IMPERIAL – Shortly after Valentine’s Day, local residents came together for a special “Worth the Wait" Singles dinner celebration at Maranatha Steakhouse, filling up half of the restaurant on Friday, February 17 in Imperial. 

The dinner was coordinated by Norman Chandler, Stacie Chandler, and Dalia Escutia from Lifted Up Living. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, the purpose of the dinner was to offer a time of adult fellowship and fun for individuals who are currently single and to encourage them that finding love is “worth the wait.” 

“Norman and I have a heart for the singles in our Christian community. Knowing the challenges that there can be when living in the ‘season of singleness’ we want to give the singles something special to do during Valentine’s Day when many might feel left out and lonely,” said Stacie.

The event was two hours long with time for dinner, a raffle, a game, and a series of testimonies shared by the event coordinators. 


Prior to being a Christian, Stacie used to seek love in “the wrong places,” she said. She explained that there was too much alcohol involved, got married too many times, and even experienced being a single parent and a widow. 

In February of 2000, she got to know God and her life started to change for the better. She admitted that despite having Christ in her life, she still felt like she needed to have a man in her life to feel complete. 

“Finally, the Lord helped me to see that I didn’t need to be looking for anybody and so my prayer became, ‘Lord, when you feel that I’m ready for a godly relationship, put him in a pew next to me at church,’ because I didn’t want to do all that dating anymore,” said Stacie.

Norman then shared some of his story about the time he got to meet Stacie via the internet around 2003. At the time he wasn’t a Christian and invited her to a bar. Stacie declined and invited him to meet at church instead. Norman’s reply to that was: “I didn’t do church.” 

While meeting in person didn’t work out for them, Norman’s life took a big turn when he got arrested. He was addicted to drugs at the time and decided to enter Turning Point Men's Home in July of 2004. Three days after his arrival, he decided to give his life to God.

“I had about a year and a half before I met her (Stacie), and I took that precious time to give myself to the Lord and get myself right so that when God did bring someone into my life, I could be the man that God wanted me to be,” said Norman. 

Norman and Stacie officially met in person at Valley Baptist Church in early February of 2006. They made the crowd laugh when they said that their “first date” was just a couple of weeks later on February 13, at a church Valentine’s Day dinner event. They married about a year later in February 3 of 2007.

“For some of you, it might not be a season and you might be single for the rest of your lives,” said Norman. “Who knows what God has for you … It’s an opportunity to take your time and devote it to the Lord.” 

Shortly after the Chandler couple spoke, Escutia shared her testimony. She said that she felt touched and inspired when she previously attended a “Worth the Wait” dinner a few years ago and decided to be a part of this year’s event. 

Despite being a Christian, she kept finding herself in “unequally yoked” relationships. She said that she kept dating men who “needed fixing” or “promised to become Christian.” After a big breakup, she learned the meaning of love by asking God.

“During the pandemic, I was heartbroken and needed healing ... as I got deeper into the Word, God started to [bring out] all of the pain that I had carried throughout the years in abusive and failed relationships,” she said. “God wanted to heal me.” 

She explained that shortly after that, she started attending Lifted Up Living and began to take their classes to learn what God wanted to do in her life. She said that she decided to block everyone out of her life so that she could have no distractions and really dedicate her time to finding love in God. 

At the end of her speech, Escutia shared a letter that she wrote. She got emotional as she read, “Dear single friend, don’t let your season of singleness be unfruitful. Give God the opportunity to work on you and lead you through this season. Please know that waiting doesn’t mean you have to stop everything you’re doing … In the waiting, grow and mature in Christ for every aspect of life.” 

According to their website, Lifted Up Living is a non-denominational faith-based non-profit 501(c)(3) ministry. They host groups, healthy living day camps, seminars, conferences, mentoring, and family mediation programs designed to encourage God's people through the teaching of His Word, as they disciple others to break the chains of family destruction and dysfunction. They are located at 147 South 6th Street in Brawley. 

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