Thursday, August 22, 2013
The Light Gets Brighter
With each passing year I wonder 'how have the years added up so quickly?'. PandaPop and I are celebrating twenty-one years of marriage today.
How blessed we are.
How incredibly blessed I am.
Our meeting and engagement was 100% God orchestrated. Neither of us could have planned it the way it all panned out. I've blogged so long that I have forgotten if I've written out the story of how it all came about back in the fall of 1991.
At the perky age of 21 that I'd just turned in September, I was in my junior year at Baylor University having finished my first two college years at our local community college when my cousin who was in 8th grade told me about her youth pastor saying that I should meet him. He happened to be the part-time guy at a tiny country church where I had previously attended for a few years and the place I met Jesus when I was eleven and was dunked in the waters. She was also playing match-maker by telling her youth pastor that he should meet her cousin. This went on for about a month or so with both the youth pastor and I telling my cousin the time wasn't right and not interested.
Around mid-November she asked permission to show him a photo of me. I reluctantly gave in out of curiosity. My past was painted with brushstrokes from a previous two year relationship and a few other dating attempts that had me leery of getting involved with anyone else for awhile even though I really couldn't wait to be married.
If memory serves me correctly, the next week I was attending the funeral of a distant older cousin of mine. After the funeral we were eating at our church with our family which included the mother of my 8th grade match-making cousin, my aunt. It happened to be a late Wednesday afternoon. My aunt would soon be headed to the other church to pick up my cousin from the youth group activities that evening. Thinking I would be nonchalant, I graciously "offered" to go with my aunt to pick up my cousin thereby allowing myself to get a peek at this youth pastor guy without actually disclosing my identity. I thought it was only fair since this guy had seen my picture, but I had no idea what he looked like. For Pete's sake.....I didn't want to go out with an ugly guy. Admit it, ugly guy with a stellar personality who could be fabulously wealthy would still be an ugly guy. I wanted to know if he was cute!
My aunt was all for it. We hopped in the well-known-around-the-community red Suburban of my aunt and headed to "pick up my cousin". That was my story and I was sticking to it. We pull into the parking lot making our way back to the youth building when all of a sudden a hoard of teenagers come running out to the Suburban surrounding the windows with huge smiles and giggles. I'm wondering what the heck is going on while my aunt is giggling, too. As her window is down I hear from my aunt's side of the red bus several teens saying, "she's here! she's here!!!!" I'm dying. Up to my passenger window strolls the youth pastor donning a baseball cap and a nervous smile. I push down the little button to roll down the window where my whole life changed.
The youth pastor and I meet.
We exchange names and some sort of nice surface words. I didn't even re-do my make-up or hair from the funeral earlier that day. The youth pastor claims that I looked like I'd been crying, but that cannot be true since I didn't know the older cousin who'd passed very well so crying wouldn't have been part of the day. What did happen, however was that in trying to wrap up an awkward first time meet-up the youth pastor fumbles in his pocket for his business card, passes it through the open window to me to take hold of and says, "you can call me and maybe we can get lunch or something."
Uh-----No. You can call me, youth pastor.
Cute youth pastor.
I really like your gorgeous smile, youth pastor.
I'm thinking I like your stature, too, youth pastor.
Oooo, I hope you call me, youth pastor.
Long story short:
The youth pastor was intrigued with me as well, but due to his past experience of a relationship where his girl he'd dated off & on was just about to get super serious with her after Christmas in 1990 when she was killed in a car accident December 21. Devastated him. That's the main reason he had no interest in meeting anyone when my cousin was trying back in October to get us to meet. He told God that if he wanted him to pursue me then he (God) would have to put my phone number in his hand. Lo and behold, the next day my cousin went to the church to see the youth pastor only the door was locked on the little country church causing her to go knock on his office window. He opens the window to greet her where she proceeded to place a slip of paper printed with my phone number on it in his hand.
Yeah. I know.
The youth pastor called me that Thursday night. We talked for six hours straight. He asked me out for that Saturday.
I said yes, for as long as we both shall live. (lol....not really. That's one of our favorite lines from You've Got Mail when Tom Hanks' character says that to Meg Ryan's character). After our long and easy conversation we both knew that there would be more than one date.
We went to see Disney's Beauty and the Beast at the movies then to Wendy's for a burger and fries. The six months prior to meeting I had been working out consistently at the gym 4-5 days a week and had given up Dr. Pepper for a year. I knew I looked good and felt great. That night I drank a Dr. P as well as my gym contract was up. Dang this guy! There went my no soda phase. (I'm trying to remember everything correctly and as I think of the Dr. P I'm wondering how accurate it is because Wendy's always offered Mr. Pibb in place of Dr. Pepper which is so not even close to the same taste. Hmmm. Irrelevant.)
I dipped my french fry into his ketchup.
On the first date.
He was astounded.
I was hooked.
After that night which did include a wonderful kiss under a gorgeous autumn moon out in the country under the stars, we went out pretty much every night sans a few days at Christmas until he asked me to marry him on January 23, 1992.
Calculate that math on the calendar.
TWO MONTHS later he surprised me with a proposal and we got hitched seven months after that. If either of my daughters come to me saying they are getting engaged to a guy after only meeting two months prior? There may be some serious double-standards going on. Our story makes sense to us because of how we saw God's hand all the way through it.
Don't glamorize us, though. Please. Once we got engaged all hell broke loose in other areas of our lives and I was miserable. He was miserable. We were fabulous together. Outside forces made things hellish. That is a long story that would ruin the beauty of all the words above so I'll stop here.
We are best friends. I could not have asked God for a better man to be my husband. He so knew who I needed better than I did. I just couldn't have thought up all the ways I have needed him. No doubt in my mind that God orchestrated our meeting and marriage. I have failed on so many levels and am so thankful for true unconditional love from God and from my husband. Twenty one years is a long time to share an intimate life with another person. Of course, there have been ugly hard moments. There have been countless wonderful ones. The good ones far outweigh the bad.
In ways I didn't even know existed back at age 21, God has used my husband to truly help me see the light....