THOUGHTS FROM JACKIE: “It’s Been 24 Blessed Years”

THOUGHTS FROM JACKIE: “It’s Been 24 Blessed Years”

Yvette & I met when God answered my prayer to send my wife through the ministry. I had lived a pretty messed gup life and did not want anything to get in the way of the Lord’s work. On a Saturday morning, Yvette came to the outreach program I was running for the first time. That morning, before the team left the church, we circled up to pray per usual. There were so many of us crowded into the chapel that day, I could not see Yvette in the circle. I heard someone praying that sounded like it was not their first conversation with God. It was a deep sincere prayer to be used by Jesus to help those we were about to serve. I opened my eyes in the circle, but I still could not see who was having a real conversation with Jesus. When prayer ended, I then knew it was her, but said nothing. I organized the 40 plus people on the team, and we headed out.

The following Friday, I had called a late night witnessing walk. Although we had perhaps as many as 60 people, Yvette, was in the next row as I walked point in our two-by-two lines. I can still see her with her tan jeans, perfect hair, and dime face. Something said to look at her. I told the devil, “I’m not looking at anybody!” The Lord tenderly said, “No son, look at her.” I looked back at her a few times, but had to stay focused for the sake of everyone’s safety.

The next day (Saturday), I was doing an evangelism workshop for a church in Walnut Hills. I finished the training and flew across town so that I could find out what the Lord was up to. I pulled up at the last minute, but I made it with a plan in mind. It was common for me to have new people walk point with me as a way of taking time to introduce them to the vision. Yvette!was there, and I put her right beside me. Several single ladies for the first time were seemingly wondering what this might mean. The walk began with normal discussions about the ministry. I was very cautious. I had shared the story of my past life and did not want to get a reputation of being the old me. I did, however, mention my commitment to living holy. When Yvette echoed the same, I thought I’d said to much and determined not to say another word about anything but ministry. To this day Yvette cringes when she remembers saying, “I don’t even have a man.” She was trying to express her dedication to doing things right. She still says she could not believe that she had just told Reverend Jackson she was single. She’d heard me preach and knew I did not play. In fact, it was my preaching that six months before that ended her last relationship. If she had not said she was single, we might not be together today. Sometimes I think God is about to roll off His throne laughing as He orchestrates things like this holy hook-up.

I always had new people give their phone numbers to the team secretary. Oh don’t you know Reverend Jackson had to get that number and leave a message. I knew Yvette would not be home because she said she worked second shift on weekends. I stayed right there at the crib hoping for my midnight hour phone call. After hearing the voicemail, Yvette asked a friend what she should do. My girl Rosalyn Gaines said, “Girl, you better call that man!” Yvette called me and, other than small talk, I said I wanted to know her better. We set a date for the following Monday–June 6, 1994. We had a great time in Eden Park eating the picnic lunch I had prepared. We’d talked so long that I had to pick up my daughter from school. No way did I want my daughter to meet someone during the first date. Bottom line was the reality that I was a single parent, and my daughter needed to be picked up. After picking my daughter Jasmine up from school, we took Yvette home. As soon as Yvette was out of the car Jasmine said, “Daddy who was that lady? Something said mommy to me.” I knew that had to be God because Jasmine and I had created our own little world. She could run a woman off in a minute. She did not want anybody near her perch.

This is where the story takes off like a rocket. On Wednesday June 8, 1994 after just 2.3 days together, I left town for California. I would be gone until July 1, 1994. Yvette and I were on the phone daily talking about kids, love, and lots and lots of Jesus talk. Yvette prayed over me as I dealt with some tough things in Cali. It made us so close so fast it felt like I’d always known her. My sister often reminds me that I did already know Yvette because I described her for the first time when I was just six. I had thought I would initially be in California for just two weeks. I wrote a letter or bought a card to cover each day I thought I’d be away. One of those cards declared my love for Yvette. I knew by then I would be deeply in love with this girl. Yvette was instructed to not open the letter or cards until after midnight. She used to suffer anxiously waiting until she could read what I would say next. I think she cheated a few times, but all is forgiven. When I could tell my time would go longer than my notes and letters, I started sending them in the mail to keep the love fest going.

I returned to Cincinnati on July 1st. Yvette and I don’t agree on what happened next, but my side of the story is that she proposed to me on July 6, 1994. We had planned to marry the end of October, but that was not to be. We were both in school and didn’t need the added pressure. We found an opening on a Sunday that made the church available in the afternoon. I preached at another church, ran across town to get dressed, and made it to the church in/on time. Amazingly people plan weddings a year in advance in order to have all of the special things they desire. We had all of those things and then some in about 30 days. You heard it right about 30 days. The progression goes like this; On June 6th we went on our first date. On June 8th I left town for three weeks. On July 6th we were engaged, and on August 7, 1994 twenty-four years ago today we were married. I’ve never had one regret, second thought, or anything other than praise to God for giving me His daughter to love. My heart still flutters when I know I’m going to see her. My baby toe still wiggles when she says my name. She has been known to sleep in my clothes when I’m on a trip. In the morning we call each other sometimes before we can even get off our street. We have so much fun laughing, teasing each other, and just straight up clowning. I shudder to think that I might have gone through life and never known what being in love is really like. A dog like I was does not deserve the best God has to offer. Sorry, I’ve got to go she’s calling.

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