learning to pray out loud

Learning to Pray Out Loud

It was a long hard morning at our home. From the first step out of bed, our children were in rare form. I contemplated sending them back to bed. I contemplated hiding in my closet until everything blew over. I even contemplated jumping into the car and just driving far, far away.

Instead, I faced off with them. I am, after all, their mother.

When afternoon came, we still weren’t done, but I had to be someplace. My husband tag-teamed with me and sent me off. I breathed a sigh of relief when I got in the car, but it only lasted a minute. Discouragement settled on my shoulders. Maybe we were wrong about being able to parent adopted children. What if all the knowledge and love and prayer in the world wasn’t enough to help a traumatized child heal? What would we do?

I put the car into drive and started down the hill to Curt and Delite’s house.

All my life I’ve known Curt and Delite Christman. They did, after all, meet at my parent’s wedding. I’ve heard the story since I was knee-high. How Curt grew up with my dad and Delite grew up with my mom and when my parents married on the beach at Beaver Camp, they met. They weren’t interested in each other, oh, my no, but they kept meeting up while visiting the newlyweds and there might have been a little matchmaking and well, now they have thirty-some years of marriage and four kids under their belts and are wracking up the grandchildren rapidly.

I’ve spent most of my adult life living near them and they have poured into me– so many prayers, and prophecies, and faith. When I’ve gone through losing babies and losing hope, they’ve stood in the gap for me and spoken truth over me. Even when I could hardly breathe, and when my tears knotted up my throat, and when I lay curled on their couch in agony.

Curt & Delite with Carl & Lois
Curt & Delite with Carl & Lois

Almost three years ago they brought Curt’s parents home to live with them. Carl was in his 90’s and he and his wife couldn’t live alone any longer. As the years passed and dementia and age settled in, the weight of caring for them got heavier.

Periodically, Delite would call me to do respite care, which was why I was headed there on that particular afternoon.

Carl was having a bad day when I got there. At lunchtime he couldn’t remember how to use his silverware and what he was supposed to do with the food once it reached his mouth. With his wife’s constant encouragement we finally succeeded in finishing lunch and moving back to the living room.

When they were settled with the Gaithers playing in the background, I pulled out a pile of book work that needed my attention.

It was then that it started. Carl was looking out the window, then glanced over at me. His eyebrows raised and a flash of confusion slipped across his face. I was waiting for the question, “Who are you?” or for him to turn to his wife and say, “We’d better head home now.” Instead, he just tilted his head and began praying.

“Oh, Lord, I pray for this lady and her family. Comfort them. Help them be faithful to You. Be near to their family. I pray that You will give them wisdom and strength. Let their children grow up to serve You, Jesus. Show them how much you love them. Let this be a family who knows You. ”

On and on and on. Two and a half hours of prayers.

Did you read that? Two and a half hours of prayers. 

I cried as I sat there. Leaned my head right back against the sofa, closed my eyes, and let the prayers wash Living Water all through me.

God’s gentleness is so great, is it not?

I went home that evening refreshed and renewed. I also went home with a new prayer on my lips.

Oh, Father, teach me to pray out loud. Teach me to be so sensitive to the Spirit’s leading that even if someday I am old, with dementia stealing my memory, filling me with confusion, I will still be used by You to display Your love and grace to the world.

I’m practicing it now, with these sometimes-difficult but always-beautiful children of mine. Well, we’re actually doing it together. I told them about Carl’s prayers and what God was teaching me and then I started praying over them. When they’re struggling to obey, we stop and I pray out loud over them. When they are fighting, we stop and pray out loud together. When we’re happy and giggling and enjoying life, I thank the Lord out loud with them.

And then, oh then. 

The day came when I was the one struggling deeply. It had been a week of inward battles that were finally leaching their way to the surface. My husband and I talked intensely. I cried profusely. The kids looked petrified because usually Mommy and Daddy are in agreement but this time Mommy was crying and saying, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m just sorry.”

And suddenly my daughter was beside me, laying a gentle hand on my arm. “Mom, I feel like God wants me to do something.”

I looked at her and waited.

“I was downstairs and I heard you and knew you were upset and well, I just. I think God told me to come pray for you.”

So she did. She laid her ten-year-old hands on my arm, and spoke strong and loud and bright.

As peace settled in my heart, I wanted to thank Carl again. Tell him how grateful I was for the lessons he taught me. For the lessons he has taught my children, my family. It saddened me that he couldn’t understand anymore, couldn’t remember.

But he can now. He moved on to heaven just a short time ago. I know the Jesus he served was standing at the right hand of the Father to welcome him home. And I’m pretty sure at some point in eternity, he’ll get the chance to truly grasp how thankful I am that he allowed the Lord to work through him. That he learned to pray out loud– and therefore, live Jesus to those near him.

The apostle Paul once said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” And I thank our good, good Father for providing me with those who have modeled following Jesus for me.

May I now be faithful, that the generations coming behind might also know the Living Water.

 

 

When God Brought Me You: Introverts, Elevators, and the Girl Who Couldn’t Get a Coffee Date (part 6)

when God brought me you - 6

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

We had two wedding dates available if we wanted to marry before the next summer, one three months away and one five months away. We discussed the pros and cons of each.

“What would it really change if we waited five months?” he asked me.

I looked at him and laughed. “That’s easy,” I said. “If it’s going to be as long as five months, you’re going to have to stop kissing me the way you’ve been.”

He looked at me for a long minute before nodding. “So, it’ll be three months from now then.” 

Well, at least I didn’t have to twist his arm.

I had accidentally fallen for a guy who had more friends than anyone I had ever met. We started making a wedding list and I realized my dreams of a very small wedding were a moot point. The man I was marrying was thirty-three years old and had been in thirteen weddings already. Thirteen. That’s a lot of really good friends.

And it turns out that when a confirmed bachelor gets married, everyone wants to come to the wedding. The people at the wedding site told us to expect 80% of the people we invited to come. I think somewhere around 95% made it. 

My dress ended up being too big, which was a pain and a little embarrassing. My hair turned out perfect, which was rather miraculous.

We had a wedding banquet, where the bride was present and the groom showed up, like the picture of the wedding supper of the Lamb in Scripture.

The only place big enough in our town was the Elks Lodge, so I got to be congratulated first by all the half-drunk old guys in the private bar area, on my way to the banquet room. I couldn’t help but laugh. Half-drunk old guys are really, really sweet. They wished me well and told me my husband was the luckiest man in the world—and if I wanted to change my mind and marry one of them, I was welcome to.

There were a dozen things that went wrong. The music didn’t start when I went to walk down the aisle. I forgot to make sure the photographer got a picture of me and my ten adorable flower girls. I felt like I was in a daze for most the wedding and was so overstimulated from not having any time alone, I just wanted to go sit by myself in a dark room somewhere. I met so many people that day, my head was swimming.

But I was marrying my safe place and I was blissfully happy.

At one point, someone asked me to tell them about when my husband and I fell in love. I remember trying to come up with an answer. When had I fallen in love? When had he fallen in love? Had we? I mean, obviously, we were getting married! But I couldn’t come up with a good answer.

I suppose it may have been when he asked if he could sit by me in the car that day, which certainly showed me a glimpse of who he truly was, and left my stomach in flutters. Or perhaps it was when I was standing on his farm, realizing that this man fulfilled everything I felt God had told me to look for—everything I was hoping to someday find. Or maybe it was the night I tried to talk him out of marrying me and he just kept holding me and whispering prayers over me and wiping my tears.

The truth is, I don’t know if there was a time I fell in love. I know that he proved himself trustworthy, and I showed him my heart and my fears and my sorrows and my joys, and he treasured me. He did not treat the gift of who I was lightly, but claimed that I honored him by trusting him, and made his heart pound by being near. Me. The girl that no one ever saw.

I chose to love him and he chose to love me, and it was good.

We left on our honeymoon and laughed as I snuggled next to him in his diesel truck that rumbled down the highway.

We had no idea how hard the next decade would be. We had no idea that it wouldn’t be long before my hormones would crash and I would struggle through depression, and infertility would wring the life out of me. We had no idea that our choice to love would hold us fast when any feelings I had would barely register over my struggles to just face the next day without wanting to crawl in a hole and cry myself to sleep.

I’m glad we didn’t know—because that week was beautiful and fun.

And after we came home and things spiraled out of my control, and every time I looked in the mirror I hated what I saw and hated that my body didn’t work right and wouldn’t give my husband and I the family we wanted, I still couldn’t deny the fact that this man loved me. Even then—even there—with all the hard stuff and broken dreams filling up my life.

His choice to love never wavered, even when any heart-pounding feelings most definitely did, because I wasn’t easy to love when I was consumed with agony.

I often think of the story of Hannah, in I Samuel. It says that her husband loved her, but when she cried over her infertility, his statement was, “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” And to be honest, that doesn’t sound much like love to me. The love I know is so much greater. It’s the love of a husband who has held me and quieted me and said, “You, my beautiful wife, are more to me than ten sons.”

So even when infertility was this fierce battle that wore us out, we still learned to love doing life together. Serving God beside this man was the most amazing gift I had ever been given. And when I didn’t have the energy to face life, he held me and prayed over me and spoke truth and agape love into my sorrow. He pulled me forward in my walk with the Lord and we kept traveling and kept serving and kept doing our best to honor God with our lives.

I’m so thankful he’s constant and solid and strong, because the emptiness didn’t last forever, thank God, it didn’t. Eventually the dark lifted and I could see again.

All those years, there was never a guy who even asked me out on a coffee date. In fact, even when I was dating my husband, he never took me out for coffee. Not once. But now? This man of mine, he buys me a coffee almost every week. We laugh about it because it’s this silly frivolous thing. You can make coffee for pennies, why buy it for dollars? But it’s our thing. We get coffee together.

So even though I was the girl who couldn’t get a coffee date, I now get phone calls and texts and whispered invitations, “Come get coffee with me?” and the guy who buys me coffee is also the guy who slides his hand into mine and tugs me toward the God-Who-Loves. The God who always saw me, even when I was invisible. The God who always knew me, even when I barely knew myself. The God who saw the sorrows that would lace my life, and carefully led me into a relationship that would hold solid when the storms hit.

This man of mine? He was willing to walk through failed adoptions with me, even when it tore his heart to pieces. And he was willing to try again so we could adopt our son and daughter. And he held me when I miscarried babies and when our almost-adopted daughter died. He never ever left my side. He was there physically, but also mentally and emotionally. He stayed right here and never left.

And I know he won’t.

Because even more than he loves me, he loves the Father-of-lights. The One who tells husbands to give themselves to their wives, as Christ did for the church.

So he does, day after day after day.

And that, dear ones, is better than any three-point swish you ever saw.

That, y’all, is real love.

So to answer the question, when did we fall in love? Well, we do, every day.

When God Brought Me You: Introverts, Elevators, and the Girl Who Couldn’t Get a Coffee Date (part 5)

when God brought me you- 5

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Eventually he did call for a date. It wasn’t on purpose, but I had to turn him down. I did say that I hoped it would work out the next time. Which was pretty stinking flirty of me.

The next time we saw each other was at a friend’s house, completely by accident. We talked. He really did seem to like me. I mean, every time I looked up, he was smiling at me. I still didn’t know how I felt about him, but I kept hearing my brother’s voice in my head: “This is the kind of guy you should marry. He’s a real man, Tasha, not some snot-nosed kid.”

Huh, maybe this was one reason all potential dates had stayed away—my big brother was downright condescending toward twenty year olds.

The group of us spent most of the day together. We walked through town to a little ice cream shop and he slowed down so the two of us could walk a ways behind everyone. We started talking about traveling and found that our lives had been running almost parallel for quite some time.

We’d both been in the country of Haiti in the same year, both were in Homer, Alaska (missing each other by a matter of months), and were both at the same Mennonite Relief Sale in Sarasota, Florida five years before. We’d almost crossed paths in Rosedale, Ohio and spent several years missing each other at gatherings in our home town. We laughed at how close we’d come to meeting in so many places.

He bought me a waffle cone at the Family Ice Cream place, which was exceptionally lovely of him. It wasn’t the first time a guy had bought me ice cream, but it was the first time that one had grinned at me like that when I thanked him.

As evening rolled around, it was time for another friend’s graduation party. The whole group of us decided to all ride in the same vehicle. I slid in the back seat and everyone left the seat beside me empty, their eyes laughing.

But instead of just jumping in, Mr. Potential-Husband paused at the car door. Very quietly, gently, he asked, “Natasha, is it okay if I sit beside you?”

Okay, tractor mechanics are WAY better than basketball players or guys in Brazil. Seriously. It may sound stupid, but that was the sweetest question I had ever been asked. We may have been set up a few times, but that didn’t mean he was taking anything for granted. He was stating his interest very clearly and giving me a chance to encourage him or turn our relationship toward friendship instead.

I made sure to smile as I looked up at him. “Sure.”

We sat together on the way to the party and before I went home that evening, he had asked for a date. A real, true date.

After that date, he drove me home and we sat in the driveway talking until five in the morning.

Mhmm.

Turns out sitting in your driveway talking is about the same as getting stuck in an elevator.

He told me all the reasons why he hadn’t been able to pursue me before. He told me how much he had prayed that I would still give him a chance. He told me that he would have found the courage to ask for a date, even if my dad hadn’t talked to him—but it did help to know that I probably wouldn’t laugh in his face. He told me he couldn’t believe I wasn’t taken.

“I’m not that pretty,” I shrugged.

He looked at me with a wrinkle in his brow. “You have a really cute face,” he said.

I teased him about that on our honeymoon. A cute face? Really?

“Well, you do! And I couldn’t exactly explain all the things I found attractive about you,” he protested. “Besides, at that point, after spending an entire night sitting beside you, I was really purposing to focus on your very, very cute face.”

I forgave him.

Our second official date took place the day after staying up until five in the morning. I went with him about three hours later (which makes for a very short night) to pick up a tractor part, eventually had dinner at a fancy little place without prices on the menus, and was so exhausted by the end that I was talking jibberish. My mom actually frowned at him when he dropped me off, wondering what he had done to her usually sane daughter. If he had asked me to marry him right then, I would have said yes—in hopes that he would then take on the responsibility of making sure I was getting enough sleep. (This is now a daily job of his.)

Okay, I’m kidding a little bit about saying yes that fast. But we were looking at our relationship pretty seriously and I knew that unless I found something about him that proved he wasn’t who he said he was, or he changed his mind about me, we’d probably end up married before too long.

And the number one thing that I learned about him with every conversation and every hour in his presence, was that he had integrity that ran so deep it astounded me. He was not anything other than what he said. He didn’t pretend. He didn’t dress up pretty to cover anything. He was who God made him to be and he made no apologizes for it. Like all of us, he had things in his past that he wasn’t proud of, but he never tried to hide any of it. Instead, he did the opposite– laying it all out clear and brutally honest. God had transformed his life and he was going to serve Him, no matter what.

My brother was so right. This was a guy I could spend my life with.

There were a few misunderstandings along the way, like the time he claimed that I kissed him when we were arguing over something on our third date. (I did NOT kiss the man, he hadn’t even held my hand yet! There is no way, on God’s green earth, that I would have kissed him. I leaned toward him to say something. If he felt anything it was hot air. And yes, we still argue about this, but since I’m the writer in the family it can go down in history that I did not kiss him that day. There aren’t even words for how mortified I was the first time I heard him tell someone he knew I really liked him because I had kissed him first. Gah! The only redeeming factor was that he did acknowledge that such an action was totally out of character for me. But again, it didn’t happen, so my character is still intact, thank you very much.) And, of course, the time he took me to meet his mother and I realized he hadn’t even told her about me or warned her we were coming (poor sweet mother-in-law-to-be).

But regardless, it wasn’t long before I was tired of having to go home each evening. I just wanted to be with him. We had talked about everything under the sun. I knew his thoughts on a thousand subjects. I knew he was a good, good man. I knew he took his faith seriously and was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s direction in his life. I knew he would protect me with everything he had and everything he was. He worked hard, was incredibly strong, and gave to everyone around him—constantly. He was completely open with me about everything. I knew he saw me, really saw me, and wanted to be with me. That fact stunned me.

I hadn’t realized how afraid I was of showing my real self to anyone—but when the day came that I told him all the reasons why he shouldn’t want to be with me, and certainly not marry me—he just wrapped me up in his incredibly strong arms and kissed away my tears.

Finally, the wandering spirit in me had found a home—with him.

I was right, I was terrible at keeping a relationship casual. I was very, very glad that I hadn’t dated in high school or all the years since. I was so glad all the other guys had been immune to me, or blind, or scared of my brother, or whatever they were. I was glad it was only him who really knew me because he was the safest place I had ever been.

He proposed at the farm.

I didn’t say yes to get the farm, I promise, but man, I loved that place.

He didn’t have a ring right then and I didn’t care. He was trying to get running water and electricity to the house he was fixing up for us to live in and my practical side wouldn’t let him spend money on something so frivolous. He brought up the subject a couple times and I kept waving him off. “It’s fine. I’ll have a wedding band,” I told him.

One evening I fell asleep on his couch while waiting for him to finish barn chores so he could take me home. When I woke up he was kneeling beside me with a diamond ring. I started crying. “You really didn’t have to,” I told him.

He laughed. “I knew you’d be my wife with or without the ring, but I was always going to get you one, silly.”

I looked up at him through my tears and he sighed. “Aw, Tash,” he said, leaning his forehead against mine, “you don’t have any idea how amazing you are, do you?”

Then he told me all the things he loved and respected about me and all the reasons why he desperately wanted me to be his wife. By the time he was done, any remnants of my insecurities about myself were put to rest. It turns out that all the things that made me, well, me, were also all the things that he loved and couldn’t believe God had actually brought to him.

And, hilariously enough, a few days later he mentioned in passing how thankful he was that I didn’t wear lipstick.

But the best part of the whole story was the day we were working together in the house and I mentioned that I just loved the ceilings we were putting in. The remodel of an old pigeon barn into an amazing little bungalow was just another example of my soon-to-be husband’s good taste (I really like to talk up his good taste, for obvious reasons) and my favorite part was the wood ceilings. Reused tongue and groove that had darkened with age into rich strips of color covered the cathedral ceiling of the kitchen/living area. After I finished gushing (well, sort of. I don’t really do “gushing” as well as some people, but I gave it my best shot) he glanced up at the ceiling again and smiled. “Yeah, it’s probably my favorite thing about the house too. It adds a lot of character. You know it was an old dance floor?”

It took me awhile to explain to him why I was laughing so hard. God just cracks me up.

We danced under the dance floor that afternoon and I finally realized that my dream hadn’t just been a reminder of how God saw me, chose me, and loved me. It was also a gentle promise about the man who was on his way.

 

Part Six

When God Brought Me You: Introverts, Elevators, and the Girl Who Couldn’t Get a Coffee Date (part 4)

when God brought me you- 4

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Can we back up for a second? Of course we can. I know, I know. I told you there was a blind date coming and you’re wondering about that. But this is important, I promise.

Remember how I told you that I was starting to feel pretty insecure about the fact that I couldn’t even seem to get a coffee date? Well, talking to my mom helped, for sure. I mean, according to her there had been at least one guy looking my way, even if I didn’t realize it until he had already found someone else. But the insecurity had sunk a bit deeper than I had even realized.

I’ll be honest, somewhere in there, before I left for Brazil, I was feeling that maybe I was expecting too much.

Maybe it was just silly to think that a guy would like me for who I was. Maybe who I was, wasn’t actually that likable? (Go ahead and laugh, it’s okay.) Maybe I was too intense, too focused. Maybe I shouldn’t be so spiritual, so determined. Maybe I should be a little more needy, less in control. Maybe I should dress a little more daring, and put on some lipstick. (What can I say? I wasn’t thinking clearly. Lipstick is always a bad idea.)

God and I had some pretty intense conversations during that season. I wasn’t quite desperate, because I knew I was still young, but I also saw a pretty clear future stretched in front of me.

And I was left feeling less-than.

But one night, I had a dream. I’ll spare you the boring details, but what basically happened was a man came into a group that I was standing with and led me up a hill. When we got to the top of the hill, there was a beautiful dance floor with crowds of people standing around it. “Why aren’t the people dancing?” I asked him. The man led me out onto the dance floor and smiled. “Because I built this dance floor to dance with you,” he told me. Music started and as we waltzed all these pictures flashed through my mind of him working. From sawing the trees, to planing the boards, to sanding, to varnishing and fitting it all together. And I realized that he did it all because he loved me. Not because I had done anything good enough, but simply because of who I was.

When I woke up, I just sat there for a while, thinking and praying. And I knew. I wasn’t less-than. That dream was just a silly picture that the Father used to remind me of the greatest story ever told. Because there is a God who sees us, chooses us, and has done the work to demonstrate His love for us.

Whatever had been rocking me, with all the insecurities and questions, began to still. Who God was began to fill my vision again and the fears bound up in who-I-might-not-be were pushed to the side. I loved who Jesus was and He loved who I was, and well, we had work to do.

So I went to Brazil and braved the Amazon bugs (mostly mosquitoes, but also very large cockroaches on occasion) and filled journals with conversations with my Savior. But then my grandfather died, and I flew home for a few weeks, never realizing that trip home would change my future drastically.

While I was home I ended up living with my brother and his wife and their three little children. I spent most of my days listening to my brother sing the praises of some guy I didn’t remember ever meeting. “Oh, you know him,” my brother kept saying.

“I have NO IDEA who you are talking about,” I insisted, unable to place the name at all.

The only thing I did know was that the man’s farm, which my brother pointed out every time we drove past, was REALLY pretty. Rolling flat land and windmills.

Then one evening my dad told me to come over for dinner, so I went.

When I found out that I wasn’t the only one coming for dinner, about the time a rumbling diesel truck pulled in the driveway, I thought about crawling into a hole and dying. Talk about an introverted girl’s nightmare.

Thankfully, Mr. Potential-Husband was outgoing. Nervous, of course, but also able to laugh and talk unhindered by my stuttering silence.

I could hardly believe there was a man, a real-live man, sitting across from me who was gentle and kind and who wasn’t looking at me like he was trying to debate if I was worth his time or not, or worse yet, not actually seeing me at all.

I mean, this was a blind date for me but not for him. He knew who I was before he ever came and he didn’t seem to think I was too old or too young or too curvy for his tastes. And he stayed and talked… for hours. I mean, it was a good sign if he wasn’t trying to escape, right?

And just about the time I had settled down and was able to hold an intelligent conversation, Mr. Potential-Husband told me straight-out that he couldn’t pursue a relationship with me right then. He had some things that needed to be taken care of.

Enter Boy-Girl Miscommunication Class 101. I translated that to mean that while he thought I was “a nice girl” (story of my life), I wasn’t actually interesting enough to pursue.

He actually meant, “I’ve been waiting for a year for a chance to date you, but just last night some things came up that I need to take care of, so I can’t really do anything with this chance TONIGHT. But give me two days.”

He left. I went out with my girlfriends, giggled a little about the fact that he really did seem to think I was pretty, thank-the-good-Lord, but once again, I wasn’t enough of something for a guy to pursue me.

And then I went back to Brazil.

Mr. Potential-Husband got everything taken care of and then worked on his farm and his house, waiting for me to come home, muttering about the fact that I had once again pulled one of my elusive stunts.

When I did come home, earlier than originally planned, I wasn’t going to have anything to do with Mr. Potential-Husband (whom I still assumed had told me he wasn’t interested). I had a guy in Brazil who was interested in a relationship, was wearing a smaller size jean than I had in four years, and had talked myself into maybe being willing to flirt the littlest bit—and by “flirting” I meant that I wouldn’t let my introvertedness keep me isolated. I would look up and smile and join the conversations. I didn’t know if the guy in Brazil was a part of my future, but I did know that I was done with feeling like I wasn’t quite good enough for even a coffee date.

Of course, the first thing my best friend did when I got home was talk me into going to a bonfire at Mr. Potential-Husband’s farm. I was adamant that I Was. Not. Going. To. His. Farm. I would NOT throw myself at the guy who wasn’t really interested. There had to be someone eventually who would think I was good enough, and if there wasn’t, I was perfectly fine being single. Thankyouverymuch. (When I’m not feeling insecure, I’m actually pretty sassy. What can I say? I get it from my mother. For reals.)

“There will be plenty of people there,” my friend pointed out. “You won’t even have to talk to him.”

So I didn’t. I parked myself next to a guy-who-would-never-be-interested (unless I suddenly decided to take up kayaking and mountain climbing, but the chances of that were about slim to none) and laughed through the evening. I made up for coming by being exceptionally outgoing and witty. It didn’t escape my notice that Mr. Potential-Husband sat on the other side of guy-who-would-never-be-interested and kept joining the conversation. He was just as fun to talk to as he had been at dinner. Not that I was talking to him. At least, not really. Okay, fine. We may have debated a few of the finer details in life. Like how to build a decent bonfire and whether a s’more is better with or without chocolate.

The next morning I rolled out of bed (or rather, my hammock that I had immediately hung in my room when I arrived home because they are the best thing to sleep in EVER) and padded through the house toward the kitchen, still in my pajamas with my hair every-which-way. Two steps inside the kitchen and I stopped in my tracks. There sat Mr. Potential-Husband, having breakfast with my parents. He smiled at me and winked.

I muttered something about needing to go and raced back to my room. I stayed hidden (and fixed my hair and make-up. Ahem.) then quickly said goodbye as he was headed out the door.

I glared at my parents after he left and they just shrugged and smiled. “He wanted to make sure you were still available and he was still allowed to pursue you,” they said. “You okay with that?”

I thought about saying no. Really thought about it. But I couldn’t. I shrugged. “We’ll see what happens,” I said.

But alas, days passed and he still didn’t call.

I found out later that it was because he left that day for a trip to Minnesota. He hadn’t talked to my dad the whole time I was in Brazil because, well, I was gone. But I had come home early and he realized he really needed to make sure he stated his interest but then felt weird trying to talk to me when he wasn’t in the state and couldn’t exactly do the talking in person.

When he was finally headed back home days later, and was trying to figure out how to approach getting to know me, a mutual friend decided to help us out by setting up another date that I didn’t realize was a date. (We have such sweet friends in our lives.)

I got a phone call from said-friend asking if I wanted to go with a group of them to Texas Roadhouse. It sounded innocent enough. Ha.

I got there and Mr. Potential-Husband was sitting with the group. I was going to play it cool and just sit with my brother and his wife, but the friend snagged the chair I was reaching for. “You can sit over there,” he told me.

Of course, the only available seat was next to Mr. Potential-Husband. The cads.

It was like the whole world was hard at work trying to break me out of my introverted shell. I showed them. I hardly spoke the whole dinner. And I ordered chicken. At a steak house. I was feeling feisty.

That wasn’t the end of the trickery though. I went to leave and the friend I rode with said, “Oh, Tasha, sorry, but I’m not going back your way.”

Say, what?

He offered Mr. Potential-Husband’s truck as an alternative. Apparently HE was going my way. Very slick, boys.

Of course, I could have begged a ride off someone else. There were plenty of people going my way. I looked over at Mr. Potential-Husband and his eyes twinkled as he grinned. “I’d love to take you home,” he offered.

Surprisingly enough, I looked right back at him, smiled, and decided that I believed him. He really did want to drive me home.

We talked the entire ride home. In fact, there wasn’t a single awkward silent moment. Our conversation just flowed from trucks, to tractors, to my family, to his family, to Brazil, to his farm, and then on into deeper things about God and faith and missions and hope.

He dropped me off and said goodbye. I watched him drive away and stood there a bit confused. He hadn’t asked for another date. Hadn’t even mentioned seeing me again. Weird.

Part Five