considering my sleep deprivation and life clearly not being about me, being 2 days late with this blog post doesn't seem that bad! my sweet husband didn't seem to mind one bit that the best i could do this year was a store-bought cheesecake and us singing happy birthday to him after dinner.
now next year...next year will be a different story...next year is a really BIG birthday that we must celebrate no matter the circumstances! can you guess how old he will be?
i shared "our story" on our old blog several years ago and thought it would be fun to repost it here on the new blog. sharing our story and listening to the stories of others is one of my most favorite things!
so here's the story of john and jenn:
I met John through my college roommate Julie. John and Julie grew up
together in their youth group. When we (Julie and I) would come home for
a weekend, Julie would gather all of her friends from home too. So
inevitably, I came to know several people that belonged to Julie's
circle, John included. So we would see each other periodically, maybe
2-3 times a year for a couple of years, even when Julie moved to Tyler
to attend a college there.
I remember the first time I met John. He was teaching at a Christian
school where Julie's mom worked and so we went to see him in his
classroom on a visit to Julie's mom. I found it quite comical. There
were 3 girls in his room and he seemed totally uncomfortable and maybe
intimidated by all of these women. I knew a little about John at this
point. Julie valued his friendship and theology. He seemed very
internal, maybe a little quiet, and definitely a thinker. I love boys
like that. And he played guitar, a huge plus in my book.
I remember on another visit, we went to a baseball game and my other
roommate Kendra made the comment that she could see John and I getting
married. A totally off the cuff comment, especially since Kendra didn't
really know John enough to make such a prediction. Nonetheless, I will
admit it made John all the more attractive and mysterious to me.
One weekend, Heather C and I went to visit Julie in Tyler, along with
Julie's friends Daniel, Heather and of course, John. We all crashed in
Julie's one bedroom apartment and had a great time. Julie told me later
that Heather told her on the way back home that John kept talking about
My dad and Julie had a funny relationship. They were bound to one
another by their love for cut-off shorts and Dad sort of adopted Julie
as his 3rd daughter. So when it came time for Julie to graduate college,
my dad and I traveled to Tyler to see Julie graduate and attend a
little celebration back at her apartment. This visit to Tyler confirmed
my suspicions that John was interested in me. He had traveled there too
and back at Julie's apartment, he would not leave me alone, totally
giving me a hard time about everything, a true sign of love. Right in front of my dad!
So things went along like this for awhile. Julie moved back to the area
and the 3 of us would meet at a coffee shop once a month maybe for a
deep theological discussion (or should I say argument?) and some coffee.
It was great! Oh, how I miss those days. Well, Julie had the nerve to
go off and get engaged to a guy in Boston (Julie if you are reading
this, I am just kidding!) so she quickly ditched us and it became just a
John/Jennifer theological debate. Basically, John would beat me up with
the Bible and I would take it! :) These were the best of times and the
worst of times because John was leaving in January to attend Westminster
Seminary in Philadelphia and I knew our days were numbered.
Now, let me take a break and make mention of this. I was a fiercely independent single
girl and was content, for the most part, with that role in life. I was
working full time, going to Seminary full time and leading worship for
the youth group at my church. I lived out of my car. I had bags packed
for each thing I did. I was super busy and loved every second of
it. I had been wounded by a previous relationship and in many ways, was
damaged goods. I had been so hurt emotionally (and this was 4 years
prior) that I really struggled with trusting another person with my
heart. John and I talked about this even in our coffee meetings.
So with that said, I didn't know what to think about John or about him
leaving. I remember him calling on Christmas Day to see if I wanted to
go see Lord of the Rings at the movies with him that night. Umm,
duh, yes I wanted to go. We went to the 10pm show and I remember making
my hand easily available to him in the movies so that if he wanted to hold my hand, he could do so. He didn't take the bait. We laugh about this now.
So, the time came for him to leave. 3 days before he was set to drive to
Philly, we had a coffee date. After much consternation, I had written
him a letter describing to the best of my ability how I felt about him. I
also bought him a phone card so that if he wanted to call me, he could.
But I was a chicken and only gave it to him at the end of our time
together that night, with the explicit instructions to not open it until
he got home. I was scared.
Well, the next day goes by and I don't hear from him. Not a good sign.
The Lord was good to me though. He protected my heart. I was not in
The next night, the night before he leaves town, my phone
rings. It's him. Lord, help me. After some small talk, he gets right to
the point. He drops the bomb. We are too much alike. It would never
work. What??? In the same sentence he would say "I think
about you all the time and want to call you" and "We are too much alike
and it would never work." What was a girl to say? He just stomped my
heart, my vulnerable heart into the ground, but I liked him too
much to get mad. I don't remember how the conversation ended, but it did
and I wondered if our friendship would ever be the same.
Well, I went on with life. I thought about him a lot, but I was so busy
(the Lord's providence) that I just didn't have time to throw a pity
party. 2 weeks go by and on a Sunday afternoon, the phone rings and it's
him. We talked about Seminary and Philly and what life was like there.
We talked for over an hour. He accused me of avoiding him and I
explained that I was just extremely busy, in fact, I really needed to
let him go so that I could finish reading for school before church that
night. But he wouldn't get off the phone. And then finally, he worked up
enough nerve....he was wrong. What!?!? He had dinner with
a buddy there who was engaged and he was telling John how much he and
this girl were alike and how things were great, etc. and suddenly John
realized his "theology" was wrong. It was good to be alike, not bad.
So, he wanted to date.
Could this work?
That was in February 2002. Well, there were a few bumps along the road.
He foolishly thought we should just talk 2 times a week on the phone.
Silly boy! And then when I suggested he fly home for a weekend to see
me, this was such a revelation to him. He had a lot to learn! This was
actually the first time he had ever met my parents. Though by this
point, unbeknownst to our parents, we had already talked marriage and
when and what then.
So he met my parents in March and I scheduled a flight to Philly in
April. Unbeknownst to me, John called and spoke with my dad while I was
in class at Seminary one night to ask his permission to ask me to marry
him. My dad's response: "Are you sure you want her?"
So in April, I flew to Philly, my first visit there. It was beautiful.
My flight, of course, was delayed and I got in very late that Friday
night. John came and picked me up the next morning and took me to this
arboretum nearby. I didn't know it, but this was a planned visit. He was
going to propose. He had his roommates, David and Tom, plant this
little bag with the ring at the base of this huge tree and then
from a distance watch to make sure no one came along to take it. As we
walked up to this tree, they were instructed to leave so that we would
have our private moment. Well, just getting into Philly the night
before, I had no idea that John was about to propose. I knew he
was going to propose (or at least I was pretty sure) that weekend but
not so quickly. So as we come up on this little gift bag, the
conversation went like this:
John: "Oh, look. I wonder what is in that bag?"
Jennifer: "John, that is not our bag, do not mess with it!"
John: "I just want to see what is inside." And as he opens it, he rips the little sticker that was holding it closed.
Jennifer: "Well, great! Now they (the rightful owner) will know you messed with it."
So CLUELESS!!! Well, once I see him pull out a ring box, John says my
eyes got really big and sparkly and he asked me to marry him. It was
Oh and I forgot to mention that it had been raining all morning and
stopped just as we pulled up to park. It was April 18, a Saturday. Then,
we did what most people do who just became engaged. We went to eat a
philly cheese steak sandwich! Ha! And the funny thing....the guy sitting
next to us at the bar of the deli turned to us and said, "I can tell
you two are really in love." Isn't that crazy!?!?! We confessed that we
had just gotten engaged. We did go out for a romantic dinner that night
and then to NYC the next day. We met Julie (of all people!) at Redeemer
Presbyterian Church. It was a great time there, mixed with some sadness,
as we knew we would spend the majority of our engagement in different
But God was faithful and upheld us until our wedding day, January 11,
2003, just eleven months after John made that phone call to me from
John, you are the greatest gift outside of Jesus that the Lord has given
me. And through you, the gift of our three sons. Thank you for changing
your mind and calling me and loving me from that moment on.
I love you baby!