By Paula Helwick //
I am living proof that God’s delays are not God’s denials. Here I am at age 61 getting married for the very first time! My wedding date, Saturday October 10, to the love of my life, Harold Vega Vondenstein, will have come and gone by the time you read this. However, I am confident our joy together will continue forever.
My story is remarkable for a few reasons, aside from the fact that this is a first for me at my age. I met Harold on Christian Mingle, an online dating service. And, Harold and I have remained celibate throughout our entire courtship and engagement. I have learned women don’t have to give themselves to a man prior to marriage to be considered marriage material. Remaining celibate and trusting God to provide the right mate is a very empowering position for a woman to take.
My celibacy commitment began 16 years ago. I had made too many mistakes in my past and decided that it was time that I did it God’s way. My motto became, “It is God’s way or the highway.” I freely shared my celibacy commitment with female friends and bible study groups. I knew I hit a nerve by their responses.
By the way, Harold had also made a commitment six years ago to remain celibate and trust God.
Our whirlwind romance began Christmas Day 2014 when Harold appeared in my Christian Mingle mailbox. Our very first date was at Aunt Jenny’s Catfish Restaurant in Ocean Springs on New Year’s Eve. I asked the cashier to take photos of us and emailed them to my niece, Jaimee Dorris, who responded with two words I will never forget, “He’s husband.”
Harold and I had an easiness about us that was undeniable. I had asked for a man who was romantic to the core and Harold did not disappoint, showering me with gifts and flowers throughout our courtship. Describing myself as “bold, articulate, and outspoken” in my online profile, I was not going to let Harold get the upper hand in the romance department, so I showered him with gifts, too. We both knew early on that our relationship was for keeps. In fact, Harold closed his Christian Mingle account 10 days after he opened it. He told me he had found exactly what he was looking for. During our courtship, Harold drove each week from Daphne, Ala., to Gulfport. He slept on a blow-up mattress on my living room floor while I slept in my bed with my three Chihuahuas: Coco, Cody and Casey.
On May 24, we visited the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs. While I was looking at art, Harold sneaked out to his car where he had hidden his guitar. He had written two original songs for me: The first one a prayer and the second one with the words of the actual marriage proposal which he performed amid the Walter Anderson murals in the community center. He swept me off my feet!
Moving to Gulfport in June, Harold remained true to our original commitment to remain celibate until we married. He moved into a different apartment at my apartment complex with plans for us to reside in his larger unit after our wedding day.
I had asked for a man after God’s own heart like King David in the Bible and for someone who would not set limits on what God could accomplish through him, as well as a ministry partner. What I did not ask for is that he be handsome and have a full head of hair! To my delight I learned that God gives more than we could ever ask or think, if what we ask for is aligned with God’s perfect will.