It was 2004. I received a letter from Moody Bible Institute telling me I hadn’t been accepted. I was crushed. I was so sure I would be accepted.
At the time I was working for Child Evangelism Fellowship® (CEF) of Dallas, TX. As I continued working with CEF, I felt led to receive further training from them. So I applied to Children’s Ministry Institute, the three month training program offered at CEF’s headquarters. I started the program in January, 2005 and graduated in April, 2005.
While at the training, I re-applied to Moody. I cried when I learned that, through some mix-up with the Post Office, my application never arrived at the campus.
The original plan was for me to continue working with CEF in Dallas for the summer of 2005 and then attend Moody in the fall. Now, I would not be attending Moody in the fall, and due to CEF of Dallas having a new director in training, I would be unable to work with them for the summer.
Basically, all my plans fell apart.
It turned out that there was an opening with the next closest chapter, CEF of Ft. Worth. So, after being home for a month, I moved to Ft. Worth and began a year long internship there. During this internship, I re-applied to Moody for the 3rd time. I was frustrated with the application process by now.
If not Moody, I didn’t know where I would go to school, but I was pretty much determined not to apply there again.
I received a letter back from Moody in April 2006 and was hesitant to open it. Once I did, I learned that I was accepted, but also learned that I was on the waiting list. They were to keep in touch with me over the summer to let me know whether I would be able to attend for the fall 2006 semester or the spring 2007 semester. By June 2006, I knew that I would be attending in the spring. I rejoiced over finally being accepted!
My internship would be over in the summer, so I started making plans for that fall. I was given the opportunity to learn more about CEF by participating in a three month internship at their world headquarters. Those months were a great time of learning, growing and bonding with the other interns.
I returned to Texas mid-November, unpacked, and then re-packed for moving to cold, snowy Chicago. Mom and I left Texas on January 1 and arrived the evening of January 2.
By the way, January isn’t the best time of year for a Texan to move to Chicago. [grin]
I settled into classes and began visiting churches in the area. I became frustrated, for various reasons, with searching for a church.
I knew that some of my friends picked up two other Moody students for church each Sunday morning. I asked them if they had another spot available in their car. Since they did, I went to visit the church and knew this was the church I was supposed to be at.
After church that day, a group of us went out for lunch. It was a fun time of camaraderie and visiting and the first time I met Matthew.
Incidentally, though I didn’t know it at the time, the Sunday I met Matt was only his second Sunday to be back in Chicago. He had previously lived in Chicago for year and a half, and had returned to California to work on his degree. During the time I was waiting to be accepted into Moody, Matt was working on his degree and waiting to return to Chicago. God has amazing timing!
Due to some transportation issues, I was unable to visit the church again for several weeks. When I returned, I recognized Matt, but honestly couldn’t remember his name (I’ve always been bad with names…just ask my sister). We spent a few minutes chatting after the service and then I left, not really thinking twice about him, other than as a potential friend. I went to the church once more before Spring break and was beginning to feel a little bit at home there. Because of Spring break, I was gone for three Sunday’s in a row. Upon returning, the other Moody students and I still had transportation troubles getting to church.
One of my good friends suggested I call Matt and have him give the three of us on-campus students a ride to church. My reply was, “I’m fairly new at this church, you’ve been going there longer and know him better- and I don’t have his phone number- you give him a call for a ride.” I was NOT about to call anyone, especially a guy I barely knew asking him to come pick us up for church.
So, my friend arranged everything and on that Sunday she and I left the dorm together. When we arrived at Matt’s car, I learned that I would be the only one actually riding in his car that day. Because the weather was nice, my friend and the other Moody student decided to take his motorcycle to church.
I felt so bad because Matt, someone that I barely knew, had driven all the way into the city just to pick up one student that he hardly knew. Still, it was my only option if I wanted to attend church that Sunday. As I got into his car, I was fervently wishing that motorcycles fit three people and was already planning the lecture I was going to give my friend for leaving me alone.
Though I felt awkward over the situation, Matt and I had a good visit to and from church. We found we had a lot in common and talked easily together.
During the semester, the associate pastor and his wife invited the college group out to their house a couple of times for fun, movies, games, etc. I was able to make it out to one of these, but because I was busy at the beginning of it, Matt offered to come pick me up later.
It was a good afternoon of hanging out with Matt and the other Moody students. At this point, I still thought of him as nothing but a good friend. As I like to say, I was “completely clueless” that he was interested in me.
My “completely clueless” mindset was going to start to change soon, on a Saturday, when several of us were helping some friends move apartments. Matt seemed to be around a lot that Saturday and we worked on several projects together.
I distinctly remember him giving me several compliments throughout the day. That night, after the move, I was sitting in my dorm room thinking over the day. I remembered Matt’s friendliness and was trying to remember if he had given compliments to the other girls who were there- but I really couldn’t think of any. However, I convinced myself that he was just going out of his way to make the ‘new girl’ feel welcome. (I still considered myself new at this point because I hadn’t been attending the church for very long).
So, I still just saw him as a good friend, but did occasionally wonder if there was something more. Since he hadn’t said anything though, and had always been a gentleman, I tried (rather unsuccessfully) to put these thoughts aside.
The semester ended a few weeks later and Matt offered to drive my roommate (who, ironically, was from CA as well, and knew Matt’s family) to the airport. Her terminal was first and I told her goodbye. It was a short, but very quiet, ride to my terminal. Matt took my luggage out of the trunk, and, after debating, I gave him an awkward side-hug, told him thanks, and left to catch my flight.
Once seated on my plane, I wondered again if he was interested or just a good friend. I went back and forth over mentioning anything to my mom. After all, I really had nothing to tell her. Matt hadn’t said anything to me, so I had no real reason to think he was interested. I had realized at this point that there was something attractive about this man. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it, but there was definitely something.
I ended up mentioning something to my mom, but assured her that I really had no reason, and nothing to go on, to assume that he liked me. As I puzzled over my attraction to him, I realized that there was something about him that made me desire to be a more godly woman- one that would be able to assist him in his walk with God- even if I was just his sister in Christ and nothing more. However, I also realized that I wanted to be more than just his sister in Christ.
He called the next day and my mom answered the phone. She and I were in the middle of a board game, and well, that game never got finished. I spent four hours on the phone talking to Matt. There still had been no mention of the possibility of a relationship, but mom had fun teasing me over how long the phone call lasted.
The next day, as I was out running errands, Matt called back asking to speak to my dad. Since my dad was at work, he had to wait until the next day to actually speak with him.
Side note: Several years before this, at my old college and at various jobs, I’d had several guys express an interest in dating me. One thing I always told them was that they needed to talk to my dad first. Not only was it true, I found it a very effective tool for ‘weeding out’ the guys not worth my time. If they weren’t willing to talk to my dad, they weren’t worth dating. Matt didn’t know of this stipulation of mine and I’m very glad he approached my dad first before talking to me.
After a month of talking to my parents and even writing one essay for them, Matt was given permission to court me. At this time, I was in Missouri receiving training for a summer mission program in New York City that I was a part of. Matt drove the five hours to come see me the weekend he asked me to court him.
I stayed in NYC for five weeks, then returned to Missouri, and then headed back to Texas. Matt came to Texas for a week in August to meet my family and many of my friends. School was starting up again, and we both had the same flight back to Chicago.
It was a time of learning and growing together as a couple. I learned to appreciate his strength, tenderness, sensitivity and patience. We planned a trip to California so that I could meet his family over Christmas break. Though I was very nervous over meeting them, I fit in well with his family. His sisters and I shared many laughs together.
After we returned, Matt mentioned marriage to me. We both knew we wanted to marry each other and now we started talking about dates. We received counsel from many and spent much time in prayer.
Since we were still unsure about when we should marry, we took a week to devote to prayer and seeking God’s will for our lives. We did not contact each other at all that week. We each came to the conclusion to marry August of 2008. I knew a proposal would be coming, but I had no idea when it would take place.
When we were walking out to his car after church on February 24, he completely took me by surprise by getting down on one knee and saying, “I love you Grace, I want you to be my wife and the mother of my future children; will you marry me?”
I said yes!