I met Sarah Grace Carmichael in the kitchen of Teen Mania Ministries August of 1998. I was the lone January intern who happened to end up managing the kitchen due to the fact that I was the only choice. And Sarah was one of several who were chosen to do their practical service as an intern within the kitchen. Little did I know that my future wife was right before my eyes on that day of orientating. At that point I was “bachelor till the rapture” and wanted nothing to do with romantic relationships. Strictly friendship. But the Lord had different plans.
Needless to say, the fall of 1999, God shifted my thinking while traveling on a bus with several people (Sarah included) and by that winter I knew that Sarah Grace Carmichael would be my future wife. It was during those next 5 months that I began to call her by her middle name (Grace) due to another “Sarah” being on the team. And her middle name stuck. Thus, many now know her as Grace. After a long year on the road with Acquire the Fire Ministries and doing summer missions, Grace and I “hooked up”.
November 18, 2001 at Castle McCulloch in Jamestown, North Carolina was the beginning of a beautiful journey that would (and continues to) rock Grace and I at the core. I cannot describe how in love I am with this woman who has followed me to places that most probably would not have. And since April of 2006 she has walked out this journey partially blind. She has endured many things concerning me over the years and yet is still at my side. She has endured what I would deem as significant “spiritual abuse” early in our marriage to my self-absorbed life of ministry only a few years ago to everything in between. What others praised me for externally, she knew the inner darkness and reality. Yet, she has continued to walk with me and love me through it all.
It isn’t until recent years that the Lord awakened me in His mercy from my slumber and revealed the massive treasure I have in Sarah Grace Parks. There have been many days where I wished I had the first 7 yrs of our marriage to do over based on the reality my heart now has. But if a “do over” was possible, I now wouldn’t take it because of how the Lord has used this woman of God to help redeem one of the biggest pharisees I have known (me) during those first 7 years of our marriage. Watching Grace be patient with my selfishness eventually brought me to completely lay down my own agendas and self-seeking reputation, and thus she is His mercy toward me and truly has lived up to her beautiful name, Grace.
Little did I know that when I embarked upon this journey of marriage that God’s mercy would be so fully displayed to me through the life of one incredible woman, leaving me weeping time and again!
Now my wife is pregnant with our third child as we travel the U.S. in obedience to what God has asked us to do, preparing for the Day of the Lord as a family. We have little and desire to walk fully in the Spirit but yet my wife is content to walk beside me in what seems crazy to most.
Thank you Sarah Grace Parks for persevering through so much and rejoicing in so much of it with me. What fun I have had with you over the years and am still having now as we raise our children and seek to obey God. You are an incredible mom who has sought to lead our children in a way that I have seen few do. You are constantly desiring for Arden to not only understand the hope of bodily resurrection, God’s restoration of this earth and coming Kingdom but hunger to make it real through a life lived in the cross. A heart reality leading to a true hunger for Him and not just a heady knowledge that puffs him up. I am honored to raise our children with you and look forward to the many years ahead.
May the Lord grant us grace, strengthening us this next year to carry our cross, filling us with wisdom and revelation in the fear of God that we might please Him in all we do.
I can’t believe that I get to follow the Lord with your hand in mine. I love you baby!