Dan & Betsy
His Side of the Story
When we met for the first time it was a dark stormy night, the wind was howling, and there in the drenching rain stood a hopelessly lost Betsy bemoaning a flat tire. But I, with trusted tire iron in my right hand and piping hot cup of joe in my left, became Betsy's knight in shining armor that night, rescuing the diminutive, but ever delightful, damsel from the ravaging clutches of a bad hair day.
Well, not so much.
Actually, when Betsy greeted me at the door of her dad's home in Wisconsin it was a delightfully sunny afternoon in June and the Lord had already been showing us His delight. But there was much which occurred before we truly met for the first time...
My mom & dad divorced when I was about 12 years old. Although an amicable divorce, it hit me very hard and even at that young age I vowed it would never occur to me, that I would either never marry or never divorce. Of course, most children of divorce make a similar vow, but sadly few learn how to carry it through. I dare say few were as motivated to learn. Even then at that age I began to read all kinds of things about relationships, particularly marriage.
(Before I continue let me offer this insight as a child of divorce. If you're considering that option consoling yourself that "the kids are young and will bounce back," please reconsider. Studies have shown children of divorce tend to experience more difficulties and mature at a slower pace than those of families with a married mother and father. Perhaps with God's grace they will "bounce back" (such as was the case with my brother and myself) - but at what cost? Why not instead learn to blend your differences into the oneness for which God created you both?)
Skip forward into my mid-20's when, after making my own share of dumb mistakes in relationships, I began to learn about relationships from God's perspective. A lesson of particular note helped me understand I could and should trust God to bring my bride into my life at the right time and to be busy about His Kingdom in the meantime.
Oh, it's not that the desire for marriage and family lessened from then on. If anything the desire became stronger as the years passed. But when during those frequent times I was sorely tempted to "settle" for something less than God's best, I had learned to remind myself to trust God instead of my emotions or desires.
After a while I'd asked a dear pastor what he thought about Christians & online dating. After all, I had zero interest in marrying someone who wasn't a Christian or who wasn't walking with the Lord and my church was small so it seemed like a logical thing to try. This wise pastor surprised me when he explained in years past dating was facilitated by those in the community who knew the man and woman best and brought them together. But today where such community rarely exists, online dating has attempted to fill the gap in some small way. I'd been on eHarmony.com when I switched to an all Christian site. But after a while I realized (finally admitted?) I had been the one on the hunt for, leading the effort to "find," a wife - not the Lord.
Now, don't hear what I'm not saying. I'm NOT saying when you wait for God you're not supposed to do anything. It's just that you're not supposed to do everything. Furthermore, if I'm doing everything to make something happen then the results are up to me and simply would not be nearly as beautiful as letting the Lord lead the journey.
I tried a couple Christian sites and they were good but I desired something with a little deeper starting point. So, this time with the thought "Well, let's see what the Lord might do," I reopened my eHarmony account after having put it aside for a long time.
But while reviewing profiles, I began to notice a trend. The first profile question requiring a written response asks "what is your passion?" Maybe the Lord filtered what would come my way, but just about every woman's profile answered "God & Family." Perhaps these were God-fearing women, but that to me wasn't a very passionate response. After a while, I wouldn't look at pictures or anything but that question... Next, next, next... It was getting quite discouraging, and I was beginning to the think the Lord wouldn't be moving there in my case.
Then, in March '12, I came across a profile where the woman's response was not only passionate, but fervently so when describing her passion! This erudite, obviously intelligent, woman seemed to know her Bible really well, And to top it off it wasn't all in her head - she was actually DOING something passionately for her Savior! And that she was a biblical counselor for her church... well, I simply had to know more!
And I've been getting to know Betsy more everyday since, ever finding new ways to be amazed by her intelligence, her wisdom, her patience, her godliness - and her beauty!
Now, it may be splitting hairs, but to me we were only "introduced" via eHarmony but we didn't "meet" until we came face to face in June '12 when I went out to visit her Wisconsin. So, you ask me where/when we "met" I would likely say June in Wisconsin. Of course, this was the source of one of our first disagreements, but I'll let her share about that. ;-D
The visit in June '12 was wonderful, but it didn't seem like it at first. You see, many flights had been delayed in my departing airport because of security problems. Arriving late in Wisconsin, the rental company didn't have any more cars like the one I'd rented. So, they had to upgrade me ... to a convertible (I know, the hardship, right?). Ah - but it gets better! Because of the change, the drive-in movie we'd chosen to forsake for the sake of accountability and to honor the Lord, could be added back into our plans! (I'd always wanted to go to one and she'd hadn't been to one since she was a kid!) And the weather on the night we saw the movies was glorious! It was as if the Lord was showing us that since we honored Him, He would bless us.
And more happened to make it a glorious trip, indeed!
In mid-July '12, Betsy visited me in NJ for a long weekend, but the time was too short with a whirlwind of activity as she met, and blessed, many of my friends and got a small taste of life in NJ. But as short as it was, after this visit I knew that I knew that I wanted to marry Betsy!
Then in early Sept '12, I went to visit Betsy in Wisconsin again. This trip was also a whirlwind of activity as we enjoyed our trip to see Tim Hawkins the comedian, met with her pastor for an extended chat, and had some sweet fellowship with a number of Betsy's friends and relatives.
Now, by the time of my Sept '12 trip Betsy and I had been talking about marriage for a while & looking at engagement rings with the idea of my proposing in Oct or Nov '12. After my trip, she went to Arizona to visit her brother Dale & sister-in-law Sarah in Arizona. She had no idea I was planning, with their help, an overnight trip to Arizona a week later to propose to her. I'll let her tell the rest of the story, but the important highlight is:
She said "Yes"!
Her (abbreviated) Side of the Story
Well, it’s a long story (Dan & I can have you over and tell you the extended version) but I’d been married in my 20's to an unbeliever, and through a series of events, when I was about 30 my husband left. At that time, I was in a Master’s program in creative writing in Minnesota, and I moved back home to my dad’s house in Wisconsin to heal and get back on my feet. In all of this, God used my pastors and church family (Calvary Baptist in Wisconsin Rapids) to love and encourage me, and to teach and model for me a life lived wholly for Christ—one of obedience, faith, love, and joy! As I began to better learn how to live for Christ, God allowed me in turn to teach others, and I was beginning to find the joy and peace that had been so elusive during the years I had lived for self ...
But still, during these years through my 30's of growing and serving, I always wanted to remarry; it was always a strong desire. Although my life was full with school, church, missions, evangelism, counseling, friends, and family, the desire for a husband never went away. I prayed and prayed, and waited on God, and lamented to Him and others, but the desire never diminished and the years passed . . . and yet no one came into my life.
Fast forward to last fall, when I was talking (again!) to my pastor about my desire for a husband, and he encouraged me to do some research and writing on singleness, in hopes that our church could do some work to help and encourage other singles. As a part of this project, I began to explore online dating as a part of my research . . . and yes, perhaps to meet someone!
It’s important to mention that at about this time I began to ask others to pray for me—through the years I’d confided in close friends about my desire for marriage, but I began to be more open. The world might call this pathetic, but I believe the Bible calls it humble . . . I began to ask people to pray for me, and I began to ask if others might know someone they could set me up with; I also began to pray with an online group called “fastpray,” a group of people who fast and pray during Monday lunches, asking God to bring marriage to those who desire it. Also, last January at our church staff Christmas party, one of our pastors shared how God was especially attentive to his wife’s prayers—that whenever one of their adult children has a special request, they call home and ask their mom to pray—she does, and God answers. So after dinner, I sidled up to Sue to ask if she would please pray for a husband for me. With tears in her eyes, this gracious lady told me it would be her privilege to pray . . . and I am ever so grateful for her prayers, for I firmly believe that God brought Dan into my life in part due to Sue’s faithful prayers on my behalf. Thank you, Sue! :-D
Just before Easter of 2012, I was at an especially low point—I was quite low and struggling (again), wondering if God had forgotten me, why I had this strong, painful, unmet desire . . . if God wanted me to be single, why was I so miserable? I knew that a husband wasn’t the key to happiness—I was busy serving the Lord, I wasn’t shirking my duties or neglecting my first Love . . . but yet I was struggling without a human companion. That week before Easter, I was at one of my lowest points, literally on my knees weeping, crying out to God to help me.
And then Dan wrote me. J
From the first moment, I was interested—Dan’s eHarmony profile was well written, intelligent, detailed, clever, witty, quoted Scripture appropriately, and evidenced His heart for God. I could see that Dan was a man who loved God, who had an intimate relationship with and knowledge of Him, and I was eager to learn more. We wrote back and forth by email, then spoke by phone, then met on Skype. From the first, Dan was interesting, and a challenge—asking hard questions, thoughtfully considering everything we discussed—but I enjoyed our exchanges (never boring!), although at times our conversations became intense. I wanted to know more, and was excited when Dan suggested coming out to Wisconsin to meet me for the first time.
I could go on and on and on . . . the short version is that Dan & I hit it off just as well in person as online, if not better. We could speak deeply, but also have fun. We could talk theology, share history, discuss counseling, but also joke and laugh. Our first visit in Wisconsin was picture perfect—God gave us such a sweet time—going to the drive-in, hanging out by the Wisconsin River, having dinner out, studying together (yes, studying! Dan was finishing up a Master’s course and needed to finish a paper :-), and enjoying a cookout with friends from church. After Dan’s visit, I went to New Jersey to visit his turf, and I also enjoyed my time there—dinners out with Dan’s friends, visiting Dan’s church, walking the boardwalk at Point Pleasant, visiting important spots from Dan’s growing-up years, and more. Honestly, I’d been hooked from the first time I’d read Dan’s profile, but as we continued to talk about our preferences and goals for marriage and life, God continued to lead us together. By the time Dan visited Wisconsin again in September, it was clear he was thinking of proposing—now, when would it be? I knew he’d ordered a ring (somehow he found the perfect ring!), he kept teasing me that it would be sometime before Jan 2013—since we were talking a winter wedding, this teasing was torturous! I told him I’d need some time to plan . . . but when Dan left Wisconsin without a September proposal, I thought for sure he’d choose sometime in October when I’d be visiting New Jersey.
But not Dan! Oh no, he couldn’t do things the easy or expected way! (That’s why I love him, by the way! :-) Instead, Dan booked a flight out to Arizona where I was visiting my brother Dale and his family. A couple days before I was supposed to head home to Wisconsin, Dan flew in to surprise me at Oregano’s, Dale & Sarah’s favorite southwestern Italian restaurant—there Dan was in cahoots with the manager and staff and planned to act as a waiter! So, that night as we were settling in for dinner, Dan popped out and bent down on one knee—and I (who am not the greatest with surprises!) said, “What are you doing here???” NOT because I was unhappy to see him—oh no! Only because my brain was unable to process what he was doing there, completely out of the blue! I was in shock, but with waitstaff and other patrons watching, Dan proceeded to tell me he loved me (for the first time, mind you :-), that he desired that I be his wife—and he asked if I would marry him. Of course, I said yes! I wouldn’t miss it!!!
I am so thankful to the Lord for the blessing of Dan in my life! I praise God! And it was so worth the wait. I pray that God would help Dan & I to always walk closely together with Him, that God would be at the center of our marriage, and that God would use us to draw unbelievers to Himself, as well as to encourage and strengthen those who already believe. May He be glorified!
I said "Yes"!