It’s Valentines week and that means it’s time for the FOURTH installment of How We Met. Today Nicole Stoltzfuz is sharing how she met her husband Josiah.
There is no other way to share the story of how we met without sharing the story of how I met Him.
It was a few years after college. I had just made a major career change and was doing Human Resources at the University of Pittsburgh. It looked like I had it all together, but I began desiring something more in my life and I couldn’t place my finger on what it was. I shared this with a friend and he encouraged me to read The Purpose Driven Life. At the beginning of the book there is a prayer to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. I prayed this prayer aloud and truly in my heart. I had done this before but with no real transformation. This time was different. I wanted, desired, and longed for a relationship with Jesus. You see, before I never had a relationship with Jesus I just knew about him. This time was different. I began to read the word and the word became life for me.
I knew I needed to find a church so I wandered into one on the Eastside of Pittsburgh and was blown away by what I encountered. It was predominantly African American and everyone was shouting and raising their hands in worship. There was clapping, dancing, and tambourines! They had a full choir, brass instruments and a dance team on the platform. It was like nothing I had never seen before. The preacher was passionate and held nothing back. The worship and sermon seemed to go on forever but I didn’t mind. In fact, I loved it. I was hungry for more of Jesus and the people at this church truly loved and worshiped Jesus. They didn’t just go through the motions. It astounded me.
Since this was the first church I looked at, I wanted to try a few more to make sure I was in the right place. As I drove to look at the second church, for one of the first times in my life I recognized the voice of God as he told me to turn around and go back to the first church I looked at. I obeyed as I was so excited the Lord was speaking to me. As I attended this church I went through in depth training that covered everything you would need to know as a new Christian. I now needed some friends to walk this journey with as I no longer desired my old lifestyle. This is where I meet my husband Josiah…
We both attended a young adults get together hosted by our church at Dave & Busters. We were introduced by our pastor and upon shaking my hand Josiah later shared with me that God spoke to him in that moment saying, “this is your wife”. After we met I spent the rest of the evening getting to know some of the other young adults at the church.
About a week later Josiah contacted me on Facebook, yes Facebook! He asked if I would show him around Regent Square, the neighborhood in which I lived at the time. I agreed to meet him for dinner at a hole in the wall Thai restaurant. I was not expecting much from the evening but to maybe make a new friend. The evening completely blew me away. He was by far the most amazing gentlemen I ever met. We spent nearly seven hours that evening talking and learning everything we could about one another.
Fast forward nine months when Josiah proposed at a beautiful state park called Ohiopyle. Josiah had my family in town for the big occasion. Then six months later we married on April 17, 2011. We were surrounded by support from both of our families and our church family who joked that the two white people in the church found each other! It was a beautiful time of celebration.
The day after our wedding we moved from Pennsylvania to Rhode Island where we spent the next eighteen months. We became pregnant with our first daughter and Josiah’s work moved us to Kentucky where we lived for another eighteen months. After that we moved to Wisconsin. While in Wisconsin we faced some particularly difficult times as we grieved a miscarriage, the loss of our dog, the birth of our second child, the tragic death of my brother, and two weeks after that we had another major move from Wisconsin to Ohio. These events all took place within a one year time span that completely knocked our world off kilter. And just a little over a year after that Josiah’s father was diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer.
Up until this point we had no major losses or tragedies take place in our lives and all at once we had what felt like a heaping pile of them. We both struggled the first several months after these events took place. We went through the gamut of denial, anger, and a host of many other emotions. At some point, I believe it was a place where we finally surrendered, that Jesus began to reshape our hearts and move us towards what really matters.
Our focus has always been for Josiah to work the corporate ladder until we reached our final destination in Pennsylvania where we would finally be near family. Our dream was to do this within six to eight years. But as we work through our personal struggles God has begun to reshape our hearts and align them more deeply with Him. We are content here in Ohio where we currently reside with our four year old and two year old daughters.
Our hearts are growing deeper and deeper for ministry as we begin to see God’s call for our lives unfold in the midst of our hurts.