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When I was 19, I was in my senior year in high school. We did a senior play, and I was assigned one of the main parts. In the play I had a wife and we were an older couple. In one scene, when the curtains opened, we were sitting on a bench and my wife was praying a long prayer while we had our heads bowed. After awhile, during her prayer, I started peeking around and she kept praying. Finally, I was obviously looking around and absorbed in what I was seeing and stretching my neck to see more things. In the mean time she finished praying without me noticing. She asked me a question and had to repeat it twice before I noticed she was now talking to me. I remember I said, "Oh I didn't know whether you were talking to me or to the Lord"! That night Lavina was in the audience. I noticed it and it didn't seem like it would have been normal for her to be there. Shipshewana High School was out of the way for Woodlawn people. As I thought about it, I remembered at our youth hymn sings when my eyes traveled around looking for her face, sometimes her eyes met mine. Was there something different in those dark brown eyes? How could I know? I could hardly dare imagine such a thing.
It turned out that Mel Shetler, the one who knew everything about girls because he was the kind of guy who could talk to any of them, was the key to the turn-around. I don't remember why we talked about it, but it was he who suggested that Lavina would probably not say no if I would ask her for a date again. Do you know how it is to be half way to heaven, but still be afraid to go there because you're not quite sure the road will actually end there? But there seemed to be some affirmation in those eyes. When I finally got the nerve to ask, she said yes and that evening I could tell that things had changed for her..... and I stepped out of the desert!
From that day on we began seeing each other more regularly.... regularly meaning about every other Sunday night. We saw each other Wednesday nights and other Sundays as well, but we did not spend time with each other. That was not the way it was done. We just smiled meaningful smiles at each other. It was a while before I took her home every Sunday night. I was almost 21 when one Sunday evening we were at her house again. We were talking seriously about the future when I asked the thousand dollar question...... "Will you be my wife"? She never hesitated. She said, "Yes", like she had practiced it before. Did you know there is more than one heaven?
In our next dates we worked at planning our wedding and setting a time. In those days, the United States draft was still in effect and every young man who was in good health was required by law to give two years of service in some branch of the armed forces. I received my draft notice as did others my age. Because I believed the Bible teaches Christians should not engage in killing and warfare, I was permitted to fill out a "conscientious objector" form. Conscientious objectors were allowed to serve the country in some alternative way. I chose to work for two years at Saint Luke's Hospital in Denver, Colorado where my older brother, Al, was already serving. The draft notice required me to be at some place of service by a certain date. Therefore, plans were made for our wedding to take place March 14, 1964 and my time of service would begin April 6, 1964...three weeks and a few days after the wedding.
Well, March 14 finally came, and while God and she and I thought we belonged together before this already, it wasn't the same kind of together we knew after that day. (The Bible talks of a third heaven!) We got married on Saturday and spent a few days on a simple honeymoon, then lived for part of a week with my parents and part of a week with her parents before we headed for Denver, Colorado.
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All because of that little story, there were six children born, the youngest of whom became Mrs. Bethany Eicher with a blog called About My Father's Business! It truly is amazing how God writes each of our stories with all their different details. If you've never written your story down, I'd encourage you to do so! There is something very special about reviewing the details in the story God wrote about you and your spouse, and someday your children will thank you for preserving it for them.
That's the end of Story Time in June! A big thank you to my writers for sharing and thank you readers for reading along. I hope you enjoyed it!