Little did I know when I connected with Jen of This Gal's Journey on Twitter what a source of encouragement she would become. I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her via Twitter. I (unsuccessfully) try to keep my jealousy in check over her life in Ireland. One day we'll get to meet face to face and it'll be grand. In the meantime, I hope you'll enjoy learning about how she met her husband. What a cliffhanger of an ending!
Jeans? Check. Cute top? Check. Every hair sprayed stiff and immovable? Double check.
It was my first campus activity of my college career. Who knew who one might run into?
Having effectively gotten lost on the way there, my two friends and I sheepishly walked into the small building fifteen minutes late, conspicuously new “frosh” and thoroughly mortified. Trying to sneak in and find a seat, I noticed a few “grown ups” at the front of the room. Some giving instructions, some sitting, some standing. I noticed one in particular: dark hair, dark beard, Wrangler jeans. He must be the leader. I was 17 and he was…intimidating. Tall and dark, I figured him about 30 years of age.
We didn’t officially meet until several months later when we both found ourselves in a drama group performing cheesy skits and wacky musical montages. (He was 19. Oops.)
From there the friendship was immediate and intense. Him with his green eyes, Wrangler jeans (yes, I mention them a second time), and crazy deep passion for life, humor and nature. Me with my bright-eyed ideals, firm ideas on how things should be, and endless array of hair products. Both dating other people, we considered our friendship just that – friendship. But there was more. So much more. Our partners knew it; friends knew it; we knew it, but ran from it.
A year and a half after first seeing him – with the beard – we found ourselves single, alone, and outside a convenience store on the all important snack run for group movie night. With our arms laden with cheese flavored snacks, chocolate bars and soda pops, standing in the chilled winter night in the soft glow of neon and florescent lights, we kissed.
You’ve never experienced a more awkward 5 minute drive in your life. Sentences were started, and then abandoned. Jokes were attempted only to be met with nervous laughter and darting eyes. At the door, before re-entering the world of crazy college co-eds, he kissed me again and there it was:
The next 3 months were a whirlwind of dates, coffees and long, loo-ooong talks. My favorites were our Wednesday night get-togethers. We would meet, just the two of us, and talk, dream, and pray. Yeah, I said it, pray. You see, probably the single most unifying thing in our relationship was a deep, abiding faith in a personal, intimate and loving God. Approaching the Throne of Grace together in humility and awe was just that: awesome. It took our eyes off ourselves, and onto Something, Someone, greater than ourselves. It was in those times that I saw a glimpse of the heart and soul of the man I was falling in love with. Strong yet vulnerable. A heart for justice with a deep need for grace – both given and received. A mind awash with hopes, dreams and worries for the future, and the strength to lay them at the feet of the One with the control. Those 3 months taught me more about what true love looks like than anything I had ever seen, or experienced, in my life.
And then our worlds shattered, or so it seemed. He was accepted for a summer-abroad program. Just 3 months into our crazy, intense, imperfect-but-perfect-for-us relationship he jetted off for 7 weeks in Wales (that’s in the UK in case you didn’t know).
That summer would change the course of both our lives forever. It was during that time that it was confirmed to both of us, in different ways (that’s a much longer post for another day), that we were meant for each other. And the ground was tilled for the path our family would one day walk.
Almost 2 years to the day after that fateful kiss outside the convenience store, my Cowboy Prince Charming proposed. Eleven and a half years have passed since then and our lives have not ceased to be the whirlwind our relationship started out to be. We have lived and loved through good, better and best; and lived, loved and cried through the worse, and the I-thought-it-couldn’t-get-any-worse. We have been blessed with 3 amazing, wonderful, beautiful, healthy children (also another post for another day. Seriously.), whom we are raising halfway around the world from where it all began.
We live, work and love in the west of Ireland (that’s not in the UK in case you didn’t know) all because of those 7 weeks he spent away from me. That shattered my world. That ruined my life. That...was the best thing on the earth to ever happen to me.(our wedding day: June 10, 2000)
Jennifer Deibel is a 30-something wife and mom just walking this road of life like everyone else. She’s your typical American mom, working, raising kids, and loving her hubby…she’s just doing it in Ireland! She loves her family, music, dance, coffee and chocolate. Her faith is the most important thing in her life, family is a close second. She has been married to the love of her life for 11 years and they have three children: two lovely girls ages 7 and 4 and a sweet, energetic baby boy who turned 1 in October. She writes at This Gal’s Journey. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.