Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day 1996

Today is the 18th anniversary of the day my husband won my heart. You may have read this story on my other blog, but it's a first over here.

I met Al Yarrington in 1990.  We met at a University Christian Outreach meeting at Michigan State University.  Legend has it that I caught his eye from the very beginning.  I didn't catch on until several years later.

Al was that friendly, non-intimidating guy with whom all of the girls felt comfortable.  He was a constant fixture in UCO, serving behind the scenes with set up, clean up and all those practical logistics that most people don't like to do.  He was the guy you'd call if your car didn't start.  Or the one who threw uninvited guests with their keg of beer out of the party in your apartment!

We became good friends.  I'm sure I started to figure out, at some point, that he was interested in being more than friends.  But I didn't see him that way.  He came with me to the Upper Peninsula to visit my family (along with some other UCO friends), and my family figured out right away that Al was after me.  He drove me to Milwaukee for a long weekend, to surprise my mom on Mother's Day as my parents were visiting my aunt.  When I was gone for 16 months of missionary work in the Philippines, guess who wrote to me all the time?  You guessed it.  Al.

When I returned from the Philippines in spring of 1994, he asked me out.  I told him, "I'm not interested in you that way."

In 1995, he assisted me with buying my first car.  We spent hours together going to dealerships, test driving cars, etc.  We became closer, and then started dating for a few months.  But I still had my hesitation, so I eventually told Al, "I don't think you're the one for me."

Obviously, that kind of break up does some damage to a relationship.  We drifted apart, but around Christmas of 1995, I was having second thoughts.  Al and I happened to go out with a group of friends, and we reconnected.  When we walked out to our cars at the end of the evening, Al told me that he was flying out to California the next day to visit his parents for Christmas.  I hugged him, but something in me wanted more than that.

That surprised me a little bit.

When I visited my family for Christmas, another surprising thing happened.  As we sat in the warmly lit church on Christmas Eve, I had a vision in my mind of Al walking up the aisle and sitting down with my family.

By this time, I was thinking that maybe Al was the one, and that maybe I had made a big mistake.  And the ball was in my court.  I wasn't ready to re-ignite a relationship just yet, however, because I couldn't stand the thought of hurting him again.  So, I prayed and consulted some close friends who also prayed with me.  I decided that I would take time during Lent of 1996 to really pray and discern how God was leading me.

It wasn't very far into Lent when Valentine's Day came around.  God had been working on my heart, slowly helping me to realize all the ways that Al was so good for me. He was always taking care of me, serving me and loving me in practical ways.  On that particular Valentine's Day, he took my car to get an oil change and then he got the interior cleaned as well.  I didn't think much of it because that's the kind of service Al was always doing for others.

I was at my job as a preschool teacher. Al came to get my car while I was working, and when he returned the car, he gave me my keys and just said, "see you later."  We were both planning to go out with a group of friends for ice cream later that evening.

I had to close that night. I said good-bye to the last children and I tidied up the Childcare Center a bit before locking up. It was a beautiful winter night. Snow was falling quietly in soft, huge flakes. The sky was lit up by the snow, so it was a relatively bright walk out to my car. When I got to my car, there was a snow covered carnation tucked into the windshield wiper. This was nothing new, and it wasn't even a huge gift, since the dealership gave out free carnations with every oil change! But that simple little gesture, along with a small note from Al, asking me if he could treat me to ice cream, was all it took for him to finally win my heart. I took the flower and the note and sat in my car and cried for joy. I knew Al loved me, and I had been falling in love without even knowing it!

I didn't even wait until the end of Lent to tell Al I was ready to pursue a "more-than-friends" relationship with him, to which his response was, "YESSSSSS!"

Four months later we were engaged, and five months after that, we were married.

I'm so glad that God - and my husband - kept after me until I realized how good Al would be for me!

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