(I apologize for the long delay in getting the final part published.)
Follow these links to read about our story leading up to this:
Several weeks after starting our courtship I left to go visit my grandparents in a different state for almost a month. This had been planned for quite some time before I knew I was going to be in a courtship and my emotions were quite mixed to leave and go stay with them! The weeks leading up to me leaving were filled with learning to open our hearts up to each other. By the time I left, we had already verbally told each other that we were committed to this courtship, and that, Lord willing, we would be married to each other. Some people were amazed that we could already know that, but we just did.
Some things we did together before I left were attending a wedding together where I was the pianist, going to a botanical garden with my family, and spending lots and lots of time just talking, both with my family and by ourselves.
While I was away, I spent most of my vacation money on pre paid long distance phone cards so I could call Sean! We also exchanged letters (which continued through the whole courtship) and they are so precious to me. I have them all tied in ribbon bundled away in my drawer.
When I returned home it was a bit awkward, getting used to being around each other again. We resumed our talks, and a tradition began. We would talk a few times throughout the week on the phone, and he would come over on Friday nights to my house and spend the evening there. Sean’s parents had a curfew in their house that he had to be home at midnight, and many nights he made it home just in time. If my parents were tired and wanted to go to bed, my sister was wonderful and stayed up to act as a chaperon for us. The first few hours were normally spent talking with my entire family, and then we talked by ourselves for a few hours.
For the first six months we never held hands, put our arms around each other, etc. My mom told Sean that she trusted him, and that when he felt it was time that we could hold hands. We finally did start holding hands, but if we had known how much longer it was going to be before we were married it probably would have been best to wait even a little longer than we did. I am not a proponent of getting married and never having any sort of physical contact though. I know that can be strongly promoted by people who believe in courtship, but the real life examples I have seen where the couples had zero physical contact before marriage had some struggles that could have been easily avoided by simply starting to hold hands before marriage.
Sean was still in college and we were not sure what the future would hold. At times I got discouraged, wondering if it would be several more years before we could get married. Sean switched colleges, going from pursuing a graphic design degree to becoming a sign language interpreter. After a semester of pursing the sign language degree, he realized some issues in becoming certified in that field and decided to drop out of college.
We spent many hours talking about what he would do, and for some odd reason we came up with him being a cabinet maker. I laugh now thinking of the reasoning I gave him, “well Jesus was a carpenter, and it sounds so nice to have you work with your hands!” We were young for sure.
He was hired on at a local cabinet shop having no experience at all, and making hardly above minimum wage. After a few months he switched cabinet shops going to a shop in the city making just a little bit more money. I wondered when we would ever get married as it seemed like it would be quite awhile before he would be making enough for us to get married on. Thankfully he became extremely skilled at woodworking and even owned his own cabinet shop for several years, so it wasn’t all for nothing.
Finally, when I least expected it Sean proposed. We had been courting for 16 months-more than enough time for us to know that we wanted to be married. It was on a Sunday evening, and he proposed as we were sitting on his Grandparents porch swing.
We had a very short engagement period of 2 months. My dress had already been sewn by my sister during a week long vacation she took from work a few months previously (she knew it was the only time off work she had for quite a while). Somehow we pulled everything else together, making the bridesmaid dresses, flower girl dresses, and with the help of a good friend doing all of our own flower arrangements as well. The wedding was lovely-but what touched me the most was how many people said that the Spirit of God was present.
We had our first kiss in front of 200 people! I have never regretted that decision and I pray that my own children will make the same decision we did.