Since these were the days before Facebook was for more than just high schoolers, and since I had yet to ever send of of “those text message thingies” (throw your hands in the air and wave ’em like you just don’t care if you recall hitting the number “1” button 3 times just to get a C and then freaking out when analog texting came out…can I get a witness?) In order to pursue a relationship, Joel had to rely on the tried-and-somewhat-true method of pick-up lines.
Before leaving the relief efforts, in creative Campus Crusade for Christ fashion, he said, “Hey, you should add me to your monthly prayer letter list.” Insert awkward pause.
I quickly snipped that I didn’t know how to attach a document to an email and I’d probably just crash his inbox anyway. But, somewhere in the back of my mind I honestly thought, okay, well maybe he wants to know more about joining staff with Crusade, so I can’t leave him hanging. So, like any pompous young professional, I gave him my business card. (Who knows what business a girl who doesn’t know how to attach a document has with being allowed to distribute business cards.) With that we all hopped in our cars and headed our separate ways.
I truly thought I’d never hear from Mystery Man ever again. But, much to my surprise, an email was in my inbox a few days later. It was filled with deep thoughts like, “What city do you live in?” and “So what’s your last name?” I waited the understood day and a half before I replied, so as to not appear over-eager. And the rest is basically the Dark Ages version of E-harmony.
Emails, phone calls, (the second of which I genteelly demasculated him by saying, “Seriously, why are you calling me?” To which he replied, “Well, that was going to be our third phone conversation, but if you want to have that now, we can do that.” Woof. Tail between the legs.) letters and eventually the highly anticipated “first date.” You know, the one that involved a casual flight half-way across the United States, him getting a hotel room, him pretending he knew how to drive my stick shift Mazda because he didn’t want me to drive him around all weekend and because “how different from a tractor could it be?” The one that involved him pretending that “of course, I am a runner. I run all the time.” He huffed and puffed for 3 miles. That would be the 18-hour first date of total and complete awkwardness. This would be the date that inspired my “5 Red Flags List” detailing the reasons why this was NOT going to work. (Does the picture below not say it all? He wore khaki shorts to run…)
But he, in the face of adversity and in true Hurdle form, pressed on. Seeing that I took myself WAY too seriously, he laughed at my list and suggested that I let him call me once a week over the summer so we could “get to know each other then re-evaluate at the end of the summer.” I thought that surely it would fizzle out by July… By August we were dating. By November/December I declared to my Roomates.com turned best friend, that if he didn’t ask me to marry him by year end, I’d surely die. All that, coming from the girl who was fairly convinced she’d never marry to maximize ministry productivity. (Another topic for another time.) Six months after we started dating we were engaged. Six months later, we were married.
We enjoyed a blissful honeymoon Joel had planned to a secret destination. That “secret” destination that Joel’s mom, the CIA agent, found and left a red light blinking on the hotel phone message telling us that a hurricane was going to hit Jamaica and we would need to evacuate immediately. We cashed in our Traveler’s Insurance and hummed Bob Marley songs all the way to our new ministry location of Columbia, South Carolina.
Oh Columbia, South Carolina. The soil in which God did the most intense digging, planting, pruning and harvesting. The place that represents the people that are still hard for me to talk about without getting all choked up. The place, the people and the season of life I’d like to share about next. Until then! xoxo
This post is part of a monthly-long blog re-launch and series I’m writing entitled “31 Days of Following Him & Loving Them.” See all other posts in this series by clicking here.