July 25, 1998. It was a hot and sunny Saturday morning when my world was turned upside-down, but I'll get to that in a second.
I had just finished my first year in college and was hoping to spend my summer doing various mission projects... being single, I had that freedom. A few weeks prior I had returned from a short-term trip to the Dominican Republic and really I wanted to go back there to work some more. But as the Lord would have it, that plan fell apart. In stead I found myself scrambling at the last minute to join a small group of "BTO" friends going to South Dakota for a week. So small was the group, in fact, that there were only 3 of us.
The morning of the trip I was all set to meet the two other team-members at one of their houses. Just before I finished loading my bags into the van I got a phone call. It was Dan calling to ask if I would mind picking up someone else to join our group on my way to his house. I said yes but grumbled in my heart. I thought of the inconvenience: having to leave a little earlier, never mind the incongruity of having a STRANGER join something so intimate as a mission team at the last possible second. I said a quick prayer for flexibility and maybe even openness to the possibility that God knows better than I do. A fleeting thought crossed my mind... maybe this is the Lord's way of bringing me the one. You know... THE. ONE. No, I thought, that's just crazy.
A teeny bit perturbed, my Mom and I arrived in front of a yellow house on Indiana Street to acquire this stranger. Out of the side door sauntered one fair-skinned, red-headed, bone-thin Scottish kid carrying two duffel bags. I took one look at him and my heart immediately sank. "Lord", I thought, "this one? Really?" Just then that young man approached the van and said "Manny will be down in a minute, here are his bags. I'm Moxi."
Sure enough, a minute later out walked a tanned, black-haired, muscular, Latino kid armed with a guitar, a Bible, and an enormous grin. Before he even had time to open the van door and climb in, my Mom and I had shared a sideways glance and a knowing nod. What we were thinking: "Oh he's cute." It took me all of 30 seconds to get over my aversion to his joining the group.
And for the next 24 hours we rode on a bus and talked. And we talked. And talked some more. About nothing and everything. I was smitten from the get-go. Here was this adorable guy who just moved from California, fresh out of Bible college, playing his guitar and singing, listening and sharing, smelling delicious, and melting my heart with each new fact I discovered about him. My head was racing. I couldn't sleep. I was on overdrive. I couldn't even pray straight - all I could think was "Let this be the one. Let this be the one.".
Fast forward five days into our little mission trip. We had spent as much time together as socially acceptable for two Christian people who had just met. Our work days were spent in separate locations: me being assigned to Children's Ministry, he being sent to do physical labor. But the evenings. OH the evenings. Those couple of hours after cleaning up from a day's work were heaven. He would sit on my futon bed and teach me from the Minor Prophets. He would play his guitar and sing worship songs on the sidewalk next to the old church building where we stayed. My heart pitter-pattering all the while.
So, on day five I called home from the phone in the church kitchen. I spilled my guts to my Mom, who was not the slightest bit surprised when I informed her I knew, just knew, this was THE guy. Thirty minutes later, still reeling from the high of the week's events and her approval of the whole situation, I pivoted to leave the kitchen when I saw him. He was leaning against the far wall near the doorway with a smirk on his face. That's exactly the moment when my heart fell out of my chest and landed on the floor.
I. Was. Mortified.
Had he heard the entire conversation? Or just the last part where I confessed my falling for him to my mother? At that point there was nothing I could do, but I knew I certainly could NOT let it go. I had to find out how much he heard and what he thought about it if he did now know of my feelings for him.
We spent the next 2 hours tip-toeing around a conversation which we both knew would be pivotal in this intricate dance we were doing. Neither willing to lay our feelings out on the table, both probing for more from the other to keep from saying too much. All the while it was excruciating for me! He was so coy. He walked a very thin line between nonchalance and intrigue. Nearly an hour into it and I still had no idea, for one thing, if he had even heard the conversation in the kitchen, and for another if he reciprocated my interest.
Finally he came out with the information I had been looking for. Kind of.
"Look" he hesitated, "I like you. You're a nice girl and all..." (oh, come on this suspense is killing me.) "But", (I braced myself for rejection) he continued, "but I'm not interested in a girlfriend right now."
Thud. I think I stopped breathing.
I felt the wind get knocked from my lungs.
"Oh. Okay." I squeaked out, my face flushing a lovely shade of red.
But just as I was about to crawl under the nearest object he read my expression and qualified, "what I want is a wife. And I think the Lord might be leading me to you."
And so that did it. I knew. What I had suspected and hoped for all week was solidified in those words and the conversation and prayers that followed. The next day he spoke of taking me to meet his family in California. He picked me flowers. He gave me a new Bible.
After having what we call "The Talk" things really started snow-balling for us. We openly shared our feelings. Too soon it was time to return from our trip, but I was thrilled to have him by my side for another 24 hours on the ride home. As we traveled through the night we sat close he expressed his love for me... and I for him. We both knew it defied all logic, having just met. But we were both sure that it was right.
And he kissed me. It was sweet, and soft, and innocent. And that's it. That is how I fell in love with my husband.
So the day after we returned he met my family - joined us for lunch after church. They approved. My mom hugged him and told him she's so glad to finally meet the one she's been praying for all these years.
Exactly 60 days after the day we met it was my 20th birthday. Manny took me for a delicious dinner, then a romantic stroll down at the Pavilion at the river. It was there, on a park bench overlooking the river that he got down on one knee, proclaimed his love, and asked for my hand in marriage. Of course, I said yes. I had been asking him daily for weeks when he was going to get my Dad's permission. Later that evening we went to his house for some birthday cupcakes. He sat me in a chair, dimmed the lights, lit a candle on the cupcake and sang to me. After I blew out the candle he gave me a tiny black box with a sparkly ring inside. I put it on. I was not surprised by this birthday gift (given the proposal just hours earlier), but I was thrilled to wear it!
For the following 11 months we planned our wedding. It was a wonderful, dreamy, exciting time full of many hopes and dreams.
Then on August 14th, 1999 we walked down an aisle, said our vows in front of family and loved ones, and became Mr. and Mrs. And then the real love story began.
Since then we have gone through some major ups and downs, lots of moving, changing jobs, making & losing friends, & trying to find our way. We moved to Indianapolis in August of 2002 & back "home" to Evansville in June of 2008.
Sometimes we've coasted along, and sometimes struggled. But our lives area testament to the Lord's faithfulness and Grace toward us. Still we're trusting Him to meet our needs and see us through.
Then the best thing we've ever done together: on August 7, 2007 our tiny, wrinkled, & beautiful Elijah Daniel came into our lives & changed us FOREVER! We are more madly in love with him every day & enjoying watching him grow before our eyes.