(sorry in advance… this post is way longer than I had originally intended.)
This coming Friday, May 16, is our fifth anniversary. Fifth. Five. Wow. Time has really flown by.
In celebration of our anniversary, I thought it would be fitting to share how Jordan and I met. Some of you may know the story, but even for my own sake, I want to write this down so that I, and my children, can continue to look back at this moment in time.
Before I tell you how we met, I should give you a little back story. Let’s see… where do I start?
Let me begin by saying that although I gave my life to Jesus at ten years old, throughout middle & high school, I wasn’t really living for Him. Sure, I attended church youth functions, actually played keys for our youth group, did well in school, but secretly hiding sin. I guess I was what you could call a Sunday/Wednesday Christian. Toward the middle of my senior year, I started to feel that tug on my heart that says, “You don’t know Me.” I didn’t really know who God was apart from what I had been taught. I had actually never spent time with Him on my own. I hadn’t actually read the Bible, I just singled out verses. I hadn’t actually prayed to KNOW God, only to GET things from Him. My spiritual life was completely backwards. So when preparing to go to college, I had originally had plans to attend University of Arkansas. I already had my roommate, we had our coordinating dorm room colors, and was planning to go to Freshman orientation. Long story short though: God changed my plans and I decided not to go to U of A. That summer (2006) I took a trip with my parents and younger brother to Wales. The missionary’s son attended Liberty University, and I thought, I should really check that place out.
The Fall semester started, and I stayed home and attending community college so I could really figure out where i wanted to go. I started looking at Christian colleges/universities around the states. I looked in CA, OK, AR, TX, TN, and VA, but eventually narrowed it down to Lee University in Cleveland, TN & Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. So… my dad and I took a roadtrip.
Roadtrips are kind of my dad and my thing. We go for the long haul, trying not to stop for bathroom breaks/sleeping if we can muster the strength, energy, or stubbornness. We drove all the way from my parents’ house to Cleveland, TN and finally got a hotel. The next morning, we went to Lee, walked around, talked to a few advisers. The school was okay, but I didn’t feel like this was my place. We grabbed some lunch, and kept trucking to Lynchburg.
The weekend that we visited Liberty, it was College For a Weekend, or CFAW (as they pronounce, “seee-fawh”). It’s like college, on steroids. There are THOUSANDS of high school students who invade the campus– they attend classes, go to chapel, take over the dining hall, and there’s usually a concert over the weekend for them to attend. As you can imagine, it’s a bit overwhelming. Since I knew ONE person (the missionaries’ son) and he was attending his regular classes, my dad and I hung out. We went to a few of the classes, some seminars for varying degrees, and just took in the whole university.
At Liberty, there are several ministry teams– usually music/singing bands that either travel or play for the campus chapel/church– and I knew that if I could make it on one of those teams, I would get a scholarship… College would basically be FREE. And since I was paying for college, I thought, this is my ticket. Online I had read that the tryouts were hosted on Saturday mornings during CFAW.
So Friday afternoon, while my dad and I were at a worship ministry session, they concluded the session by saying, “And now, we will resume tryouts.” WHAT?! Try-outs? How did I miss this? We hurriedly ran outside, and I signed up… in the last audition spot. We rushed back to our hotel, I changed and grabbed my music.
We arrived back on campus, and I went to David’s Place (where most worship classes take place… and which is no longer exists since they tore the building town… *tear). When it was my turn to walk into the audition, a guy named David McKinney ushered me into the room. For me…. tunnel vision… I said my name, where I was from, that I wasn’t actually a high school student like the majority of the other CFAWs… I took my place at the piano, and played my audition piece. I also sang, tried to transpose music (which I completely suck at), and maybe a few other things, but it’s all a blur. When I left the room, I knew for sure that Liberty is where I wanted to attend, even if I didn’t make the team. Which, if you’re curious, I didn’t make the team.
In January of 2007, my dad, mom, and my two friends, Amanda & Laci, helped me pack up my things, and make the long 21-hour drive to Lynchburg. Unfortunately, we got there a week early. My parents dropped me off on my 19th birthday, which was a sad day for me, but extremely sad for my mom, who, as my friends shared with me, wept most of the way back home.
During those first few weeks, since I knew ONE person, I was so eager to meet new people. I made friends quickly on my hall, especially since I was one of many transfer students. I made friends in my classes, in the dining hall, you name it. The world was my oyster. And it was my chance at a fresh start. No one knew me, what I was like in the past, and I got to make out my new future. Life was exciting.
As I was exploring the campus a lot, there was one particular guy that I kept seeing. He was the kind of guy that had a noticeable walk to him, the face you can’t forget. And every time I saw him, he gave me “the nod”, the kind that says, “Hey, you. We know each other, but we don’t talk.” Ummm… who is this guy? And why is he nodding at me? “Maybe he thinks I’m someone else,” I thought. Nevertheless, I would smile, and walk on.
Until one day, I was walking to the dining hall and “the nodding guy” was walking out of the dining hall. And there was no one, i mean no one, around. [Insert here: Western music when two people give the stare down before they draw.] Seriously, it was like a movie. Here we are on a campus of 10,000 or so undergrad, and there is no one else around. Since there was only one sidewalk to the dining hall, which on one side had the prickly bushes & the other side was the road, we were stuck on the same path. We continued walking closer to each other, me trying not to make eye contact, act cool, avoid awkward confrontation. Until he was in “talking distance” it began…. “Hey! I know you. Uh.. you came to CFAW and tried out for the ministry teams. Well, uh, I was in the room playing guitar. Your name is Danyelle, right?” “Uh, yeah… hi. What’s your name?” “Jordan,” he said. This guy, the nodding guy, had been in my audition room and that’s why he acted like he knew me…. We exchanged a few words, and I continued on my trek to eat the usual, cereal, in the dining hall.
Over the next few weeks, we continued to run into each other. I came to find out that a lot of the people I had been meeting also knew Jordan. Everyone always had positive things to say about him… He was a great musician, he was so into theology & the Bible, so caring, etc. So two weeks after we met, as I was talking to my parents on the phone, I told them all about him (which obviously was limited since we had only met), but I also said, “I think this is the guy I’m going to marry.”
[Tires screeching] yep, that’s what I said to them. I’m sure they thought I was crazy, or just completely infatuated with this guy, but for some reason, I knew. I knew this was the guy I wanted to commit to love for my whole life long. Unfortunately for me, he was not as easily convinced. As it has played out in our marriage many times, I go with my gut, while Jordan heavily weighs on all options, and is slow to come to a conclusion. However, I waited. I never pursued him. I just waited. And prayed. A lot. I would let you read my journals of “the guy” (i was always afraid to actually write his name down for fear that someone would read it, or worse, a relationship wouldn’t happen), but just take me at my word on this one. I didn’t date anyone else at Liberty. I would just tell people I wasn’t interested if i got asked out, because I was waiting to marry this guy whom I hardly knew. Jordan and I did a lot of hanging out in groups, and did some service projects together on the weekends. During mid-terms, we even made the stupid mistake of staying up all night in the computer lab, which resulted in no studying, all talking. I think we passed our tests though. 🙂
Over the summer of 2007, my feelings only grew stronger for him. I continued to wait and pray & just ask God that no matter what happened, I would find my fulfillment & joy in Him, not some guy. Although it was so difficult to hold my feelings aside and try to treat him as just a friend, I did just that.
But…. in October of 2007, he finally asked me to be his girlfriend. I remember it like it was yesterday. We walked around campus that cool evening, and eventually landed on the “hill” where we made it “official.” I was ecstatic, but ya know, tried to remain calm, cool, and collected. Until, I got into my dorm, and let out a big squeal, to which most of the girls knew that it probably had something to do with Jordan. We all met in my RAs room where I told them how he asked me to be his girlfriend, and we were just completely giddy.
We dated for a year exactly, and on that anniversary, Jordan asked me if I would be his wife. (that’s another story for another day). And 7 months later, on May 16, 2009, we became husband & wife.
Although I thought I knew what love & sacrifice & commitment looked like back then, I didn’t. Through 5 years of marriage, I have learned that love is not selfish, it is always forgiving, and looks to see the best in the other person, even when they drive you completely crazy. And even though this five years of marriage has been so intense, and we have aged about 10 years, I love him more today than I ever have, and I am so completely grateful that “the nodding guy” stopped to talk to me that day on the way to the dining hall.
(The early days for Jordan and me: pre-wrinkles, stretch marks, & life responsibilies… 🙂 )