How did you two meet? This is a common question asked of my husband and I when we meet someone for the first time. We both have our own versions of the story. Mine is filled with details and his is sweet and short. Let me preface this by saying that throughout my life details have always shown great depth in the power and hand of God in my life. Our story has distinct details and are not to be overlooked, but are there to show the Lord was present throughout. To this day Nathan is still unfolding his details in conversation and I am always shocked by the power of each new discovery. We both possess differing ways of storytelling, therefore, when telling our story, we will ask the recipient if they would like the short or long version and proceed as requested. After the short version is given I cringe because details are really the loveliest and most important part of our story. (Insert smirk in the direction of my husband here)
October 8, 2011 is the date we were married. We celebrated our 5 year anniversary this past year and I still have to pinch myself some days to believe it is so. Where did it all begin?
Nathan messaged me on Facebook, February 8, 2011 and stated that my friend Kim told him to ‘”friend” me. Of course my immediate thought, “who is this creeper?” (Insert phone call to Kim) Who is Nathan and why is he saying you told him we should be friends on Facebook? Kim: Oh, I met Nathan on Christian Mingle (an online dating website) and he was interested in me but after reading his profile I immediately felt God wanted you two to meet. He wrote in his profile something about wanting a partner who had a zest for life, and I just knew that was you! So, I wrote him and told him I felt God wanted you two to meet and to look you up on Facebook. Joanna, he lives 3 hrs away, so if he is a creeper, there is distance. (insert laughter)
Rewind one year previous, February 18, 2010, when I was in Northwest Arkansas preparing for my brothers funeral. I was riding in the backseat of my parents car and had just left a viewing at the funeral home. My parents had just received the death report and were discussing its contents in the front seat. As they spoke about the details on that report my world stopped and slowed in motion. I could feel a deep sense of confusion and loneliness and there in the backseat I felt the Lord speak to me. He reminded me of Job and the scripture where Job cries out, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job had just lost his family and in the midst of his pain he cried out to the Lord; showing his steadfastness to the Lord during the darkest time of his life. The Lord spoke in my moment of intense grief and promised me he would give to me even during the time where I felt the greatest loss. In this time I indeed felt my brother had been taken from me and in the darkest moment of my life felt so deeply saddened by this loss. Please know that throughout the months and years to come the one thing that remained deep in my heart was the understanding that God was for me. I kept this truth deep in me throughout the darkest days and nights and when no one could comfort me the Lord was ALWAYS there for me. The Lord promised me He would give. In the depths of my pain I held to His promise and let me just tell you how God’s amazing promise came about.
Let us now insert a detail that Nathan shared with me just the other day. Around the same time all of this was going on in my life, Nathan had just gone through a devastating divorce and had taken on the habit of dating often in an attempt to dull his pain. His best friend, who is not in nature a truth speaker, spoke up and told him that he needed to take a 1 year break from dating woman and focus on healing from his divorce. Nathan took his best friends advice and took a year off from dating to heal and focus on himself. His 1 year mark, February 2011 came and he began the search on Christian Mingle with a new understanding of what he wanted to find in a woman.
I finally accepted Nathan’s friend request with the understanding that if he was a creeper at least he was 3 hours away and there was “distance.” (insert chuckle here) God does have quite a sense of humor! So it began. I still have the Facebook messages from the early days. I read through them out load to Nathan just the other month and we chuckled. We were so forward in our attempts to know one another. We asked straightforward questions in our messages and got to the heart of knowing each other. I laugh now because when I read them it sounds like we were conducting a job interview. But in all seriousness, we were at the place in our personal lives where we knew what we wanted, were resolve in where we were in life, and didn’t want to deal with all the fluff of the dating scene. It’s apparent in our exchange of messages.
Kim continued to prod and finally pushed me to offer my phone number to Nathan, which had been requested at least 2x by this point. If anyone knows Nathan they will understand when I tell them he was shocked when he was able to speak with me hour after hour over the phone. I remember he would often comment on how he couldn’t believe he was still talking to me. (Yes, you may laugh here) He meant it in the nicest way. Nathan is what I have dubbed, The Stoic. His facial expressions are difficult to read and although he doesn’t think he has much to say, he talks quite a lot to me. It really was shocking the amount of hours we spent on the phone. We asked pointed questions about each others lives and got to the heart of one another. I could sense early on the depth of kindness he had for others and this was one thing that immediately caught my attention.
Our in depth conversations continued for 2 weeks. We finally got to the place where we wanted to meet one another face to face. Nathan set a day and made his way to my hometown of Duluth, MN. His plan was in place to come, Wednesday, February 23, 2011 and the Monday before he was to come visit he received a call for a job interview on the same day he was planning to be in town. At Nathans current job he had just experienced a drastic cut in hours. When we began talking, Nathan asked about some employers in the area and put in his resume for some jobs in my area. (I know, it sounds crazy, right!) Well, we met for the 1st time face to face at Wendy’s. (because you always meet creepers at a public place) We had an immediate connection and I don’t remember anything we said during that meal. It was a complete blur. The only thing I remember was the sweet gestures he made of reaching over the Wendy’s tray to put his hand over mine. As if to say, I approve. I do remember being stunned by his stoic expression. Something I had not anticipated. This was a new challenge for me. Immediately after our 1st date at Wendy’s he went to his interview and was offered the job on the spot!
When Nathan and I met up after his interview we ran to the grocery store and as we were walking past the Sun Drop pop display I mentioned to him that I had some friends that I wanted him to meet but I wasn’t sure how he wanted me to introduce him to them. He responded with, “You can tell them I am your boyfriend.” (insert chuckle here) Of course my snarky self said that I could only do that if he asked me out first. Who says that at the age of 26! Me! Ha! So, he took this very sweet moment in the middle of the grocery store to ask me to be his girlfriend. It was a memorable moment for both of us there next to the Sun Drop pop display. Of course, I said, “Yes!”
Remember, I told you in the very beginning the importance of details. I want to draw your attention to something that God showed me when I began dating Nathan. He first reminded me of His promise and then allowed me to come across the meaning of Nathan’s name. The meaning of Nathan means, “he (God) has given.” You know that moment when that feeling you get in your heart collides with the truth in your head. The spark! The ah ha moment! The goodness of God and His unfailing, unfathomable, unending love.