My husband and I met when he was 17 and I was 20, in 1990. Yeah, I'm a cradle-robber. :) I was in my third year at Michigan State University, and he was starting his first year. I had gotten involved in an awesome outreach called University Christian Outreach (UCO). I went to the first meeting of the year and there was this new kid sitting in front of me. After the meeting was over, he turned around and introduced himself to me. What was funny is that, at first, I thought he was a 25-year-old grad student, not a 17-year-old freshman! And believe me, there was nothing going on in the attraction department.
Al was an immediate fixture in UCO - at all the activities, always helping with some practical service. Over the next few years, we got to know each other and became very good friends. He was the kind of guy all the girls wanted to be "friends" with because he was such a good guy - funny, honest, loyal, and not at all threatening.
I graduated from MSU after Fall Semester 1992, and it was toward the end of my college career that I started to realize that Al was interested in me. I was kind of slow, I guess, but I also wasn't interested in the least. Everyone else knew it - my room-mates, my friends, my family.
Right after I graduated, I hopped a plane to the Philippines to do missionary work for a year (in total, I spent 15 months there). Al was the most loyal penpal. I really loved hearing from him because he was a connection to home, and he was like a brother to me. Still. . . no "feelings."
When I returned in March of 1994, I drove the 400 miles from my parents' house in Northern Michigan to East Lansing / MSU to go to a wedding of some dear friends of ours from UCO. I saw Al, he came up and gave me a big hug. I was very happy to see him, but. . . .no "feelings."
Three months later, I moved back to East Lansing. Al asked me to go to see a movie with him and I asked him if anyone else was going (I was trying to feel it out, to see if this was a "date".) No, he hadn't invited anyone else, so I told him plainly, "Al, I'm not interested in you that way." (LOL - I have to laugh at how many times I ended up saying such things to him!) But we continued to be friends, hang out together, and grow in what would be a fantastic foundation for our marriage.
Fast forward to January 1995. I needed to buy a car. Al is a car guru - knows the best models, best deals, etc. He offered to come along with me to help me find just the right one. Finally, I started to recognize something in myself. . . .feelings? interest? We went out on a few "dates". But something still didn't seem right to me. In retrospect, it was probably just not the best timing in either of our lives. Regardless, I broke his heart by telling him, "I just don't think you're the one for me."
Almost a year passed, and our relationship was strained after that. Of course it was awkward - I had broken his heart. But eventually, our friendship returned, and around Christmas of 1995, my feelings for Al started to resurface. A group of us had gone out for drinks just before the holidays, and Al was leaving the next day to visit his family in California. I went out to his car with him. I had a weird feeling - I wanted to hug him good-bye, but even more, I wanted to hold him. I wanted him to hold me. But I didn't do or say anything. When I was at Church with my family on Christmas Eve, I had a very strange thing happen. I had a "vision" that Al walked into Church and sat down with my family.
When we returned to East Lansing, I continued thinking and praying about Al. I had no intention of letting him know I was having any renewed interest. . . just yet. In a way, I wanted to know I was serious about him before we resumed any romantic pursuit - I didn't want to break his heart again.
On Valentine's Day 1996, I was working at my job as a preschool teacher. Al had taken my car to have the oil changed. He was always doing little services like that for me. We had plans to go out with a group of friends in the evening to celebrate Valentine's Day. When I went out to my car after work, the snow was falling and it was just getting dark. There was a single carnation on my windshield, along with a little note - Al asked me if he could treat me to ice cream that night. No huge romantic date. Not even a rose. But THIS was the moment when I realized what love was - I sat in my car and cried, sobbed, huge amazing tears. This is what it was like to be loved. And I loved Al. I knew it. . . .finally! (Now we affectionately refer to this as the moment that the blinders came off!)
We resumed our romantic relationship that night. When I told my family that I was dating Al, their response was, "It's about time!" From that point on, I never had any doubts that Al was the "ONE". I have never second-guessed our relationship. Al is my soul-mate and I'm so incredibly grateful that he didn't give up on me. And that the Lord helped to me to recognize what true love was.
We were engaged in June of 1996, and married in November, Thanksgiving weekend, 1996.
(L-R: J, T, J, H, Al & Me, Best Man, D, and Maid of Honor)I love this picture (sorry it's not the best quality - I had to scan it in). This epitomizes our relationship and our deep friendships. We love to have fun. We love to laugh. And we actually went bowling on our wedding day, and scored matching (albeit pathetic) scores of 77.
That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.