Brooke and I wanted to share our love story with you from the beginning to where the Lord has brought us thus far in hopes of fixing your eyes of the author of Love itself, and to have the flame rekindled with your First Love.
Before I (Josh) begin I wanted to share a little bit of what’s on my heart. God is an artist. The things He paints are amazingly beautiful, intricate, and breathtaking. And as we live to be His canvases, we live to be painted on by the True Artist. One thing about God is that He doesn’t paint the same picture on two different canvases, however both paintings are His work of art. When we take the artist’s brush out of God’s hand and begin to illustrate our own painting, we are never happy with it. It is only when we submit the brush back to the Master that we can ever have something we will be forever happy with. That being said, we will be telling the story as two canvases praising the One who has started this beautiful masterpiece in us and through us. Not all of His paintings will look exactly like ours. There might be similarities though, just like a good artist has a trademark, there is a trademark for the Master Artist, and you might see some of these things in the masterpiece He has started in you. But don’t be worried if you don’t! As long as He has the brush, dipped in the bottomless palette of the Holy Spirit, His creativity never runs dry. There are fathomless options of unique stories that show different aspects of our unchangeable and infinite God. So while your story might not sound like ours, we want to rejoice in it with you.
Because we know that anything illustrated by the Master Artist is impossibly good.
That being said, let’s begin the story…
(From Josh’s Perspective)
It’s 2009. I’m in California working as an intern for media and production, and through a bizarre set of circumstances was going to intern for a big name director in Hollywood. I’ve always been into film, and this was just an immediate boost for a career in film and production. This was my chance to begin pursuing my filmmaking dream. As I was moving forward with this amazing opportunity, it was around January of 2010 that God asked me a question: “Do you want more of me? Or do you want more of yourself, Josh?” After pondering this for a few days, I decided to say no to the internship and yes to more of God. During this time, my production company Contra Mundum Productions was born. It was God’s way of reminding me that I was to be against the world in all of the aspects He has called me to. Whatever God wants to do with this company I’m all for. “Contra” is Latin for “Against” and “Mundum” is Latin for “World.” The translation is “Against the World” which is largely what God has been training me in these past few years.
After January, I was wondering what God had for me. I was solely relying on that internship in Hollywood to kick off my professional career, and now that I had decided to follow Christ instead of what I wanted to do, I had no plans for the future. Around Christmastime I had gotten a book from my sister from Eric and Leslie Ludy called Wrestling Prayer. A few people that I was friends with were applying to Eric and Leslie’s Bible College called Ellerslie. They all wanted me to apply, and I really didn’t have a desire for going. 10 weeks to seek after God single-mindedly without earthly distractions? Who would want that? I said no a few times to the requests of these friends, but after further investigation I decided that I would give it a shot and apply. I stayed up late one night, completed and submitted my application for Ellerslie. The following Wednesday I was accepted.
To fully understand the mindset behind Ellerslie, I’ll explain a few things. First, you are there to seek God first and foremost. Second, there are no relationships allowed. I was only 20 when I went to Ellerslie, far too young to get in a relationship, so I wasn’t focused on that aspect at all. I sought after God during the entire time I was at Ellerslie and He honored that by bringing me into a deeper knowledge of Him. I ended up being an intern at Ellerslie for a total of a year and a half, and through that invaluable time I was brought into a widening chasm of the depths of the knowledge of Christ and how He has a hand on my life. I’ll go into detail on that in another post.
For now, just knowing that I wasn’t going to be in a relationship while at Ellerslie was surprisingly a satisfying thing. I didn’t have to worry about what girls thought of me because I wasn’t thinking about how I needed to win their favor. I wanted to win Christ’s favor first and foremost.
(From Brooke’s Perspective)
My journey began in 2009 when I stumbled across a book entitled, “Authentic Beauty”. My hunger and thirst for righteousness would not be quenched, I desired my Jesus at depths that only He could fill. I was seeking His face, I desired to live a life of full and utter abandon to my Lord and Savior. I desired His will above all else. And this desire, this drive, this unquenchable yearning is what started a ripple effect that has forever impacted my life. This book, Authentic Beauty was brought into my life at just the right moment in time, during this time of a deeper thirst for my Source of Life. After devouring this book I saw a web site, which led me to the world of Eric and Leslie Ludy. I came to know and respect their walk with the Lord and their genuine surrender to His call upon their lives.
As I was looking around the Set Apart Girl website I came across information about a Set Apart Girl conference in the lovely state of Colorado (my home state). I knew that if I went my life and thoughts would be dramatically altered and that this conference would draw me ever closer to my Lord and Master. Along with my friends Valerie and Felicia we decided to embark on this journey to a Set Apart Girl weekend. And little did I know what grand things He had in store for me as He led me step by step on the path that He had placed before me.
During the 2009 Set Apart Girl Conference Eric and Leslie “unofficially” announced that they were in the process of opening up a school the following summer, summer 2010. As Eric began passionately speaking about the vision he and Leslie had for this school of honor my heart was drawn. You see, during this season in my life, my desire to fall deeper in love with my Lord was my constant thought, my desire was to “seek the Lord with all my heart, mind and soul.” And to answer His call and be able to say, “Here I am Lord, send me.” So, I had been looking for the perfect opportunity since 2008, I searched though all different options, mission schools, bible schools, mission trips and although each of these had wonderful attributes and different qualities, none of them felt like the “perfect fit.” They were not what I was looking for, and more importantly, they were not what God was looking for. So, as Eric began sharing the vision, which the Lord had given him for this school called Ellerslie I felt an excitement grow within me, not just a surface excitement, but the deep, resounding inner excitement. “Lord, is this what you have in store for me?”
I came home on fire and full of renewed passion. I began praying about the possibility of attending Ellerslie with open hands. My only desire was to please Him and be in the epicenter of His will and His alone. And even though my desire and excitement grew every day at the possibility of going to this school, I didn’t want to continue until I knew I had His seal of approval upon this decision. I went on Ellerslie’s website, I found and printed the application and then placed it on my dresser, there is sat as I began asking for His guidance and wisdom. I was constantly on my knees asking Him if indeed Ellerslie was the next step for me to take. I knew one thing, even though I knew that Ellerslie fit what I was looking for I wanted Him to make the final decision.
“Choosing to give God the pen of our lives is not just a one time prayer that produces instant answers to all of lives’ dilemmas. It is a lifestyle.”
The application process was quite extensive. In fact, the Lord taught me reliance upon Him even in something as little as filling out the application. I had almost completed the application and I had two essays complete and ready to send in and then all of a sudden my family’s computer crashed, with everything that I had done. I prayed ever more, searching and asking Him if it was His will that I go to Ellerslie. We found out that Eric was pastoring a church up at the Ellerslie campus so we decided to drive up there on a blistery Sunday evening, January 3rd to be exact. Unbeknownst to us at that time we came up on the first Sunday they used the chapel. Eric spoke on the Mighty Intercessor. I remember sitting next to Sandi, Ben Zornes was leading worship; Annie was sitting in front of me with Jade on her left and her brother Johnny on her right. I also remember watching Grace, Bex, Jade, Annie, and Ben all talking after the sermon. Little did I know that I would soon know these sweet people. 🙂 My parents and I discussed the possibility and His peace truly flooded over this whole situation. In the next couple days I rewrote the needed essays and application and sent them into Sandi. And surrendered the rest to the Lord.
As the days quickly came to Ellerslie I got more and more excited! I didn’t entirely know what to expect, but I knew one thing, I expected to meet Jesus, in a way I had never met Him before. I knew I would fall more and more in love with the Lover of my soul! And indeed, I did! Far surpassing anything I could have ever asked, He wooed me and drew me closer into the unfathomable depths of His majesty and love. Many a people told me that I might just find “Mr. Right” while I was at Ellerslie. I was extremely adamant and very clear that that wasn’t possible nor even an option. I was going to Ellerslie for one reason, and one reason only. And that reason did not include finding Prince Charming and getting an MRS. Degree. In my mind, my time at Ellerslie was wholly dedicated to pursuing my King with a determined gaze only for Him, and none other. The Lord richly blessed the season He brought me into…He satisfied my hunger and deepened it all at once.
One of my favorite quotes that rings true is by Amy Carmichael which says,
“It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desire which He creates.”
And in Psalm 145:19a it declares,
“He fulfills the desire of those who fear him.”
I can testify that this rings true.
Part 2 coming soon! 🙂 Subscribe via email to know the instant that it comes!