the distance. I hear dogs barking and crickets chirping. Life happening all around me.
God is preparing my heart for you. The idea of you is no longer repulsive. Still terrifying. But I dream of my life with you. My heart is softening and tinglings of longing for you have just barely begun. The seeds of desire.
I was reading 1 Peter and came across the “Wives submit to your husbands” passage. I used to greatly dislike this passage. The independent woman in me would come out and say, “No how, no way, uh-uh. No.” But tonight as I read it, I found myself thinking, “What an ideal picture.” My heart sees and desires the good in a healthy and holy relationship. It’s not meant to put women in their place, but to be an example to the world. To point people to Christ. A living testimony to God, His goodness, and His love.
I desire this for our relationship my love. I desire to submit to you and trust you with my heart. I desire for you to love and protect me. That’s all for now my dear.
By the end of the summer I was a totally transformed woman. I started that trip still feeling like a girl, and came home a woman head over heels in love with Jesus. Towards the end of the summer God was speaking to me that I was going to meet my husband soon. One night at the end of my trip in September, I was up in bed and couldn’t sleep. I thought, “Ok Jesus. Let’s hang out.” I began thanking God for all He had done in me that summer and I was just enjoying His presence. It is one of the most intimate and tangible times I have ever experienced with God. In that time He very clearly spoke to me two things. One was to quit my job. The other was, “The quiet years are ending soon, Tesia.” I knew this meant the quiet years with just me and Jesus would be coming to a close. When I came to Christ I had such a honeymoon with Him that this transition was harder for me. However, I knew God had been preparing my heart all summer. As excitement grew some names of potential eligible bachelors flashed in my mind. God brought the name “David Hoffman” to mind. I remembered him as a scronny 23-year-old with braces (apparently he had been fasting at the time) and I had just become a young woman you see. So I responded with, “If that’s the case, then You’re gonna have to make it happen Lord.” And that was that.
The next morning I wrote about the experience:
“God, You are so close. An intimacy I have never discovered with You before. You love me so much. And have good plans for me. You will guide my steps. I just follow You. To amazing places. I hear You asking me to quit my job. To freefall and trust You. I will trust You Lord. I will go on this adventure with You.
Last night laying in bed before sleep, I felt You so close and near. I thought the only other feeling that comes close to this is being in love. You are love! You are romantic! And You are with me always. There is no other feeling like this in the world. This intimacy with You is like I have never experienced. God I want more. I want to go deeper. I want as much intimacy as humanly possible. I don’t want to settle for things of this world.
Thinking about these last years and our relationship, these are the quiet years. The foundational years. Building my house on a firm foundation with You. Last night I wrote:
These are the quiet years
The days I cried all my tears
Tears of joy, tears of pain
You came down, Your Spirit rain
I am so blessed and thankful You share this intimacy with me. You choose me? You want me? Yes. Every time yes.
God You are stirring something in my heart romantically. I have the sense that I am in the end of my quiet years. That you are going to bring someone into my life.”
Before getting on the plane to leave Brazil, I was sitting and talking with my Brazilian mother. A fellow missionary, she and I had had many conversations over the summer about relationship and marriage. We were talking about quitting my job and what God had been speaking to me lately (I hadn’t told her about the meeting my husband soon thing) she said, “You never know. God could be freeing up your time. You could meet someone who has their own ministry and join them in that. Get married.” I said, “Iria, why do you keep speaking to me about getting married and my husband?” She said, “You never know.”
At the time I told my sister by “soon” I meant 3 years. My definition and God’s definition of “soon” differed. God’s was 3 months.
It was now the middle of December 2017. David reached out over Facebook messenger with, “How are you?” He had reached out to me a couple times over the summer and ministered to me exactly what I needed. So at this point I was used to him ministering to me and I knew I would have to be honest. I was going through a rough time of figuring out what was next. God was totally renovating my life. I quit my job, left the only church body I had known as a believer, and my friends seemed to be dropping like flies. One of whom told me that the experience I had had with Jesus wasn’t real because “God doesn’t work that way and we can only hear from God through His written word.” So I had just gone through questioning whether I actually heard from God or not, which meant I questioned every decision I had ever made based on hearing from God. Not to mention reverse culture shock and coming home totally transformed while everyone else seemed to generally continue with life as usual. So I opened up to David about all these things over messenger in a grocery store parking lot. God had told me that morning I am not a problem to solve. He made me. David told me there is a maze in my mind and Jesus wants to deliver me. The way out was up by letting the love of Jesus in. I was balling my eyes out his words touched so deeply. With mascara streaked cheeks, I did not go grocery shopping that day. David also sent me a documentary about the operation of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, and miracles of healing. It was the opposite of everything my friend had just told me, and seeing as I didn’t have much going on in my life with no job, church, or friends, I knew I had to speak to David about it.
I asked David if we could meet for coffee and talk. He told me he was busy for the next 10 days doing an outreach at Winterhaven. I had just prayed the previous night for more of God. He said, “You want more of Me, Tesia? Ask if you can go.” At this time strangers still terrified me and I never invited myself anywhere. But I can still remember sitting on the couch laughing as I said half to myself and half to Jesus, “What am I doing? This is crazy.” And I asked David if I could come join. I didn’t know how to share the Gospel, but I could pass out hot chocolate and observe.
I can remember walking up the driveway literally shaking in my boots. (I was wearing boots and it was cold outside). I remember David was wearing all black. I couldn’t totally tell because of the heel on my boot, but I thought he was potentially taller than me. For those of you who don’t know, this was extremely important to me. So much so that it made one of the three items on my list for a future husband. 1. Taller than me. 2. Loves that I love Jesus. 3. He loves Jesus. But in reverse order. He has to love Jesus. And if he does he will love that I love Jesus. And he will be taller than me because Jesus loves me.
I also thought, “Wow. David grew up.” I discovered he never drank (which as a previous alcoholic this was monumentally significant), and noted he had his own ministry.
It wasn’t love at first sight, or even height, it was love at first gospel presentation (although I wouldn’t admit it to myself at the time). The way David defended the faith and spoke about my King, I marveled in awe. He loved and knew Jesus. I thought it would be hard for me to find someone who loved Jesus as much as me, and now I found myself confronted with my own commitment and surrender to the Lord. I didn’t know people like this man existed. The way he could relate to people and share the truth with them so boldly, courageously, and lovingly. Clearly led by the Holy Spirit and anointed by God. He was everything I wanted in a man and so much more. Unfathomably more.
Seeing as I had nothing going on at the time and this man had the true life in Christ I was seeking, I came back every night over the next 10 days. And our friendship began.
In January, about 3 weeks or so into our friendship/relationship, David told me he wasn’t looking for a relationship and he was waiting at least a year or two because he had ministry goals, but he wanted to remain friends and see what God could do through us relating. I thought 2 years is a long time to wait, but I also remembered I had told my sister 3 years, so maybe it was God’s timing. However, after this conversation there was only growing affection and increased communication. So I was very confused. By the beginning of February I needed a meeting. A DTR talk. Define The Relationship. It was clear we had feelings for each other, but David said we are waiting on God for His timing. Now, if it were any other man saying this I would think he’s just telling me this to keep me from dating, while he himself was not ready to enter into relationship yet. But it was David. So I agreed with him.
I knew that in order for a relationship to be successful there were 3 things that had to line up. Right person. Right time. Right place. And only God could line these things up perfectly. I also knew God’s timing is perfect, and fully trustworthy. So we would wait.
David had much more experience waiting on God than I did. And half way through February God gave David a date. David didn’t tell me what this date was in relation to. He just messaged me one day and was like, “Hey let’s try something fun. An experiment. Let’s both pray and see if God gives us the same date.” I was like, “About what? For what?” David said, “Just a date.” I prayed. I didn’t get anything. I had no idea what this was for or about.
So as our relationship was growing and increasing, and I’m wondering what is going on and thinking this is a lot of time, effort, and heart investment in a relationship that potentially could go nowhere, I was very confused, at times frustrated, and just finished with the whole thing. I would say, “Ok God. That’s it. I’m putting David down in my heart. We will just be friends and have a strictly platonic relationship.” I knew God was doing too much through our relationship for us to not relate at all. I had found more healing, freedom, and victory in Christ quicker than ever before and I couldn’t give that up. I believe God had led me to David, even if it was just for ministry or spiritual reasons.
So it was April. We were ministering at the Pima County Fair and I had just had one of these conversations with God. That night was the MercyMe concert. David asked if I wanted to go. When we got to the crowd he asked me where I wanted to stand. I said, “I don’t care. You lead.” I put my hand on his shoulder as he walked through the crowd so I wouldn’t get lost. In that moment I knew. God said, “You’re not done, Tesia.” And I picked him back up in my heart.
We didn’t enter into relationship right away. The next months were filled with monthly, and sometimes weekly, “Define The Relationship” meetings in the car at the park as God was bringing us together and the nature of our relationship continuously changing. There was a lot of trusting God’s timing and waiting on Him. Also a lot of wrestling and confusion. And not giving way to fear as God was building the foundation of our relationship and preparing us for one another. Somewhere in there David actually got to baptize me. In prayer one morning God told me to be rebaptized (I had been baptized at 12, but not as born again believer. Not since I had really chosen to surrender control and make Jesus the Lord of my life). David talked me off a ledge and out of a shotgun baptism. Something was happening in the spiritual realm and emotionally I felt all over the place. I said, “I can’t wait until Sunday if I’m going to feel like this for 3 days, you just come baptize me tonight.” It was Thursday. We prayed. I was fine.
There was one time in particular at the end of June where I thought an intimate moment was being stolen from me. I am a hopeless romantic and the significant moments are milestones I make a deal out of. I didn’t want to just fall into relationship with David I wanted him to ask me. By this point he had already told me he loved me and we had made it clear we were not available to others, but we were not yet in relationship. I remember exactly where I was standing when I said, “Jesus, I don’t just want to fall into relationship. I want a lifelong romance.” He said, “You already have one. And it’s with Me.” I stopped dead in my tracks and tears came. I knew no man could fill God’s roll. And I knew God had good things for David and I. I just needed to trust Him and His timing.
Well I did the opposite. I pressured David into asking me the night before he went away on his 6 week trip to the East Coast. It was awful and not God’s timing at all. I prayed that if it was not God’s timing He would terrify me. I have never prayed a prayer like it and haven’t since. I was terrified. Let me tell you, there is nothing like looking into the eyes of the person you are falling in love with and not being able to express why you want to be with them. There isn’t a worse time to be at a loss for words.
About a year before, God had spoken to me about marriage, that what God brings together let no man separate. I knew that if He chose my spouse, if He brought us together, then when I doubted and times were tough it would fall on Him. And my faith would be in God and His choice, not my choice. If He brought us together, He would keep us together. This theory was now being put to the test. Before we entered relationship might I add.
The next morning at 5a, half asleep and unaware David had given God a time limit on me reaching out before his flight to DC, I messaged saying, “Last night I was at a loss for words in one of the most painful ways possible. I’ve been praying about what to do about it and God gave me this idea. #ReasonsWhy. Every day that you’re gone I’m going to text you a reason why I want to be with you/ I’m falling in love with you/ I appreciate you. If this bothers you I’ll stop. If it brings a smile to your face I’ll continue.”
Over the next 44 days God opened my eyes to the most wonder-full man I had right in front of me. Previously my heart had been fearful and unappreciative of the gift God had given me in David. I knew at the beginning of this endeavor that if my heart truly loved David at the end, the last Reason Why would be “You give me a new reason why I love you every day.” About half way through I was really praying and I asked God, “Can I love him Lord?” He said, “You already do.” In that moment I felt something had broke in the spiritual realm, and I knew this was God’s plan for my life. David would be my husband.
While he was gone, I couldn’t remember if David was taller than me or not. I brought this up to my friend and she thought it was funny, so she neither confirmed nor denied this height struggle I was having. One day God asked me, “Do you want a physical giant or a spiritual giant Tesia?” Obviously I wanted the latter. So I put his height on the altar and said it would be ok even if we were the same height and I were never to wear heels again.
Remember that date that David had me pray about? August 16, 2018 was my 1000th day sober. 6 months prior back in February David had been praying about relationship. God told him 6 months. Which would have been August 16th exactly. At the time, David had no idea that this was my 1000th day of sobriety. I casually told him in the beginning of August and thought nothing of it. But this was a clear sign of God’s timing to David. He told me he would be returning from DC over the weekend. That Thursday night, on my 1000th day, he gave me the surprise of my life as he showed up on my doorstep with a guitar in tow. We danced in my living room and he said he wanted me to pray about entering into a committed relationship with him where Jesus is Lord and we follow Him with all our hearts. He said he knew it wasn’t the most romantic thing to say, but it was honest. To me it couldn’t have been more romantic. Following Jesus together is the most romantic thing he could possibly have said to me. God’s timing is perfect, and fully trustworthy.
I still wanted the conversation. The monumental moment marked. That Sunday, August 19, 2018 we met. I read David all the #ReasonsWhy and gave him the surprise by telling him that I loved him. I clearly knew he was about to ask me to enter into relationship with him, but I said, “Wait. Before you do I have to ask you to do something for me. I know you’re gonna think I’m crazy. But I need you to do it. Will you stand in front of the mirror with me? I want to see that you’re taller.” He was, and is. I was so happy I cried. It meant even more to me because God had granted me one of the deepest desires of my heart after I had surrendered it to Him.
My friend once asked me, “What catalog did you order David from? I’d like to get myself one of those.” I responded with, “Subscribe to make Jesus your everything daily. As soon as you do that and trust Him, learn how to be satisfied in Him alone, then you’re ready. Then He will bring someone into your life.” Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. If you are single here today and can learn anything from our story, I pray it is to love Jesus with all your heart first and trust Him with your spouse. His plan and timing are perfect, and fully trustworthy. If you are not single here today and can learn anything from our story, I pray that it is to believe Jesus is faithful and trust in the Lord with all of your heart. To not lean on your own understanding, but to have faith that Jesus can move the mountains that seem impossible to move.
Since that 1000th day there has been much growing, trial, and victory. We have learned to love, forgive, and wait on God. If we have learned anything it is that God has proven Himself faithful. Jesus is Faithful and True. There have been countless times where God has come through for us, and He will continue to do so. A true Hosea story, the past has been overcome and the grace and redemption of God made manifest in our relationship. I am living proof that a bride can wear white and be washed of all her sins. The grace of God is amazing and the blood of Jesus is all powerful, if only you believe.
One thought on “Our Story”
Dear Tesia Grace, I am so happy for you and David!! You are always in my heart and in my prayers. Love and blessings Jodi