About the Author

Leslie Verner is a goer learning how to stay. Other cultures, spicy food, deep conversations, running, and sunshine feed her soul. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three kids. Her first book, Invited: The Power of Hospitality in an Age of Loneliness, releases August 2019.

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  1. Leslie,
    I love this, “God sometimes pries dreams out of stubborn hands because He wants to fill them with something even better – namely, a wild dependence on Him.” I’m so thankful that God’s love is fierce and furious. He will track us down – even to China if He has to. God has had to pull my clenched fist off my dreams one finger at a time so that He can give me something even better. Yes, my love story was totally unexpected. After many years of an emotionally abusive marriage and and “aloneness” I can’t even describe, He has given me a love that reminds me of Him (God) – it surpasses understanding. I know, without a doubt, that God sees me….He sees all of us in our pain and has a good and perfect plan for us. It may not (in fact usually never) happens in our time frame, but God’s timing is perfect. Because of His goodness, my first and forever love will be my Lord. I’ve learned the truth of seek Him first and all these things shall be added unto me/you. It’s Truth. Loved reading your testimony!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • Bev, yes, his love IS “fierce and furious”–love that. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story and the ways He has held you even through all the detours of life. I always tell my husband he’s my #2;-)

  2. My love story has a sad ending. I thought it was God’s plan for us to be together. How could I be so wrong ? So now I adjust my mind saying this is all part of God’s plan. But the pain of this broken dream weighs so heavy on my heart.
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. I’m so happy for you . Thank you for showing how God works…..even when we don’t so.

    • My second marriage seemed like the answer to my prayers. Every facet seemed to line up as the right choice. When he walked out and filed for divorce before the week was over, I was shocked, humiliated and overwhelmed. I relocated across country and started a new life. Now 22 years later, I praise God continually for the blessings He lavished upon me that I never could have imagined. All pivoted upon that period of heartbreak! Praise God and rest in His love and comfort,and you will see later how He leads you in new paths! Prayers for your current pain.

      • Juil, Thank you for sharing the ways God lavished His love on you in spite of heartbreak and confusion. Every year I grow older, am thankful for the ways looking back gives me even greater perspective on God’s role in my life in ways I couldn’t see at the time.

    • Deborah, I’m so sorry for your pain. I had a similar experience several years before meeting my husband of being so sure another man was “the one.” I was devastated. But Jesus held me. I pray you feel His arms around you, too.

  3. Thanks for this Leslie. I believe God used you to encourage me, again, with the scripture (Jeremiah 29:11) & to anyone out there who feels ‘abandoned’ – GOD will never abandon you. HE is faithful & knows the plans He has for you.

  4. God just recently threw me one heck of a curveball. While it fulfills a dream that I have had for years, from the human perspective, the timing is horrific! I have faith that God’s timing is better than anything I could have planned out.

    • Don’t you sometimes wish God were on OUR timeline?;-) Good thing He’s not! I’m glad you can already see HIs hand at work in your life even through the inconvenient timing.

  5. Love this! What a beautiful love story and reminder that God is in control and what he has planned is ultimately more incredible than we could plan for ourselves!

  6. Wow, this is so beautiful and so very relevant to my own life situation. I too was- am a very independent strong woman who had my entire life mapped out before meeting, and marrying my husband within a year of our first date. Now almost 28 years later, with our three children ,all pursuing post secondary education – we are ‘quasi empty nesters’. In my second career , having transitioned out of the medical field into education – I too am learning how to grow roots and bear fruit – right where I am . Was this part of my original plan ? No way !But thank goodness God was able to pry my tightly clenched fist open (beautifully written by the way Leslie), and set me on His plan for my life. I am so thankful that I don’t really have to be in control of everything all the time . Thank you for sharing this – it is a timely reminder of the magestic Lord we serve. Blessings~Debbie RD~

    • Debbie, thanks for your encouragement and for sharing some of your story. Right now I’m in a Bible study with ten women who are all about 30 years older than me, and I love hearing the perspective of women who are farther along their life road than me. It’s funny, because the first question we ask kids is “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and yet we’re surprised when what God wants to do with our lives is so different than our short-sighted plans for ourselves. Thank goodness He has a better imagination than we do;-)

  7. I had been through some of these situations and God uses unpleasant circumstances to humble us . I know I can be stubborn as my parents use to tell me but we really don’t need to run away but run towards in to the hands of God

  8. Good words! Love it! Love how God changes us in our own HIStory! Congratulations on your anniversary!
    Continue to mobilize for China and love on those living there as expats, you know how hard it is! (Check out Women Helping In Missions on Facebook for ideas.)
    Thanks for sharing your story!

  9. Wow, I can totally relate to your story! I have spent much of my life as a champion of singleness. I thought it was the biggest thing I could do for God to go overseas somewhere by myself. I thought anything less would be a waste. I’ve been dating a special guy now for about 6 months that God just plopped in my lap. I’ve been learning that maybe what i thought God wanted from me – an achievement – was off base. He really just wants my heart. And wants me to understand how to love others in relationship, which I wasnt doing very well because I was always so busy trying to ‘achieve’. God has been giving me such a gift! Unexpected but so good.

    • Leah, yes that sounds VERY familiar. If you have time, maybe check out this other post I wrote called “When Marriage Is Viewed as Selling Out.” 😉 http://www.scrapingraisins.com/2015/09/my-story-when-marriage-is-viewed-as-selling-out/ Strong, independent, single women were always my role models and I wanted to prepare myself for possibly never meeting someone, so I was pretty shocked to fall in love. It’s another post for another time, but I tended to view singleness as more holy than marriage. But I think you are right on track in already understanding that what God is most concerned about is having our WHOLE heart–whether we are married or single.

  10. This was really touching, thank-you Leslie for sharing such an uplifting story. It’s miraculous how God helps everything fall into place. When I left my family in the city at a young age, I moved to a small, distant, unknown place. After 33 years my husband, and I have stayed, and raised our family. Was this how I thought my life would be? No, but I believe I was drawn here for a purpose.

    Have a blessed day,

    Penny

  11. Your story sounds like a movie. Thank you for saying those ” grossly exaggerated romantic comedies “, when I see those things I just think they’re silly. wheras, the old screwball comedies of the 30’s have some real humor. I expected my life to be different, I didn’t plan on getting married, then not until I became a writer. I can’t write the things on television, I’ve had a lot of rejections, but my blog is up and running and I encourage people all the time. I know a lot about true love in Jesus and we’ll see what happens.

    • Rebecca, thanks so much for your comment! Good for you for writing in spite of the obstacles–I have a lot of them, too! Blogs are such a quick way to encourage others with what God is doing in your life. I’m glad that has been a source of life for you and others!

  12. Wow, what a fun and inspiring story of Jesus’ perfect plans! And you know what’s so cool too? As a wife and mom, you still are on the mission field in your kids lives, as you share the Truth of God’s Word and our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ with your kids and other relatives or members of your community who may not be saved. Love it! Missions are still needed in our homes and neighborhoods, so I pray god keeps using you in that way even as you go about daily life to His honor and glory. Thank you for sharing! 😀

    • Meredith, thanks for your kind words. And you are so right. A book I read recently talked about my home being “My Jerusalem,” so I do try and have that perspective (though I don’t always succeed). Right now, God wants me living small, but deep.

      • That sounds like a cool book! What a good way to live, small, but deep. I like that! 😀 Thank you for sharing.

  13. Wow, I can’t believe how many others have similar stories to mine!! I needed an “anchor” to hold to for the inevitable lies that would get thrown at my heart years down the rode from my decision to let go of my life long dream of career missions, to stop my foreign mission training and marry the man I had fallen in love with. My “anchor” is the prayer I put into that decision, the many wise counselors I sought out before finalizing my life shift, & now the beautiful results of our family. Thank you for sharing your story!!

    • Mary, I love the thought of having an anchor to keep you steady on the days when you begin to doubt your previous decision. It’s funny because knowing I was called to China was what helped me on the rough days there. Now, remembering how clear God made it that I was supposed to get married sustains me when I miss my old life;-)

  14. Leslie, I’ve gathered that we have a shared history of being “that girl who’s so independent” just from the bits and pieces of your story that I’ve read here and there — I was also blind-sided by romance. Hadn’t even penciled it in, and here I am 26 years later in “the hardest job I’ve ever loved.”

    And very thankful for God’s unexpected blessings!

    • Michele, we’ll have to sit down and have coffee one day! I’m sure we’ll have lots to talk about! And I love your description of marriage–that’s about how I’d describe motherhood right now (except I’d add–“and the only job I can never quit!”)

  15. Similar to a lot of the women here, my love story was unexpected too. Fell in love in high school and everyone expected me and this special guy to get married, but somewhere along the lines we stopped making plans for us and made them instead for our own selves. It was a messy and painful breakup that I wish I had handled differently. It took a few years, but I met another wonderful man who took me seriously. Sadly he died a few years ago after a long illness, but he taught me to be strong and encouraged me in my faith.

    • Those broken hearts stay with us, don’t they? But I’m learning that like everything in life, we wouldn’t be who we are today without them. I’m sorry to hear you lost your husband. I can’t imagine what that would be like. Thank you for sharing a bit of your story. I really appreciate that!

  16. Thank you for these lovely words of encouragement, Leslie! I’ve had my dreams pried from my heart this year, and although my spirit was willing, it has hurt more than I could have imagined. As a 24 year old, I fit into the “single woman navigating the Christian world of family-centric churches and grossly exaggerated romantic comedies” category, trying to navigate a lot of things alone as I’m settling into a new community. It feels like I’m in an ocean and God is placing steps in front of me, one by one so I don’t drown, but also don’t know where I’m going yet have no other direction to turn. Though to many it doesn’t make sense why I felt called to come here, maybe that is God’s lesson for me – so I would learn to grow and depend only on Him and his provisions.

    • Addison, I’m so sorry to hear about your disappointment, loneliness and feeling like you’re lost in the ocean. I’ve been there, too. For me, the hardest part of following Jesus has been the times when I’ve been convinced I was doing what He wanted me to do only to find those doors slammed firmly shut. But over the years I’ve learned not to fear the wilderness as much because just as the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, sometimes He also purposely leads us to lonely places. He will not fail you, but wants to do something in you. And you won’t be there forever–even though it may feel that way! Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing your heart and I hope you continue to learn to depend on Jesus.

  17. Leslie,

    God knows the future better than we do. I thought I’d graduate HS and get a good job right away. Wrong! It took a while to find a good fit for me,(clerical person with hearing problems). Also hard because I disliked living in Tampa, FL. Wanted to be in the mountains. Twelve years out of HS we moved to Johnson City, TN(2 hrs. from Knoxville). Yes I spent the majority of those years navigating the Christian world of family-centric churches. Little did I know that nine years later God would bring the most wonderful man into my life. He is there for me every step of the journey. We’ve been married now 13 years. I’ve had to navigate old age parents and the pitfalls of dementia. It has been a blessing to live closer to my sisters who can come and help out some. God pried the dream of a good job in Florida and gave me so much more than I could ever imagine!

    Blessings 🙂

    • Beth, thanks so much for sharing some of your story. I went to middle school and high school in Tampa, FL;-) We also now live in the mountains of Colorado! Just when we think we know what we’re doing, God loves to send us a curve in the road. Thanks for sharing!