This is Chapter 3 in our first "How We Met" story written by my friend, Tabitha.........
We wrote each other every week; fairly long letters about our everyday lives, our likes and dislikes and preferences, our families, our work. We wrote about God and the things we had learned in our spiritual lives, and asked each other lots of questions. Letter by letter, we began sharing our lives, and bit by bit, our hearts.
In October, a Canadian boy was marrying a girl from Ohio. And, since they had met at Faith Mission Home, dozens of people were heading from Virginia to Ohio for the wedding, and scores if not hundreds of people were coming from Canada to Ohio. All converging in Holmes County. Peter was coming too.
I atttended the wedding alone, and who should I see when I walked into the foyer but Peter. I bravely went over and talked to him, friendly and casual in case anyone was watching. Remember, this was still a "secret."
After the reception, Peter introduced me to his parents and his sister. Oddly enough, I hadn't been expecting this ordeal. Immediately afterwards I fled to the restroom and was mortified to see that my face was as brilliantly red as it felt. Just as I was bemoaning this embarrassment to a friend in the know, Peter's mom walked in! She smiled kindly and didn't act like she had seen or heard anything odd, though I knew she had to have caught on.
After the wedding, Peter and I went out for coffee, even though it was definitely before my New Year's deadline. We had a nice time. He came in and talked to my family for a bit and they seemed to approve. They had learned not to tease or push me -- I didn't like it. So they were cautiously positive.
But the secret wasn't secret any more. The news of our relationship did make quite a sensation, especially to those who knew us both. One of the girls from Peter's church who worked with me at FMH was excited about us as a couple, but, "where will they go to CHURCH?" It was certainly a conundrum. Another mutual friend just couldn't get over the fact that the two of us were actually dating, so to speak. But he was pleased. So far, no one was upset about it, at least!
When the FMHers met at our house on Monday to travel home together in the big maxi van, they were also happy and excited. And that was one of the hard moments for me. I still wasn't head-over-heels in love. In fact, I felt cautious, reserved, and in trial mode with this relationship. I tried not to let on how tentative I felt about it all, while not pretending to be too excited either.
But soon after that, we started calling. The first time Peter called, we talked for an hour. And I didn't do all the talking, either! I found myself looking forward to his phone calls.
We had a hard time in November. I was at a point where the relationship was more work than pleasure, and I admitted this to Peter one evening. The next time we talked, he admitted this had given him a hard weekend. But I wasn't ready to break up, and neither was he. Our willingness to slog through this tough time (and several others) is what saved our relationship. It could so easily have ended right there, if even one of us hadn't been willing to keep trying. But we knew this relationship had a chance, and if we just stuck it out . . .
As I grew to know Peter, I realized that every letter and phone call and revelation from him was a gift, just for me. He was entrusting me with himself, and I knew he didn't do that lightly. This was a precious thing he was doing, risking this kind of sharing with me in spite of my caution. And I knew, if we ever did get married, Peter would be more "mine" than an outgoing, transparent kind of man would ever be. This was the flip-side of his quietness -- it wasn't all a negative. Not at all.
At Christmas, I went home to spend the holiday with my family. And guess who else came for Christmas?
Indeed he did! He showed up with a lovely red rose (I still love single red roses). We had our first date at Olive Garden. He spent Christmas day with us, and it was-- good! Really. My fears had been unfounded once more.
My attraction to Peter was growing. I was becoming all right with the idea of falling in love with him.
He started visiting me at FMH. Once his best friend and his best friend's girlfriend came too, and the four of us drove over to another of their friends who was married and living about an hour from Mission Home. We had a hilarious time over Sunday dinner while the men reminisced about their school days, and we laughed until we almost cried.
I visited him in Canada in February, and was enthralled with the beautiful landscape, snow-covered under brilliant blue skies, bare trees lining the straight, white roads. He arranged a sleigh ride for me with his family, and an Amish neighbor took us on an sleigh wagon ride behind a team of horses, in the moonlit woods and fields of the farming country Peter grew up in.
That weekend I fell the rest of the way in love with Peter. After our date that weekend, I spent most of the night lying awake and reliving the evening, savoring every word and look and nuance and implication.
Our relationship after that was more "normal," if there is such a thing. We did have several more rough spots after that, the worst of those just before I left FMH for home in summer 2001. But by the grace of God and the patience of Peter we came through stronger in our love. We had some high spots too, the ones that make a relationship fun and rewarding, and that do their own bright work in strengthening love.
In September of 2001, Peter proposed and I said yes! We made plans for a spring wedding, slogged through all the paperwork required for him to cross the border to get married, and enjoyed being engaged! On a rainy April morning in 2002, we spoke our vows in front of hundreds of our loved ones. Twelve years later, we have two precious daughters, ages 9 and 7; a happy home; and a bouncy puppy. Today, we love and understand each other more deeply and fully than ever before.
Ours is a story of love grown through time and patience. For us, perhaps unlike other couples, the romance came after the work, not before. But we were willing to work for it because of our confidence that God was leading us this way. Today, it still takes work and romance to keep our marriage happy. We are in this for life, and God has given us far more than we could ask for.
Thank God He gave Peter the courage to send that first letter, nearly 14 years ago! Thank God He gave me the courage to say yes!
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Thank you so much for sharing, Tabitha!!! May God Bless you and Peter with many more years of work and romance and a happy marriage!!!!