Archives for May 2014

May 30, 2014

How I Met My Husband {part one}

This is the story of how God used the internet (among other things) to teach me to trust in His perfect timing and perfect plan for my life…. and also why online dating no longer gives me the creeps.  

Photo by Tindall Farmer 
I had always imagined myself meeting my husband the “traditional” way.  And by traditional I mean the way it happens in all the good movies:  a coffee shop, the bookstore, the park…Or maybe I’d meet a good Catholic man at Mass or a conference or something.  These were all of the “normal” ways I figured I’d meet THE ONE, and we’d add our story to the adorable list of romantic comedies. 
 
Online dating?  Never. 
 
Meet someone on the internet?  Heck no!  Looking to the World Wide Web seemed like an act of desperation… only for folks who had completely given up hope of finding their soul mate and resolved to “settling” for an online match. 
 
But you know what they say… The best way to make God laugh is to tell Him your plans or give Him a list of Never Will I Evers…

Let’s rewind to 2010.

I was 24, living in San Antonio, and I had never dated.  This was not by my own choice, and it was f r u s t r a t i n g.  Sure, there had been the creepy guys at gas stations who would occasionally offer their best “Hey baby, what’s your name?”  But no one expressed any serious sort of interest. 
 
Where are all the good Catholic men?  Is there something wrong with me?
 
Sure, I knew that God was really the only One I needed.  
And yes, Jesus is the best spouse a gal could ask for.
 
I had wrestled with the vocation to religious life for a long time, and the desire for marriage and family just got bigger.  There seemed to be this constant war between “God you’re the only One I need!” & “GOD, are you the ONLY ONE who will love me?”
 
What I didn’t realize at the time was that God was writing a better story than I ever could have imagined.  And it would happen in a way that I least expected. 
 
In February 2010 I decided I would attend the National Catholic Singles Conference in San Antonio.  It was a BLAST!  Not only did I get more exposure to the Theology of the Body, but it was like God was helping me to find the joy and peace of being single.  He was working on my heart and a lot of healing was taking place.  
 
One of the presentations was by Brian Barcaro, the co-founder of CatholicMatch.com.  He talked a little bit about the Catholic dating site, the benefits of online dating, and encouraged us to just give it a try. 
 
Fine. Maybe online dating wasn’t so creepy/crazy.
 
By this point in time I had a friend who had met her husband on another Catholic dating site.  They were normal.  They certainly weren’t “settling”.  And it was obvious God was part of their love story.  So maybe, just maaaaaybeI’d give it a try.  But not yet.

Over the next month some things happened that, well, let’s just say that peace and contentment with being single was long gone.  Long story short, I had hit my limit, and I was frustrated with God.  
 
“OK GOD…if you’re not going to send anyone to me, I’m going to take matters into MY OWN HANDS.”
Defiant Deanna’s
Catholic Match Profile Picture.

And convinced that God just wasn’t going to help me in the dating department, I signed up for CatholicMatch.com and paid for a two month membership.

So there I was… Defiant Deanna with her CM profile. 
 
Two or three weeks into my membership I was in contact with a few guys from the area.  In fact, one of them took me out on a lunch date followed by a walk in the park… but then he forced me to hold his hand (really) and rattled off all the names of his future children…and somehowI knew it wasn’t meant to be. 
 

By the beginning of April I was back to being skeptical about this online dating thing.  Sure, it had connected me with a few guys in my area.  It had even provided an entertaining and awkward date.  But this really didn’t seem like it was going anywhere.  I decided that once my subscription ran out, I wouldn’t renew it.  Why did I think I could try to do this without God’s help?  I didn’t realize it at the time, but God was doing more heart and soul surgery on me.  I may have thought I was “gonna show Him,”  but really God was leading me into something deeper and more perfect.

Because He’s just good like that.
 
On April 16thI “cast the net wide” one last time before the subscription ran out.  I did another search, and sent a couple of “Hi, how are you? This isn’t awkward at all!” type messages. 
 
Before logging off I noticed the “Welcome to Our New Members!” box. 

And there he was.  

He had a really nice smile and the baby leopard was a nice touch.  According to his profile he was a lover of Promised Land chocolate milk (and chocolate in general) and Haribo gummy bears (the specificity of Haribo was important.  There are no other true gummies).  

I decided I would send him a message, which simply said something like: 
 
Note: Never underestimate the power of a smiley face 🙂
To be honest, I didn’t expect a reply.  I can’t even tell you for sure why I sent him the message.  I certainly didn’t think that this email would be the beginning of something life-changing.  But God did.  


Within a day or so, Michael actually responded. Before I knew it we were instant messaging and emailing almost every single day.  I think what stood out the most over those first few emails and online conversations was Michael’s ability to make me laugh, and the sincerity in which he said he would pray for me.  
 
On May 4thhe finally asked for my phone number, and we talked for the first time.  I don’t remember what we said that first night, but I do remember smiling and laughing a lot.  The conversation was natural.  Phone conversations became the new daily ritual, lasting anywhere from 1-4 hours.  


Stuff was getting real. 


By this point, Michael and I were becoming fast friends, and we started thinking about where do we go from here?  We figured we would eventually need to meet in person, maybe later in the summer, and we could see where things would go. 
 
I should mention that one of the things we love most about our experience with online dating is that it really helped us to develop a friendship before anything else.  Even if this didn’t turn into a romantic relationship, we had talked so much that we knew we would at least be very good friends.  
 
It also forced us to pray about this relationship.  A lot. So that’s what we did.  I started the 54 day rosary novena, asking the Blessed Mother to help us discern our relationship, and prayed that God could help us meet in person sooner than later.  
 
Towards the end of May, Michael told me that his seminarian friend, Sayf, (the man who would eventually celebrate our Nuptial Mass) agreed to drive him to San Antonio the first weekend of June. 
 
The Blessed Mother is fast. 🙂

Friday, June 4th was going to be the big day.  Michael and Sayf would be in town until Monday morning, giving Michael and I the weekend to get to know one another.  As the day got closer, I got more nervous and excited, and prayed that this would be exactly what God wanted it to be.  

Thursday evening, however, I got a bit of a surprise.  I was walking out of my evening Zumba class, covered in sweat when Michael texted me.  He said that they had gotten into town earlier and wanted to know how I felt about meeting that night..in oh, an hour or so. 

I don’t think I’ve ever driven home, showered, dressed, and done make-up that fast in my life.

I got the address to where Michael was staying, and headed out… but before picking him up I stopped by perpetual adoration and prayed.  I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I really just wanted God’s will to be done… I prayed the rosary on the drive over to pick up Michael, and with nervous excitement I pulled up to the house.

OK Lord, Your will be done.”


A handsome young man in jeans and a black T-shirt came out of the house.  I got out of  my car, and with a smile and a crazy bunch of butterflies in my stomach, walked towards the man I’d met on online.

PART TWO

May 9, 2014

Seven Quick Takes (#10): Life After Grad School

It is finished!

After submitting our thesis projects last weekend (which equaled a combined total of 54,000 words/171 pages). My husband and I are happy to report that we are done with our graduate theology program! 

Here are #7QT on all of the grand plans I have for life after grad school…

— 1 —
Unpack. Finally.

Right about the time we moved was the same time that thesis writing kicked into high gear, which means we have spent the last couple of months with boxes e v e r y w h e r e.  Praise God for basements, but seriously, it’s time to make this home sweet home.  I have these grand plans for wine and cheese nights, summer BBQs, and NERF wars at Casa Johnston…

And trust me, there are going to be some pretty epic NERF battles in our future…
Stuff just got real.

— 2 —
Summer Reading

The last thing I thought I would want to do after writing this paper was read.  But these are two books that I am super excited about:  Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler (host of #7QT at www.conversiondiary.com!) and The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning by Simcha Fisher (blogger at Patheos and the NCR).

I love these ladies, and they both remind me that when you decide to follow Christ there are bound to be some pretty frustrating yet hilarious challenges.  

— 3 —
Green Thumb?  Probably Not.

I’ve never been one to really enjoy working in the yard, but now that we are renting a home that actually has greenery to care for I’m willing to give it a shot.  My husband knows exactly what he wants to do, so I’ll at least be there for moral support 🙂  At the very least I’m bound to get a least a little sun this summer, and that’s not a bad thing!

— 4 —
Wedding Pictures

We’ve been married 7 months and I still haven’t had wedding pictures printed and framed!  I’m looking forward to making some photo books via Shutterfly and also picking out some favorites for the walls.  Any advice for picture framing and decorating?  It seems like there is an art to putting the right picture with the right frame, but I’m clueless.  I’ll be consulting the great wisdom of Pinterest, but if you have suggestions I’m all ears.  Arts/Crafts/Decor are not my forte.

— 5 —
Sharing Our Story

I’m really looking forward to updating and redesigning this blog.  For some reason I image I’ll have all of this free time now that school is over (ha!)  One of the stories I’d like to share is How I Met My Husband.  We’re coming up on the 4th anniversary of the day we met and when we started dating, and it’s a story I’d like to get down in writing.  Let’s just say God has a very good sense of humor…and you should never say never.  

— 6 —

Summer Adventures

It looks like we’ll be traveling at least once a month over the summer.  We’ve got a wedding in the Seattle, WA area in June, I’ll be heading to Philadelphia in July for the TOB Congress, another wedding in August in Texas, and then my 10 year class reunion is in Memphis sometime in September.  Sheesh, by that point it will almost be our one year anniversary.  Time sure is flying…

— 7 —

Spiritual Growth

I’ll be honest, most of my Lent involved just trying to survive the overwhelming task of research and writing. Lenten “spiritual growth spurt”… not so much.  At the same time, I did learn that there’s nothing too small (or too big) to take to the foot of the Cross.  Maybe that was the one lesson I needed to learn this Lent.  I’d like to think that studying theology the last 3 years was more than just an academic accomplishment, and actually helped me draw closer to Christ.  But this is not an automatic thing.  It takes work.  Saints aren’t saints because they had theology degrees.  The saints followed Christ and trusted Him with everything.  I want to do that.

Of course, these are all of the things that I think are going to happen now that grad school is over, but at the end of the day what I’m most looking forward to is seeing what adventures God leads us on!  Life out of the boat is usually never dull!  

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!