Of God, Mountains, and how I met {and married} my Husband, Part 6

We all have mountains in our lives. I’m sharing this story of how God brought me and my husband together–despite mountains of shyness, living in the boonies, and other challenges–to encourage you with this truth: Our God is a mountain mover. Today, after years of busy, contented singleness, we finally see some romantic action…

our love story

 

 Finally, that sacred day came. My parents seemed anxious for my siblings to get to bed, and I got the impression Dad had something up his sleeve. We’d just been to a civil war ball and every one was in high excitement, us sisters goofing off in our hoopskirts and remembering the fierce competition of the Nine Pin Dance. When the final bobby pin had been extracted from curly up-do’s and the last of my younger sister’s tired feet had tromped up the stairs to bed, Dad tilted his head toward the living room and told me to sit down.

And I heard the words I’d been waiting to hear for 22 years. “Someone has asked to court you.” Suddenly the air in the room seemed a little lighter and my breath felt shallow. This was it. I knew this was a moment I would remember the rest of my life. The yellow couch, the hoopskirts scattered on the wood floors, the kitchen light shining irreverently in my eyes—all of this was cemented in my mind because I knew my life would be different from this moment.

Now I should just give you a little background into some terms and definitions. I didn’t believe in casual dating. I felt if a guy and girl were going to spend focused, one-on-one time together, it should be with the purpose of deciding if they’d like to spend the rest of their life together. In the circles I grew up in, this was called courting. Now, I call it dating-with-a-purpose, or just dating, ‘cause we’re all a little tired of the word ‘courtship’.

That’s why some guy asking to court me was so significant—just this side of engagement, actually—because it meant he was seriously looking for a wife, and thought I might be ‘it’. This wasn’t just some guy asking to take me out to dinner. He wasn’t just window shopping. He was ready to see if I was the one.

And that brings us to the guy himself – who was he? I know y’all are thinking it’s Jeremy, or at least someone I knew and maybe even had a teensy, tiny crush on. You’d be wrong. He was a fellow from a sister church a few hours away who I’d seen maybe 3 times—I actually didn’t even know his last name.

Dad filled me in a bit on the guy—he’d been getting to get to know him a bit—then asked me what I thought. I looked from him to mom with a silly grin on my face. I felt honored, excited, but mostly I was just in shock. Dad told me it was entirely up to me if I wanted to get to know the guy. Then, ‘cause there wasn’t anything else to do, we went to bed.

Here I’d really like to fast-forward about 8 months and just say ‘We dated for a while, found we weren’t compatible, broke up, and moved on’, because that’s just what happened. But that would hardly do the story justice. You need to know that, with my no-nonsense view of the dating process, as soon as I felt the Lord’s go-ahead for the relationship, I was pretty much a goner. The relationship consumed me. I reveled in the idea that someone had finally chosen me, and that it looked like there would be a wedding in my near future, that someday soon I would become a wife and even a mother. All the dreams I’d cherished since girlhood were within my grasp. I was in love, and in love with being in love. Then, in one day, everything turned upside down. The Lord led me out of the relationship just as quickly and clearly as He’d led me in. It felt like a death.

When you grow up with a courting mindset, you begin to get the impression that if you follow all the rules, you’ll get to the altar safely without any of that yucky stuff like broken hearts. The pain I felt in the next few months was not just from losing someone I loved, but the destruction of a dream—an ideal, that I had built my life around. Slowly I came to realize that this was not the end of my life, but very likely the beginning of a much better story—one in which I understood that sometimes God’s plan includes a broken heart, and gearing your whole life to avoid pain is no way to live.

And so I entered my 23rd year with a bit of tenderness still around the scar, but a small trust in a God who’d kept me alive through the hardest life experience I’d had yet, and an even smaller hope that there was, indeed, a man out there for me.

Good thing I still had a little faith left, because this was the year Jeremy and I finally noticed each other.

Want to hear more about what I learned from my first relationship? I’ve written an article for YLCF about how I believe that there is no such thing as a failed courtship. You can find it here: Courtship–Dispelling the Myths.

Did you marry the first guy you ever dated? If not, what did you learn from the experience? Was there a time in your journey where you lost hope in ever finding a mate, or being found? Maybe you’re there now. From one who’s been through a deep valley on this journey, I just wanna tell you to keep hanging on. God’s writing a story with your life that you can trust—after all, He IS a best selling author.

God, Mountains, and How I Met My Husband, Part Fourth

So, I’ve been telling you about My Mountain. I told you about Tom, the pilot who use to buzz over our homestead every few weeks in the summer. And how one Sunday my family drove (without me) over an hour to visit his Church. Well, that day they met a family who would turn out to be life-long friends.

The R—- were one-in-a-million kind of friends. Not only were they willing to drive over an hour each way to visit us on the homestead and get to know us, they chose to do this most often in processing days, joyfully helping support our family’s farming venture.  Thankfully, our activities extended beyond plucking chickens to giant family sleep overs, celebrating Thanksgiving every year, and occasionally worshiping together.

Such was the case on a sunny Sunday in September. Mrs. R—- had heard about this wonderful, family-integrated church over an hour away and called my mom about it. We decided to rendezvous with our friends to visit this Church.

How nervous I might have been if I’d known this would be the day I would meet my future husband! I was nervous plenty as it was. Did I dress right? Would I fit in? Would anyone talk to me? Would we know the songs? You know – all those typical worries when visiting a new Church.

We walked in and immediately felt at home. It was a modern building with simple furnishings and plenty of sunlight.  The pastor greeted us and introduced some of his 7 children, including pointing out his eldest son, on stage tuning his guitar before worship. After dutifully shaking hands I glanced shyly around, relived to find it was nearly time to find seats and begin worship. As we filed into a row in front of our friends, I pointed out to my Mom that, for once, we weren’t the only ones in filling a whole row! The sanctuary was packed with many large families excited to be fellowshipping together on the Lord’s day.

The music began, which gave me a legitimate excuse to check out the worship team. In my defense, I will proclaim that I was not boy-crazy, but when you’re 19 it’s a good idea to at least glance around occasionally for eligible young men.  From what we knew about this fellowship and the pastor’s family already, I figured the pastor’s son scored pretty highly on the ‘eligible scale’. But, alas, upon scanning the stage, I realized he would never do.

He was short.

Oh, it all sounds so petty now, but back then, as an insecure, gawkily-proportioned girl of 19, I had figured out that the sure way to eventually feel like I fit in would be to marry someone taller than me. Not a ridiculous request, unless, at 5ft. 9in., you’re already taller than half the guys you know.

But there was another problem. He done something to his hair. It was an unnatural shade of black. I say ‘unnatural’ because his eyebrows were strawberry blonde. Yup. Totally disqualified. Dying one’s hair unnatural colors was so tacky, especially in a guy. I was sure this was an outward sign of extreme immaturity and shallowness of character. It was nice that he was a committed member of his family and church and all, but I was going to keep my distance from this dude.

Oh, that’s right.

I kept my distance from every guy. No wonder it was 6 years before we spoke to each other for the first time…

To be continued…

To catch up on the whole story, check out Part One, Part Two, and Part Three

What were your first impressions of your man?

Of God, Mountains, and How I Met My Husband, Part Third

I’ve told you about my mountain — that seeming impossible situation in my life, of moving to the wilderness in my teens and wondering how I’d ever meet any eligible young men. I also told you the beginning of how God began to move that mountain, pebble by pebble. Today I’m gonna add a bit more drama (or, as it may turn out, lack of drama) and tell you about a large cliff on the side of my mountain – a sheer, nearly un-scalable rock face we’re gonna call “The Wall”. The shadow of this Wall loomed threateningly over my future love life, filling the path with stumbling blocks, and the fissures with fear:


I was shy, people.

From a young age, painfully so. As I matured and my parents endeavored to teach me social skills, I learned to shake hands, make eye contact, even (oh, agony) introduce myself. By the time I was in my teens, it looked like I was over my shyness and well adjusted. But inside I was a twisted bunch of nerves, full of fear that I looked wrong, talked wrong, and wouldn’t be accepted. In groups or with anyone but close family and friends, I was the one on the outside, quietly looking in, watching, and hoping no one expected me to say anything.

{Those who know me now will probably think that this is where I decided to insert a bit of fiction to make my story better, for nowadays I’m usually the one in the center of the group, talking the loudest! I’m quite a different person now, and it had a lot to do with this journey}

That’s why when our new friend, Tom, invited us to visit his Church, I was content to stay home and play dolls and feed chickens.

OK, it wasn’t that bad. I guess I would have liked to go, a little bit. But it was my turn to babysit.

The chickens, not the dolls.

You see, just about a year into our homestead experience, despite our attempts to plan and save, our savings were running low, and though we still did not feel quite ready (the house wasn’t done, we didn’t have a driveway or any outbuildings), it was time to jump into some entrepreneurial endeavors. Having a close friend who knew Joel Salatin, we were introduced to the idea of raising grass-fed chickens. Two-thirds of our land was open meadow, and chickens didn’t seem like rocket science, so we dove in. My dad and brothers spent some time at Polyface farm and then came back to the homestead to turn it into a chicken farm.

That’s a story in itself right there, let me tell you. But for the sake of this story, I’ll skip over that to the summer I was 15, and the brooder house was full of 200 little peeping chicks who, at just a week old, needed almost hourly attention. The propane heater must be checked, feed trays filled, waterers unclogged, temperature adjusted — whenever my family went anywhere during brooding season, someone had to stay home with the chicks. This Sunday it was my turn.

And the thing was — I was OK with that. See, in addition to being shy and fearful of meeting new people, I also didn’t really care about growing up. Maybe I was afraid of that, too, and figured if I pretended I was younger it would delay the process? Who knows, but that Sunday, as my family piled into the suburban and spun through the mud down the driveway, leaving me alone in the middle of 150 acres for the whole day, I was giddy inside.


This meant I had the dollhouse all to myself.

All day, while my family met new friends and made pivotal connections with people that would bring us closer to meeting my future husband, I was sitting on my sister’s bed, playing happily with her dollhouse in between runs to the brooder to check on the chicks.

And STILL my God was able to find a man for me, and — eventually– get us to talk to each other, and then — but I’m getting ahead of myself. Next time I’ll tell you about the first time I set eyes on my future husband…

God, Mountains, and How I met my Husband, Part Second

Our God is a Mountain Mover, People. Here’s my personal testimony to that effect. Read Part First Here.

We’d been on the homestead for about two months now. We were still living in the tipi (it hadn’t blown away yet), while Dad and my brothers were busy every day learning how to get the horse to haul logs out of the woods with which to build our cabin.

One afternoon on a sunny day toward the end of May, we heard the sound of an engine – an airplane engine -  quite low – as if it was going to land! We ran out of the trees and into the meadow, scanning the horizon for the aircraft we were sure was about to ditch in our very back yard. And then we spotted it – coming out of the North East, low over the trees, a small, white plane with red stripes. It descended further as it cleared the trees and passed right over our heads!

And then it waved.

“They’ve found us!” We joked. Here we were, in the middle of nowhere, and someone had obviously sent a spy plane to search us out. We laughed, and wondered who the apparently friendly pilot could be, and how he had known that this little meadow was populated. The plane circled us a few more times, and waved its wings once more before zooming off over the next hill.

A few weeks later we enjoyed what to us, living without a phone and new to the area, was a regular occurrence – a random, surprise visit from a stranger. It was a man – looked to be in his mid 40′s (turns out he was only 13 – he was born on Leap Day) with the friendliest face and kindest eyes you’ve ever seen. Made you wanna smile just looking at him. And smile we did when we found out he was a mutual friend of an old acquaintance of our parents from 15 years ago – and, he owned a little white airplane with a red stripe.

Turns out that Tom (the pilot) had got a phone call from “R.K.” – an old friend of my parents from when they lived in Florida – asking him if he would come and check up on us. R.K. had heard about our apparent attempt to drop off the face of the earth, and was concerned. So, being the well-connected individual that she was, she called up a few of her friends that lived in Upstate NY and asked them to go see if the Baumans were still alive. Tom was one of those friends, and he only lived about an hour away. So one day, on a good day for flying, he took his plane in a southeasterly direction, following landmarks and rivers till he spotted a circle of white canvas – the tipi – and knew he had found the weird family R.K. was so concerned about.

Tom was a great guy – and it was neat, ’cause he was a believer, too. My parents enjoyed swapping memories of their mutual friend and bits of each others life stories. After that visit, the sight of the little red and white plane was to become a regular occurrence over the next few years, and we enjoyed the occasional visit with Tom and his wife.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – what does Tom have to do with anything? I thought Jeremy was going to be the one flying the plane!

Here’s the thing — Tom and his airplane were a pebble. One of the people or circumstances God used to eventually connect me with my future husband. It wasn’t till several years after I was married that I realized how all these little details and random acquaintances had lined up to bring Jeremy and I together. I had no idea when that plane flew over or when I met Tom, that this was the start of a journey. Sometimes you don’t know when you’re in the middle of a miracle until after it has occurred. 

Next…the chickens and a dollhouse. Two hundred Chickens.

Of God, Mountains, and How I Met My Husband

This is a great story. Full of random details that I (somehow) string together to create a tale. It’s got airplanes, chickens, a dollhouse, and some black hair dye.

OK, a lot of black hair dye.

Infact, too much black hair dye.

Alright, enough fan fare.

The reason I share this story is ’cause some of you may have a mountain in your life – an obstacle you can’t see around. Maybe it’s a handicap, maybe it’s something broken that can’t seem to be fixed, maybe it’s a dream that can’t seem to be fulfilled. Or a need that’s overwhelming.

I know what that’s like. And I know a God who moves mountains.  This story is to remind you that we have a God who moves mountains – sometimes in the most mysterious ways, and sometimes pebble by pebble.

When I was 13 my family moved from the suburbs of Raleigh, NC to the foothills of Central NY to live in a tipi in the middle of 200 acres of woods and meadows. Driven by their desire for a more family-oriented lifestyle, my parents made the decision for my dad to leave his job and see if we could ‘live off the land’.

This was a great time in my life – a real adventure! But as you can imagine, our ‘social life’ suffered a bit. We left a lot of wonderful friends back in NC, and we worked long hours on the homestead, leaving little time for socializing. We did form some great friendships with the small group of families we met with for worship and fellowship on Sundays, but it was a small group. We homechurched, homeschooled, homesteaded, and ran a homebusiness. All good things.

But.

I didn’t get out much.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not at all resentful about those years – as I said, they were a wonderful adventure and I have lots of great memories. I’m just trying to set the stage here. To introduce you to…The Mountain.

The Mountain of  “How in the World will I EVER find a Husband”? (also known as the Peak of “How will he EVER find Me?”)

Thankfully, I didn’t worry about this too much when I was 13. I was having too much fun climbing trees, growing my first garden, and learning how to spin wool into yarn. But in looking back, I realize what a miracle it was that I ever met any eligible young men, and that my husband ever found me. That’s the mountain I wanted to point out to you.

Now I’ll tell you how God moved it.

Are you ready? Here comes the airplane.

Zooming in quite low, actually.

To be continued…Read Part Second Here