It was a warm Phoenix evening in 1989. I had spent the last week being consoled by friends over breaking up with my boyfriend who I had dated for a year – my first real boyfriend. It was one of those mutual "see other people" decisions, but it was still hard. So I was at a JV football game, working the concession stand as the junior class did every year. I wandered out to talk with my friend Travis. He was sitting next to Mark. Mark had blown out his knee at the football game the week or so before so he was in a splint and crutches and looking pitiful. Somehow I turned into a waitress, hand delivering items from the concession stand.
Arriving back with a couple of Coke’s in my hand it was apparent that I had interrupted some sort of conversation. They admitted to talking about homecoming and then something was said about homecoming, the two of them and me and my best friend (as in arranging couples). I think I probably just stood there for a minute because I know I was thinking "Um, okay, well are they saying Travis would take me (which seemed like it would make sense as we had always kind of flirted) or Mark? They cleared up the confusion and I figured out it was Mark who was interested in me. (He hadn’t realized that S. and I had broken up as he’d been in the hospital all week.)
There’s nothing like a possible new love interest to help you over your grief right? I remember just sort of floating through the rest of the night. I didn’t know Mark really well but I sat in front of him in chapel all year…and the school only had 250 kids in it so you sort of knew everybody. But I knew enough to know that he was one of those "all american, apple pie, your mom will love" kind of boys. He was student body president, a wrestler, football player, honor society. All that jazz.
And so our courtship began – with him on crutches. I don’t think he could drive for about the first month that we dated. We’d go to pizza after football games, talk on the phone, we made plans for homecoming. I remember one Friday night after the game we had gone to Peter Piper. I figured this would be the night of our first kiss. Well for some reason I got sick and threw up in the bathroom. I think he probably still would have kissed me later but EWWWW gross!
It may seem silly to some but I knew within a couple of months that this was the man I was going to marry. When I said something about it at dinner my dad’s exact words were "Well don’t tell him that!" I think he figured Mark would freak out. Well I didn’t tell him right away, but it soon became apparent that he felt the same way.
We dated that whole year. Mark graduated and prepared to go off to Arkansas to college at JBU and I was left behind. We vowed to stick it out and do the long distance relationship thing. Now this was long before the days of email (unless you were in NASA) so we wrote good old fashioned letters. Every day almost. I have stacks and stacks of them still. I’m sure our kids will hoot and holler over them someday. He visited, I visited. We survived the year and the next fall I arrived at JBU too. (He later, like after we were married, told me that if I hadn’t come to JBU he was going to break up with me 🙂 Thanks honey!)
We were married on August 14, 1993 – halfway through college. Our first years of marriage were spent in a TINY married student apartment that had mice, but we had a great time building a life together – even if our meals consisted mainly of hamburger helper and mac and cheese.
13 years later I can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else. Yes, we’ve had our tough times. We’ve moved more times than I care to count. I’ve gone from being an Army wife, to a teacher’s wife to a pastor’s wife. He’s been there while I struggled through the darkness of depression and helped me come out the other side. He’s a man wholly devoted to God, an amazing father and the best friend I could ever have.
I love you honey. Happy Anniversary!