You guys. I'm not kidding when I say Kristin's story will blow you away. It's longer than most TIHWM stories but I couldn't bear to chop it up into two parts and torture you. I am so thankful for Kristin's friendship and for the privilege of sharing her story here.
I met my husband at the altar….
I’d like to tell you it was love at first sight. We held hands, walked in the moonlight, pledged our undying love to one another and saved ourselves for that intimate exchange at the altar.
That’s not our story. Our story is one full of heaps and piles of messy, that somehow got sorted out by grace and mercy.
I arrived at the beach in the afternoon to visit my younger brother at his place. I had my little sister with me for the weekend. The apartment reeked of stale cigarettes and marijuana. It seemed to be the place where all the busboys hung out. I had spent the last two years working at the same large, family owned restaurant. With over 200 servers hired every summer, it was known in town as a large party magnet. But, I was starting to settle down. I was losing the taste for blurry nights and hung-over mornings.
I gave my brother a hug and greeted the other busboys I knew. My brother asked if I wanted a drink and opened the fridge to reveal it was stacked with nothing but Arizona Ice Tea. “No thanks,” I said.
“Hey, Kris, this is Devon.” I turned to meet his newest roommate. “He’s cute,” I thought. “Hey,” he returned. That was it. That’s how I met him. My sister leaned over to me later that day and said, “You’d have cute babies with him.” I laugh at that now, and she still says I owe her many thanks for putting the idea in my head.
But, on that day, I wasn’t interested in meeting someone new. The guy I had been seeing for almost a year, had gone MIA without even a phone call. I was so over this dating, sleeping around scene, at least for today.
Devon was smooth. He had piercing blue eyes and a pony tail. He was kind and easy to talk to. It didn’t take long for the flirting to begin. I began to lose my resolve. Maybe I hadn’t harnessed self control yet. It was time to go to bed and he quickly offered up his bed for me to share. My sister had the couch. It didn’t take him long to make his move. He was good. But, somewhere deep down, I pulled up a standard, not even a thread of one, but a standard nonetheless. “I just met you. Slow down.” I didn’t have sex with him that first night, I held out. I went to sleep feeling a trickle of self worth rest on me as I dozed off in his arms.
Little did I know that holding him off, if only for one night, would make an impression on him. He later told me, “You weren’t like other girls. You didn’t fall for my moves and jump into bed with me right away.” Looking back, I’m amazed that both of us found hope in one another on such flimsy boundaries; Because, by the next night, my resolve had disappeared. But, for him, he just needed that one night to know I was different than all the rest.
I came down over the next few weekends, but I had no expectations of this fling going anywhere. I knew the game that was played at the beach and had my heart guard up and my non committal spirit on the front line.
What I wasn’t prepared for, was getting pregnant.
The lady at the crisis pregnancy center helped me determine the week of conception. It was the same week the guy I had been dating left and the same week I had met Devon. There was no way of telling who the father was.
I consoled my girlfriend who went with me to the pregnancy center. “It’s going to be okay,” I said. She cried. “What are you going to do?” Foundations on which I had been raised began to rumble in my heart, echoes of long ago, began to whisper to me again. I was a former pastor’s kid, after all. “Two wrongs don’t make a right. I won’t use the baby to hold onto either of them. I’ll tell both guys the truth and have this baby on my own.” I went down to the beach that weekend and told my brother and Devon. I don’t remember Devon’s reaction. I think at that point I was prepared for him to disattach, plus I knew he and my brother were making plans to move to Colorado. “Do you want me to stay?” he asked. “No. I’ve got this,” I said with confidence.
He did move, to Colorado, about a month later. He hadn’t done the typical ignore my phone calls or push me away, that my heart was prepared for, but maybe it was just because he was friends with my brother. I didn’t give it a lot of thought.
I had no idea how to get a hold of the other guy, but a friend did bump into him on the streets of Philly and said, “You really should call Kristin.” He never did.
Devon and I stayed in touch after they moved. I sent him and my brother boxes of food while they were trying to find a job and get settled. We’d talk on the phone for a couple of hours, but I had not spent a moment of time painting fantasies of us becoming a happy family in my head. I had no expectations.
When I was about 6 months along, I decided to go out and visit my brother and Devon. They had moved into a town with less than 700 people in residence. It was quiet and quaint. Their condo sat at the base of two majestic mountains. It was a place to breathe in fresh air and be, just be. There was nothing to do, to distract us. We spent hours talking and getting to know one another. I was only there for a week, but the day Devon took me back to the airport, he turned to me and said, “Come back.” We both knew there was something more stirring in our hearts for one another.
I did move back. My brother moved out and about 2 hours away. Devon and I had our little haven together, without friends and family. We had lingering mornings watching snow storms roll in over the mountains and once the cold broke, long drives up the mountains. We explored glass blue lakes and wild flower fields full of Columbines. We worked together at a restaurant for a couple who had four kids. They were from Texas and loved on both of us in a gentle and non-judgmental way.
It was three months incubation for love to sprout and take root. My parents were in the midst of a bitter divorce. He wasn’t close to his father. His mother was a supportive as she could be over the phone. We had each other, in our space, in Colorado.
One morning, on my due date, he woke up and held me in the crook of his arm. “Will you marry me?” he asked. I looked into his eyes, sensing he had been unprepared for those words to come out of his mouth. “Do you mean that…did you mean to ask me that?” His eyes began to tear up, “Yeah, I think I did. I want you to marry me.” I started laughing and said, “Yes! Yes, I’ll marry you.”
We drove an hour and a half into town and with the money from his change jar; he put a down payment on a ring. We walked out with half of the ring. The other half would be delivered to us once we had paid the whole thing off. We went to a restaurant called The Rendezvous, ordered a bottle of Clos du Bois and he got down on one knee and asked me again to marry him. The guests around us clapped and cheered as I said, “Yes!”
We called our bosses and told them the news. We told them we wanted to get married right away. They congratulated us and told us they’d pick up a cake and make some phone calls to get folks there tomorrow afternoon. We drove into town and applied for our marriage license. We had an appointment the next morning, with the town pastor. He said he wanted to meet us before he agreed to marry us later in the day.
We walked into the little mountain church. I remember there being only 6-8 pews. He invited us into his office and we sat down. He said, “Before I marry you guys, I need to ask you a question. If you were to die today, where would you go and why?” He looked at me first. This was easy. My father had been a Baptist pastor. I was raised in a faith filled home by 70’s Jesus People, who had spent most of my childhood touring the country in a VW bus, performing and telling people about Jesus. They were passionate and had introduced me early on to a God who was loving and kind. They had done it right in those early years. They never lived a life of religion and rules, but one that pointed to a loving Father. I knew who my Jesus was…I had just tucked Him on a shelf for the past couple of years while I did my own thing. “If I die today, I’ll go to heaven because Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.” Score! Slam dunk. The pastor nodded his head in affirmation then turned to Devon. I was still holding his hand. It began to shake. He said, “If I die, I’ll go to heaven because I do good things.” I heard the big X buzzer go off in my head…wrong answer. Before the pastor could begin the salvation message with Devon, tears began to roll down his cheeks. By the time the pastor asked him if he wanted to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior, Devon’s heart was already at that altar. He repented and asked Jesus into his heart that day…our wedding day.
Those whispers of long ago began to get louder in my heart. Those truths planted in my heart as a little girl began to speak and drown out the guilt and shame I had been carrying for 9 months now. I knew, with sudden assuredness, God’s faithfulness to me. I use to pray as a young girl for Jesus to give me a husband who was as passionate about Him as I was. Those were the prayers of a 7 year old girl, who was in love with Jesus and who wanted her future husband to love Him too. Devon and I had never talked about God. I was at a place in my life where I didn’t feel worthy of sharing Jesus with others. But, here he was, on our wedding day, giving his life to Jesus. I was overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness.
We walked out to the car, a Hyundai Scoop. The windows were rolled up and the doors shut, but lying in the back of the hatch was a Monarch butterfly at least a foot long. I’d never seen a butterfly that big in my life! I told Devon that the butterfly had long been a symbol of being born again…of new life. We headed back to our condo and I went up to get a zip lock bag to keep the butterfly for my scrapbook. When I returned, the butterfly was gone.
We spent the afternoon repenting and forgiving one another for past relationships. I wish I knew who that mountain church pastor was, to thank him for the gift he gave us that day. Not only did my future husband give his life to Jesus on our wedding day, but we started out our marriage with vital tools, repentance and forgiveness.
We exchanged our vows on a mountaintop in Colorado on May 31, 1994. I met my husband at the altar and have been getting to know him ever since.
Kristin Potler, co-authors the lifestyle blog, LoveFeast Table with her BFF, Chris Ann Brekhus. Their food, fashion, and home décor blog shares inspiration on savoring a beautiful life. You can visit the beautiful finds they’ve curated at their online boutique, LoveFeast Shop. They’d love to share their inspiration boards on Pinterest, chat with you on Twitter or invite you join their table on Facebook.