On May 1, 1982 a significant event occurred in my life. I married Dan Gibbs and went from being Tina Bowden to Tina Gibbs. I remember the day so well! I was so excited to be FINALLY getting married, I did my hair and put the candles in the Unity Candle holders and in every picture it bugs me that we could not get that one candle to stand up straight! I digress!
Did I know what the next 33 years would bring? I knew it was going to bring castles, unicorns, and rainbows. Dan would always be my Prince Charming, I would never lack. It would also bring children who never argued, I would never have to raise my voice, I could just rationally speak with them and presto – they would obey! If you are not laughing hysterically yet, you should be!
I had an idea of what marriage would be, after all, I was marrying my best friend and the very cutest boy in the whole world! We were a very mature 18 and 21 year old for our age! (Riotous laughter should ensue here!) I was always going to get my way because, of course I was always right!
Well, it is probably good that I didn’t know everything the ensuing years would bring. I loved being a mom, I loved my boys, I loved homeschooling until it became detrimental to my relationship with our sons. I loved my jobs, my volunteer work, and life. I have to say that marriage is a lot of work, but a good marriage gives life to the soul and builds each other up, rather than the opposite.
I have to say the last 4 years have definitely been the most unique in our marriage. Our sons are 28 and 30 now. They are stable young men, independent, and funny. When Dan and I felt God was leading us somewhere else in ministry, I was thinking Branson MO was a stretch. We prayed and kept praying and two years later found that Nigeria was where God was leading us. Two years of praying is what it took to prepare us to realize that even though we didn’t have seminary degrees, etc. we could be missionaries and there was work God wanted us to be doing.
Our first trip to Nigeria was memorable. We were overwhelmed with the things Art and Dorothy had accomplished in a ten year period of time. We did not feel capable. They assured us, it was God, they just followed how God led and did the work. That was a little helpful, we could do that, we felt. Of course, then on the way back to the Airport as Dan and I are excitedly discussing different evangelical and compassion things we could do, I got shot. During the “shooting experience” God showed up in a big way. He calmed my panic, and as I was sitting in the bus that was not going anywhere because it was shot too, He told me, “this is where I want you and I will take care of you”. I have to say, without this promise, things would have been much harder for the next couple of years.
After we got back to the States, we worked at our jobs, worked on the process of becoming a missionary, raised our monthly support, got our house ready to sell and sold it. We lived with friends for 8 months while finishing up our support and built a small cabin in Pine River on some land Dan’s parents gave us. This was hard, a lot of work, but Dan and I have had so much fun! We have met so many wonderful, Godly, supportive people!
We love telling people about what God is doing in Nigeria, we love being together, and we are loving working together here in Nigeria. We are thankful for each other as we are the only non-Nigerians for hundreds of miles where we are serving. We celebrate today what God has done in us and what He will do through us in the following years.
I do have a point today: God is always preparing us for what He has next in our lives. We know that right now God is preparing us for what He has next. What is He preparing you for? Are you asking what His will is for you as a couple, a family, an individual?