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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Show and Tell Tuesday: That Time I Went on a Mission Trip and Met My Husband

I thought it would be really fun to link up with momfessionals for Show and Tell Tuesday.  Today we are sharing our love story and how we met our husband.  Most of you already know our story.  But I don't think I've ever blogged about it in detail so I wanted to do that today, mainly for our children.  One of the verses that Mason and I talk about a lot is Jeremiah 29:11.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

He will often mention this verse in context with something that is going on in his life.  "Mom, it must be God's plan . . ." or "Mom, I know why that happened . . ."  I think sometimes he has a hard time wrapping his mind around the fact that I lived as a child and grew up in Georgia.  And yet here I am so very far away from there.  One day, out of the blue, he came downstairs and said, "Hey Mom . . . I know why you came to Louisiana.  It was God's plan so you could meet Daddy."

So here's how a Georgia peach ended up 500 miles away in Cajun Country.

It was Thursday, May 27, 1999.  I departed the airport in Atlanta onboard a Delta flight headed to New Orleans.  I'd never been to New Orleans before.  I'd never been to Louisiana before.  As a matter of fact, the farthest west I'd ever been was Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  I was going to spend ten weeks as a summer missionary for what was then the Atchafalaya Baptist Association.  My partners (whom I still had not met) and I were going to conduct door-to-door surveys to determine the need and location for a new church plant, as well as assist area churches with Vacation Bible Schools, Backyard Bible Clubs and youth activities.  Not only had I never been to Louisiana before but I'd never even really thought about that particular state before.  I mean, I knew it was there.  But it was never somewhere I'd wanted to go, and I didn't really know very much about it at all.  When I first arrived in New Orleans, all of the summer missionaries serving that summer in Louisiana and I spent three days at the seminary and in the French Quarter learning all about the culture, the history and the people.  I felt like I was in a foreign land.

On Saturday, May 29, our supervisor picked up my partners and I and took us to our host homes for the summer.  There were originally supposed to be four of us, but one of the guys from North Carolina got sick and was not able come.  Both of my other partners were from Alabama.  I had no idea where we were going.  After an hour of driving, we finally arrived at what was to be my host home for the summer.  Mr. Joey and Mrs. Judy met us outside and introduced themselves.  There was another guy walking around the side of the house, and Mr. Joey called him over and introduced him as his youngest son, Seth.  He was wearing an old, worn out LSU camp pulled low over his eyes with a fishing hook on the bill, a dirty white t-shirt and cut off blue jean shorts (I should mention here that one of the first things I did after we got married was rid him of all the cut off blue jean shorts because no ma'am!).  He shook my hand but didn't even look up.  And then he got in the truck with his buddy, and I didn't see him again for a few days.  I was not impressed.  And that was fine with me because that was the farthest thing from my mind at the time.

Every single time someone asks how Seth and I met, and I tell them we met when I was serving as a summer missionary, they inevitably raise their eyebrows.  But that's not the way it was at all.  I had other plans for my life (or at least I thought I did), and those plans did not involve dating.  I was not in the least bit interested in that because, again, other plans.  That did not involve dating or boys or any of that!

The first few weeks of the summer I did not see Seth very much.  My partners and I were busy.  He was working full-time during the week and then spent the weekends fishing or running around with his buddies.  Occasionally I'd see him on Sundays, but that was it.  And, trust me, he was a guy of few words.  Very few.  My initial impression was that he needed to lighten up and show a little personality.  Or at least have a conversation.

We'd been in Louisiana four weeks.  Mr. Joey and Mrs. Judy had arranged to take us fishing off the coast of Louisiana for a couple of days.  And Seth was going.  Right as we were walking out the door, the phone rang.  It was my mom.  She was calling to tell me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and that she would be having surgery the following week.  She wanted me to continue to stay and have a good time, but she wanted me to know what was going on.  Needless to say, I remember very little about that fishing trip.  It was the very last place I wanted to be, and I don't think I fished a whole lot at all.  I can remember looking forward to going to bed each night because then I didn't have to look at anyone or talk to anyone.  All I wanted to do was get out of there.  I really wanted to go home, but I didn't know how that could happen or even if that could happen.  That next Sunday at church they had a special business meeting, and the church offered to pay for a plane ticket so I could go home and be with my mom.  I flew out the next day and spent the last week of June in Georgia.

I never really entertained the thought of not returning to Louisiana only because I had made a commitment, and I was going to keep my commitment.  Besides, I had a new perspective on a lot of things, and I did want to go back and finish the work I knew I'd been called to.  Mama's surgery went really well, and there was no reason to not go back.  It was Friday, July 2.  All of the Alabama summer missionaries were gathering back together in New Orleans to spend a few days for the 4th.  Both of my partners went so I was spending the weekend "alone" at my host family's house.  I was totally fine with that and was looking forward to the "down time" for a couple of days.  

The next day, Seth was going to a party at his cousin's camp on False River.  And Mr. Joey insisted I go.  Well, one thing I can tell you for certain is that I DID NOT want to go.  And not only did I not want to go, but I was also certain Seth did not want me to go either.  I mean, we'd hardly spoken three words to each other the whole time I'd been there.  But as this continued to play out, I finally agreed to go.  I did not want to at all, but I was just tired of hearing about it.  So I went.

For the very first time all summer, Seth and I were by ourselves as he drove us to False River.  It was nearly an hour's drive so we had plenty of time to talk.  And he actually talked!  Once we got to False River (which is not a river at all but a lake), we rode in the boat and rode jet skies.  It was a nice enough afternoon, but I was also thankful when it was over.  During those remaining five weeks, I think Seth was around a little bit more.  But, again, my partners and I were busy so our paths didn't cross a whole lot.  By this time, I thought he was nice enough.  But I still never even imagined anything beyond that.

All of the Alabama missionaries left on August 6.  But I wasn't scheduled to leave until August 7.  We had to drive my partners to the seminary in New Orleans, and Seth went with us.  And that was honestly the very first time that I "noticed" him.  I thought it was so strange that he was going with us.  He'd hardly had anything to do with us all summer long.  So after we dropped Karey and Caleb off and were headed back to Baton Rouge, Seth started begging his mom to take the "long" way around through Hammond so he could show me where he went to college.  Really?  Why?  We didn't do that, but she did call Mr. Joey and asked him to meet us at their favorite seafood restaurant for supper.

What I remember about that supper is that it seemed like Seth ordered everything on the menu and then made me taste everything.  I think he talked and smiled more during that meal than he had all summer.  I don't even know how this happened, but Seth and I ended up in his mom's car, and his parents drove back home in his dad's truck.  Again, NO IDEA how this happened.  And then, somehow we ended up at a movie.  All I remember about that movie was that because of the time, there was only one option left, The Blair Witch Project.  And we were a little late so when we walked into the theater, it was full, and we found what were the only two seats left at the very top of the stairs.  The seats were horrible, and the movie was stupid.  But I didn't really care at that point.  And that's all I remember about that.  We drove home and stayed up into the wee hours of the morning talking.  The next day, August 7, I got on a plane back to Georgia.  Seth's parents took me to the airport, and he went, too.

As I walked away from them and down the hallway to that plane, I had no idea what was going to happen next.  Again, I still had plans.  Seth had asked for my phone number, and I'd given it to him.  But I did not expect him to use it.  I really did not.  And I didn't know how I was going to feel about that.  I didn't know if I wanted him to call or not.  I didn't know how I'd feel if he really didn't call, even though I didn't expect him to.  I was kind of sad, and I might have cried.  But it was over just as quickly as it had started.  More than anything, I just wish it hadn't started.  I wished I could go back and do it all over again and not go to that movie and not stay up nearly all night long talking.

That very night he called.  And the night after that.  And after that.

I was a freshman mentor that year in college so I had to return to the dorm a week earlier than everyone else for training and meetings.  And that next weekend I did the craziest thing I've ever done in my whole entire life.  I got in my car and drove all the way back to Louisiana to see Seth.  I told no one except one of my best friends at college.  That probably wasn't the brightest idea I've ever had.  And, looking back, I still can not believe I did that!  But I did.  This picture was taken that weekend, the very first picture of Seth and I together (and what do you do after a 10 week mission trip . . . get a bad haircut!).
That weekend we talked and talked and talked and looked at pictures and watched old home videos.  We also went on our first real date, although I guess maybe that silly movie was our first date (and my mission trip was totally over by that time, by the way!).  And on the long drive back to Georgia, I knew that what I thought I had planned for my life was turned completely upside down.

Seth called me every night.  And then he came to Georgia on Labor Day weekend and met my parents.  During the next couple of months, it was more of the same.  Lots of phone calls.  Lots of letters.  Very few visits because we were both in college.  That Thanksgiving Seth was in a wedding and invited me to spend it with him and his family.  So I did.  This is a picture of us at the wedding.  We have very few pictures of us together when we were dating because we were never actually together in the same place very often.
And it was that weekend that we had "the talk."  I told him that if he picked me, that was it.  It was a forever thing, and there were no do-overs.  

He came to Georgia for Christmas.  I knew he was going to ask my parents for my hand in marriage, but I didn't know when he was planning to propose.  I didn't even know whether or not he had a ring.  We'd looked at rings at Thanksgiving, but I really didn't know if he'd gotten one or not.  Even though I knew he'd talked to my parents, I was not expecting him to propose while we were in Georgia.  We were going to spend the week after Christmas in Louisiana so I thought it might be then or it might not be then.  But Seth can't keep a secret for long.  He proposed to me in my living room at almost midnight on December 23.  So we'd basically known each other for seven months and dated (very long distance) not quite four of those months before getting engaged.

And on July 29, 2000, we were married.
And now, nearly 15 years later, I still can't believe it!  I love our story!  But there's still more to be written, and I can't wait to see what it is!

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