A friend of mine, Christy Christensen, sent me a message one God-given day in May of 2009 saying:
“This is going to sound crazy, but there is a girl I am friends with here at Morning Star – Cherie Yoder. She and I are also Facebook friends. I think you should check her out. Ever since I got on Facebook you guys always post stuff and I think “these two have to meet!” It may not be anything, but I can’t stop putting the two of you together. If nothing else you will find her interesting (and cute). Anyway, maybe I can recommend to her that you guys become friends. I think it is worth your time to check her out.”
“Did I mention that she is super funny, smart and technically inclined? Oh, and cute… did I say super, super cute? And has a dog? And is the best volunteer in our video dept?
Just thought I would throw it out there. Seriously…She is your kind of girl.”
I was highly amused. Ok, so I was highly amused and interested. I knew Christy was prophetic and living in Moravian Falls with her husband Joseph so I wondered if God had spoken to her to prompt the most random message ever. So, without further ado I became a Facebook friend of Cherie Yoder. Around the same time, the manifest presence of God started becoming more thick and tangible and I began to actively wait more on Him than I had previously done. I would be woken up from my sleep by it and it got more and more intense. I also realized that I didn’t know how to love and I began asking God to teach me how to do so like 1 Corinthians 13 describes.
A few months went by and Cherie and I commented back and forth on each other’s status updates and I gave her a prophetic word or two. She sent me a few messages wanting to pray for a situation that had arisen at my local church, asking for details. In those few months I began to be really impressed with how much Cherie cared for other people and I started questioning God about her and the possibilities. Somewhere in there I know I asked God whether I could marry Cherie or not.
As more months rolled by and after a rather stressful time at work, I finally decided I would take a vacation and would go to Charlotte to visit Morningstar and go to Moravian Falls for some time to encounter God. Of course, I could also meet this Cherie Yoder woman and be done with the whole thing. I had given up on God in this area of my life a couple weeks before Christy sent me those messages, as my journal will testify to. I had given up to the point that I finally stopped praying about it and figured I’d be fine without what I wanted for the rest of my life, if for no other reason than it appeared that I didn’t have any choice in the matter.
So, I went on vacation. After spending a week in Tennessee with my parents, I headed to Charlotte. Cherie and I planned on meeting on Saturday night, October 31, 2009 at a local mall. We hit it off quite well and chatted while she signed up clients for The Portrait Gallery. I should have known God was going to do something crazy when later that night that little 2 year-old boy in the Batman costume peed on the floor while his dad watched helplessly and Cherie and I burst out laughing. The conversation to that point went something like this: “It looks like he’s gotta pee. Oh, there he goes…”
On my drive to the mall, I wasn’t nervous but when I saw Cherie my heart started pounding and I got incredibly nervous. In my mind, I was just going to meet a potential friend but apparently my heart thought otherwise. I walked up to her, said something like, “Hi Cherie” and got a big smile and warm hug in return. From then on, it was comfortable conversation and probably some casual flirting.
After we left the mall that night and parted ways I headed back to my hotel in quite a jovial mood and praying. I went to Morningstar the next morning and God showed up during worship and I began to intercede for my home church in Texas. I felt like I could easily stay at Morningstar but my heart wasn’t there. From there I had lunch and visited a music store where God crazily set me up to minister to an employee while I waited for Cherie to get off work. Up to that point, it had been a long time since I had actively sought to minister to someone outside of the four walls of the church.
That night Cherie and I met up and saw “Zombieland” together. I had already seen it and had fun watching Cherie enjoy the movie. As we were leaving the theater, she asked if the offer for her to join me the next day when I went to Moravian Falls was still open. Of course, I said “Yes, if you want to.” Sometimes I can be a little dense.
Part of what I wrote in my journal that day was this: “I have been spending time with Cherie and it’s been awesome. Unfortunately it’s also awoken that deep desire for a long peaceful life of hearth and home. I really like Cherie but I’m struggling with the distance [from Texas]. I don’t even know if there’s any chemistry but she’s turning into a really great friend. And damn it, she’s damn cute too!”
We met the next morning and caravanned to the Falls and met our mutual friends Joseph and Christy. We all had fun, good conversation and good food. Cherie and I then went on a hike where we talked about families other topics as two people getting to know each other will. By the time she left that night, I was starting to become quite smitten. She says I cried that night when we hugged goodbye but I can’t remember and contend it was because I was tired; she’s probably right. She left and I started praying.
The next night, after a lot of text messages and Facebook flirting, over a Facebook chat session (I know. It’s ridiculous and I’m a huge nerd) I told Cherie that I was pretty crazy about her. Thanks to my brother Andrew’s encouragement to recognize that I was probably in love, I might add. Like I said, I can be a little dense. Thankfully, she replied in kind. I just about broke my face by smiling so much. The next few days I spent in a LOT of prayer and seeking God about where this thing with Cherie would go and what He wanted me to do about it; I heard nothing. I asked a prophetic friend of mine for a word and what he heard was of little encouragement because it didn’t make a lot of sense at the time. I had expected to go to Moravian Falls to encounter God hopefully have a visitation like I’d heard about. What I got was an opportunity to follow Jesus into adventure for the rest of my days. I woke up on my last morning in Moravian Falls under great distress and feeling like I had to decide whether to follow Jesus no matter the cost (the opportunity of Cherie) or live a small life with little meaning or impact. I chose Jesus and told God I would fight for Cherie as well because I considered her worth it. I went back to sleep and woke up again with a lot of peace.
On my way back to Texas, I stopped in Charlotte to have lunch with Cherie. We both mentioned how comfortable we felt together and prayed together before I left and we left it in God’s hands. I should have known God was doing something when I stopped at a gas station in Atlanta, the Holy Spirit showed up and I prayed for healing for some homeless guys which is something I never do.
I went back to work the next day and all was fine and Cherie and I prayed that night about where we were going and we both understood that we were in this for one purpose; marriage. On Tuesday, however, I was depressed, bitter and angrier than I had been in a long time. That night my brother and sister-in-law invited me over to dinner and we had a long chat. They spoke into my life and basically told me why I was so angry and what was going on with me. God was calling me into adventure and just going to work every day wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I wanted more of life and Cherie had to be a part of it. So, that night I decided to move to Charlotte and pursue Cherie and whatever God was going to call me to and when I told Cherie, she became QUITE excited.
The next day I began praying about a timeframe of when to move and by Thursday I had a timeframe of April 20 – 25, 2010. My boss had been woken up for over a week between 4:20AM and 4:25AM and had no idea why. When he told me this, I realized this was my timeframe and told him so and immediately he stopped being woken up at that time. The next day I began asking prophetic friends for words because I needed direction on getting a new job. What I got in return was that God was giving me permission to pursue Cherie and that she would be my wife. I was a little irritated because it wasn’t what I was asking for but I realized that I should ask her if she wanted to make our status as “in a relationship” official instead of waiting till April to which she said “yes.”
A few days later I realized I held the beginnings of love for Cherie and told her so. That opened the door for us to begin talking about deeper issues as over the next week which we really did not plan on talking about but God lead us into it anyway. By November 30 I was in distress because I felt like God was leading us into a fast from each other and I didn’t know how Cherie was going to react. If she wouldn’t go along with something that affected both of us, being in relationship, I would have to break up with her because the leading of the Holy Spirit was so strong that I couldn’t deny Him. Thankfully, Cherie felt like God was in it and we started to understand that obedience is better than sacrifice even though sometimes obedience requires sacrifice. We had confirmation from a friend of hers that knew nothing about the situation when he said something like, “Even if God is asking Sam not to talk to you for a whole month, then you have to be obedient.” By this point we’d already began to understand that God was doing more with us than just to bring 2 lonely people together and set them in family.
For the next 21 days, I went through extremes of highs with God and lows in despair fighting my flesh and the Accuser. I fought a lot of spiritual battles both alone and with help from family and friend and began to hear God more and more clearly through words released by prophetic voices across the Church and with multiple dreams given me while I slept. On the last day of a torturous fast I woke up and heard God speak to me about the thing He desires with us being the same thing I desired with Cherie and that is intimacy. At midnight of December 22, Cherie and I picked up right where we left off and an hour passed in conversation without effort and with great joy. A few conversations later and I realized that I wanted Cherie to have more of the same fire that I knew was there and I boldly went before the throne of grace and demanded it of God for her. Trust me, God is not offended by us asking for something He already wants for us.
Prior to the fast we had decided she would visit Texas right after Christmas and so she did. During those 4 or 5 days we both got to know each other better, spent a LOT of time praying and being under the manifest presence of God. During that time God began healing in us of many hurts and wounds that we’d sustained over the years. Cherie left for Charlotte on Thursday and we were both miserable for the next two weeks. There began an outpouring of the Spirit at Morningstar a few days after Cherie returned to Charlotte and we both took part either in person or via webstream. I began being prompted to tell Cherie that during our fast, I began to hear God say that I wasn’t being released to move from Texas at that time and that Cherie would move to Texas. I told her about this and she began to despair and got angry, for which I don’t blame her. Thankfully, God knew better and I began to intercede for her and the next morning she was at peace. By the next Wednesday meeting at Morningstar, I felt like I should go to Charlotte to get into the outpouring and visit Cherie and she almost cried in relief.
Saturday night we went to the meeting and the Holy Spirit’s presence was thick. Cherie and I were able to minister together for a few people. I was quite impressed, pleased and blessed by Cherie when she came looking for me so we could be together during a time of impartation after we were separated for a few minutes and then God put us both on the ground. The next morning we went to church and Cherie’s friend, Gina, had some words from God for us. Through her, God confirmed many of the things we had already felt about our relationship and told us more of why we were being brought together. She also mentioned that our courtship would not look like what the Church or the World was used to seeing. Then Gina laid hands on us to pray and Cherie and I both ended up on the ground under the manifest presence of God.
Unfortunately, we still had questions about who would move where and how that would all look because we both understood that our relationship couldn’t go much further with such a large geographical distance between us. We planned on going engagement ring shopping the next day and so we went with the intention of getting an idea of what was available. During the time at the store we both were praying about what to do and if this was the right thing to do. We both felt that it was time and didn’t hear any opposition to what was in our hearts. I had originally planned on talking to Cherie’s parents and was planning on doing so even then. I would take the ring home and would propose after I met her family in February. However, during the day I realized that I didn’t want to leave for Texas without putting that ring on her finger. When we went back to the store to pick up her ring we prayed about it again because Cherie was troubled that her family hadn’t been able to be involved to that point and I was still willing to put it off. We prayed and I felt like God said to settle it that day.
Cherie drove us to a local park and we sat on a bench and prayed. The Holy Spirit showed up again as He loves to do and I got down on one knee and asked Cherie to marry me. Thankfully she said, “YES.” After many hugs and kisses I asked Cherie when she thought she might want to get married; April was the answer. She didn’t remember that April was the original timeframe that I heard when I started asking God about a timeframe for me to move. We set the date for April 24, 2010 and immediately the next steps opened up for us that we would get married in Charlotte and Cherie would move to Texas.
In early January 2009, I sat in a prophetic booth at church and my friend David gave me a word unlike any he had given me before. The main vein was that I would receive the beginnings of promises and answers to prayers that I been praying and deeply desiring for, for years and that it would be a banner, and really good year for me.
As for the story from here, you can read about it in the book that we’ve been told to write at least 5 times now.