In September of '94, I was invited to speak (along with my mother) at an EXCEL conference for young ladies in Dallas. Topics were etiquette and waiting on the Lord (if I remember correctly!). Honestly, if I could have looked ahead 14 years, the fact that I would have spoken to anyone on etiquette is a joke. You should see dinner time with 8 kids!
But during that conference, I shared for the first time a bit of what was becoming "our" story. I didn't know how it would end, of course, but I knew God was working and I shared with those girls what the Lord was teaching me.
The last evening we were there, my Daddy called. He was meeting with the Coach for breakfast the next day and was expecting to receive from him the answers to the following questions that he'd given him.
1. Has God called you to be married?
2. Is it God's time for you to be married?
3. Has God called you to marry my daughter?
But before he found out what the Coach's answers were, he wanted to talk to ME about some things. Did I believe the Coach was the one? Had I thought about what it would be like to live on the Coach's salary? Was I prepared to change my lifestyle and priorities to fit the Coach's?
And I didn't take them lightly.
Yeah, I was WAY attracted to the Coach. I mean, honestly. Have you seen him? I was completely impressed with his character and the way he had handled himself through our whole situation. But that was different than marrying him. Giving up my "spoiled baby girl" status for marriage to a hard working man who (if he continued to teach school) would never become "wealthy".
I'm so glad the Lord gave me the grace and the sense to see what really mattered to me at that moment. I knew that you could have all of the money and stuff in the world and be miserable. I knew that what I really wanted was a man who was following hard after God and loved me completely. I had seen the Coach's desire for the Lord. And his actions had said to me, "You're worth whatever it takes."
That was all I needed.
I gave Daddy my own "yes" to the possibility of courtship that night. And went to bed wondering what the next day would hold.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Early the next morning, after talking to my Daddy on the phone, my mother woke me up with the words, "You're courting!"
Apparently the Coach's answers to the three questions had been "As far as I know, yes."
So sitting in a hotel room in Dallas, on September 21st, 1994 (exactly 14 years ago), with the Coach 3 1/2 hours away and without even talking to him, the Coach began to win my heart and pursue developing a relationship with the purpose of marriage.
The Coach and I didn't talk at that time. I was in Dallas, he was at work. There weren't cell phones then that kept people in such close contact. We had to wait.
Later that day, we loaded up and drove home after the conference. The Coach had a game that night, so there was no chance of spending time with him (sounds strangely familiar - ha!), and I couldn't make it to the game.
So he called when he got home late that night.
Our first phone call that was more than just "Is your dad there?". We talked for about an hour. He told me about the game, about his week, I told him about Dallas. We talked about seeing each other on Saturday night for dinner with my family.
It was normal. And comfortable. And wonderful.
The next night he came to dinner with us and afterwards, I rode with him back to my house. First time in the car together alone! It was quiet for a moment and then comfortable, again. We laughed about it all. That being alone hadn't happened before and that it was such a big deal to ride back to my house together.
That night we had our first "real" conversation. We sat on the front porch and talked about all that had happened. He told me that we should purpose to honor the Lord in our relationship. That if God did bring us together, we should be committed to giving testimony to His faithfulness and be willing to tell others what God had done.
I'm sure there was a lot more we talked about, too. I'm pretty sure he told me how special I was. We talked about how comfortable it all seemed, even though we hadn't spent much time together.
Before he left that night, he asked me if we could pray together.
I remember going upstairs after he left and thinking, "I'd say yes right now, if he asked."