I am often asked for the story of how my husband and I met. I find it to be a beautiful story, but for whatever reason, I am quite shy about sharing our full story. However, here is our story. Our story really begins a few months before we ever knew the other existed. In the spring of 2004, I was finishing my last semester at junior college, applying for university and preparing for my summer long mission internship. Pretty exciting, busy, growing times. I graduated in May and was set to head to Kentucky for the week long preparation for the mission trip the first of June. I had already gotten accepted at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas to begin my junior year of college to continue working on my Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish. Everything was falling into place. The last day I am in Kentucky, I get pulled into the main office with a call from the family I was living with. They had received a call from the university saying that there was an issue with my loan and if it did not get fixed, I could not start in the fall. I was 12 hours from leaving for Costa Rica. Needless to say, I was stressed. I arrived in Costa Rica for the three weeks of language school. I did my best to try and fix the problem with my loan. I would make gains and things came tumbling down. If you don’t know me, I have an extreme type a personality and when things don’t go the way I envision, I freak out. After three weeks, nothing was any better. I was heading to C*ba and communication to get this fixed would be impossible. During this season, God really did a lot of work in me. Being such a type a personality, I naturally wanted to try and control situations. I finally in the middle of my time serving in C*ba, I weeped. I felt God telling me I needed to let it go. I needed to drop attending Harding University. That he had a better plan. This season is the most open I ever felt to trusting God and his plans for my life. I was completely open to His will for me no matter what it might be. Returning home in mid-August, I decided I would enroll in the last education class I needed at the junior college to work towards my education degree. I also enrolled in two of Johnson Bible Colleges Distance Education courses to begin working on my certificated to Teach English as a Second Language (TESOL). I was ready to start support raising to move to Miami to teach English as a second language, and make quarterly trips to C*ba for three weeks at a time to serve there. Although no where near the plan I had set before I left on my summer internship, it seemed like I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing. My second night home I was over at my friend Kelly’s house. Her husband was gone at a conference so I was over to stay the night and keep her and their four kiddos company. I was so jet lagged that I wasn’t good company, but one thing always stands out from that night. Kelly insisted she knew this guy and he was perfect for me. She said they knew him a few years ago and hadn’t talked to him in awhile, but while I was gone they had talked to him on the phone a few times. Kelly just knew he was perfect for me. I was on this “God high” of sorts, and I was not open (how ironic) to getting in a relationship or even thinking of one. It was a new mindset for me as my vision for life for quite sometime was to get married and have babies. I could not envision anything greater. However, I was in such a good spot in life. I did not want to pursue courtship. Kelly did not give up though. And repeatedly she would mention this guy who was in their youth group in Texas a few years ago. They talked to him over the summer and Kelly just knew he and I needed to meet. Talk, email… something. I continued to push the idea away. I was substitute teaching, teaching Spanish to home schoolers and working on my courses while support raising for my move. In the fall, I had this realization that I hadn’t really allowed myself to be open to the fact that God might want me to serve him elsewhere on the mission field. I had continually felt a pull for a certain country in central Asia. It was a dangerous field, and I was in a particularly good position as I was single and had nothing to lose. I talked with the organization I was going through and they agreed I should visit a couple fields before making the plunge to move full time. Another lady and I set up our trip to visit central asia for January 2005. In November, I was at my church Thanksgiving dinner. The church had paper and envelopes out where you could write a letter stating blessings from the year and what your hopes were for the next. I bring this up to say, I was in utter shock November 2005 when my letter was mailed to me to see how faithful God had been that year. During this time, I felt convicted that I wasn’t fully being open to God’s will. Kelly talked to me again about this really great guy and that Thanksgiving I told her, yes. You can have him email me, but don’t think anything will come of it! A couple days after Thanksgiving in 2004, Christopher emailed me. We emailed back and forth for days. (I have everyone of those emails printed in a box in my room. It is sweet to reminiscence) There was definitely a connection there. We had more in common than I had imagined. He had graduated from a bible institute the spring prior and was working in a church as a youth minister. I was very active in serving the youth group at my church. About a week after the first email, Christopher called me. We talked on the phone for hours. Which turned into hours the next day, and the next and so on. Two weeks after our first contact (December 8 to be exact), Christopher called me and said he felt called to ask me to court. A lot of people have mixed feelings about courting. The amazing thing for us is before we knew each other, we both knew that we wanted to court with our future spouse some day rather than date. Again everyone has to follow their convictions, but for us, purity was very important. Courting- to us- meant that we both liked each other and wanted to pursue getting to know each other better with the vision of possibly pursuing marriage down the road. I felt like God was leading us the same direction and agreed. We began our courtship on December 8, 2004. Several unusual things happened that week before our courtship began that really solidified that we were in His will. The weirdest being a phone call Christopher had received. Christopher was on the phone with one of his friends and he was talking about me. Suddenly the man says, I know who she is. There was no possible way that could be true. They went round and round on it and the man proceeded to give Christopher my phone number. It was quite freaky. I was living with a friend and his family and this man was very good friends with my friend that I was living with. It was too bizarre to not mean anything… This whirlwind change in my life made me look ahead at my plans. I canceled my exploration trip to central asia. Christopher never said it until after I canceled it, but he was terrified of where I was going. I prayed for God to continue to guide my steps. Right after Christmas 2004, Christopher came up to visit me for the first time. Although we had spent hours and hours on the phone and had entered a courtship, this was our first time seeing each other. My stomach was in knots. I was so nervous to meet him for the first time. This is time to mention something else that was a big deal to us in our relationship. Purity was a huge deal to us. By the grace of God, we both had saved everything for marriage. Personally for us, we felt called to save everything, even our first kiss, for our wedding day. It was what we wanted. So that everything was saved for the wedding day for our future spouse whether it was with each other or not. His first trip to visit me was wonderful. He had brought a friend with him to keep him company on the long drive. I brought a friend with me and we had fun going to movies, White Castle, exploring St. Louis. We watched Napoleon Dynamite together for the first time, which became a theme through our relationship together. It was a wonderful trip. It was perfect. The night before the left to return to Texas, Christopher’s friend asked me what I thought. I said I knew I was going to marry Christopher. His friend was floored because Christopher said the same thing about me that day. It was so sad having to see him go back to Texas. We immediately planned for me to come to Texas the beginning of February. Since I subbed and taught home schoolers, I had more flexibility to come down and for a longer stretch. During January, we got to know each other deeper. We began a bible study on the phone each evening. We began talking about a wedding. We weren’t engaged, but it was obvious that it was heading that way. I never told him, but I was going out with friends wedding dress shopping. Before I left, I ordered my dream dress. Soon February 2 was here, and I flew to Texas. I met Christopher’s family for the first time. It was a Wednesday so Christopher had youth group, so I got to meet his kids and participate in youth group. The next morning I awoke to a knock on the bedroom door. I stumbled to the bedroom door and opened it. At first, all I noticed was this video camera staring at me from the end of the hall. Then I looked down. There was a cake that said “Chris loves Shannon.” And a note beside it. If you have ever watched Napoleon Dynamite, you might recognize the scene. He built me a cake. I opened the note and it said “Will you marry me?” He appeared and put the ring on my finger. I was shocked. Although we were moving towards marriage, the proposal still surprised me. February 3, 2005, we became engaged. With our strong desire of purity, we felt like setting a sooner wedding date than later was for the best. Unfortunately, we were in quite a pickle. Christopher’s current job was not paying much and certainly wasn’t paying enough for us to live on. He would need to find work at another church before we could set a wedding date. Another element of our courtship and engagement is that we tried to always have someone else with us to avoid temptation. If you are familiar with the Duggars, we did a lot of things that the Duggars promote now. We continued trips back and forth. Quite often, because honestly, long distance stunk! Christopher threw his resume out there and he got contacted by several churches in Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma to apply to. He decided to fly up to Oklahoma to interview there. In the middle of his interview there, they decided if we were engaged I would need to fly down stat as well so they could meet me. I was caught off guard as I was not prepared to be the wife of a minister or to go through that process yet. Through the lengthy interview process, it seemed like he might get the job. I had already looked at the church calendar and there were only three possible wedding dates: May 14, July 16 or November 5. It was the middle of April and the church wasn’t voting for another week or two, but we decided to take a leap of faith and with only a month to plan, set our wedding date for May 14. Christopher did get the job and we were left scrambling to find an apartment in Oklahoma, and then the job of moving as much as humanly possible before our Missouri wedding. Everything fell perfectly into place. We got married on May 14, 2005. It was perfect. We planned our entire ceremony so it was a bit unconventional. Our dear friend Heath performed our ceremony and his wife Kelly was my matron of honor. The day started out drizzling, with the sun shining bright by noon. Was such a beautiful day. Our ceremony started with a slide show of pictures of us growing up to the song “Wait For Me” by Rebecca St. James. Dear friends of mine sang the song “Faithfully” written by Eric and Leslie Ludy before I walked out. I hate to watch our video unfortunately. I don’t do well being the center of attention. I was sick to my stomach, and in the video I am pale as a ghost with an expressionless face. It is terrible! In our ceremony, we incorporated a time to wash each other’s feet. We had the scripture read in regards to when Jesus got up and washed all his servants feet. We washed each other’s feet as a sign that we were making a covenant to always serve each other. It was really beautiful and I love that part of our ceremony. The end of our ceremony was very special. It had been hard, but we had saved everything, even that kiss for today. Our dear friend gave a small talk about how when he told Christopher to kiss the bride, this would be his first time kissing his bride ever. It became such a funny theme. Everyone kept asking us to kiss just to get a picture. Christopher said my lips tasted like strawberries. I was quite foreign to my family. I was the first person in a very, very, very long time to get married in my family and not be pregnant. I am thankful for the journey God took me on and helped me remain pure and faithful for this day. And that is our story. I am sure I am missing many wonderful details, but this is a “quick” version of how God brought us together. God is so faithful and I always look fondly on that period of my life. A season where I was completely open and God led me to the one He created for me. His timing is so perfect.
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