My dear friends,
Similar to how my junior year in high school was pivotal, so too would be my junior year in college. This next year is the year that I would meet Adam. Thank you for tagging along with me so far as I continue to describe how I met my husband. So hang on tight, we are almost there (finally)!
As I entered into my junior year at Franciscan University I wondered what God had planned for me. I was greatly looking forward to the spring semester because that is when I planned to study abroad in Gaming, Austria. As the year started I got asked out on a few more dates, but the plans always continued to fall through. I was downtrodden as I told my best friend Sierra about all of this. I told her about how a guy asked me on a date one Sunday, but that Sunday happened to be Easter and he never asked again. Another guy asked me out and I had to cancel because a meeting came up that I had to go to. He got so angry that I decided not to reschedule. Then a guy asked me out to salsa dancing and there was a 21 year old age limit. Needless to say I was 20 at the time. A very sweet gentleman asked me out, but he was an hour late and I decided to make other plans. We never followed up after that either.
I brought all of these situations to prayer before chatting with Sierra yet I felt that I needed to speak with her about it. I told her that I was still so confused as to why this was happening. She immediately said, “God is preserving you for someone amazing. God won’t even let you date anyone else until you meet him.” She continued, “Nina I cannot wait to meet your future husband! He is going to be incredible.” I knew that she was right yet the prayer I made back when I was 17 still never managed to cross my mind. The fall semester was going well as I joined a household on campus, which changed my life. I also continued to anticipate traveling to Austria to study abroad the next semester.
I began praying more deeply about my travels. It was then that God revealed to me that I actually wasn’t suppose to go to Austria. I never felt Him calling me there during the spring semester of my junior year, yet that was the ideal time for someone with my major to go. I had been planning this with my academic counselor since arriving to Franciscan more than a year ago. I made the tough decision not to travel to Austria the next semester. I had to tell my friends about this and they were bummed to hear my news. Many of my close friends would be traveling to Austria that semester. I knew there was a reason God wanted this. Yet now I was unsure if I would even get the chance to ever study abroad. I was willing to give this amazing opportunity up though because God’s will for me was more important.
That Christmas break between my fall and spring semester I prayed a 30 days’ prayer to St. Joseph for my future spouse. I offered to him the sacrifice of not going to Austria and prayed that this sacrifice would be offered up for my future husband. After that 30 days’ prayer I continued to ask for St. Joseph’s intercession for my future spouse. I trusted Jesus with all my heart and anticipated what He was going to do while I stayed back in Ohio instead of traveling to the breathtakingly beautiful country of Austria.
When I got back to school for the spring semester I kept thinking and praying, “Lord I don’t know what is to come, but I trust in You.” Right away I met two transfer students, Jillian and Julie, who had just transferred that semester. Jillian was rooming with my close friend Ariana and Julie lived down the hall having met Jillian during their orientation to Franciscan. It did not take long before Jillian, Julie, Ariana, my roommate Allison, and I became close friends.
About a month into the semester and our friendship we decided to pray a 54-day Rosary novena (a Rosary novena consisting of 27 days in petition and 27 days in thanksgiving) for our future spouses or vocations. We were inspired after randomly meeting a religious sister in the dorm hallway. She was not a Franciscan TOR sister, who we would see often around campus. In fact, we had never seen this sister before. She told us the story of how she prayed a 54-day Rosary novena for her brother’s future spouse. He met his spouse the day she ended the novena. Her brother also had no idea that his sister was praying this novena for him! The sister continued to briefly teach us how to pray the novena and then we never saw her again.
As we started researching the 54-day Rosary novena more one of our friends mentioned that Jackie Francois Angel had an amazing story regarding the novena too. While Jackie was praying this novena she re-met her future husband and he actually bought her engagement ring the day she ended. We were almost in tears after reading their story. God was calling us to pray this novena together and we desired to begin very soon. All of us agreed that we wanted to end on a Marian feast day. Conveniently, if we began the novena two days later then we would end on the feast of the Annunciation, March 25th!
We all decided to write letters to our Lady containing our prayer intentions for our future spouses or vocations. We each put all of our intentions into an unsealed envelope and each day we would place our envelopes in the center of the five of us as we would pray our Rosary. Soon 27 days passed meaning we would seal the envelope containing our prayer intentions. We wrote another letter to our Lady this time with our thanksgiving prayers. Another 27 days passed, we sealed our thanksgiving letters, and 54 days of praying the Rosary novena ended on the Feast of the Annunciation. At the time it did not seem like a lot was happening for me, but as soon as the novena ended I felt like a wave of grace flowed over me with a powerful undertow!
Once the novena ended I discovered that I was actually fearful to have my heart broken by a man. I found this out after a series of events that occurred after I had finished the novena. Heather, one of my friends from the NET team, came to visit Franciscan and while we were in conversation she told me about an image she got in prayer. The image was of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Jesus had His Heart pierced by a sword and Mary’s heart was pierced seven times. Both of their Hearts were wounded. The most perfect Hearts to have ever existed were wounded. Heather explained that who is she to say no to having her heart hurt or broken by another person. Who is she to want a “perfect” heart with no wounds when Jesus and Mary had pains and sufferings within their Hearts. After our conversation I brought this image and her words to prayer to take some time to dwell on this.
I realized that there are a lot of poor examples out there that don’t portray true love. This had caused a fear in me because I did not want this. I had heard Fulton Sheen describe love the way that I desired it. He said, “I once asked a husband what he would like to be if he could come back to earth two years after he died. The man said, ‘My wife’s second husband.’” This was my heart’s secret desire, to have a love so very strong with my husband. A love that is so deeply rooted in our Heavenly Father and Mother that others won’t even be able to fathom our love without coming to know Them first.
You see the Trinity is a mystery. Even though God has revealed parts of Himself to us He is still hidden as if behind a veil on this side of Heaven. The more we become like Jesus the more we become a mystery to others as well. Saints are great examples of this. They were (and still are) a mystery to those around them. As we strive to become more like Christ we can start to understand the mystery of these saints. So too in a faithful Catholic marriage there is a mystery of love between the spouses. Others cannot fully understand this love until they too strive for the virtue to become like Christ themselves. This is what I desired.
I figured that this fear of a lesser love than what I described might have stemmed from all the times I desired a real love from a man, but received looks of lust, wounding comments, and not to mention everywhere the media portrayed a “love” that I frankly did not want. The Lord was calling me to something deeper though. He was calling me to trust in Him as He revealed this desire of mine in the flesh, my future husband. Soon after this realization and calling I went on a retreat with my household sisters. My spiritual director was present at the retreat to celebrate Mass and hear confessions. As I was praying with him he told me that I should not fear. God’s first prompting of many telling me not to fear.
As I prayed with a friend who was actually my big in household she told me, “Nina the Lord keeps telling me that you should not fear.” At Mass a few days later the priest gave a homily all about not being afraid. He talked about how there are 365 times in the Bible where the Lord says do not fear. Then I went to a campus event and the girl sitting in front of me had a quote on the back of her shirt, which was unavoidable. It read, “Do Not Be Afraid” and underneath the phrase it was quoted by St. John Paul II. It did not end there. The Lord continued to tell me not to be afraid in many different ways. Through another conversation with Sierra I realized that the Lord was calling me to date. I pieced this all together more clearly as I was describing to her what was happening in my life recently.
After Sierra and I finished talking I asked her to pray for me and all that we talked about. Then I went straight to my favorite chapel on campus to pray. The Lord inspired me to read 1 Peter 3. As I flipped through the pages of my Bible I was anticipating what God desired to say to me. Once I found 1 Peter 3 I immediately noticed that it was titled Wives and Husbands! My eyes widened, my heart started pounding, and I was in absolute awe at how the Lord was working. My Lord and my God whom I love was calling me to marriage in a profound way that evening. My spouse who I had been waiting for, a man who I did not have even the faintest idea of who he could be, might be crossing my path very soon. The words given to St. Faustina were written on my heart, “Jesus, I trust in You!”
“Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, when they see your reverent and chaste behavior. Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of fine clothing, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. So once the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves and were submissive to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are now her children if you do right and let nothing terrify you. Likewise you husbands, live considerately with your wives, bestowing honor on the woman as the weaker sex, since you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered” 1 Peter 3:1-7.
Full text of 1 Peter 3 here.
It was the very next day that I met Adam. At the time I did not realize these providential coincidences, but I would finally realize this months after we started dating. Adam and I met the week following Easter. The same four friends and I who prayed the 54-day Rosary novena wanted to pray the Divine Mercy novena starting on Good Friday. On Tuesday, April 22nd, my friends invited a few others to pray the novena with us for that day. I was introduced to Adam by my friend Jillian who told us so many good things about him.
Although Adam is the most attractive man I have ever met, God had given me the grace of complete peace. I did not trip over my words, my heart was not pounding, and my nerves didn’t cause my hands to shake. It was as if I had known him all my life as I spoke with him. One of the first things I remember saying to him was, “I like your beard!” He had a full luscious beard after growing it for almost a year. I guess what I said was significant for him because he told me later that most girls would ask him, “Can I touch it?” “Does it itch?” etc. I was the only woman that he had met at college who complimented him on his beard. I later found out that he was growing his beard because at the time he desired to be a religious brother. How ironic that I had complimented his beard he had been growing with the desire to be a brother. Over the course of a few more months the Lord revealed His plans to Adam. We developed our friendship with one another during this time as well.
After meeting Adam God slowly revealed to me what He was doing in my life. All the dates that had fallen through due to God’s faithfulness to my prayer when I was 17 was so that my first and only boyfriend would become my husband. Not studying abroad that semester allowed me to meet Adam. St. Joseph and his intercession was certainly powerful as well! The random sister who was walking the halls of our dorm and decided to teach my friends and I about the 54-day Rosary novena was the work of the Holy Spirit. Our Blessed Mother and her intercession through the Rosary allowed me to meet my husband about a month after finishing this novena. The Lord telling me not to fear so that I could continue trusting in Him and what He was doing. Then reading 1 Peter 3 the day before meeting Adam because the Lord was telling me that I would be meeting him very soon. Even meeting Adam by means of praying the Divine Mercy chaplet after I had been thinking and praying, “Jesus, I trust in you!” It truly was a beautiful encounter of seeing my husband Adam in the flesh, face to face.
The pieces of the puzzle were falling into place. God the Creator of all things has our best interests in mind at all times. Although I did not understand everything in the moment, I put my life and trust completely in God’s hands and to the intercession of our Blessed Mother. Surely God brought a man into my life that was above and beyond what I ever expected. My wildest dreams and desires could not have prepared me for the even greater gift that my spouse would be. I thank God everyday for the gift of my dear husband, Adam. Oh how unworthy I am to receive this man as a gift from God in order to bring him to Heaven. I gave God my soul and He has given me more than one soul in return.
“In the designs of Providence, there are no mere coincidences” St. John Paul II.
Here is the booklet that us ladies used to pray the 54-day Rosary novena. This is one of the best resources I have found for how to pray this novena and the reflections are absolutely beautiful.
Here is the booklet that I used to pray the 30 days’ prayer to St. Joseph. This booklet also has many other special prayers to St. Joseph. My husband and I use it often.
Read more about Jackie and Bobby Angel’s 54-day Rosary novena story.
The last photo on this post was taken by our dear friend Sasha. You can visit her website here.