Happy New Years everyone!
Today marks my wedding anniversary too - #9. :) I have to thank God for the man He placed in my live a little over 9 years ago.
I was looking for a different chat room in August of 1998 as I was bored with the everyday "stuff" that happened in the other chat rooms. I had to download a program in order to go into this chat room. I was getting frustrated when on my 4th try it finally went through! When I entered there were only two other women in the room. A few minutes later came "Trouble4u" and he was flirting with the other women...not in a bad way if you know what I mean!
I just hung back watching and then said hi to him. We got to talking in the room, then went into ICQ chat together. There were three questions he asked: Do you smoke? Do you drink? Are you a Christian? I could truthfully answer no to the first two and yes to the third. We continued chatting for three hours that day. It seems that it became a habit of spending a couple of hours a day on the computer together after that. During that time we had ICQ chats often and lots of days his family would join in too! It was nice to get to know them all a head of time! By September we were talking on the phone nightly. Some days I would call and he would be busy but would talk to his family members (mom, dad, grandpa or grandma - whoever answered the phone).
One day in October we were talking about what kind of wedding we each would like. He laughed and said, "I haven't proposed yet!" and I replied, "Yes I know". That day he proposed online in ICQ chat. :) We still had not met face to face!
I made plans to take the train out there and spend Christmas with him and his family. Now if you knew me this is TOTALLY out of character for me! It took four days to get there. We ran into all kinds of problems...we had to wait 45 minutes for a bus load of passengers from another train in arrive in Iowa, frozen train signals in Kansas so they had to stop the train at each bridge to make sure it was okay, etc. When we arrived in New Mexico we were four hours behind so I tried to call him to tell him we were late but he had already left to go to Flagstaff to pick me up. We were then delayed another hour between New Mexico and Flagstaff. During those last few hours of the ride I was so afraid he would be gone. We were now five hours late! Would he be there? What would I do if he wasn't? Where would I go? I expressed this to an elderly Amish couple that had boarded in Chicago.
When the train arrived in Flagstaff (12.23.98) the couple said, "If he is not here you are more than welcome to go with us tonight then you can contact him in the morning". What a relief! At least I had something to fall back on! But when I got off the train there he was. Freezing his tush off. (When you think of Arizona you don't think of freezing weather hut let me tell you otherwise!) We went to Denny's for coffee and then found a hotel to stay in as it was 3 am when I finally arrived! (Flagstaff is in the mountains and 2 1/2 hours from his home town. He had been up since 5 am as he had to work that day!)
The next morning we took off and I am so glad that we waited. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous! I remember stopping at a rest area that over looked the mountains and it was so awesome - we stayed there probably 30 minutes or so just soaking in God's creation.
When we arrived I had butterflies in my stomach! He lived with his mom and dad and I was horrified of meeting them! Here I was, a stranger, and invading their home for two weeks! What if things didn't work? What would I do? Where would I go? They were not there so he said, "We will go over to Grandpa's on the next road. Maybe they are there." WHAT!?!? Now I have to meet Mom and Dad, Grandpa and Grandma? Luckily no one was there either! Whew! We went back to his house, lo and behold, they were all in the driveway! When I got out of the car they came over and all hugged me! What a relief!
My stay was for two weeks. I won't go into all the details of that two weeks but am going to highlight a few moments! On Christmas morning he presented me with a necklace, Green Bay Packer slippers (which I still have) and a set of rings! They were gorgeous!
On December 30 he said he had to talk to me. I thought, "Here it comes...he is going to say it is not going to work. Where will I go?" He took me to Barnes & Noble cafe and ordered us coffee. When we sat down he said, "I want to marry you but do not want to live in sin. We should get married." Whew! I was so relieved! I thought for sure it was the end. When I asked what he wanted to do about it his reply was, "Let's go to Vegas and get married!" I was shocked. Sure we had kidded about eloping, etc. during our chats but to actually do it!
On January 1 we loaded up in the truck and took off for Vegas at 4 am. The sunrise was beautiful and we had a wonderful trip. I was amazed at the site of Vegas and it was hard to take it all in for a small town country bumpkin from Michigan! We found a cute little chapel (The Chapel Behind the Courthouse) and went inside. They asked if we had a marriage license and James told them no. They told us where the courthouse was and yes it would be open (on a national holiday?). We took the long way around the block talking, making sure this was what we wanted to do. We each gave the other the opportunity to back out! :) When we arrived at the courthouse there was a guard who pointed us in the direction we needed to go...and there was a line of people waiting for licenses! We had to wait about 40 minutes. On the way out James asked the guard if it was always like this and she said, "Only on holidays and weekends!" with a big smile.
When we got back to the chapel we were now fifth in line. Our pastor was "Reverend Chip". We were all invited into the chapel for the weddings of the others. It was sweet...a young couple was first...so shy yet you could see the love they had for each other. I don't remember much about the others. We were the last in that group for the ceremony. We ate at a casino and walked around before deciding to head back. There were no open hotel rooms because of it being New Years and we had to drive 80 miles before we say a vacancy sign! By then we were so tired that we pulled into the first hotel. It was a dingy old place, with yellowed walls, worn sheets, lights that didn't work, a shower without a shower head. We dropped into bed exhausted.
Needless to say it was a trip to remember. I met my soul mate online, met face to face less than six months later, married him ten days later. I called my boss and extended my vacation for another week. I had to leave him on January 6th to come back to Michigan. The plan was that I would move back to Arizona the end of February...which didn't work out. He called me on January 15th and said, "I am moving there! I have already sent my things via UPS and will arrive on January 26!"
So that was the beginning of our courtship...quick and easy...nothing like me. I am very cautious on anything I do, feeling out the territory, over analyzing a lot of the time! Now here it is nine years later...I love him more today than I did when we met. He has been a gem with my family. There are many times that I think what if. But then I think of the blessings he has brought into my life over these nine years and I thank God for bringing us together over the world wide web.