Jazmin and Zeke had been dating for about a year and a half when they knew that marriage was in their future. Zeke didn’t have kids, so he knew that Jazmin’s two daughters, Ana (10) and Kalila (7), would be a HUGE responsibility but was he ready for fatherhood and an instant family? He felt he was ready though, and it was time to express his love and intentions for Jazmin to her two beautiful girls. The four of them had spent so much time together, laughing, playing, crying, and praying. He just knew he couldn’t go on without them. He thought that asking the girls for permission to marry their mommy was a must, and Jazmin agreed. He would do it that week, after dinner, at their apartment.
Zeke, remembers, “Dinner has always been fun for us, so when the day came for me to ask The Big Question, it was a real struggle for me to sit down to our meal and not look distracted. Even while we were talking, laughing and eating, the only conversation I could hear was in my head, ‘What if they say no? Am I ready for this? Does Jazmin really know what she’s getting herself into?’”
During dessert, he paused, took a deep breath, and asked Ana and Kalila if they would let him marry their mom. He doesn’t remember ever hearing them actually say the word “yes”, but their screaming with excitement told the whole neighborhood that he was pretty much in. They were so happy, and Zeke’s heart was full! In his excitement, he added, “It’s because I want us to be a family now!” At that moment, the wedding planning began! Ana and Kalila chattered excitedly about how they could be bridesmaids, or flower girls and who would play all the roles.
Ana, the oldest, continued in “wedding planner mode.” By now she’d moved on to the colors for the dresses. But Zeke noticed that Kalila had become quiet. She looked down at her plate and seemed very confused. He leaned in towards her and asked, “What’s wrong, honey?” By then, the table quieted down, and they were all focused on her. Zeke felt sick. He was sure she was going to say that she had changed her mind. That she didn’t want him as a dad. He wasn’t prepared for rejection. What happened next surprised him. She looked up at him and said softly, “But I thought we already were a family?”
At that moment, Zeke’s life changed… completely, with the abrupt realization that words like love, family, and commitment, are cemented into the heart of another, only when it’s so obvious by one’s actions — that there can be no mistaking it.
Zeke doesn’t claim that he pulls this off every day with his family. He’s had his share of “cementing” the wrong attitude at the worst time possible. But here’s where another privilege of being a father comes in. It’s when Dad uses words like, “I was wrong. I’m sorry. I made a mistake.” And Zeke’s personal favorite, “Please forgive me.” Zeke believes God will strategically use these opportunities to repair the damage he’s done while trying to be the perfect dad.
That dream wedding happened! And eight years later, Zeke, Jazmin, Ana and Kalila are still laughing, playing, crying and praying. And at the center of it all…is Jesus. Zeke’s story is about a journey and a desire to be who Jesus called him to be… the husband, father, man. Eastside has this same vision. We believe that it’s a place for everyone, wherever you are on your spiritual journey.
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