This season was an interesting one in my life. I came to grips with the fact that I truly did want to be married, but decided to make the most of whatever I had left of singleness. I had a realization that once I *did* have a significant other, my attention would be divided, and I’d never be this free to grow in my relationship with God again. So those two months truly were blissfully ignorant! I had no idea what was going on with Nathan…
I got a call that same day (Oct 31, 2001) from Burnie (Julie’s dad). He and his wife Pam were going to pick up Julie’s little sister Kimberly in Dallas in a few weeks and they would like to meet me. They picked me up at my barracks at ALERT and we talked all the way to Dallas, lunch at a Mexican place and then to the training center. I liked them a lot. I like people that ask real questions, pay attention to the answers and don’t use artificial smiles to convince you they are listening. I stayed for Kiki’s graduation and met her afterwards with her mom and dad, only briefly.
Burnie and I were in touch a lot after that. He said that the whole thing was still a secret from Julie and asked if that was ok. I told him I would rather that he was ok with me as a decent person for his daughter first… then if I passed the test he could see how she felt about me. I didn’t know he was literally going to send me a test every week to answer. Questions about how I viewed child rearing, missions, God, life purpose… then he sent me Julie’s answers to the same questions. I liked her even more.
December 8th 2001 I graduated from Paramedics and finished my time at ALERT. I went just down the road to Tyler, TX and found a job as an ER tech at a level one trauma center. I told them I would start the end of March 2002. There was an ALERT dive trip to FL that I had been invited to be an instructor for in Feb-March, and I had a little side trip to Colorado to make in-between. Julie left her home on December 29th in the morning, and about an hour later I drove up the driveway. She was going to be gone visiting her friend in MI for 10 days and I was going to be visiting her family for that time. It was like final exams week for me, but the whole family was all really easy to love. Julie thought I was there to look for a job because I speak Spanish and much of the nearby city of Pueblo speaks Spanish. Her dad has the best poker face on the planet. A few days in, Burnie said that he and Pam were ok with me, and asked how we should proceed.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with my dear friend Amanda (who is still one of my dearest friends)! One night, sitting in her room, I told Amanda that it was strange how suddenly content I was to be single.. Beyond content, I was actually enjoying it. Realizing that I have so much freedom right now to travel, shop, work, and just generally be footloose. She laughed and said “now that you’ve reached that point, God will probably change it up and bring you a man.” Haha! You’d never considered yourself a prophet before, had you, Amanda?
I called home to talk to my family one night, after my first experience with snow-boarding. My knees and backside hurt so bad I could barely move! I had a blast though. Nothing like making a complete fool of yourself with your best friend.
My family passed the phone around and I got to talk to everyone for a few minutes. Then Billy (bratty little brother!) says “here talk to Nathan!” and handed the phone off. Hello awkward conversation! Nathan was as polite as he could be (I think we each said “hey…. umm…. how’s it goin… good…”) and then passed the phone to one of my parents. I laughed and said “that was weird! How are interviews going for Nathan?” They lied very well and said “great!” When I hung up I told Amanda “that was strange. Something is going on.” We figured, at the very most, he was going to ask for permission to court me.
As I type that, it occurs to me that it may sound strange to someone not familiar with courtship vs. dating. So here is the nutshell description. ATI strongly discourages dating, and offers courtship as better, safer alternative. It entails a much higher level of involvement on the parents part, more group “dates”, and only chaperoned time together. Courting is never just “for fun” but always with the end goal of marriage. We had several talks about it in our family over the years, and all of us kids were on board with the idea. So that’s what I expected from Nathan at this point. Requesting permission to court me. I was about to be very surprised.