My Happily Ever After ~ Part 4
I know that you have probably been waiting in anticipation for the conclusion of my love story. But just in case you missed Part 1 , Part 2 , and Part 3 you can read them first and then join in with us.
The truly amazing thing that happened as we arrived back in Chicago for our junior year of college was that things had changed for us. Our relationship now had a depth that we hadn’t expected.
As the year continued, we learned things about eachother that we didn’t like. Dave would have major mood swings that irritated me. We discovered that it was the result of not having enough protein. He was more of an introvert and wasn’t always thrilled about going out with my friends.
I was a Resident Assistant during my junior and senior years and God used that time to teach me a lot about myself. Dave had the opportunity to watch this growth and it wasn’t always pretty! I am a people pleaser and this meant that I would sometimes neglect him, because I was being pulled in too many directions.
But our relationship was no longer based on expectations- it was based on growing together and seeking to allow our Father to refine us. We spent time in prayer together, challenged eachother, encouraged one another.
The summer between our junior year and our senior year, we worked again at the camp in Wisconsin. This time it was a completely different experience.
|Night out at camp
It was what we had hoped for our first summer- we enjoyed doing ministry together. There was no concern about the strength of our relationship. If we didn’t get a chance to talk during the week, it was not worrisome. We knew that we would catch up with eachother later.
If you are looking for the secret to a good relationship, this would be it. It is getting past the feelings of love (which are wonderful, but NOT what a relationship can be based on!) and being committed- through the good, the bad and the ugly. A relationship based on feelings alone is like rock climbing without a rope. The commitment becomes the rope and gives you a security that allows you to go higher than you could have imagined.
Our engagement story…
It was getting close to the end of the summer and I suggested that we use one of the weekends to go to Devil’s Lake State Park. I had no idea that it was Dave’s plan to propose to me there. I was oblivious to his work at getting the ring from where it was in safe keeping in Chicago to camp. I had no idea that he was trying to call my dad to ask for permission to marry me the morning before we left for our hike.
It was the hottest day of the year. We picked up some water bottles on the way to the park and as we arrived it started raining. It wasn’t just any rain. It was the blow-a-canoe-out-of-the-lake kind of storm. We huddled in Dave’s car for 20 minutes and just enjoyed the force of nature and the company of each other.
Again, I was completely unaware that my boyfriend was going crazy wondering how this was going to all play out. But the rain ended as quickly as it had started and we decided to hike.
The rain had mercifully cooled everything down and we had a delightful time climbing the boulders that make up the cliffs that surround Devil’s Lake. We walked along and found a beautiful overlook and sat down for a rest and what I thought was a simple conversation.
Disclaimer: Many of these pictures are from my scrapbook, so they are pictures of pictures- sorry for the poor quality!
Dave snapped this picture, because he had put the ring box in his camera case. I actually fell for the old – hey, look at that! trick while he retrieved the ring. He started telling me that he loved me and then all of sudden, he was kneeling in front of me. I have no memory really of what he said, but I do remember that it was perfect. And I said yes!
|Dave pointing at the mud on his knee- proof that he kneeled when he proposed!
The week after getting engaged, Dave had a camper that needed to go home early. It was Dave’s responsibility to have the camper waiting for his dad who would be picking him up. The camper wasn’t quite ready, so Dave entered into conversation with the dad. As the result of that conversation, Dave applied for and was hired as the youth pastor at a church in Chicago- the dad was the pastor!
Dave started part time at Bethany Baptist in Chicago and I worked by his side in addition to planning our wedding, finishing my senior year and being an R.A. at Moody. It was a crazy year, but God continued to bless our relationship. We dealt with frustrations and difficulties, but our love was strong.
One of my favorite memories during our engagement was a missions trip that we took together to El Salvador. It was Dave’s first time in a different country and it was an eye opening trip for both of us. We had the opportunity to lead songs and speak in several different schools (my sister was living there and serving God through teaching at the time).
|Singing “On A Day Like This” in El Salvador
At one point during our engagement, Dave sent me a card with a poem in it that said this:
When you’re afraid of waves
crashing in on you,
or of days with ever setting suns,
My love will not be enough.
When you feel your feet sliping
down into the deep and you’re looking
for something to stand on,
My love will never be enough.
But when in those times you need
an ear to listen or a hand to hold,
When you need a nudge
or simply someone to hold you,
When you are determined to rely on God and not give up,
Then my love will be enough.
I love you and I want to love you more,
By God’s grace, I will…
We ended up using this poem in our wedding invitations. It is the lesson that we have learned and continue to learn- 15 years later. We will never be enough for each other. We can’t be. We both fail each other. We’re not always the kindest. I struggle with insecurity- still! He struggles with patience- still!
But in the midst of all of our imperfections, we have learned that when we rely on God- when HE is our strength, our refuge, our Savior- then our love IS enough.
Our wedding day was HOT, but perfect! Here are some pictures…
Dave and I celebrated our 13th anniversary in June of this year. On our actual anniversary we drove from Rochester, NY where we had just completed an interview weekend for a senior pastor position and drove to Plymouth, MA where we enjoyed a vacation with friends. The interview went well, but it was an unsettling time for us.
|Dave graduating from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Our life together has not always been easy, but it has been GOOD! I decided to call this series “My Happily Ever After”, because in sharing our story, it is my hope that you will see that a happily ever after is a choice. It is not about finding the ONE. It is not about having the best relationship. It is not about everything being perfect.
|On a trip to visit Dave’s parents in Vancouver, Washington
Happily ever after can only be found when all of our life is grounded in Jesus Christ. Because as wonderful as my husband is, we would not have been able to weather the storms that have crossed our paths had it not been for the saving grace of Jesus. He has been so merciful to us in the midst of a miscarriage, weight gain, lung collapses, betrayal by friends that we trusted, major dental surgery, rejection, family health issues (alzheimers, cancer, arthritis to name a few), multiple moves, loneliness.
|Going on the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls
If our lives were based on a feeling, we wouldn’t have gotten married. But our marriage is based on a commitment- first to God, then to each other. When we are frustrated with each other, we rely on God. When we are happy with each other, we rely on God.
|Celebrating our most recent anniversary in Central Park, NYC
We love each other and we want to love each other more.
THAT is my happily ever after…