Wednesday, June 30, 2010

All We Need Is Love...And Ramen Noodles...

We returned from our honeymoon, full of love, optimism for the future, and poor with no place to live. Technically that's not completely true. We did have a place to live, but couldn't move in until the beginning of fall semester. Brent had another year of school left, so our plan was for him to attend school full-time while I worked full-time to support us.

So, we planned to return to our summer jobs, swallow our pride and live with Brent's parents until August. Not really ideal as newly weds, but, we would bite the bullet. Fortunately, a missionary couple from our church took pity on us and offered us an opportunity to live in their house for the summer while they were away in Morocco. Win, win situation for all! We graciously accepted their offer and made the arrangements to move into their gorgeous four bedroom home.

By day I continued my job at the bank, and by night I became the happy homemaker. Brent worked hard at his internship and choked down my atrocious meals with a smile. If the meal I set before him was unrecognizable (which was most often the case) he would sweetly inquire as to what we were having then chase mouthfuls of the cuisine with his beverage. I was a terrible cook, but he still praised my efforts.

The summer flew by and before we knew it, we were loading up trucks full of our newly acquired wedding gifts, mismatched furniture and random items we couldn't bear to part with. We said good-bye to our families and left Kansas City to start the beginning of our new life in Manhattan, Kansas. We had no idea what God had in store for us in that little basement apartment in the home of the "T" family...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Honeymoon, Or, 'Honey, What the Heck?'...

Someone wrote me and told me to continue the story. Okay, I confess it was my mom. And technically, she already knows the ending, but I'll indulge her...because she's my mom, and because sometimes she takes me out to lunch on her dime even if it was my idea.

So, let's continue shall we?

With the wedding over, we were so excited to begin our honeymoon. We were being magically whisked away to...wait for it...Arkansas. Come on, don't laugh! We were two poor college students and Arkansas was the furthest our bucks would take us! We booked a couple of bed and breakfasts, and planned a week of relaxation amongst the related citizens of Arkansas. Sorry. Couldn't resist. Missouri and Arkansas have a love/hate relationship. Sorry good people of Arkansas...please don't stop reading. I give you permission to take a cheap shot at me in my comments section.

We were particularly excited about the first bed and breakfast. In the pictures it was this quaint little place with gorgeous bedrooms, a continental breakfast served to our room, and a pool nestled among the trees. It was the perfect place for relaxation and romance.

We were a bit shocked to discover our little inn was not exactly depicted correctly on the brochure. At first we thought we had the wrong address. After checking the map, checking the address and doing a bit of comparing and circling the place a couple of times...we realized, we did indeed have the correct location.

The building was a bit...outdated. It looked like it's latest paint job occurred in the 80's. We drove around back and just happened upon the pool. It was above ground (and definitely NOT Olympic size), and I'm sure there was water in there somewhere beneath all the leaves. We decided to at least go inside and talk to the manager. We'll call him 'Frank'. We walked in and prepared to tell Frank we wanted to cancel, but he was the sweetest man. He said he had been looking forward to our arrival (I'm pretty sure we were the ONLY ones staying there) and that he had our room all ready for us. What could we say? We decided to at least go take a look.

All I can say is at least the decor was consistent with the 80's time period of the rest of the place. I'm pretty sure I hadn't seen those shades of peach, mauve and teal with accents of brass in quite some time.

The place was immaculately clean on the inside, so we thought we would at least stay one night, for Frank's sake. Frank excitedly showed us all the features of the room and before he left we asked him about the continental breakfast served to our room. "Oh!" he said, "Are you guys gonna love this!" He took us over to a little box about the size of a large mailbox attached to the wall of our room. He pulled on the handle to open the box. Inside it was lined with orange shag carpet with another small door that led to the outside of our room. Frank said, "Tomorrow morning I'll place your breakfast in the box, and when you're ready, you can just open the door on your side of the room and, VOILA!" Needless to say, he was quite proud of his invention. Brent and I stood there wide-eyed, with fake grins plastered on our faces, nodding in unison like a couple of bobble heads.

Frank finished up the tour, then let out a sigh and said, "Well then, I guess I'll just leave you two kids to it." And with that he left, closing the door to our room leaving us standing there staring after him.

We looked at each other and burst into laughter, deciding we HAD to stay there for at least one night purely for the insanity of it all! We changed clothes, went out to eat, walked around town a bit and then headed back for the night. There were a few sights we wanted to see in the morning, so having the continental breakfast would be so nice and such a time saver.

The next morning we awoke early and 'rock, paper, scissored' who would be the lucky one to check our box. I lost. I walked over, opened the door and inside, nestled in the shag carpet, were two Otis Spunkmeyer muffins, a couple of Lipton tea bags, a thermos of hot water and a couple of Styrofoam cups.

I don't know if it was the prepackaged muffins or the tea bags, or the look of it all among the shag, but we quickly decided breakfast 'out' was in order. We also decided it was time to move on. Good bye was fun while it lasted.

We spent the rest of our week hopping to a couple of different inns, taking long drives along the Ozark hills (which, I'll admit are gorgeous), and seeing the various sights. We spent a few fun days in Branson, then headed back home to embark on our new life as a married couple...with no permanent home to call our own...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Finale...

Day 7 Part Two...

June 16, 2001

Every little girl dreams of the perfect wedding. The dress. The shoes. The church and colors. Honestly, not really my forte. I have the design sense of a wet sponge. God just didn't bless me with a sense of style. So, I enlisted my girlie-girl mom for help. I told her what I liked and she went to work. She was a woman on a mission. She could have had her own reality t.v. show, the way she worked those vendors. The woman could work a hot glue gun like nobody's business. Frankly, she has impeccable taste that I simply did not inherit.

2001 was the height of Ebay, and my mom was the ebay queen. Every week I'd receive phone messages from my mom, "Hi sweetie! You'll never guess what I bid on and won for your wedding! Remember how you wanted tulle? Well, I just won like 5 bolts of it!" or "I just won a huge box of white Christmas lights! They will be perfect for the reception!" She was definitely in her element, and I was happy to oblige. We affectionately referred to our wedding as the 'Ebay wedding'.

We went dress shopping, cake tasting, poured over colors and samples. We Picked music, selected flowers and invitations and did everything on a budget. It was an exciting time. But, it didn't compare to the excitement Brent and I had anticipating becoming husband and wife.

The big day arrived and I was beyond excited to begin getting ready for the day. The day was gorgeous. I got ready at home with my family, taking all precautions to guard my dress from any accidents I was prone to. Then it was off to the church. Things moved along so quickly that before I knew it, it was time to walk down the aisle. Right before it was time, my dad pulled me aside and prayed for me, for us, and our future as husband and wife. The he kissed my forehead, lowered my veil and said, "Let's get this show on the road kiddo." and gave me a wink.

I waited with my dad and watched as one by one my bridesmaids walked down the aisle. My heart was pounding. Then, the doors swung wide and I heard the music begin to play softly. My dad took the first step and all I kept thinking was, "Don't trip, don't trip, don't trip." But, then I caught a glimpse of Brent waiting for me at the end of the aisle, and my thoughts changed. It was him. I think at that point a huge smile came over me and I just couldn't wait to get down that aisle. My dad placed my hand in Brent's. We looked at one another and whispered, "I love you." We exchanged vows and then rings, whispering "forever" before placing our rings on. We chose communion as our first act of marriage, and then our dads came forward to pray a blessing over us and our marriage. The pastor pronounced us husband and wife and then Brent turned to me and kissed me...

W. Y. M. M?...

Day 7...

Fall semester ushered in my senior year and Brent's 4th year in the architecture program (a five year program). This would be a critical year for both of us as we wrapped up our education and prepared for graduation. I was bogged down with deadlines and senior seminar, Brent was logging crazy hours in studio working on design projects.

Over the course of the last year-and-a-half, the landscape of our relationship had drastically changed. We went from friends, to dating, to talking about marriage. We came home from school more often to see each other and were really tired of being apart. The question of marriage no longer being an issue, we now tackled the decision of WHEN to get married. Do we wait until both of us graduate? Do we get married after I graduate and then move to Manhattan, KS until Brent finished? Do we wait altogether until graduation AND jobs?

We decided waiting just wasn't an option. We would get married the summer after I graduated. The sooner we were together, the better. We weren't engaged yet. We wanted to do it the right way, which meant saving money, asking parents for permission and the planning of a romantic surprise...all of which fell on Brent's shoulders.

I have to admit. I don't really envy guys when it comes to the proposal process. Rings are pricey, dad's are brutal, and then you have to plan the moment to remember. I would say those are all stress-worthy events. Add on top of that crazy architecture hours and you have the ingredients for an ulcer.

Brent was a man on a mission. He played "Mr. Sneaky" and went to Kansas City one weekend to talk to my dad. They had a heart to heart, and Brent layed out everything for my dad regarding his intentions. By the end of the conversation, my dad had given Brent his blessing. One element down, two to go.

Next, Brent did a little shopping. He enlisted my mom's help and together they picked out the perfect ring on a modest budget. One piece left.

Planning "The Moment". I have to give my guy a lot of credit. He is king of planning romantic moments. He's resourceful, sentimental, and does his homework. This time his plan was to create a moment neither of us would ever forget, using pieces and memories from our courtship.

He spent weekends in his grandpa's workshop building a box from wood that would hold mementos from our courtship and 'the ring'. He enlisted my parents help in getting me to come home for the weekend under the premise of 'yearly family portrait time' so he could surprise me.

Saturday arrived, and I spent the morning with my family, posing and experiencing the pain and torture otherwise known as family picture time. Everyone in coordinating outfits, posing in fall foliage, sitting on logs, and smiling until our cheeks hurt. Never been a fan. STILL not a fan. But that's what counseling is for, so I won't bore you with those details.

After family torture...I picture time, Brent and I had agreed to meet up later that evening. He picked me up and suggested we head to our favorite park near the Plaza area.

It was a perfect fall evening, so we decided to take a walk. Brent grabbed a blanket from his car and we walked until we scouted out the perfect tree. We spread out the blanket and it was then that I noticed Brent had a wooden box the size of a large encyclopedia in his hand beneath the blanket. I looked at him and said, "Where'd you get that?!" He smiled and said "It's for you." I laughed and placed the box in my lap.

I lifted the lid of the box and noticed that on the underside, he had engraved our initials by hand. The box was filled with all kinds of items that reminded us of our courtship. Favorite books, church bulletins from events we had attended together, packs of gum, toilet paper (um...can you guess what THAT was supposed to remind me of?) pages from his journal while he was praying about our relationship and more.

Inside the box was a story. A story Brent wrote about a man searching for the woman God had created just for him. And with that story and this reading, he proposed:

'His love for her soon sends him to his knees. "God, I am completely in love with one of your children. She is the love of my life and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. Test my heart oh God; show me your will. She is the most beautiful of your creation and I want to serve her in any way you allow. And if it is your will, unite us in marriage." '

Brent continued reading, and by the end of the story, there was no question in my mind what he was going to ask. He got down on one knee, with tears in his eyes and asked, "Nik, will you be my wife?" I looked down and in a small cut out in the bottom of the box there was the ring.

This was the moment I had prayed for and searched God for. Blindly praying years before for a future husband I didn't know, and trusting God that there was someone he had created just for me. And through my tears I said, "Yes."

To be continued...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You're The One...

Day 6 Part 3...

I just might make my deadline. Tomorrow is the big day and we're getting close friends. Let's get to it...

First semester flew by, second semester was well under way and we were getting the swing of this long-distance-relationship thing. We e-mailed devotions to one another, sent letters and had our evening phone call routine. We couldn't wait to reconnect in the summer.

Summer arrived and it was as though we were never apart. We frequented our old haunts, spent time with each other's families and were eager to simply spend time together.

We really enjoyed hanging out with our married friends Chris and Dawn, so we were so excited when they suggested a double-date to a Royal's game. During the seventh inning stretch, Brent suggested we grab a hot dog. I welcomed the chance to stretch my legs, and admittedly I'm not much on baseball. I go for the socialization and the hot dogs. I know, very un-American of me.

On our way to the concession stand, Brent grabbed my hand and slowed me down a bit. I was a woman on a mission and wanted to grab that hot dog before the line got too long. I could tell something was on his mind. "Don't you want to get a hot dog?" He said, "Um, I'm not sure." I paused, "Oh. Do you want a polish sausage or pizza instead? I'm okay with nachos too. Did you see that giant cotton candy that lady had?!"

"Actually, I need to tell you something." He had a serious look on his face and it didn't look like he was deciding between hot dogs or pizza. He pulled me out of the concession line and we began walking. I gave one last longing glance toward the line of people piling on their condiments. So long stadium food...I'll miss you.

Brent grabbed both of my hands and said firmly, "You're the one." I know I must have had a dumbfounded look on my face (I tend to get that way) because he repeated, "You're the one. I've been praying for a long time, and I know that you're the one I want to marry. I'm sitting there next to Chris and Dawn seeing how happy they are spending their lives together and I know, that I want that with you." Tears welled up in my eyes as I realized that he was verbalizing what I had been feeling and praying about for the last year. I was in love with him. I wanted to spend my life with him as well. I finally spoke and said, "I feel the same way. I see myself spending my life with you." We hugged and then he said, "Just to clarify, I'm not proposing. I'm just making my intentions clear. I would never propose without speaking with your parents. I just wanted to make sure that we were both ready to move forward.

I was so excited about this new chapter in our relationship. The hot dog could wait...

To be continued...

I told you so...

Day 6 Part Two...

We spent what was left of our Summer hanging out together as well as with our circle of friends. Of course, we endured a LOT of "I told you so's" once the word got out that we were an official 'item'. But, that was okay. Summer drew to a close far more quickly than either of us anticipated and we packed up our cars in preparation of heading back to school.

I had to head back a bit early since the campus ministry I was a part of had it's big back to school kick-off to welcome the incoming freshman. Brent was sweet enough to come see me off. We had grown much closer toward the end of summer and neither of us were looking forward to being apart for the semester. We said our good-byes and promised to e-mail and call often. And then I drove off...

I didn't know what to expect. Would we last? Would distance make our hearts grow fonder? Would we grow apart? This was the crucial part of developing our relationship; developing our relationship with the Lord while we were apart, pursuing one another, and letting God take control while waiting on HIM and HIS timing...

To be continued...


Day 6 Part One...

"So, there's something I've been wanting to talk to you about..." I immediately got nervous. I just knew he was going to say, "You're a really great friend, I just want to make sure there's no misunderstanding here. You understand we're just friends right?" Of course. I mean I set the dating. It was my own fault for not keeping my feelings in check. Shame on me for reading into things.

Instead I heard, "I've been praying a lot lately. I've really enjoyed hanging out with you and getting to know you. I don't know if you feel the same way, but I'd really like to date you with the intention of seeing if we are meant for each other." I think at that point the shock wore off and I said something profound like, "I agree." And then he said more, "I know you've been pursuing God as a single, so I was just concerned that a relationship would cloud that. I want to make sure that we are putting God first as we are seeking HIS will for us."

Us. U-S. US. I went from a single, with a chip on her shoulder regarding relationships, to 'us'. I spent a full-year before meeting Brent telling God my plans and spelling out for HIM what I would or wouldn't do. I spent more time building a wall, thinking I was doing what HE wanted me to do. Over the course of a couple of months, HE tore down my wall brick by brick by establishing an unlikely friendship and growing it into the beginnings of a courtship.

We spent the better part of an hour establishing boundaries for our new relationship. First up, physical boundaries. We made a decision to not kiss until engagement. We didn't see anything wrong with kissing per se, we just wanted to make sure that a physical relationship didn't interfere with the importance of getting to know one another as potential spouses. We also didn't want to dive into that kind of temptation. Once you go too far it's hard to go back. We felt like if we removed the temptation all together there was no guilt interfering with our courtship. We wanted to honor God first and foremost. It goes back to the verse in Song of Solomon, we didn't want to awaken desires for intimacy that were meant for the marriage relationship. If God's desire was not for us to marry, we didn't want to take anything away from our future spouses.
Second, we decided since we were dating in pursuit of marriage, we would be exclusive.
We also discussed what our relationship would look like since we would be long distance once returning to our respective universities in the fall. We decided this would actually be a great test at growing our relationship.

With those things in mind we prayed together before parting for the evening...

To be continued...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Wedding...

Day 5...

Okay, I'm getting a little behind here. I've got two days to wrap up this romance before the big 9! So, let's get started shall we?... If you've just started following click HERE to start the story from the beginning...

He didn't propose after coffee. We weren't even dating yet. As a matter of fact, I spent an enormous amount of energy answering our friend's questions about our 'relationship'. "Did you guys have the DTR talk?" I was working overtime, reminding everyone that Brent and I were just friends there was no, 'DTR' there was nothing to define. This brought much laughter and the, 'Yeah right.' Response time and again.

Even the youth summer staff were giving me a hard time. Remember 6th grade Chris? He and his fiancée, Dawn, were on staff for the summer and we all became great friends. He and another guy (also Chris) were adamant that by he end of the summer Brent and I would be dating and by the end of college we would be married. Whatever. At least he wasn't yelling out out of bus windows. Secretly, I hoped 'The Chris's' were right. I kissed dating good-bye was quickly losing its grip on my will-power. On the outside I was all, "I'm not dating! I'm the evangelical nun. I have the emotional will-power of a donkey! " On the inside I was hoping he'd call again.

He did. He wanted to know if I planned on going to Chris and Dawn's wedding. I told him yes, and then he mentioned he was an usher and he would try to find me. And then it was a casual, "Well, then I'll see you there!" Thank the Lord it was a phone call and he couldn't see me sweating. What is it with this guy and my overactive sweat glands?

The big day arrived and I casually stood in line with the other wedding guests waiting to be escorted to their seats. And when I say casually, I mean heart racing, sweaty palms and stutter just waiting to kick into high gear. I somewhat noticed that Brent and the other ushers were clipping along at a quick pace to seat the guests. They had their timing down perfect so when I arrived at the entrance, Brent was booking it back and then slowed just in time to greet me. Hmmmmm...PERFECT timing. Little did I know it was all worked out amongst the ushers in advance so Brent could escort me. I like resourcefulness in a guy.

Brent offered me his arm and walked me to the pew where a few of my friends were seated. Then he whispered, "I'll see you later." And I died a little.

After the ceremony, Brent found me at the reception. We chatted with our friends and as things started winding down he asked if I had plans later. I mentioned just going home, but he said, "What if we got changed and hung out?" I said sure and he said, "It's a date!" And then I heard the screeching tires and breaks squealing in my head. Did he say, "date?!" Ummmm...that was a technical term. That meant one on one. That meant guy vs. girl. Next was 'DTR'! Whoa Nellie!

I let things sink in a bit...and then I IS a date. He's a great guy and he's already assured me he doesn't believe in recreational dating either. We enjoy each other's company. This is a great opportunity to see more of what he's about. This is exciting, not something to fear.

He picked me up an hour later and we eased into our familiar conversation. We shared about our quiet times, what God was teaching each of us, and future plans. We drove around for a while, hitting some of our favorite pit-stops...Loose Park, the Plaza, and a favorite gas station for sodas. I needed to make a, uh, pit-stop of my own. I truly hate public restrooms. I'm not like Britney Spears, trying to rack up frequent visit miles. I avoid them at all costs.

So, you can imagine my hysteria when I went in and realized a bit too late that there was no....toilet paper. Oh man. This was not good. The rest room was completely OUT! Aren't attendants supposed to keep the dispenser filled...isn't that why they have the little sign on the back of the door stating how long it's been since there was a restroom check? Come on people! You're setting me up for failure! This is new territory. We're not at this stage yet. I just accepted this whole date thing. Please don't let me have this moment on my first date! Please, oh please! There was no getting around this. I had to humble myself. So, I did what I had to do.

I asked. That's right. I pressed my beet-red face through the crack in the door, apologizing profusely, and asked my crush for T.P. He sweetly obliged, not even batting an eye. I was mortified on many levels. And then I braced myself that our lovely evening would now be coming to an end. I just knew he was going to say how tired he was and that we should call it a night. No more phone calls. No more hanging out with our friends. Buh-bye. But, instead he said, "Would it be okay if we drove around a little longer? Or would you like to go to the coffee shop or something?" Really? Are you kidding me? I just asked you for toilet paper on our first date and you don't want to throw in the towel?

So, we got back in the car and as we pulled away he said, "There's something I've been wanting to talk to you about..."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Do You Bowl?...

Day 4...

I'm not very athletic. To put it frankly, I'm a klutz. I trip up the stairs and over cracks in the sidewalk. I bump into tables and walls, not to mention knocking my head on inanimate objects. Don't ask me to bring you a cup of will spill upon arrival. I'm just not graceful. So, when the pastor announced from the pulpit the following Sunday that there would be a young singles bowling outing, I sort of shivered at the thought. I quickly decided I would not go. The idea of bowling in front of the other young singles from church didn't really sit well. I could envision myself, poised with 5lb. bowling ball in hand and, upon releasing it, slipping on the oiled alley and falling for the amusement of all. Yeah, not happening.

So, when Brent asked, "Do you bowl?" I sort of panicked. ', not really.' I explained my tendency to fall unprovoked, but that didn't seem to phase him. 'Just come with us, it will be fun." So, I agreed. Begrudgingly.

Friday arrived, and after a full day of trouble-shooting bank statements with customers, I was beat and decided a night at home was in order. I called a few friends and let them know my change of plans, then threw on my grubbiest t-shirt, washed my face and planned to eat dinner and watch movies with my grandparents (they were sweet to let me crash with them for the summer, since they were close to my work and the church).

The phone rang and my grandma handed it to me, whispering with a slight smile, 'It's for's a boy!' I sort of grinned and rolled my eyes and took the phone. "Hey Nikki, it's Brent..." My heart pounded out of my chest and my stutter returned. " are you?" "Good, but I heard you're not coming tonight?" "Yeah," I said, "I'm so tired and had a rough day. I thought I'd hang out here tonight."

There was a long pause, and then, "Well, I'm not really interested in going either. You wanna go to a coffee shop, or go hang out somewhere?" I told myself this is NOT a date. Two people can get coffee. No big deal. We're just friends. So I said, "Sure. But, I'll warn you. I don't have on any make-up, my hair is in a ponytail, and I'm not dressing up." Without hesitation Brent said, "fine by me! I'll pick you up in 20 minutes."

My grandma tried to convince me to get 'dolled-up' but I reminded her it wasn't a date and Brent didn't care what I looked like. I did agree to at least change out of my holey Northwest tee and put on something a bit more presentable and add a 'touch' of blush...all just to appease my sweet g-ma.

Exactly twenty minutes later we found ourselves walking around Barnes and Noble on the Plaza in KC. I don't exactly remember every detail from our conversation, but I can tell you there was a lot of laughing, and we pretty much covered the gamut of life topics. He was easy to talk to and I knew I had gained a great friendship. We moved on to Latte Land (yep...real place) and drank our coffee and talked until they gave us the boot.

He took me home and before I got out of the car he said, "Now, wasn't that better than going to bed at 8:00?" I agreed, and thanked him for letting me tag along. He walked me to my grandparents front porch (even after I adamantly insisted it wasn't necessary...). He walked back to his car and I gave him the 'thanks for a great time' wave and then, I tripped...

To be continued...

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Day 3...
If you're just now tuning in, start HERE.

I was so grateful for the summer break from college. Sophomore year was an emotional roller coaster. I had over-extended myself in ministry, struggled with feelings, was stressed to the max and ready for a change of scenery far away from campus. Incidentally, I was more than ready to go back to the summer job waiting for me year after year at a bank in KC. I was also totally pumped about a spur-of-the moment decision to help out with the youth group at the church I grew up in. I hadn't been back in years and there was a new youth pastor making some exciting changes. I was thrilled when he and his wife welcomed me to join the staff of about four other young singles for the summer.

I was bringing a bit more baggage home than just piles of laundry and old text books. I had sworn off guys, dating, flirting, and anything that had to do with the pursuit of marriage. I was DONE. It was all too much of a hassle and I was tired of the chase. I read 'I Kissed Dating Good-Bye' and thought the author had the right idea. Build friendships, get to know the opposite sex, but don't pursue 'recreational dating'. My parents thought I was being a bit extreme, but were supportive.

So, armed with my new relationship philosophy, I marched right into church that first Sunday morning, sat down and ignored every single guy who sat in the pews of the 'college section.' My plan was to scoot out of the service ASAP once the final hymn was sung. Before I could make my escape, a few of the adults grabbed me and we spent time catching up on lost years and debriefing on how my parents were doing. We said our good-byes and I started to head out, when I heard a familiar voice: "Nikki?" It was Brent. And, he was still cute. He extended his hand for a handshake and I extended my very sweaty palm to him. "How are you?" I'm pretty sure that by that point every other word out of my mouth was a stutter, but he seemed to ignore it. We chatted, got caught up on each others lives and didn't notice that the church had emptied long before. He was just as easy as ever to talk to. He expressed that we should get a group together to hang out. I think I said, "uh-huh." I was eloquent like that.

We said our good-byes, and got in our respective cars. I sat in my un-air conditioned car for a moment after he drove away and reminded myself that dating was not allowed. So what if he was super nice and polite. Forget the fact that he was pursuing God fervently. Stop checking his qualities against your 'husband list' and noting he was a match. No boys, no dating, no connections. I had, 'kissed dating good-bye'...

yep...there's still more...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Day 2...

I'm already a little behind on the two, beautiful products of nine years of marital bliss are choosing today to tag-team me with tantrums, messes, and over-kill in the fighting department. Today necessitated motherly intervention. Did I mention how much I absolutely adore them?


I was 10. So was he. I had a bad home perm and purple glasses. He wore his hair in a side-spike and was quiet. We met during children's church. He was one of only 3 other kids in my age group...all boys. I would say I had first pick, but that's not really the truth. I still thought boys were gross and his first love was Topps baseball cards. Romance wasn't on either of our minds or hearts.

We became friends and so did our families.

By sixth grade I secretly didn't think boys were so gross. Especially Mr. Jackson. But, there were other girls who didn't think he was gross either, so I kept my feelings to myself. I quietly listened to the other girls talk about how cute he was and decided I didn't have a chance. I will admit I had a moment one evening that I felt compelled to pray for Brent...I actually prayed that God would let me marry him.

It turns out he was keeping his feelings to himself too. Summer camp came along and we had lots of opportunities to hang out with our friends and get to know each other better. Bible quizzing, team-building games, Foosball, volleyball. I suppose I detected a hint of interest, but, was again spooked off by all the girls proclamations of, 'oh, he's so cute, and so nice!' Girls talk. But, apparently so do guys. Brent confided in his friend Chris. On our last day of camp, apparently Chris couldn't take the pressure of keeping the secret, and as 6th grade boys often do, chose to proclaim the secret for all to hear while we loaded buses to head home. It went something like this: "BRENT JACKSON LOVES NIKKI MCNALLY!!!!!" Followed by raucous laughter. Fortunately for Brent, I tend to be completely oblivious to my surroundings and didn't hear a thing (still am...he will point that out until the day he dies).

So, we travelled on through Jr. High and High school, each going our separate ways. My family moved to another town and consequently changed churches. We dated other people ran in different circles and ultimately forgot about one another. I even forgot about the prayer request years before.

He and his family came to my high school graduation party, and we politely exchanged congratulations on entering a new life chapter. And that was that. We went to universities four hours apart, got involved in campus activities and moved on with the life directions God had for each of us. I honestly didn't expect to reconnect with Mr. Jackson.

All that changed the summer of 1999...

The story continues HERE.


This isn't how many pairs of shoes I have (far less), or how many cars I've owned, or number of jobs I've held. It isn't the number of fabulous cities I've lived in or how many tacos I can eat(although pretty close). I like tacos.

In T minus seven days and counting, I will CELEBRATE nine years of marriage to Mr. Jackson. I feel like nine years is a huge accomplishment compared to Hollywood standards. Heck...being married nine years is like being married 20! Or 63 in dog years!

I've made lots of decisions during the long trek to adulthood. Which high school to attend, college, switching majors, places to live, ministries to serve, jobs, buying a house,...marrying Brent was the best adult decision I ever made. Or maybe better put, it's my favorite adult decision I've ever made!

It wasn't difficult. I had 'The List' that I'd created one afternoon in my dorm room. It contained all the qualities that I wanted my future husband to have. I prayed over this list, and even checked it against God's standards. I didn't want this to be some idealistic, dreamed-up standard that no man could reach. I also didn't want it to become an idol that clouded my judgement of what God had, or didn't have for me. I was often reminded of Song of Solomon 2:7:

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

Once I wrote this down, I felt like I could release it to God, and put it away until a time of HIS choosing...which meant I had to accept that it might never happen. My contentment was in HIM and would rest there whether or not God gave me a husband in this world.

The funny thing is, I didn't realize that I had met my husband 20 years earlier. I knew who he was, where he lived, who his parents were, and what school he went to. We attended summer camps and saw each other every Wednesday and Sunday at church. I never would have imagined then, that I was looking into my husband's eyes; that I actually knew the person I had been blindly praying for all along.

I don't believe myself to be a hopeless romantic. I'm probably more accurately described as a skeptic. Or sarcastic. I laugh at chick flicks. There, I said it. Actually, all the odds were stacked against Mr. Jackson because I was riding on the coattails of 'I Kissed Dating Good-Bye.' No boys, no dating, no flirting. Buh-bye. He had his work cut out for him. But, he had his sunny-disposition, winning smile, love for Jesus and gentlemanly manners going for him. It was a simple handshake and hello on a Sunday morning.

Wanna keep going? Go HERE...