I wanted to dedicate this blog to my husband, Jeff Manning. Today is his birthday. I hope this Memoir entry is a blessing to you as well.
It was New Year’s Eve, 2012, and I had known Jeff Manning for a little less than a year. Being Chief of police in a small city, he had to work that night. But later in the evening, he called to check on me, and we had discussed trying to grab some food on his break. We knew it would be packed at the few restaurants in his district, with it being the holiday.
Since he couldn’t leave the area, I suggested bringing food to his office and eating with him there.
Later that evening, after dark, he called and asked me if I could go ahead and bring something if it wasn’t too much trouble.
Too much trouble? I couldn’t wait to see him; even though it made me nervous and anxious each time. Jeff was the highlight of my days. I wanted to look perfect for him, and that meant every hair in place. I scrambled to fix my make-up and change my clothes 3 or 4 times until I was satisfied.
I will never forget that evening. I carved a roasted chicken and sliced red bell peppers, placing them on wheatberry bread with mayonnaise, olive oil, tomatoes, and Swiss cheese, cut in half and wrapped in tin foil. I had homemade lentil soup and ice-cold canned sodas. I packed napkins and silverware and soup spoons in the bag, rechecked my hair, and drove to the police station at City Hall.
There is something extraordinary about young love, but there is something even more special about older mature love; love you’ve waited for, prayed for, and bypassed settling to get. There is nothing like being old and feeling young again. Jeff Manning was making me feel like a high school kid. I was starting to realize why Yeshua said, “I have this one thing against you; you’ve lost your first love.”
I carried the food up the steps, and we sat down in his office to eat. He kept saying everything looked so good. We held hands, he said grace, and we dug into our chicken sandwiches. Afterward, he rose from his chair and sat atop a large table in the office. He then motioned for me to come to him. I must admit, he looked very handsome in his police uniform, which made me even more nervous as I walked toward him.
“Give me your hands,” he said. I held them out, and then he pulled me into him and held me.
“Do you know what I was doing last year, Bonnie?”
I said, “no Chief,” a nickname I had pinned on him after the first date. Then I waited, anticipating his story.
“Well, every year at my congregation, we have a New Year’s Eve candlelight service, and I always open the service and spend the evening with my congregation/family, then go home. I can remember last year after the service, after midnight, after everyone had kissed their sweethearts, lying in my bed and talking to the Father. I said, “Father, it’s been 11 years, and you still haven’t brought me, my wife. That’s a long time. Abba, I’m getting to the point where I wonder if she’s ever coming. I’m lonely.”
“Bonnie, a woman at my congregation, prophesied over me shortly after that evening. She told me that she had a vision of a woman with blondish brown hair, and that the Father was hand molding and making my wife into the woman I needed, and that when the time was right, He’d bring her to me. I have been holding on to that word.”
My eyes welled up with tears, and he pulled me from his chest in eye view and said, “Now I have the most wonderful woman, and I am looking forward to getting a kiss at midnight and bringing in the New Year with you!” Of course, we didn’t wait for midnight.
I can’t describe what it feels like to have someone wait 12 years to kiss you– bypassing other dating offers from women because they did not feel right. All I know is how special Abba made me feel that night and how special first love is because first love is not first lust. No, it’s a special thing. I felt like the Father of Glory had ordered our steps to the person He knew we needed to become one with. It’s a man who waited 12 years to kiss a woman who had never been kissed in this manner.
This blog entry does not mean Jeff and I have lived a fairy tale. No, there has been deep crushing. We have gone through trials, rejections, and at times we were barely holding on to the buoy. But through the turbulence and storms, we often reminisce about our dance, the anticipation of holding the other ones hand the first time, and the knowing that the Father orchestrated our union. Sometimes, we forget our first love feeling. We lose sight of the first time our Maker found us, washed us, anointed us with oil, covered us in His Skirt, and called us to a marriage covenant. We forget the first kiss and how we swooned. How hungry we were and thirsty we were to know Him.
“On my bed at night, I sought the beloved of my being; I sought him, but I did not find him.
“Come, let me arise, and go about the city, In the streets and in the broad places I seek the beloved of my being.” I sought him, but I did not find him.
The watchmen who go about the city found me, to whom I said, “Have you seen the beloved of my being?”
Scarcely had I passed by them, When I found the beloved of my being. I held him and would not let him go, Until I had brought him to the house of my mother, And into the room of her who conceived me.” (Song of Songs 3:1-3, ISR).
Happy birthday, Chief. Life with you in it is amazing. May you feel very loved this day.