I grasped my husband’s hand as we got into the antique car that was waiting for us outside the church to take us to the reception. Grant closed the heavy door and leaned in to kiss me. I still couldn’t believe we were married.
I never imagined it would be him. I mean, I never knew that it was Grant that God had for me. If I had only known, it would have saved so much worry!
It was only two years before that I had spent the summer on a “Summer Project” with Cru in Santa Cruz, California.

One particular morning, I was walking along the breathtaking California coastline with my Bible study leader, Hannah.
As we walked and talked, our conversation turned toward Clemson. Hannah had attended Clemson too and she started asking me why I wasn’t dating anyone.
“What about so-and-so?” She asked. “Why don’t you date him? He’s an awesome guy.”
“I know,” I responded. “I don’t think he likes me though.”
“Okay, well what about so-and-so?” She continued as she named off another friend.
“I don’t know,” I went on. “It just doesn’t seem right.”
She continued on through a list of different godly guys that we both knew.
“I don’t know, Hannah. I just feel like God is saying no. I don’t know what He’s trying to tell me, but I just feel like He wants me to wait.”
I’ll never forget how Hannah responded. “Well, God must have someone great in mind for you, GraceAnna.”
I hope you’re right, I remember saying.
Grant put his arm around me in the backseat of the car. Now it was all a reality. God had been calling me to wait for His perfect timing. All along, He had Grant in mind for me.
And now I was Mrs. Castleberry. I remembered the first time I had said Grant’s last name aloud when I was vacationing with my family at Fripp Island. I had loved the way his name rolled off my tongue. It was different and it had a masculine and yet feminine sound to it. I liked it. Now it was my own.
As the old car pulled into Pinckney Retreat, I looked out the window. I couldn’t believe how beautiful everything looked.
Grant and I mingled with our guests under the canopy of live oak trees. We tried to talk to everyone. We felt so overwhelmed with gratitude to our friends and family who had come to celebrate with us.
Grant’s Grammie who was suffering from cancer had come all the way from Texas.
My entire Duke Bible study had driven down from North Carolina.
Grant’s friends, the Leonards, had driven up from Florida.
Some of my Clemson friends had made the drive down from the upstate.
A group of Grant’s Texas Aggie buddies had flown in for the weekend.
And then their were our Beaufort friends who were there but they were serving. They had spent days planning just so that we could enjoy this special time – friends like the Gays who headed up the Lowcountry food, and my friend Kelly who put together the flowers, and Casey who played Josh Turner, George Strait, and old hymns on his guitar during the reception.
Everything was just perfect, and then I felt the drops of rain.
I had prayed so hard for God to give us beautiful weather on our wedding day. After all, it’s what every bride wants.
When I first felt the raindrops, I was talking to someone. I tried to keep talking and ignore the wetness I was beginning to feel pattering on my arms. Perhaps if I ignored the raindrops then they wouldn’t really be real?
I watched out of the corner of my eye as guests began to gather underneath the giant live oak trees and the white tents.
Oh no! How is this happening? I thought frantically. Everything will be ruined!
Then I saw my brother, Grant, walk toward me. He was holding a giant umbrella. He came and stood next to me as if nothing odd was happening. He didn’t say a word.
As he stood next to me, I suddenly realized that everything was going to be okay.

I was married. The day had been wonderful and the rain couldn’t change that. There was nothing to worry about.
As the rain fell, it brought something unexpected. It brought a cooling breeze that drove away the August heat and made everything feel more pleasant.
And just as soon as the rain had arrived, it was gone.
My dad’s voice gathered everyone around the old porch of the Pinckney Retreat home. He thanked everyone for coming and then announced that there were some people who wanted to share a few words.

To my surprise, all four of my brothers gave speeches. They shared childhood stories of us growing up together. They made jokes about my new husband. They made me laugh hysterically and they made me cry. I felt like I was constantly switching between smiles and tears.
I was crying not just because it was so special that they were sharing, but also because I couldn’t believe I married a guy that was like them in so many ways.

When the speeches were over, Grant took my hand and led me to the dance floor for our first dance.

Tis’ So Sweet to Trust in Jesus began to play as Grant started dancing with me. He gently led me as we moved across the old cobblestone bricks.
I felt a little uncomfortable knowing that everyone was staring at us, but Grant didn’t seem to mind. He held me gently, yet firmly. “Just follow my lead,” he reminded me. Dancing came so naturally to him and soon I began to relax as I remembered to just follow him.

As we danced, I realized that this was the beginning of so many things. This day was not the “end” of me trusting the Lord. Grant was not my ultimate goal that I had spent my whole life waiting for or the one who I had placed my hope in.

Yes, God had been abundantly good in bringing Grant into my life. But this was just one of many lessons. Just as God had called me to trust Him in the area of a future husband, He would call me to trust Him every day for the rest of my life.

This day would be a day that I could look back on and remember God’s faithfulness. It would be a monument in my life that I could call to mind when I needed to remind myself that the God who I follow is a God who takes notice of everything. He is a God who cares. He is a God who is concerned about His glory.

This day was just one day in the story that God had been weaving all along. I would have never known so long ago when I had first seen Grant’s photograph in the radio station, that the little blonde headed boy in the picture would one day be my husband. I would have never known that I would marry a Texas Aggie and a Marine Officer. I would have never known that a plane crash that happened when I was just a year old would affect me so greatly and that it would be the factor that brought Grant to visit Beaufort when he was in high school.

I didn’t know the big picture. And while I was beginning to see things that I hadn’t seen before, this was only the start.

“GraceAnna, look!” My mom came up to me sometime after we had cut the cake.

I turned in the direction that she was pointing, and there, arching over the salt marsh, was a rainbow.

Grant came up behind me and grabbed my hand.

“Come on! Let’s go out on the dock.”

We headed toward the water’s edge where everyone was gathering to admire the giant bow in the sky.
I didn’t notice at first, but then I realized it was a double rainbow.

Grant, I can’t believe God gave us a rainbow! A double rainbow! My heart filled with joy. 

I thought about the very first rainbow that we know of which is recorded in the book of Genesis. It appeared after God’s worldwide judgment of sin. 

The earth must have felt so barren and so different after the flood. But as Noah and his family stepped off the ark, they were greeted with a bow of colors in the sky. God was revealing to Noah and his family something about who He was. He was showing them that even in the cloud, He is there. That though the rains may come as a result of our sinful and broken world, He promises grace to those who belong to Him.

I hadn’t wanted it to rain that day. But now I realized why God had brought the rain. He was demonstrating that the way He does things is often the opposite way that we think they should happen. That He so often allows the rain, so that He can show us His glory and His grace in a way that we would have never seen it before.

My eyes filled with tears.  I felt like this rainbow was God’s special wedding gift to us. 

I felt like God was teaching me a lesson about who He is and who He will always be. 

As I gazed at the beautiful array of colors that arched as far as I could see, I felt like He was near.  And I knew, that no matter what the future held for us, He promised His grace to bring us through.

“GraceAnna,” Grant said to me as we stood on the dock staring out at the rainbow, “Let’s always follow hard after the Lord all the days of our lives.”

I took Grant’s hand in mine. “Yes, let’s.”

The End

15 thoughts on “Texas Heart Part 35 – {Full Circle}

  1. Amazing love story, and encouraging and faith building as well. My 14 yr. old daughter, and future Aggie Vet, loved it as well! You are an awesome example to young women and I would love it if you wrote another series that I could share with her. College is a few years off for her, but I'd love for her to read about how you were able to stay strong in your faith on a college campus…just a thought! πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing this wonderful story!

  2. Thank you so much GraceAnna. Your story is such a blessing and such a testimony. It has touched so many and I am so excited for the way that it will touch AK.Love you friend πŸ™‚

  3. GraceAnna! I just spent half of my afternoon reading through your whole story as Kristin posted it today. I just had to remind myself that I didn't just finish reading the greatest love story in the form of a novel that combines the almost unbelievable sweet romance of Nicholas Sparks with the focus on Christ of Francine Rivers, but instead your beautiful story! I will say, I was so bummed when you didn't go to China with us that summer but now I am SO glad that you didn't! You guys are awesome. And I will now shamelessly stalk your darling life via following your blog πŸ™‚ Have a very merry Christmas!- Haley Strouth

  4. You don't know me, I happened upon your site from a comment made on a Christian article about marriage. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your beautiful love story! What a treasure you have created by documenting God's drawing to Himself and to each other. It has blessed me, a stranger, and I know it will be a blessing to your family.As I read, I couldn't help but noticed many similarities in our love stories. My husband spent 7 years compiling 2 books full of our e-mails, peppered with pictures and passages. What an amazing gift! As you can imagine by the volume, a huge part of our relationship was e-mail correspondence. I also rejoiced with you when I read that your parents encouraged not waiting that extra time before marriage. We were shocked to discover both sets of our parents encouraged our union before we had both completed college (due to the distance, and the trust they held in our relationship). This May, we will celebrate 11 years of marriage! Thank you for sharing and God bless you and your family!

  5. Reading the end of this story made me cry! But in a good way with happy endings. Thank you for sharing this with everyone.

  6. P.S. This story also meant so much to me as I faced a similar time when I thought God intended for me to be single. My mother passed away from cancer when I was in college, and I was so sad that she would not be there to help me plan my wedding or meet her grandchildren. During one of our last moments together, I told her I wanted to find a man who could make me as happy as my father made her in their 30 years of marriage. We prayed and she promised me I would find him if it was meant to be.

    When I hadn’t met anyone by my mid-twenties, I figured God’s plan was for me to be a teacher and to care for the children in my classroom and in my family. Sure enough, I met someone the very next year and we are getting married in a few months. Even though my mother cannot be there with my father to give me away to my future husband, I firmly believe her spirit is still with us.

    Thank you again, GraceAnna, for sharing your lovely story.

    1. Thank you so much, Angie for sharing your words of encouragement and your story! Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! What a testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness! I am so sad your mother will not be there for your wedding, but I know the Lord will minister to you in a very special way on that day. It’s amazing how He brings deep joy in the midst of our sorrow. Thanks again for sharing!

  7. This was so wonderful to read! I don’t know how I stumbled upon this but I’m so glad I did. I was not brought up in a Godly home and through this story was given such a beautiful glimpse of what it can be like. Thanks for sharing, I am praying my husband and I can point our children towards Christ, in all circumstances, just as your parents did.

  8. I just stumbled upon the article you wrote called “What Women Bring to a Dating Relationship.” It was very encouraging to me with where I am at in life. I started browsing through your blog and stumbled upon Texas Heart. Thank you for sharing this beautiful part of your life! It is amazing to see how God has worked in your life. Your faith in Christ is an inspiration to me! I pray that God will, one day, bring me a faithful husband and continue to grow me into a faithful woman who would be a helper to him.

    Your continual faith shown through prayer throughout this story is also an inspiration to me! Too often, I forget to give EVERYTHING to God in prayer and worry so much about my future!

  9. Oh my goodness. I just spent my morning reading your beautiful story. Seriously, you should write a book!!!! I couldn’t stop reading this, even if I wanted to!!!!! God bless you and Grant!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s