Courtship: Jordan’s perspective

    (Disclaimer: This is the long version. I hope you read it, but if you want the short version, I liked Ana Marie for some time. I finally made a move. We dated. We are now engaged to be married. There, I think that covers it. Ha!)

So there I was. I had just arrived in Louisville a couple of months back, and I was trying to settle in, trying to find a church, trying to set up life for the next however many years. I had started school and visited a few churches, trying to find a home, but I was unsuccessful. Then the guys said, “Hey, let’s go to Kenwood, you know, the one where James Hamilton preaches at.” “Sure,” I said, “Might as well.” So I went, and I loved it! I knew I had found where I would spend the rest of my time here in Louisville.

    And as I was looking around at all the new people at Kenwood, there she was. “Wow, she’s really pretty, and she seems nice,” I thought to myself. “I wonder if she’s married…nope, no ring…boyfriend?…Hmm, don’t see one.” Ha! I didn’t even know her name, but I was already sure that I wanted to get to know this girl. I suppose I asked someone, “Who is she?” “Ana Marie,” they said. “She’s a great girl. You should get to know her.”

    “Ana Marie. What a beautiful name. Ana Marie.”

Shortly after, and completely unbeknownst to her, I began to observe (hopefully in the least creepy way possible) who she was through the lens of her ministry at Kenwood. I saw that she loved people, “alright, good start,” she always someone’s baby in her arms, “OK, keep it coming,” AND (the pièce de résistance) she could cook! (no, but seriously, a bachelor does think about that kind of thing). And really, I thought these things were great, but what really attracted me about her was that I could see clearly that she loved Jesus. She loved my wonderful Savior, the one who had loved me so much, the one who had come down and given his very life in order to save me from the condemnation I absolutely deserved. That Savior. I could tell it on her face. I could tell it by the way she loved the body of Christ. And I could tell it by her actions. She loved my Savior, and my Savior loved her. THAT. That is what led me to pray, “Lord, if it’s your will, let me marry this woman.”

And so I waited….

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m way too shy for my own good….Let’s just say that I waited a year and a half to gather the courage to do anything about it. I mean really, how is a guy like me going to get response other than a laugh from a girl like her. So beautiful and godly and…Seriously, I thought (and still think) I was WAY out of my league trying to pursue her.

I did make attempts to get to know her in the hopes that maybe a conversation would spark. I would get to Sunday school early and sit by her normal spot. But she would come in and sit on the other side of the room….I began sitting near her in service. She would take off right after the benediction or begin a conversation with one of her girlfriends….I would get in line for lunch at the same time she would. She would inexplicably disappear or begin another deep conversation….I would go to get-togethers hoping she would show. She didn’t show….Things just weren’t working out….I just needed one opportunity….

So Spring semester ended this year. I went home, and in retrospect, I think God really got a hold on me. “Come on, son,” he seemed to be telling me. “You should ask her out.”

“Ok Ok, I’ll ask her out! Next time I see her.” I had never felt so motivated. At any cost, life or limb, I was going to ask this girl to go on a date with me. No more waiting.

So I come back to Louisville on Sunday. “Guys, I’m going to do it,” I told my roommates. “I’m going to ask Ana Marie to go on a date with me.”

“Yeah yeah yeah,” they said. “We’ve heard it before.”

“No. Seriously. I’m gonna do it. Next time I see her.”

    And so I planned. Wednesday night was going to be D-day. I was going to MAKE conversation happen.

    Monday rolled around.

    Tuesday.

STOP!!! Ana Marie is asking for help moving a desk from school to her place. “Uh oh, boys. Here we go! Here’s my chance.” She needs a truck. “Well, technically, my Xterra is built on a truck body….I’ll make it work.

    So, I go to The Attic at school, and there she is, pretty as can be, with a load ready for transport. And in walks Nathan Klein to help move the desk….

    “Noooo!” I thought. “He’s gonna hang around at her place and I won’t be able to ask Ana Marie to go on a date (‘cause that kind of conversation is awkward even without other people around).”

    “Well, it’s in God’s hands, anyway.”

    So Nathan and I move the desk from school and up Ana Marie’s impossibly narrow stairs, and then she asks, “Would you like some water?”

    “Sure,” we said.

    He knew! Praise the Lord, Nathan knew, or at least suspected that something was up. I have never seen someone down a glass of water that fast.

    “Thanks. I’ve got to go to work now,” he said, practically running out the door. Best. Roommate. Ever.

    And there we were. The moment of truth. After a year and a half of patiently/un-patiently waiting I was going to ask Ana Marie to give me a chance.

(Note: this is not an official transcript)

“So…got a busy week this week?” I said.

“Um, well, I’ve got this and that and something else.”

    “Huh, interesting. What are you up to on Thursday?”

    “Oh, I’ve got this until X o’clock,” she said.

    “Neat. What are you doing Thursday night?”

    “I don’t know. What’s on Thursday night?”

    “Well,” I said (then time slowed down. I could hear my heart beating). I thought, “Here goes nothing.”

    “Well, I was wondering if you might like to go to dinner with me…”

    And there it was. Everything out on the table.

    She said after a few moments of giving a blank stare, revealing the debilitating shock that my offer rightly provoked, “Let me check my calendar. I’ll let you know on Facebook later tonight”

    “Ahhh, come on!” I thought. “At least give me something. A smile, a look, anything,”……Nothing……

    “Sounds good,” I said.

    I don’t remember leaving, but on the drive home I remember thinking, “Well, I did it. It’s in the Lord’s hands now. Lord, if it’s your will, let her say yes.”

    About halfway home, I was thinking, “Wow, I might actually go on a date Friday with the girl I’ve had my eye on for so long. Friday…

Thursday? No, Friday…Thursday?” Dread. Pure, undiluted dread washed over me in waves. “I told her Thursday, but I meant Friday…Oh Lord preserve me. What have I done! I have to work Thursday night! Oh no!”

    So I got out my phone. “Oh no again!” Her phone had decided to literally fry itself as I was asking her to dinner. I couldn’t call. I couldn’t text….“Facebook!”

    Let’s just say the last half of my drive broke the world land speed record.

    I got home, ran up to my room, and proceed to correct my Thursday night proposal. “Hey Ana Marie. I made a mistake. When I said Thursday night, I actually meant Friday night.” I expected the worst.

    Silence…six hours of long, agonizing silence. And then she replied, “My phone is not working. Just wanted to let you know that I will be able to go out on Friday night.”

    I sat there, not comprehending what had just popped up on my screen. No seriously, already thinking the worst, I didn’t read her reply correctly.

I got up and moped into Harrison’s room. “She said no, man. She said she wouldn’t be able to go out with me.” We talked about it for a minute, and I went back to my room feeling dejected. I looked at my computer screen and read it again. “Well, at least I tried,” I thought…..“Wait…what? What does that say?…..HOLD THE PHONE!!! HOLD ON JUST A SECOND!!! SHE SAID YES!!!!!!!! SHE SAID YES!!!!!!!!”

Praise the Lord, she said had actually yes!

I cannot even BEGIN to describe joy, the happiness, the thankfulness to God that filled me in that moment. Beyond words…I was ecstatic. What I had wanted to happen for so long was finally happening. The Lord was graciously blessing me. Apart from salvation, this is truly the greatest act of undeserved favor that I will ever know, to know her. How good and kind the Lord is….

Friday came around. In the morning, I was still undecided as to where we would go for dinner on our first date, so I went and scouted around and found and made reservations at the Grape Leaf on Frankfort. I ended up being fairly nervous all the rest of the day praying that the Lord would perform some kind of miracle so that she would have a good time. I got dressed, hopped in the car, headed over to her house, knocked on the door, let her in the car, and we went to the Grape Leaf.

Thankfully, the restaurant had good food and a good atmosphere, and we talked for a good while about life, and our different views of things. Everything was checking out, but i was really after one thing in particular, her testimony. I wanted to know her heart. I wanted to know how she had become the loving daughter of Christ that I had seen at church. Almost needless to say, she knew that the Lord had bought her at the price of his Son, and she was trusting Christ to take her sin and shame. Praise the Lord!

After dinner, we went up Frankfort to the river and went walking in the park to the walking bridge just as the sun was about to set (and yes, I did plan it that way). We continued to walk and get to know each other, and then we headed back to her house.

Let me just say that I had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what she had thought of our evening together. She was a stone wall. I hadn’t the foggiest whether she enjoyed herself or if she liked me or hated me. I had no clue. So I just asked if she would like to go out again sometime. I don’t remember, that whole night was such a blur, but apparently she said yes.

    And so we went on a second date to Ramsi’s Cafe on the World (Don’t, I repeat, DON’T get the “Egyptian Kitchen” dish. It’s pretty gross). We talked more about life and how we viewed things. Everything went perfectly, I think, and the more I began to get to know her, the more I liked her.

    I found out at some point that she was going back home to Tulsa for two weeks. Bummer. I knew that I liked her and was pretty sure she was interested in me. I wanted to make it official. I had to tell her how I felt, and I knew I couldn’t leave things hanging for two weeks.

    So on the day before she was to fly out to Tulsa, we went on a third date, a lunch date, to Blue Dog Bakery where we talked some more over really good food. Then we headed out to Cherokee Park to walk around a little bit. I had planned to sit down with her at some point and share what I was thinking. We walked and talked and eventually realized that the trail was going nowhere and decided to head back.

    And as were were close to exiting the woods near the parking lot, I saw a rock and said “Hey, lets go sit up there and talk.” So we sat down on the rock and I told her how I felt. I told her how much I liked her, what a godly and beautiful woman she was, and that I wanted to ask her father’s permission to officially begin courting her. She said she would like that.

    “Wow,” I thought, “Are you kidding me!?! She must really like me!” I guess I still expected her not to be that interested. It all felt like a dream. “Is this really happening?” I thought. The fact is that, yes, she really did like me. She really did want to enter into a relationship with me, and I was so happy. So happy.

    At first I had a plan to tell her all about what I was feeling, and if she said yes, I would make my way down to Tulsa and talk with her father (I like to have serious conversations in person), but she had other plans. She told me that her father would probably like to know right away everything that was going on and that I would like to ask for permission to make things official. So she gave me his number.

    During our conversation, she asked me what I thought courting means. So I told her. I believe that two people want to get into a relationship (call it courting or dating or whatever) the goal should be to discern whether you should get married. Otherwise, what are you doing? Just having a good time? Really (and this shows how I truly think about it), if you don’t have marriage as the goal of the relationship, or if you aren’t purposefully trying to assess whether the two of you should get married, you’re probably taking advantage of the other person, leading them on, so to speak, to nothing in particular. My advice: When you find someone you would like to marry, pursue them, tell them your intentions, don’t leave them hanging, set up good boundaries (i.e. act like a Christian), and try to find out quickly if you should get married. If things don’t work out, that’s ok. You have just saved yourself and the other a great deal of heartache. But (BUT!) if things do work out, you will be headed toward marriage! In either case, you have acted honorably toward the other person, his or her parents, and most importantly, God.

    And that’s what Ana Marie and I did. We agreed that finding out if we should get married was to be our goal in our relationship.

    After our time in the park, I dropped her off and went to work probably looking extremely goofy with the huge smile on my face. On my hour break, I called her father. No answer…“Oh well, I’ll leave a message and call him tomorrow.”

    When I got off work I headed home and told the guys about everything that happened that day. After a couple of minutes, and in the middle of my conversation with Harrison, my phone buzzed with a text from Mr. Ort, “Is this Jordan? I’m calling in 5 minutes.”

    “Oh, well that’s VERY unexpected,” I thought in shock. “But I was going to call tomorrow. Ok Jordan, let’s get our thoughts together. This is happening whether I’m ready or not.”

    So I stopped my conversation with Harrison, “I’ll be back in a minute.”

    I rushed out to my car for some privacy and sat and prayed. “Lord, help me. Give me the words to convince this man that he can trust me with his daughter.”

    My phone rang, and Mr. Ort was on the other end. He was very kind (he could have interrogated me to the nth degree but he didn’t). He really wanted to know four things. My testimony, what I planned to do in life, what my perspective was on debt, and whether I liked soccer or not (ha!). We talked for a little bit and he informed me that both he and Mrs. Ort gave their blessing.

Praise the Lord! I had a girlfriend!

(This thing’s getting long so I”m going to speed it up a bit)

Ana Marie left for Tulsa, and over the two weeks that she was gone we moved really fast. I wasn’t even physically present with her, but we talked on the phone A LOT, and we got right down to the business of finding out whether we should get married. We talked about everything you could think of that you would want to know of the person you would want to marry, life philosophies, particulars, the whole nine yards. By the time that she came back to Louisville, I felt that I really had begun to know her. And I began, slowly but surely, to love her.

Over the next seven weeks (yeah, we only dated for seven weeks) I got to know her better, seeing what she was like in all sorts of situations. We were (and still are) joined at the hip. We went down to the beach for a vacation with my family, and they loved her. All the while we were still trying to ascertain whether we should get married (though really, I think we knew for a while before we got engaged. I, at least, definitely knew).

And so I got a ring. I tossed around a few ideas of how to propose, but there was still one thing I needed to do. I wanted to ask her father for permission to marry her, in person. Thankfully, we had already planned a trip down to Tulsa for Mr. Ort’s birthday.

One morning, Mr. Ort and I went to breakfast together. He was definitely expecting the question, and right away we talked about Ana Marie and I getting married. It didn’t take long before we finished breakfast, and I had his blessing to ask Ana Marie to marry me. Praise the Lord!

And so we ended our trip to Tulsa, and I was really impatient to put a ring on her finger. I had planned to propose the day after we got back from Tulsa, but there was one problem, well two. She had a paper from a summer class to finish, and she wasn’t feeling well. She planned to work on the paper on our 12 hour drive back to Louisville. “Come on, you’ve got to stay awake and work on this paper…You don’t want to get a bad grade. You should work on your paper….I’m not going to talk so you can work on your paper.” I tried EVERYTHING. But she was feeling bad. And I should have felt bad about pushing her, but I REALLY wanted her to be free the next day so I could surprise her with the proposal. But it just wasn’t going to happen. Oh well, plans change, and I’m glad they did.

I had an extra day to make sure everything was just right. On Wednesday, I arrived at her house. Ah! but it was 30 minutes before what we had planned. I parked down the street, out of view of the house and waited for Elda (her roommate) to come out. When she did, I took her to Cherokee park, and we quickly scouted out the best place to propose. When I was satisfied, I left Elda and went back to Ana Marie’s house to pick her up. She had mentioned going to the park to sit and talk (which played right into my plan), and so I had prepared, grabbing a blanket and a cooler.

We headed down to the park, got out, and found a good spot to lay the blanket out and talk. It was on a big rock right by a beautiful stream with some good shade. The weather was perfect!

I also brought my Bible along.

So we sat and talked for a minute, and then I pulled out my Bible. I had selected a few passages to read, and so I began. I read out of one of the Gospels, Genesis 2, Proverbs 31, and Ephesians 5. All of them were about marriage and the kind of woman I believe her to be. As I was reading out of Ephesians 5, I got to the part where it says, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church,” and I couldn’t help but cry. That’s what I want to do for her, to love her in the best, most real, most true way possible, to love her like my Savior loves me.

I stood her up, and I took out the ring. Getting down on one knee, I said something in the way of “Ana Marie, will you marry me.” And she said yes!

I have found in Ana Marie, something, someone I thought I would never find, a woman who loves and cares for me deeply, who challenges me to godliness and holiness in a way that I cannot begin to express. The Lord has dealt graciously with me, and he perfectly planned everything so that we would come together at the right time. The Lord has been so good, and I praise him for everything that has happened over the last several months. He has given me the woman that I love, and with whom I will joyfully live the rest of my life. I cannot wait to see how our lives together will unfold. Ana Marie, I love you!