On These Pages Are The Stories Of Our Family We Go Together ! Welcome To The World As Viewed Through Our Eyes
Lynette .......... Caedmon .......... Libby .......... Tom

Monday, May 26, 2008

How We Met (What SHE Said)

Delight yourself in the LORD

and he will give you the desires

of your heart... Psalm 37:4

So we’ve jumped into the world of blogging...Everyone else is doing it so why not join in? That may have been my attitude a year or so ago but Tom was not so eager to broadcast our life to the world, and perhaps that is a good thing since our reasons for starting a blog are more personal and intentional now. The one thing that has intrigued us about the blogs of our friends is the interesting history that is being recorded for their children. I love to read books that are written from the private journals of some person long since gone and honestly, I think it is great fun to read my journals from junior high, high school and beyond. It is intriguing to get a glimpse of someone that is so unfiltered and authentic. I’m sure most people that keep a journal don’t really expect anyone but themselves to read it so it reveals the true person, warts and all. I’ve also found that my own journals reveal a lot of growth and more importantly, God’s hand in my life through good times and bad. I haven’t kept a journal in many years but I guess this is the journal of the 21st century...it won’t be necessary to publish it in hardcover for any interested souls to read in the future but perhaps my children will enjoy looking back and catching a glimpse of what mama and daddy were like in their younger years (is 34 years and 364 days still considered young?). With that said...

The title of this entry is “How We Met,” but I guess since it is the first I’m writing, I should give a little personal background. For most of my childhood years, I grew up in a stable two parent family in a small town in Pennsylvania. Of course, if you’ve read the “About Us” page of our website, then you know that I was actually born in Maine. I only lived there for 2 years while my dad was active duty in the Air Force. After that, he worked full time in the Air National Guard which meant that he was still full-time military but we weren’t subject to the typical move every 3 years. Instead, my parents settled close to my mom’s family and only a 45 minute drive from dad’s family. I’m the oldest of 3 girls, each of us 3 years apart in age. During my teenage years, life was turned upside down when my parents separated (note: while they were separated for many years, they are now happily married...but that’s their story and I’m supposed to be telling mine) and then, one year later, my middle sister (at age 13) dove into our backyard pool, injuring herself and becoming a quadriplegic. However, God was at work in my life and used those traumatic events to draw me to Him. At the age of 15, I committed my life to Jesus Christ. Since then, I have been blessed to meet many people and be placed in situations that have helped to deepen my walk with the Lord. I spent my college years at Grove City College, where I was taught to have a Christian worldview, mentored by amazing people of faith and befriended by some of my best friends to this day (and a given great education on top of all that!!). Following graduation with a BA in Elementary Education, I scoured the eastern seaboard for the perfect teaching job. However, God had other plans...I spent the first few months of the next school year teaching at a Child Development Center (a.k.a. daycare). Not what I had planned...but perhaps the only way to get me to the next two destinations in God’s plan for me - the first across the country and the second across the ocean. In December, I had put into motion plans to quit the daycare and substitute teach after the holidays. But, one morning, my mom called to share what she had heard on a Focus on the Family broadcast. She proposed that I apply to attend the Focus on the Family Institute (at the time, called the Institute for Family Studies). Since it sounded better than daycare work and included an internship at Focus on the Family, I applied, was accepted and 3 weeks later, drove across the country to Colorado Springs. I spent January through May of 1996 learning more about having a Christian worldview and interning at Clubhouse Magazine. It was a wonderful place to grow as I prepared for the next big adventure in life...a move across the world.

During my junior year of college, my friend Eve and I discovered a mutual interest in missions work and teaching overseas. We met weekly throughout that year to pray about God’s will for us regarding this desire of ours. My focus changed during my senior year as I became busy with a dating relationship, student teaching and other responsibilities. However, as the job search began, Eve stayed focused on overseas teaching and eventually chose to serve as a missionary at Okinawa Christian School International (OCSI). In October of 1995, while I was deep in the throes of daycare work, I heard that OCSI needed teachers for the 1996-1997 school year, and I also heard God calling me to apply to teach there. My plans changed from finding the perfect well-paid teaching job not too far from home to raising support to be a missionary teacher across the oceans. In August of 1996, I boarded a plane to small island of Okinawa, Japan, my home for the next 3 years. It was one of my most life-changing experiences. I taught 4th and 5th graders reading, writing, arithmetic and most importantly, about having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

After three amazing years there, I felt called to return home and attend graduate school. I moved back in with my parents (something I said I would never do!!) and began work on my Masters of Education in Reading at the University of Pittsburgh, starting with a one year intensive program to obtain a certificate as a reading specialist. The following year, I was hired as a Title I Math Specialist (go figure!) and spent the next 3 years teaching. I was also able to move out on my own once again. I was settling into my adult life, but obviously my mom felt there was something missing (husband? kids?) because she called one day with yet another insight from Focus on the Family...Dr. Dobson had just interviewed a man named Neil Clark Warren (wasn’t he the same guy who wrote the book she recommended while I was in college - Finding the Love of Your Life) about his new website, eHarmony. Internet dating, mom, come on?!? She convinced me that I should at least take the personality survey as it might give me some insight into myself and the type of person I should look for in a spouse. I admit that back in the fall of 2000, on a boring Saturday afternoon, I did take the survey and it was interesting, but there was no way I was going to sign up for “Internet dating.” Once or twice over the next two years, I used a free month of the service to entertain myself but never did I imagine that I would meet a live person...especially one whom I would marry. Isn’t it interesting how God takes your “nevers” and makes them reality?...

In the fall of 2002, at the ripe age of 29 with no dating prospects at all, I (yes, this time I was the one listening) happened to hear a Focus on the Family broadcast about a happy couple or two that had met on eHarmony. My first thought was “I can’t believe these people are relying on the Internet instead of on God”...and the next testimony I heard was a girl sharing that she had the exact same thought! However, she kept praying and thinking and realized that God works in many ways and that eHarmony maybe wasn’t all that different than going to different church’s singles group or allowing a friend to set you up on a blind date - it just broadened the scope of who God introduced you to. With my nice, little philosophy squashed, I decided to try eHarmony out one more time...I wish I could say that Tom was the first person I encountered as a match, but actually that would make the story slightly less interesting...I was matched with a few guys who I communicated with on the website and I actually did have one date, someone who lived in the Pittsburgh area. It was a huge flop (he had no conversational skills and then expected me to explain in detail why I wouldn’t accept a second date - I felt like I was trying to break up with a long term boyfriend instead of a person with whom I’d only had one date) and some would say that I should have jumped ship at that point, but I persevered and it was more than worth it...

Toward the end of September of 2002, I was worn out from my first weeks of teaching and had decided to lay low in my apartment for the weekend. A few weeks before, I had viewed the profile of a guy named Tom from Texas. Although he had made the first step in contacting me (eHarmony has a several step process), I had dismissed the profile because of the whole Texas thing. You see, although I was willing to entertain the notion of moving if the perfect man came along, I was quite certain when my prince arrived, his steed would not be carrying me to Texas. (for all of you Texans reading this, before you blast me, read further...) Let me explain...almost all of the pastors at the church I attended were graduates of Dallas Theological Seminary. The young adults pastor, in particular, made it a habit of singing the praises of Texas just about every time he spoke. I know several people who will confirm that on at least one occasion he compared the bluebonnet fields of Texas to Heaven. Anyway, many people have preconceived notions of Texas which may or may not be true, but mine were definitely colored by this pastor’s frequent comments and I had no desire to have anything to do with the Lone Star State (once again, never say never! I now claim a Texan - and another on the way - as part of my immediate family!). With all of that said, I did eventually swallow my misconceptions of Texas, and respond to Tom from Texas. Why, you ask. On most of the profile pages at which I looked, the guys answered simply and quickly with one word answers: Occupation: Teacher...3 Favorite things: coffee, music, eating...You get the idea. However, Tom from TX actually wrote in sentences...or at least complete thoughts and what he wrote was actually interesting and thoughtful. For example, he wasn’t just a “physician” but he actually took the time to explain what he liked about his job. So...after viewing the profile several times and dismissing it, I finally decided maybe I would test the waters. After all, maybe a Texan wouldn’t be so bad...So back to that fateful weekend in late September...

Apparently, Tom had nothing planned for that weekend either. We had made it through the first several steps of the eHarmony process and were to the point where we could communicate on their email system. And communicate we did! We both spent the weekend emailing back and forth long messages (novels, may be a more appropriate term) about ourselves, our families, our experiences, our dreams and on and on. It turned out that Tom wasn’t truly a Texan but besides that, we found that we had a lot in common and really enjoyed our Internet communication. So much so that Tom asked if we could move to phone conversations...Ha! What kind of girl did he think I was...after only 2 or 3 days of email? I did agree to let him email me at my regular email address...and not too much later, to call me...and before I knew it, we were making plans to meet in person. When Tom asked if he could come visit, I had no idea that he intended to drive the 1200 miles nonstop from Texas in his Jeep Wrangler. Of course, his explanation was quite brilliant - it was a built in escape route in case I was not the gal he dreamed of.

One autumn day in 2002, Tom drove into town and met me at a local coffee shop - La Bella Bean. Love at first sight...no, but still, a great experience. It was so exciting to finally meet the man behind the words. He sweetly presented me with a little Texan teddy bear, bought me a coffee and we sat down to talk. I was shocked when a few minutes later he leaned over for a kiss. Honestly, I was interested in him but not quite ready for that...maybe even more so than the kiss itself was the fact that I had at some point in the years prior, prayed that the next man I kissed would be the man I married. I wasn’t quite ready to think that this was the man I was going to marry...I certainly couldn’t expect that God would answer my prayer in such a direct way. We spent the rest of the evening having a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant, walking through a bookstore and finally having dessert at a local diner. I wasn’t sure what to think...he was nice and all but it certainly was different to be together in person. We had really become emotionally attached in our phone conversations but face to face was a different experience. The next morning, Tom arrived at my apartment early and whisked me off to a day of hiking. Then, he informed me that he had planned a night out complete with dinner and a show. Instead of resting for the few hours in between events, I snuck off to the mall to find the perfect little black dress - I had nothing in my wardrobe fit for a night out on the town (is that a sad testament to my dating life up to that point or what?!). We enjoyed a nice dinner downtown and great performance of 42nd Street. Okay, girls, I know you are already thinking I’ve found my prince - what a romantic! but wait, it gets better...

After Tom returned to Texas, our relationship continued to blossom. We kept American Airlines in business with frequent trips one way or the other. In January, Tom arranged for his whole family to rendezvous in South Carolina so he could introduce me to everyone. Then in February, he planned a trip to Seattle so I could meet his close friends, Tom and Maureen. Little did I know that my romantic beau was scheming again. We planned our visit during Valentine’s Day weekend...and Tom had done a little more planning than I realized. On Valentines Day, we spent the day with Maureen and 2 1/2 year old Jayne sightseeing. Throughout the day, Tom kept surprising me with little Valentine’s Day surprises - a poem, some stuffed animals, a heart paperweight, flowers, etc. That evening, we went to a cool Asian-fusion restaurant in downtown Seattle. Maureen & I were savoring our dinner (especially Maureen, being sans kids) when the two men informed us that dinner was over and we had to leave immediately. We ladies tried to put up a fight but we were whisked out of the restaurant to an awaiting horse and carriage complete with a bottle of champagne. Our trip through the streets of Seattle brought us to a beautiful view of the Space Needle where Tom & Maureen disembarked but Tom told me to wait. He, then, presented me with a Valentine’s Day card and the next thing I knew, Tom was on his knee and I was being blinded by a beautiful diamond. I think I was coherent enough to say “yes!” but after that they all joked that I was in shock. If that wasn’t fantastic enough planning, Tom proceeded to tell me that we would now need to call Pennsylvania to inform all of our parents that we were engaged...yes, he had flown his parents to PA for the weekend so the parents could all get acquainted. I don’t know if I was more surprised that they were there...or worried that my apartment was a mess (since his parents were staying there!).

In the autumn of 2003, one year from the anniversary of our first date, we were married in PA surrounded by family and friends. So there it is, my long-winded version of the beginning of our love story...a story which will continue and get better and better for as many years as God gives us together here on earth...

1 comment:

  1. I left a comment on Tom's story earlier today and now I will leave one on yours. Amazing how many things about you I did not know. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading your blog and learning even more about you guys.


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