Looking back, I can’t help but think God laughed at me. All those times I prayed, waiting for the right man to come, He just shook his head and said, “Not yet.” I kept thinking there is no way I have met him before. God chuckled at those thoughts too.
I knew his name in 8th grade when all the feeder schools were forced to attend middle school. Our groups didn’t have much interaction in 8th grade. When we made it to high school, we ended up having ten classes together. Our last names typically had us sitting on opposite sides of the room, but junior year we became friends out of necessity: trying to survive Civics and AP Government. The first real conversation we had outside of school-based topics was at Cookout after the AP Government exam. Our entire class decided to celebrate together, and Daniel and I ended up sitting next to one another. I learned that he was interested in mechanical engineering, which was what my father obtained his degree in. At that time, Daniel actually worked for a business that my father’s company did jobs for on occasion. I told Daniel about my family’s business and that my grandfather, father, and brother were interested in similar things that he was. Now, Daniel has worked at our family business since May of 2018. God truly does have a plan for our lives. . .
With the shared experience of that tough AP class behind us, we became even better friends during our senior year of high school. We had the first two blocks together, English and AP Calculus. Before school started, we often parked next to each other in our unofficial parking spots. He would see me and my brother reading a morning devotion in the car, and wave before heading into school to the spot where he and I hung out with mutual friends waiting for the bell to ring. I always had coffee in my hand, and he tended to be running late many days.
During senior year, Daniel always came to me to borrow a pencil. He also never had any paper. I let him borrow the pencil for first and second block, and then he would return it to me so he could borrow it the next day. HA! I wasn’t really sure why I put up with him doing that back then. He continued to do this for the second semester as well, even though we only had math class together. However, my brother and Daniel were in the JETS Club together. Daniel was the president and my brother was the only sophomore who served as an officer in the club. The club actually toured my father’s business during our senior year, and Daniel was one of the few who paid attention and asked questions on the field trip.
Honestly, dating Daniel in high school never occurred to me, and I believe this was also part of God’s plan. When he was single, I was not, and vice versa. On the day we graduated, I was walking by and he grabbed me to get a picture. It was our first picture together, and it actually was one of my favorite pictures from that day in general. It made it into my high school scrapbook, which I created long before Daniel and I became anything more than friends.
After high school, there was a random text here and there. I hadn’t heard from him for a long time until spring break of my freshman year. He texted me out of the blue, asking for advice on how to handle a situation from a Christian perspective. He admitted that he was a Christian, which was something I did not know, and that he knew I was and wanted my advice. His text actually called me out. I hadn’t exactly been the best Christian example my first year in college. Not long after that, I tried getting back on track with the Lord.
When I got home for the summer, God opened a door for me at a job I never knew I needed. I was a local summer missionary, and I learned so much, met many people, and taught Bible school to all different ages. I was surrounded by the exact group of people I needed during a very trying summer, where I lost a great grandmother, a good friend, and a childhood dog.
Daniel was even closer friends with our friend who passed away. I saw him at the funeral, but I also ran into him at Cookout earlier that summer too.
Back then, it seemed very coincidental that we kept running into one another, but now it’s as if God was trying to tell me, “See! There he is. Quit looking!”. And I definitely looked everywhere else. I attended a school where 80% of the student body was from out of state, so I was sure I would find somebody. I had to go off to school to realize who I was looking for lived fifteen minutes down the road from my childhood home. Looking back, all these moments of us crossing paths in different ways makes our story that much more meaningful to me, because God left the clues for me and I just had not connected the dots yet. It’s almost like when you reach the end of a Sherlock Holmes story, having no idea how he reached that conclusion, until he explains each of the details to you.
When I went back to school in the fall, I struggled with my grief. Several high school friends would check in from time to time, but one kept texting me about every two weeks. Around early October, we just never stopped talking. When Daniel discovered my fall break was coming up, he asked if I wanted to catch up in person when I came home, and I agreed.
I wasn’t sure if it was a date. I was so scared and nervous, after being so out of practice in the dating world. I convinced myself that it wasn’t a date. Just two old acquaintances catching up. I never even asked him if he still had a girlfriend because I was too worried about his answer, especially since I enjoyed talking to him so much. He made plans to go to Maggiano’s Little Italy on Tuesday October 17, 2017. I remember it so vividly. I was ready thirty minutes before Daniel was to pick me up. I decided on jeans, a rust-colored sweater, and tan booties. I wasn’t sure how much to dress up or how casual to be. My stomach was in knots. Daniel stepped out of his car and I went out to meet him, since I wasn’t quite ready for him to re-meet my dad or meet my mom.
Daniel wore a dark green button down with jeans and brown Clarks. I remember being so relieved that he too was dressed in a similar way that I was. I didn’t want to be under-dressed or over the top. Even though I was nervous, we talked the whole way there, during dinner, and on the way back. The conversation came so naturally, and when he brought me back home, he asked to come inside to say hello to my parents. That also made me nervous— introducing someone to my family meant they would ask me questions about him from then on, and if it did not work out between us, I would have to answer those questions too. Fortunately, he easily conversed with my parents, and I was so surprised at how much I barely contributed to the conversation.
My parents love Daniel, and they get along quite well to this day. When Daniel asked my dad for my hand, Daddy joked that if I said no, he would get rid of me and keep Daniel!
When it came time for me to meet his parents, I was excited but nervous. Other people’s parents terrified me. I had always been shy and I got anxious meeting a boy’s parents, but after meeting his mom and dad, I felt at ease and welcomed. They were so warm and easy to talk to, and I felt like I could talk to his mom for hours.
I am extremely blessed to have Jeff and Cindi as my father-in-law and mother-in-law to be.
My 20th birthday was the following week after that first date, and as it hit midnight, signifying the start of my birthday, Daniel called me for the first time to be the first one to wish me happy birthday. I swear I went to sleep with a smile on my face, and I knew I was beginning to fall for him.
On Thanksgiving weekend of that year, Daniel met my extended family, and I met his. I was so anxious and after being burned many times before, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was turning into something real. I was terrified to ask Daniel where this was going in fear of his reaction. I wasn’t sure if this was a fling or if he wanted more. We hadn’t talked about becoming officially boyfriend and girlfriend, and I hadn’t asked him if he was seeing anyone else because I would be devastated if he said yes. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Daniel asked me if he could go to church with me the next day. I had not invited him before, because then that would mean more questions and my mom having to quietly let everyone know why he wasn’t coming around more if things ended badly. Without answering his question, to end my torment, I instead asked him where this thing between us was going and if he would disappear after a couple months. Daniel said, “I don’t plan on going anywhere for a long time, if that’s okay with you.”
Giddy with his answer, I agreed to let him come to church with me. When he asked to go to church with me, I think that may have been the moment when I fell in love with Daniel, but of course I didn’t tell him that until over a month later. And I have been falling deeper in love with him every day since. On December 2, 2017, he officially asked me to be his girlfriend, even though we had been seeing each other since October.
All those times I prayed to God asking for him to send the right man for me, my heart was not ready yet. Neither was Daniel’s. People ask us why we didn’t date back in high school, and we both respond that it would never have worked. We both had growing up to do. We both needed to reconnect with God.
Of course, we do not always get along. Nor do we agree on everything. There have been some scary times when I thought one of us would walk away, but we talked it out, worked through the problems, and grew stronger.
Daniel threw me off the scent, and I honestly did not expect him to ask me anytime soon. I tried dropping hints, and I even jokingly told him that the girlfriend title had an expiration date. Little did I know that he bought a ring on the day of my virtual graduation. He had the ring for the entire summer!
This past Labor Day weekend, in our favorite place at my grandparents’ mountain house, Daniel rushed me to get ready for dinner early, and asked me to watch the sun set on the back porch. With my new job, we hadn’t had much time together, so I didn’t really blame him for wanting me to come spend a little time with him. I had even been working most of that day on my lesson planning for the next week.
Daniel started off telling me how proud he was of me for how hard I had been working in my first year of teaching, before saying how much he cherished me, to which my smart-mouth-self replied, “Well, duh. I hope so.” Then he told me that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, which was not something new to me because we had talked about it before, so I was still a little clueless until he dropped down on one knee and presented me with the most beautiful ring. In shock, I think I kept repeating, “That’s a ring!” over and over, and almost fell over myself. I must have said yes at some point, but I was so happy and in disbelief that THE moment had finally arrived!
Now, when I look down at the ring on my finger, no matter what else is going on at the time, I feel a sense of calm come over me as I think about Daniel and the life we are beginning to build together. He brings out the best in me, and I hope I do the same for him. Daniel is truly my soulmate, my better half, and I am so excited to become his wife! This is just a tiny snippet of our time together. Just a little glimpse into our story, but the best part is that this is just the beginning of what is to come.