We met in June of 1981. I had just graduated from high school in Winchester Virginia and decided to go to Breakaway in Ocean City, NJ with Youth For Christ. Keith was from Pa and was on his way with the Pocono group of YFC as a leader. The conference was from Sunday to Friday. We met on Wednesday.
A friend dragged me down to the basketball courts to meet "this guy". When I saw him he was standing there with his clipboard, sunglasses on, a dark tan and girls hanging around him. So she introduced us and I thought "great another jock who is full of himself". Well that night I ended up with a group at dinner and "he" was there. We ended up talking most of the evening as we walked along the boardwalk after dinner and the evening session. By the end of the week Keith felt God had told him that I was the girl he would marry. God didn't tell me any such thing!I left that week thinking I'd never see him again and that was fine with me.
One week later I was at a YFC meeting in Winchester and in walked Keith for a surprise visit. I wanted to hide! I couldn't believe it! What was he thinking? He spent the weekend in town and we got to know one another better. My family thought he was great. I still wasn't so sure.
Over the course of the next 6 months he called me and wrote letters, and yes, I even wrote back. I even went to visit him! I grew to like him, he was a great friend. In December of 1981 Keith came for a visit with a dozen roses and a ring! He proposed on Christmas Eve. I felt so bad to have to send him home with the ring. He was crushed. He couldn't understand. He just knew I was "the" one he was to marry.
We didn't communicate after that. In fact Keith wouldn't hear from me again until June of 1982. I knew that Keith would be at the YFC Breakaway again and there was something I needed to tell him. I felt would be better if he heard it from me, but I didn't have the courage to tell him in person, so I wrote a letter and sent it with a friend who was going.
Keith had heard that I might be there and was somewhat nervous and yet excited that he might see me. But when all the groups arrived there was only a message for him. A letter that was very difficult to write. After Keith proposed and we stopped talking, I met someone. I thought he was "the" one. He was the kind of guy I thought I deserved. You see Keith was good, from a Christian home, pure, kind, loving and the best guy I'd ever known. I did not think I had a right to expect love from someone like him.
I tried to explain as gentle as I could to Keith that not only did I meet someone but I was also pregnant. But how do you do that gently? I am told that after Keith read the letter he just sat there and cried. He still believed I was the one God told him to marry, but now he began to wonder if maybe he was just being delusional. Perhaps he heard God all wrong.
When Keith got home he called me. We talk for a long time. He wanted to know what I was going to do since this guy wouldn't marry me, and he (the baby's father) wanted me to have an abortion. We talked about my options and he walked me through the pros and cons of adoption, but I was so undecided.
We continued to communicate throughout my pregnancy. Keith would listen when I called him to say that this guy and I were getting back together. He wanted to try and be a father. Keith listened a few weeks later as I cried into the phone with another broken heart. And all this time he still loved me. He prayed for me, He was my friend. He was always there for me, a real source of love, encouragement and friendship.
On December 18th 1982 my son was born. When we got home I called Keith to let him know. I also wanted him to know that we would be going to Children's hospital. My son had congestive heart failure due to a hole in his heart (VSD and ASD). Keith and I remained in contact. My son would be fine once they got him on the right kind of medication and the right dose. It would take several trips and several stays in Children's Hospital. Keith continued to be my source of encouragement during the hard times of not knowing if my baby would be alright.
In May, when my son was 5 months old, Keith came to visit. We had been writing and talking for almost a year now and he told me that he wanted to see me. He came and spent the weekend with my family. Keith got to know my son. We talked a lot. When Keith returned home he called me the next day to tell me that he still loved me and that he also fell in love with my son.
I got off the phone and talked to my mom. I didn't love him. He was absolutely my best friend and I didn't want to lose him as a friend. He loved me and but he wanted something more than just friendship. My mother said I was stupid to let someone like that get away. She told me that men like that came along once and if I didn't grab him I'd regret it.
"But mom! I don't know if I love him."
"Of course you do" she said, "you just haven't realized it."
Well I thought about that for a day or so. In my mind Keith just might be my last hope. I prayed and prayed. I wanted to see it in writing somewhere...anywhere! I just didn't know. Was he the one I was suppose to marry? How could someone so wonderful want me? After all I have done how could he still love me? I couldn't understand that kind of love. I didn't even know if I believed in that kind of love. And even if it did exist I am not so sure it existed for someone like me.
About a month after Keith's visit I called him to ask him if he still wanted to marry me. He told me he'd give me an answer when he returned the following week from vacation. Keith left that next morning with a group of his friends for a week at the beach. On the way he asked his friend to be his best man. He didn't have to think about it. He already knew what God had told him two years agao was still true.
That week was a killer for me. What if he said no? What if I was too late? What if? What if? I was a confused young girl who had no clue who I was, or who God was for that matter. I had become a believer in 1978, but still didn't really understand Gods love or His character. I was too young to be a mother. Too young to be a wife. Yet God was in the process of working out the "all things" in my life so that He would recieve the glory.
One week later Keith returned home, talked to his father, who thought he was crazy and to young to be a husband and father, but said if he thought this was what God wanted they would support him. So we got married 4 months later on Nov 26th 1983.
Yes I married a man I wasn't so sure I loved, but he was my best friend. I put him though so much in those two years of "dating". Yet God would use this man's love for me to begin to break down the walls that kept me from seeing and knowing God. For so long I had kept people and God at a distance. As Keith says, my walls were probably stronger than Fort Knox! He was the only one that I let my guard down with. I allowed him in, but it would take years before I would let him see all the dark places.
Through the years God has worked in my heart to bring light and freedom to all those dark and hidden places. There was so much healing that needed to be done in my life. Through it all my husband has been there by my side loving me and walking with me. He has helped me go places that I didn't want to go. He has encouraged me, and challenged me in my walk with God. God knew the kind of man I would need, and even though I made it difficult, God made sure I had what I needed.
Through the years I have grown to love this man deeply. As I look back I realize that perhaps I have always loved him, even in my limited understanding of love. But I believe that when you choose to stay and fight, to work through the hard times of marriage, and life, that there is a growing understanding of what love really is.
When I tell our story my husband often feels that I make him out to be this great, wonderfully perfect husband. Well I do think he is pretty wonderful, but no, he is not perfect. He too has had to learn and grow. God has had to change and mold him, to soften some of the rough edges. No he isn't perfect, but he is perfect for me. And these last 33 yrs we've been married have been good and I mean wonderfully good. I didn't say perfect. :-)
Well I know this was long...and you even got the short version. Hope you enjoyed our story.
Today I am joining with the following link up! Feel free to check them out! Wedded Wednesday and Wifey Wednesday.