It worked out that I was able to take one week off from camp that summer to attend the national FCM conference which was being held in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the first time. Ked made the drive up north to pick me up for the week, and my parents would be meeting us at the conference. which was being held at Calvin College just down the street from our college. I was looking forward to a fun week with my family, friends and Ked, and praying for a bit of sleep.
Ked’s birthday also happened to be that week, and my Mom helped me plan a little celebration with just me and him. I had learned enough about the city during the school year to be able to plan a day full of fun activities. What I couldn’t plan was the ever-changing Michigan weather. I had learned that year that “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes, it will change.” Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. When you love the weather, it still can change on a dime. We headed out to a small lake near Calvin with a picnic lunch. Just as we arrived at the lake, it started to drizzle. My already frayed emotions were just about to spill over at the thought of my perfectly planned day going down the drain. Ked came to the rescue with an umbrella. I looked at him warily, “And how are you going to hold the umbrella and eat your lunch?” He winked at me and said, “Trust me!” I followed closely behind as he found a tree and instructed me to spread the blanket before the grass became too wet. He then hung the umbrella on the branches above our blanket, and we stayed perfectly dry while we enjoyed a birthday picnic made even more romantic by the summer rain.
We juggled as often as we could during the conference that week, and when someone showed up with torches – as in sticks that you light on fire and juggle, Ked jumped at the chance. He took his turn confidently as if he threw around sticks of fire every day and then passed them to me. I threw him a look that said, “I thought you loved me?!?” He knew how weak my juggling skills were, and yet he handed me flaming sticks with the instructions to flip them in the air and catch them in my fragile little hands and not catch myself on fire. Ok, so I exaggerate a little. But not about the fire part. I took a deep breath and attempted to juggle them while holding my hands in an awkward position as far as possible from my body. I lasted all of about ten seconds before running away screaming, or at least handing them back to their owner with a polite thanks and a look at Ked that said, “Are you trying to kill me off so soon?” I wasn’t anxious to add that to our act.
The week came to a close much too quickly and I headed back north to finish out my summer as a camp counselor and waiting for the next blue envelope covered in his artistic scrawl to arrive and the next Sunday phone call.
Ked returned to his three jobs and on the rare times he was home, nearly drove his mom nuts. He spent his time at home that summer wearing a path in the carpet by her sewing machine while she worked on new materials for their ministry. He’d pace back and forth muttering, “I have to marry her. I just can’t stand being apart. I have to marry her!” Exasperated his mom would reply, “So marry her already!!”
It was no longer a question of if we would get married, but a question of when. It seemed more people were thinking the same thing.
When I got back to camp, one of the staff members came over to see how my week off was and if you and I had a good week together and so on. Then he says, “It was really neat to see you two together. I know you’re young, and it may be premature to say this, but you two make a really good couple. You already smile alike and have a lot of similarities. That’s neat.” Of course, I don’t think it’s premature to say so. I’ve known it all along! It really made me smile to hear someone who doesn’t know us at all recognize what a good couple we are, having only seen us together a few minutes. Every minute we spend together, I can’t help but to fall deeper and deeper in love with you and desire so much to marry you. I can’t imagine how it’ll be when the time finally does come. I’m already madly in love with you!
In a letter to me late that summer, Ked showed how much marriage was on his mind too.
My sister and I went out shopping yesterday after work. That was fun, just the two of us. I bought some things for the dorm room. Actually, for our apartment or house. I wish you had been there to help me out. I just hope you like it. You know. I don’t buy many things for myself any more, it’s usually for the two of us. I like that!
Honey, I miss you so much! In fact, I don’t even like to think about it! I’ve been keeping busy this week so far (it’s only Tuesday!)
By the end of the summer, I was even talking about kids. Of course, I had kids on the brain since I’d spent the entire summer with them, but still…
I think I’ve learned a lot about parenting somewhat this summer. Well, not about being a parent, but a few things I want to do. I want my hubby to be around so our kids can be close to both father and mother. I want to put Deuteronomy 6:7 into practice, for our faith to be a way of life, a natural thing to talk about God and His word. As it says, to teach them diligently, to talk of it when you sit in your house, walk by the way, when you lie down and rise up. I want for my kids to see in me 24 hours a day 365 days a year for my whole life that I am genuine and in love with the Lord.
I guess I’ve seen a tiny bit of what a huge responsibility it is to be a parent. Wow. And I’ve realized how important prayer is. I want to pray for my husband every day and for our children and their specific needs. And as I have this picture in my head – you fit in so perfectly. You’re the only one that fits. Lord willing, I look forward to raising your children and sharing the responsibility with you some day. What a privilege it will be!