After that 2001 Knoxville conference, I went home to work for my dad as a receptionist for his construction company. I thoroughly enjoyed that time, getting to see my dad and grandma (she works for him too, to this day!) every day. It was refreshing to be in the “real world” where I was treated as a capable adult… which made me want to be one!
Maybe this would be the place to clarify some things about my up-bringing. While the homeschool organization my family was with was terribly controlling, my parents were nothing like that. In fact, I never really told them a lot of what went on during my years at HQ, Russia, Michigan, Dallas, and everywhere else I traveled to with ATI. I feel really stupid about that now, and it’s hard to explain in a short post. But I had been convinced (or instructed in some cases) that telling my parents negative things about my authorities there would be wrong of me. Of all the things I struggled through in my late teens and early twenties, none of it was at the hand of my parents. Really, what matters in this story is that my parents did not subscribe to the high control, zero trust mentality. I felt that they trusted me, and expected me to act in a manner worthy of trust. I appreciated it back then, but even more now that I have my own kids and can appreciate the challenge of parenting! Okay. Back to the story!
By this time, I had a pretty decent crush on another guy I’d met in my travels. We had kept in touch once I went home, and I was beginning to think that *he* might be THE ONE. Until one day he called and told me he was proposing to a girl at his school that night. *Cue heart-wrenching music* Yes, I was really hurt. I cried on my dad’s shoulder and told him, “That’s it. I’m not cut out for this relationship stuff. I don’t even want to attempt this again. If God wants me to get married, He’s going to have to show me the guy’s name in the Bible or something.” This is also when I decided that I was way too easily wooed, and needed my dad to run interference for me. My dad wasn’t so sure about this idea, but I was. My new rule was “if a guy asks me out before he talks to my dad, he’s out. Period.” I figured that was not an impossible requirement for God to work around. My dad reluctantly agreed. Our deal was that I didn’t want to know of any guy being interested until my parents could give him their stamp of approval. I didn’t want to run the risk of falling for a guy and then having my parents disapprove.
That’s when guys starting coming out of the woodwork. Random strangers, old neighbors, bizarre acquaintances, even one guy that my dad threatened with a restraining order. Creepy. But without exception, they all approached me first… making it even easier to say no.
During this time I was doing a weekly Bible study with my grandma. I can’t even tell you how much I loved that. I’ve always felt close to her, but that time was really special for us. I confided a lot in her, and she prayed a lot for me. I am so incredibly thankful for such Godly parents and grandparents. I spent the remainder of 2001 just loving being with my family.
On October 30th 2001, I had a little melt-down. I don’t remember what brought it on, but I remember the tears and telling my mom “I lied. I DO want to get married.” She and my grandma prayed long and hard for me that night. I don’t think anyone expected God to answer them so quickly.
Let’s jump back a little so Nathan can catch you up on his part of the story…
Back at ALERT, after Knoxville, I called my dad. “I think I have found the woman I should marry.” He didn’t take me seriously … again. This was the second time I had mentioned her. After Flint was the first, but I didn’t think I had a chance then, not much of one now maybe either.
In basic training I had learned that crashing and burning is not the end of life. If she said “no” at least there would be that. I spoke to a friend in the administration building there at ALERT. He got me into the home school registry system, we had Julie’s family picture and her grades, but no contact info. I called a unit buddy’s sister at ATI headquarters and finally got her dad’s work and cell numbers. I told my dad again that this is serious and if you want me to use the courtship system you need to call Burnie Zercher for the “my son would like to court your daughter” talk. As unimpressed with the formal mold of courtship as I was, I felt she must like it. Maybe she wanted more, but that I was doing it wrong and she wanted me to go about it correctly. That was my only hope since the alternative was that she was just out of my league.
Back to me again! Remember at this time I’m working for my dad at his office, with my grandma? Oct 31st, the day after my melt-down, turned out to be monumental. My grandma answered the office phone, then asked me if I’ve heard of someone named Peter Terrell. He said he was calling from Mexico, near the Guatemala border… should she put the call through to my dad? Strange. But definitely YES! I went and stood in my dad’s office doorway, watching him calmly talk on the phone. He said little more than “okay… interesting… sounds good.” Then he hung up and went back to whatever he was doing. “Dad!!” He turns to me and says “yes?” “Well? What was that about? Why is Peter Terrell calling you? Isn’t that Nathan’s dad?” Without batting an eye, he replied, “Oh yeah, I think so. His son is graduating ALERT soon, and Headquarters gave him my information in case I could help set him up with some interviews.” Oh. Well that’s not so interesting after all. I went back to working thinking “well maybe I’ll see him when he comes for interviews.” That was the end of it! Little did I know, the conversation had to do with an entirely different kind of interview.
Peter (Nathan’s dad) asked if I was spoken for, and informed my dad that Nathan was interested in pursuing a relationship with me. He also said that Nathan did not want me brought into the loop until my parents were okay with him. DING DING DING! We have a winner, folks!! I assume that Peter gave my dad some contact info for Nathan, and they hung up.
The ball was rolling, now! But I would remain blissfully ignorant for 2 more months.