Also, I feel like you should know that this video was taken several months ago – there is in fact, not snow in Texas right now. And I took this video when I had the world’s longest cold, so my nose is a little stuffed up. And finally, Bug is freakin’ cute in the morning.
1. I’m stubborn and think I know best for my life.
1a. My first impressions of Preacher Man included truly profound and insightful thoughts about his height and his hair.
2. He had the hots for a girl.
2a. This girl was not me.
The phrase, “has the hots for,” is really an underused phrase, by the way. Right along with, “totally tubular,” and “okey dokey artichoke-ey.”
So strangely enough, that misguided walk around campus kind of broke the ice for us. We began casually talking about life when he came over to hang out in the lobby, we started sitting next to each other during chapel, and that walk was the first of many around our small campus. I wish I could remember what we talked about when we hung out – I’m sure it’d be funny to reminisce about, but alas – I have only a smattering of memories.
I can recall sitting on a bench and Preacher Man playing a song on his guitar. Now – if you’re from my particular small college (or attended a similar one), you’re rolling your eyes right now. The image of a guy, sitting next to a girl, with a guitar, playing either
1)Dashboard Confessional or
2)Any worship songs that probably consist only of the cords D and G
is an image that is cliche in this world. Because usually that guy is trying to woo a girl, too blinded by love to realize how ridiculous he looks. In this case, however, Preacher Man was not trying to woo me, so Dashboard and everyworshipsongunderthesun were not what he chose for me that particular evening. Instead…he played, “Hey Mickey.” I vaguely remember him showing me that it was the same cord progression as another song, but laughing as he rolled his eyes and said (said…not sang) in a deadpan voice, “Oh. Mickey. What a pity. You don’t understand.”
We talked about homework, we chatted about school stuff, and we discussed our lives. But there are two things that I remember talking about the most with Preacher Man. 1.) God and 2)The opposite gender. And not necessarily in that order.
Boy, I’m all about listing stuff today, huh?
See, like a lot of college students,we were both working out what we believed…in whom we believed, and even sometimes IF we believed. We inadvertedly found in one another a sounding board for hidden doubts and unspoken uncertainties. I didn’t know it at the time, but we were laying a foundation for a marriage that was centered in our identities as children of God and our ability to challenge the other to knowing Him better and more intimately.
And we just thought we were chatting. Sheesh.
Now as to number two in my list of stuff we talked most about. You might think that what with all of this talking and walking and singing we were doing that one of us started to develop a crush on the other. You might think that Preacher Man would’ve come around to noticing my sky blue eyes, or that I might have picked up on how charming his smile is, and you might think that one of harbored secret feelings towards the other
…and you would be wrong.
Sure, I thought he was a keen fella (…another underused phrase), and I’m sure he’d say he thought I was a swell gal. In fact, as we got to know one another better, our respect for the other only grew…and grew. I remember thinking that I would love to date a guy like Preacher Man – I just wasn’t interested in dating him. And Preacher Man tried to set me up with at least two of his friends – so apparently he found me moderately interesting and attractive – but not for himself.
I really couldn’t have given two hoots what he thought about me physically. Most of the time when he was hanging out in our lobby, I was in old pjs and a hoodie. I didn’t care if I had makeup on, I didn’t care if my hair looked right, I didn’t really even care if my breath was funky. But man – I cared a lot about what Preacher Man thought of my character. I respected him. And so I respected what he thought of me.
Because of this interesting dynamic to our friendship – we naturally began to ask the others’ opinions and thoughts on our romantic interests. I was very interested in a good friend of mine, and found myself asking Preacher Man why the guy did this, said this, acted like this, didn’t say this…and how I could best show the guy that I was interested. Eventually this guy (we’ll call him Kevin) and I started dating, and Preacher Man continued to be my one stop source for understanding the male mind.
Preacher Man on the other hand, was interested in several girls during the course of our friendship, and never failed to ask my honest opinion of them. And boy, was I honest. My opinions ranged from, “Well, I’m not sure that she’d really get your sense of humor,” to, “Seriously? You really want to do ministry with her for the rest of your life?” I knew that Preacher Man didn’t see in himself what I saw in him, and I knew he had no idea how manipulative complex females could be. Even eight years later, I find him to be completely naive about women and their wiles.
We were friends. Good friends. Good friends who respected and trusted the other. I wanted Preacher Man to find a woman who was sweet, wise, beautiful, and a great complement to him, and I wanted to be the very happy girlfriend and maybe even future wife of Kevin.
But then something changed. And for the record: I blame Chris Tomlin and Maybelline.
Remember me telling you about the absurdities of a small Christian college? One of those is this often joked about “rule” that if you walk around the campus with a guy so many times…you’re engaged. But. It’s one of those jokes that’s funny because there’s so much truth to it. You see, at our school, guys and girls had completely separate dorms, and never the twain shall meet except 1)Each dorm had a lobby and there were certain “lobby hours,” during which members of the opposite sex could enter, and 2)Open dorm nights. I think these happened about once a month, and meant that for about three hours a month, you could have a guy in your dorm room. Never fear, though, your door had to be opened, and both persons’ feet had to be on the ground at all times.
Hanky panky was strictly forbidden.
As such, if you were interested in a guy or girl, but not quite ready to do the official asking out on a date – your only real option to get to know them was to go on a walk around campus together. If you were seen walking around campus several times in one week…well then…it was just assumed that you were starting a relationship.
Believe it or not, you actually need this background information to understand why it was such a big deal when Preacher Man called me one evening to ask if I wanted to go for a walk, and I answered a quick, “Sure.”
I guess we officially met each other during RA training week (my junior year, his sophomore year). Beyond the “no way is that guy going to fit under the jumprope” incident, my only other memory of him is as we were waiting for the freshmen to arrive to help them unpack. We were chatting, and I have no idea what led us to this point, but I distinctly remember Preacher Man telling me that he wanted to marry a girl with a “good” name. When I asked him why, he went on to tell me that he just couldn’t imagine waking up in the morning and saying, “Morning, Gertrude…or Helga…or Hildred.”
Romantic beginning, huh?
So once the freshman arrived, the RAs were split up into groups and assigned a group of freshmen to show around campus, talk about the rules, get to know, etc. Preacher Man read his group The Berenstein Bears “Messy Room,” which – if you know him – is just about right. He ended up deciding to have an ongoing Bible Study with his particular group of freshmen, so they started meeting once a week. By chance (*cough* God’s plan *cough*) most of the females in his group were in my dorm. So once a week, they met in the lobby of my dorm to do their study.
Now this was my first year as an RA, and some genius decided to place me as the Head RA of a dorm full of freshmen. I can’t lie, my co-RA and I were scared out of our minds. This was no ordinary dorm full of freshmen. One of the girls one night decided to tie everyone’s door knobs together so that when they all woke up the next morning – nobody could get out. Two of the girls had a bet that they wouldn’t shave their legs for an entire semester (and insisted on showing anyone who would look – it was not a pretty sight). And then they decided to do the inaugral shaving in the school’s hot tub. We had a mudfight in front of our dorm one particularly rainy day that included lots of sliding down the large hill out front, and they declared Mondays to be “Mismatched Mondays,” which meant wearing the most ridiculous get-up they could find and parading around campus like they didn’t look strange in the least. They were regularly making up raps, making messes, doing experiments, and well…just being fun. Despite their mischievousness, I loved those girls. If you can believe it – they had even more passion for God than they had for finding ways to get into trouble – and that has made for some awesome women of God.
Preacher Man’s section, on the other hand, was comprised of several guys with whom he’d lived the year before. They were good guys, they loved Jesus, and his biggest problem was having to remind them to flush. Me, on the other hand?
I was having to talk the Dean of Women out of expelling my girls because their semester long leg hair clogged up the hot tub.
Apparently Preacher Man took pity on my co-RA and me, and came over to hang out a couple of nights a week. He usually ended up doing stuff like fixing the thermostat, getting rid of a mouse, and laughing at the girls’ latest shenanigans, but we just felt better having someone else around. At first, Preacher Man and I didn’t really talk much. Until he called me. To go on a walk.
I said “Sure,” without really thinking, to be honest. Even as I was throwing on a hoodie and putting my hair up into a ponytail, the thought of this being anything significant didn’t dawn on me. Until… I walked out of my room, where a few of my girls were watching TV in the lobby. “Where’re you going?” they asked. When I said I was going on a walk…with Preacher Man…the room was suddenly filled with, “oooh!” “a walk with him?!” “hoooow romantic!” My heart stopped cold.
Dang it. He wanted to go on a walk. Freakin’ eh. What if he asked me out? What if he told me he liked me? Man – I’m gonna have to just tell him as gently as possible that I’m just not interested. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll just tell him that I’m not really looking to date anyone right now. Geez. Hopefully we can still hang out and it won’t be awkward.
So with new found nervousness, I met Preacher Man outside, and we began our first ever walk around campus. We started off making small talk, I’m sure, and after we had walked about a half a mile, we sat down on a bench. I kept trying to talk about anything I could think of…just to avoid the awkward moment where he reveals his feelings for me, and I have to break the poor guy’s heart. Preacher Man wasn’t messing around though, and he dove right in.
“So I actually had a reason for wanting to talk to you tonight.”
“Oh yeah?” Great, here it comes. There’s no way out now. Just keep your poker face. Ugh, you have a crappy poker face. Okay, maybe if you don’t look him in the eyes…
“Yeah. See…I know this is kind of weird…”
Augh! Don’t say it! Don’t say it! Do NOT say I have feelings for you, Jen! DON’T say it!
“I was helping out at this church last weekend with worship, and there was this girl there.”
He’s going to say it! Oh geez! Oh…wait…church? helping? I don’t….remember…being….
“And I was just kind of watching her, and was just kind of amazed by her. I know your good friends with her, so I was just wondering what you could tell me about your friend, Candace.” (name changed for privacy)
Ummm….what? Candace? But that’s not my…You mean you haven’t been secretly falling in love with me? You haven’t noticed my contagious smile, my sense of humor, or my sky blue eyes? HAVE YOU SEEN MY SKY BLUE EYES??
And so, relieved – but a little offended – I went on to tell Preacher Man about what a wonderful girl my friend Candace was, but that I wasn’t in the business of match making, so if he were interested, he’d have to ask her out himself.
That settled that business, and we continued our walk around campus for another couple of hours, talking about school, families, RA stuff, faith, and well…just life.
And so – a friendship was born.
I actually decided to blog about our love story so that Bug, Bear, and other future potential children would have it in writing before Preacher Man and I get senile and started making up details. Because of that, I may well have it break it up into a few more different posts, if you don’t mind.
So are you dying to find out what happens next? Did Preacher Man marry Candace? Did I get fired as an RA because my girls went too far? Did Preacher Man stop hanging out in our dorm, and did the thermostat remain broken forever???
Can you handle not knowing?!
We are in full on train mode at our house right now. If it’s not Thomas, it’s Chuggington, and if it’s not one of those it’s any random choo-choo that thrills Bug’s heart. So when we found out that Thomas himself was going to be nearby and available for train rides, we were like Duh.
Bug and Bear both absolutely loved the entire event, and Preacher Man and I didn’t have too shabby of a time, either. Bug was so excited (and by “excited,” I mean cranky) that he threw himself on the floor in a fit as were ready to leave the house, but once he grasped that we were going to see a real train, his mood changed.
I’ve included this photo solely so you can see that Bear does in fact have his little leg fat rolls back! Yay for baby weight gain!
We hit up the petting zoo first thing, which was a big hit with Bug. He very loudly said, “HI CHICKLE!” to the poor chicken, and he tried to hug a goat. I think the goat secretly liked it.
Afterwards, we were all about hooking him up with a very manly looking Thomas tattoo. Bug still kisses (or as he says, “tiss”) it as I’m getting him ready in the mornings and usually insists that I kiss it, too. Yep, that’s my tough guy.
In typical Bug fashion, he sat quietly the entire train ride and just took it in. It wasn’t until we got back in the car on the way home that he started talking nonstop about the real choo-choo. He still wakes up every morning and tells us all about what seems to be his favorite day to date. Spending the day with Thomas was not something I ever thought I’d do before children. Then again, there are many things I never thought I’d do pre-kids. Like wipe a snotty nose with my shirt sleeve.
Thomas was way more fun.
Yesterday was the 8 year anniversary of the day Preacher Man asked me to be his girlfriend. I could’ve sworn that was just two or three years ago, but the calendar tells me otherwise. Eight years.
To celebrate, I thought I’d re-tell the story of how we came to fall in love and eventually get married. I never really finished our story last time (although really, the beauty of a love story is that there is never is really an end), so as we near our six year wedding anniversary, I thought it’d be fun to re-live those twitterpated days and months before we said, “I do.”
Without further ado, here is Part One of Our Great Love Story: I Never Wanted To Be a Minister’s Wife –
Preacher Man and I both attended and graduated from a small Christian college in Kentucky. So many things about the world of Christian college are absurd, not the least of which is that many young women go to these colleges to get their “MRS” degree.
See? There’s even a clever little name for the absurdities.
But me? I was different. I was going to get my Counseling/Psychology degree, and plow straight through to my Master’s in counseling. Then I’d work in a private counseling firm for a few years. In my plan, I’d meet the love of my life in my late 20s…we’d date for a bit, get married, and then have kids. Once we had children (when I was in my very late 20s or early 30s), I’d start a private practice out of my finished basement (that was a part of my very expensive home) – a la Jason Seaver.
This was my plan, and I pursued it with tenacity and stubbornness. This plan very purposefully excluded getting my “mrs.” degree and most especially excluded marriage to a minister. See, most of the guys at my small, Christian college were planning on going into ministry and to me, marriage to a minister meant this:
…having to keep my hair up in a bun, learning to play the piano, being required to be at the church every time the doors were opened, and having to learn to bake at least thirty different kinds of casseroles.
In college, my hair wasn’t long enough to put in a bun, I played guitar (but only in the solitude of my room or during section devos), and I struggled to boil water correctly. Minister’s wife-ery? Not for me.
Even worse was the thought of youth minister’s wife-ery. Most of the guys I knew who were majoring in youth ministry were basically big kids who wanted a job that meant they never had to grow up. They were the guys always breaking curfew, trying to sneak beer into their dorm room, and throwing water balloons from the top of the dorm. The thought of having to answer to elders or submitting to church leadership was nary a thought in their little self-obsessed brains. To them, youth ministry meant lots of pizza, a cool haircut, and finding a vague coorelation between the game “knock-out” and Jesus.
Just listening to those guys complain about the no earrings for guys and hair length rules got under my skin…much less marry and do ministry with any of ’em.
I can count on one hand the times that I saw Preacher Man my sophomore year of college (his freshman year). He was working in the cafeteria one Saturday morning. My thoughts? “Wow. That’s a lot of hair underneath that bandanna.” We had a class together second semester. My thoughts? “There’s the guy with all that hair.” During RA training week, we had to do these ridiculous team building exercises. One of them included getting several people to jump through a long jump rope at the same time. My thoughts? “No way is that guy fitting under that jump rope. He’s like eight feet tall.”
So you can see that Preacher Man didn’t make too much of an impression on me early on. And truth be told, I didn’t make too much of an impression on him, either. I can say with confidence that Preacher Man actually noticed me even less than I noticed him that year.
So how did we get from barely noticing one another to this?
Well, Bear needs to put down for a nap, and I have a million things to do around the house today, so the answer to that question will just have to wait for another post.
Bug: “Whatttt a deeeeer?’
Me: “You want a deer?”
Bug: “No. Whaatttt a deeeeer?”
Me: “What is a deer?”
Bug: “No! Whaattt a deeeeeeeer?”
Me: “What’s over there?”
Bug: “No. Whatttt a deeeer?”
Me: “What’s the deal?”
Bug: “No. Whattt a deeeeer!”
Me: “Waaaat a dare?”
…And as I’m typing this, he’s playing in Bear’s Baby Einstein Jumparoo. I should probably get him out of it, but it’s at least better than him trying to take every piece of clothing we own off of their hangers. You know, pick your battles and all that.
I know that you may not appreciate how cute he looks with sweet potato all over his face, but this photo takes my breath away at how much he resembles his Daddy. That’s one handsome baby, right ther.
So we found out a little over a week ago that at 7 months old, Bear was losing weight and weighed a mere 13 lbs. The doctor requested that I stop breast-feeding and begin putting him on formula to see if the issue was the breast milk. In the week since we started formula I made the decision that I would end breast-feeding. I knew that I could pump every couple of hours to maintain my supply that week, but the idea of doing so while taking care of my boys, the house, my business, AND during a week that Preacher Man had a student ministry trip….just overwhelmed me. I stopped popping Fenugreek like it was candy and pumped when I felt uncomfortable. At our weight check on Thursday, Bear weighed in at a whopping 14 lbs!
Fatty McButter Pants, that kid.
The pediatrician was pleased and said, “So the good news is that your son doesn’t have a metabolic issue, and the problem looks like it’s with your breast milk. Are you comfortable in continuing with formula?” I explained that I had already resigned my role as breast feeder, but that I had been pumping once a day since Bear was seven weeks old, and I had a freezer chest full of breast milk. “Is there any possible way that I can give that to him?” I asked. In my head however, I was saying, “We’re using that milk. Come heck or high water, that milk is not going to waste.”
The doctor hesitated and told me that he feels like Bear lost weight not because of a quantity of breast milk, but because of the quality. My milk just didn’t have enough calories in it. I’ve never actually heard of this happening before and I tend to be a skeptic, but you can’t argue with the fact that my supply was good enough to allow me to pump 2-5 ounces every day and yet Bear still lost weight. Or maybe you can argue with that. I don’t know, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.
So probably because my eyes were filling with tears as I imagined not being able to use the milk I’d pumped, the doctor acquiesced to letting me give Bear bottles that are half breast milk and half formula – on the condition that we do another weight check in two weeks. Because I really do care more about my sweet boy growing as he should than I do about using milk that may or may not be everything he needs, that’s a fair compromise to me.
And I can’t lie. On my way home from the doctor’s, I did in fact stop at Sonic and get a Reese’s blast. Seven months with nary a taste of dairy is tough, ya’ll!
Now you want one too, don’t you? Yeah, I can’t blame you.