How It All Came About …
While we could fill pages sharing the many God-ordained circumstances that brought us together, we will share briefly that we met each other for the first time when we were both between 15 and 16 years of age. Our families met at a home-church meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, in July of 1991. After this time, our families kept in some degree of contact—sometimes more, sometimes less—but the two of us exchanged nothing on a personal level.
During the school year of 1993-1994 and with the support of his parents, Giampaolo lived with the McMillan family for nine months while he attended Grand Rapids Community College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and studied the Bible under the supervision of Jackie’s dad, and spent time with Christians in the Grand Rapids area. In November of 1993 as a result of God’s power to humble men, Giampaolo experienced true conversion; and the life change that must accompany such a decision became apparent to all (2 Corinthians 5:17). It was at this time that interest in marrying Giampaolo was first sparked in Jackie, though she said nothing (and sought to indicate nothing) of it to anyone, including (of course) Giampaolo. In May of 1994, Giampaolo moved back with his family to Phoenix, Arizona, and our two families fellowshipped at a distance until Giampaolo’s family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the fall of 1996.
Even while living in the same city, meetings between our two families were still sometimes infrequent, several months—a few years at one point—elapsing between times of seeing each other. During this time, however, God had not stopped working, preparing our hearts for Him, and for one another (though, again, no personal conversation of any kind was ever exchanged between the two of us).
In the Spring of 1997, Jackie became awakened in a new way to her need for God, and submitted her life—and her motivation for why she did what she did (Romans 2:6-8)—to God.
Some sorrowful experiences during the summer of 2002 brought our two families into closer contact again, and our families started meeting informally for dinner every month or two. We usually ate at an economically-priced Chinese restaurant in Ionia, Michigan. It was during this time that Giampaolo became aware of Jackie in a new way, and started to watch her example of godly character, unobtrusively, with the idea that maybe God would have her become his wife.
Jackie, on her side of the “wall”, was learning in new ways to submit to and communicate with both her parents and God. During the summer of 2003, she and her dad spent a week fasting and praying together regarding her desire to be married. Giampaolo was discussed as a possible (but unlikely) candidate at that time, but only between her dad and she. Giampaolo had no idea of Jackie’s interest; and Jackie had no idea of Giampaolo’s interest. In fact, reflecting, we have both acknowledged that out of our intense commitment to wait on the Lord, we went out of our way to avoid personal contact with one another, exchanging little more than a polite “hello” and, if necessary, “Please pass the salt.”
The summer of 2004 brought both Giampaolo and Jackie to a sort of crisis in the situation, though each was completely unaware of the other’s similar struggles.
About a year prior to this, Giampaolo had decided definitely that asking Jackie to be his wife was God’s will for him; and he had confirmed this by obtaining his parents’ blessing. However, he had been waiting for God’s timing to ask Jackie’s dad for the permission to ask for her hand in marriage. As the father is to be the head of his home, Giampaolo believed this would also be a necessary blessing to obtain in order for God's will to be accomplished. Although he was becoming increasingly eager to do so (he shared that it grew increasingly harder to see Jackie, and to remain so uninterested on the surface), he felt keenly that he should wait until the end of summer, as the Lord had given him responsibilities with a new convert which he wanted to prove faithful with. So, desiring to be in God's will, he continued to wait and watch for God's perfect timing.
Jackie, on her part, was feeling very distressed in spirit at the years going by and still being single, and sought to take her distress to the Lord. Her greatest desire was to be content with whatever the Lord chose—be it singleness or marriage—but she poured out to the Lord her longing to be married. She also told the Lord that, as unlikely a possibility as it seemed, if she could choose anyone, it would be Giampaolo Ladomato. “But, Lord,” she clarified, “that is my choice. I know that You alone know all men’s hearts, and I want most what would bring glory to Your Name.” She also believed that a godly man would first go first to her father. As the summer progressed, the struggle to remain content intensified, and Jackie cried out as Hannah had, “Lord, please give me some sign by the end of summer—not necessarily marriage—but some sign that You are at least hearing me on this matter of marriage.” Summer wore on, and it seemed that God was silent.
On the other side of the fence, Giampaolo, not knowing anything of Jackie's prayer, was in turmoil over not wanting to wait too long to ask to marry Jackie. He had watched a meek and quiet spirit grow and blossom in Jackie over the years in her submission to God and her parents and he was convinced that God had prepared them both for marriage. He waited and watched as the summer came to a close. As a result of a school schedule change (Jackie’s dad is a college instructor, and she helps with the home-schooling of her younger brothers and sisters), there just so happened to be an extra week of summer. It was during this time that Giampaolo was scheduled to do some software updates on the McMillan home computers. He wondered how he would get a chance to ask Jackie's dad for her hand in marriage without her knowing. The Lord prepared the way and a few days before he was due at the McMillan's house, Jackie's dad just happened to stop by Giampaolo's office alone. Giampaolo asked him out to lunch and after some discussion regarding marriage was given a blessing to ask Jackie if she would marry him. Giampaolo at this time did not know that she had specifically hoped to marry him and he was a bit nervous as to what her answer would be.
The final Saturday before school was to begin again , Jackie was cleaning out the freezer when the phone rang. (Interestingly enough, she was praying about these matters as she cleaned and had just finished praying before the phone rang, “Lord, I don’t understand Your silence on the matters I have poured out to You. But whether You answer or not, I will love You just the same. There is only one direction: forward. Help me, then, to serve You faithfully.”) It was her dad calling from the office building they rent next to their house. He asked her to come over for a minute. Jackie, figuring it would be a quick computer tech-support question, left all the food out of the freezer she was cleaning and headed over … work clothes and all.
She was a little startled to see Giampaolo’s company van at the building, but not overly curious, as Giampaolo owns a computer business and had serviced their computers from time to time. Her dad told her that Giampaolo had a few computer updates to fill her in on. This did not seem unusual either, as Jackie is currently the main computer maintenance person at the McMillan house. Her concern began to grow, however, when the “quick update” began to go long; she was concerned about the food that was left out of the freezer at home. Finally, she asked if there was anything else and rose to excuse herself. Giampaolo’s reply made her sit down quickly again, however, as he revealed that he did have something else. Unknown to Jackie, he had gone to lunch with her dad on Thursday, and he had received permission to propose marriage to Jackie. When he explained these things and asked if she would be willing to discuss it, her response was, “Well, I would be glad to. But I do have some food out of the freezer at home. Can I go let someone know so that they can take care of it?” (This happens to be Giampaolo’s favorite part of the proposal story due to the fact that Jackie could keep her head in even the most unexpected circumstances—aside, of course, from her final answer.)
The food was taken care of, we spent about 45 minutes discussing possible concerns, and Jackie most joyfully gave her hearty, “Yes.” The Lord had not been silent after all.
Our families celebrated God’s provision that night at a most appropriate location: the Chinese restaurant in Ionia where we had met for dinner so many times prior.