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Before the end of my mission trip in Germany, summer of 1992 I promised to write to my new dear friends, one being an older, very intelligent and stubborn man, probably in his 70's. I'll never forget his words, "The last girl that was here said the same thing- that she would write to me- but she went back to the United States, got married and I never heard back. You will do the same." I didn't think so. He had no idea that I was worried about what had happened to my home since I hadn't heard from my parents in 5 weeks or the dream that weighed on my heart (described in my previous post Hey, God, Are you There?). I couldn't imagine finding happiness in a husband when I didn't even have a boyfriend at the time. I had no one to go "home" to. Of course, I would write!
After the disappointing discovery that my family was split apart, I was especially thankful to have a job on campus plus a room in the girls’ dorm for the remainder of the summer. I busied myself with whatever maintenance tasks I was given, which included mostly painting walls or a little gardening. It was so incredibly quiet at night with only the handful of students who remained behind for the summer, but at least I had a friend to work with. Occasionally she and I would hang out on the weekend or after work.
The cafeteria was closed, and I didn't have a microwave in my room, so I took frequent walks to the local Kmart for quick foods that didn't require cooking. One particular day, when I stepped outside the dorm I felt as though I had just walked into an oven. I had never felt such heavy heat, but I was starving, so I forced myself to keep going.
A brisk walk was normally only about 15-20 minutes, but this time my heart pounded and I could hear my own heavy breaths. About half-way up the steep sidewalk, I found myself getting light-headed. I was used to putting my head down and holding onto something anytime things started going black occasionally, but now there was nothing to hold onto. I laid down on the sidewalk, too exhausted to be embarrassed about being seen, too afraid that I might hit my head on the hard pavement if I fell.
When the blood returned to my head I got up and my legs somehow managed to finish the distance to the store just far enough into the nearest center isle where I could once again lie down. This time I hid between two large pallets of boxed-something. The cool hard floor and near-freezing central air permeated through my baking body, rousing me just in time to stand up and meet a young man I barely knew.
I had no idea if this happy guy saw me lying on the floor or if he appeared just in time to see me standing there undoubtedly flame-faced, but his ear-to-ear grin, introduction, and offer to give me a ride back to campus saved me in that moment. I found and paid for what I needed and climbed into his neat, clean-smelling car afterward with great relief. He dropped me off at my dorm, smiled again at my heart-felt thank you, and drove away.
I never saw him again!
I had no idea at the time that my NEAR=future husband (I’ll call him PS here) was cutting grass at the old house directly across the street within view from where I had laid down on the sidewalk. One of his close friends rescued him from the 102°F heat right about the same time I was saved that day. Apparently both of our brains were saved from being baked. Certainly, neither of us had any idea that they other was so close or that we would be married in only about five months!!
How in the world did that happen so fast, you ask? I prayed. On my face, literally.
One day a friend took me to the grocery store in the bread truck he was driving. It was beginning to get dark when he parked outside the boys’ dormitory. As soon as I hopped out of the truck, I heard a sweet little voice asking if I wanted to see his new bike. This was the eldest of three little boys I babysat occasionally for the college boys’ dorm supervisor. I was very happy to see “A” and his bike! When I got to his front step, his mom came to the door and invited me in. Guess who just happened to be visiting at the same time! Turns out A’s mom was matchmaking, but I was completely unaware because there were one or two others there as well.
During the light-hearted conversation the question was asked, “how many children do you want some day?” Awkward. I said six. PS said seven. I had to get back to my dorm before curfew, and walked slowly, hoping secretly that he might join me on the way. He didn’t, though, and I found myself crying on the floor of my room, angry at myself for even hoping that he would walk me back to my dorm. Face down I prayed, “Father in heaven, I am so lonely. I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life. Please, please help me find my husband soon. Pick him for me because I don’t know how to choose the right man myself. You know me better than I know myself. And if you want me to be alone, then please prepare my heart because right now it is just too hard.”
Before I continue with the story I need to back up and fill in a few blanks. PS worked in the maintenance department on campus. The first time we met in person was when I walked into my dorm room to find him standing there with one of my dresser drawers in his hands. THAT was a surprise! But instead of rushing out of my room, he explained with detail that the glue would be wet for a certain amount of time, and I should not put my clothes back in until then. I was impressed that he cared enough to protect my clothes AND avoid having the drawer fall apart again. After that I saw him off and on through my freshman year working hard shoveling snow or salting the walks in the winter, painting walls, fixing window frames, and so on. We had been admiring each other safely from a distance the whole year without even realizing it.
Back to my face-planted prayer. Within 2 weeks my cute maintenance man and I started seeing each other, first with a group of friends, then for dinner (I made tacos in the basement of the girls’ dorm- I had just learned it was available to use!) and many hours of talking. It was the first time I felt completely comfortable being myself with a boy. Before we were officially dating, his parents came and took him out for dinner, inviting me to come along. It was as if I had been a part of his family forever.
That night as I talked to my mom on the phone, I suddenly realized that I was going to marry him. Instead of saying “don’t fall in love with him”, she said “ok.” Long story short, PS and I were engaged only a couple weeks later, on Friday, August 13, 1993. I spent every day at work praying about what important things to talk to him about, and multiple times, when we met after work, the first words out of his mouth were the very things that were in my prayers. Even though several friends and one of the professors thought it would never last I had no doubt in my mind that the Lord had brought us together and was answering me. Our December wedding was only 4 months after our engagement, and we have now been together for 29 years!
Do you think I remembered to write to my friends in Germany? Nope. My old friend was right. I really meant to, but I let the time get away. I had a wedding dress to sew on weekends, classes to pass, then the wedding the day after my final exams, then honeymoon, more classes, a scary time in early pregnancy, applying for US visa (I was Canadian), and graduation and moving to a new home and morning sickness that lasted FOREVER and then our first son born on New Year’s Eve, 1994!
Come to think of it, my life completely took off after that prayer on my face. I was broken, lonely, sad and scared of not having a place to go for after graduating in one year. I didn't even think of Thanksgiving break, Christmas holidays or spring break! It turned out I didn't need to!
Hey, God? That MUST have been you!
Sounds like a “Happily Ever After” story, doesn’t it? Yes, well, lots of happiness, but also lots of HARD. Lots of sad, lots of loss. Lots of brokenness. Lots of healing. Lots happens in 29 years.
God answered my prayer for a son and then a little brother for him even though I had progesterone problems. But then I had a surprise pregnancy when our 2nd was only 8 months old that ended in miscarriage a month afterward. My fourth pregnancy would be less than a year later and would be the hardest experience of my life.
The first time I would ever hear the audible voice of God!