When I asked Nat to call me back later (remember the screaming baby?), he said he would in one hour. That one hour was one of the longest of my life! My friend found out who had been on the phone and asked me what Nat wanted. I responded, "I don't exactly know... he's going to call back in an hour." She wanted me to give my mom a call to find out how the phone call with my dad went, but I said no since I wanted to hear from Nat himself. I'll spare you all the endless thoughts and musings of that hour because quite frankly I'm sure my girl readers will be able to fill in the blank very well!
My cell phone rang as I was driving home and it was none other than Nat on the other end. Without much chit-chatting and small pleasantries, he plunged in right away and said he talked with my dad on the phone and then came over to drop a little booklet off at my parents' house. He then said he had been praying about this for a while and felt it was time for us to get to know each other better. Now it's one thing to pray about this myself and think this is going to work out, but it's quite another thing to actually hear Nat express it himself!
I remember telling Nat that it wasn't exactly a surprise to me that he called my dad, etc. but I was surprised that this all took place so quickly after returning home from Thailand and Florida. In my mind I guess I was thinking Nat might approach the subject within 3-4 months, but I am definitely ok with the fact he did it in less than a week of me being home:).
When I got home, my mom was busy doing something in the kitchen, so I sat down and asked her how everything went. She then filled in a few of the details, all the while continuing about doing whatever it was she was doing. My mom has been so completely calm and down-to-earth about everything that has taken place since September 17th, which I am so grateful for!
The booklet Nat had dropped off was filled with a bunch of "getting to know you questions" that our Pastor had given to Nat, so the next day Nat called and using the questions as a springboard, we began to get to know each other better. This pattern continued on for the next few weeks - Nat would call every 2-3 days and we would chat on the phone for quite a while, which was a lot of fun:).
The hardest part about this whole thing was not telling people, with the exception of a few close friends. I didn't really see Nat much during this time because he would be helping at another church in New Jersey on Sundays and our paths didn't cross much during the week. My parents had suggested having a dinner so Nat could meet some of my siblings, so that was scheduled for October 4th. In the end, only my brothers could come (as well as two families from church) but both of my brothers liked Nat right away.... whew!
We continued going through the questions in the book, but by this time we were both quite certain that it was indeed God's plan for us to form a commitment indicating that we were going to get married. If I could, I want to pause the story here long enough to say I tremendously enjoyed getting to know Nat without having to worry about ulterior motives or having to impress him - it was so freeing to just simply be myself! Realistically speaking, honesty in communication is what our relationship needed to be based upon from the beginning. It was still so nice not to have to put up a front in order to "catch" this guy... which is a ridiculous concept anyway!
Nat had asked me to give his mom a call, so one Monday we switched places, so to speak:). I called and talked with his mom, and he came over and talked with my parents. I didn't know it at the time, but the reason he came to talk with my parents was to ask my dad for permission to marry me! I continued on in my state of oblivion and greatly enjoyed chatting with his mom. Nat's immediate family lives in Texas and I've only met them once when they came through a few years back, so chatting on the phone was a good opportunity to get to know his mom a little better.
We both had agreed our next step was commitment, but this is the part where I got to skate easy, since it wasn't my responsibility:). That all fell entirely upon Nat's shoulders, and I was quite content to continue our phone conversations and see the Lord work it all out in His time. Probably the most awkward part of this all was trying to explain to some family members what it was we were doing. That was always an interesting conversation to be had:).
A long time ago I used to think I wanted to be engaged for a month before anyone knew about it just so we could enjoy our engagement, but I will now state very emphatically that idea was absolutely crazy! The Lord had a sense of humor enough to show me the error of that thinking because Nat first approached my dad on September 17th and we didn't get engaged until October 20th. One very, very looooong month! So if there is any girl thinking along the lines of what I thought, my suggestion is to go throw that idea into the trash because by the time your special guy is in your life, you're going to want to tell everybody you see:).
I do have a funny story from when Nat met my sister and her husband (three days before our engagement). Because of previous plans, my sister and her husband were unable to come to the dinner my parents had on October 4th. We worked out a time when Nat would come down to their house so they could meet and we also invited my brothers to come down too. One person I didn't count on was my aunt. She lives in North Carolina but was in Pennsylvania for a couple of weeks. This particular Saturday she had plans that got cancelled at the last moment, so she called my sister up and asked if she could come to their house and watch a Florida Gators football game. My sister kept putting her off and was asking me what to do:). I wasn't intending to tell my extended family about Nat until after we were engaged, but since Murphy's Law is alive and well in my life, I just laughed and told her to give the go-ahead to my aunt. We just didn't tell her about Nat, that's all:D.
My aunt showed up at my sister's house and was excited to watch the Gators game as well as enjoy dinner with us. My sister and I were working on dinner, so we sent my 4-year-old nephew into the living with my aunt. My sister and I heard my aunt and nephew talking about the game and dinner when my nephew said, "And Nat's coming." Our heads both shot up and we froze. Thankfully my aunt didn't understand my nephew and she continued watching the game. My sister and I however kept hearing my nephew say, "Nat" this and "Nat" that (let me insert here that my nephew hadn't even met Nat at this point!). My aunt was completely shocked when Nat showed up at the door and my nephew said, "Nat's here!" (as if he and Nat were best buddies their entire lives:D). My aunt just stared at me while she slowly asked, "And who is Nat?" I wasn't sure what to say so I just said, "Um, Nat's, um, a special, uh... friend." So smooth, right? :) *Sigh*
Nat normally goes down to a church in New Jersey on Sundays to help with their youth ministry, but decided to come to services at LVBC the next day since my Pastor and his family were going to be in Botswana, Africa for three months. I have to admit that when he said he was going to be there that day that I thought, "Oh no! Please Lord, don't let him stand up in front of the entire church and ask me to marry him in front of everybody!!!!" I knew he had a "surprise" for me since my mom had told me that, but I was really praying that "surprise" wouldn't include 300 other people! I was so relieved and thankful that the afternoon ended without any fanfare:).
Little did I know what awaited me on Tuesday:).