Sunday, October 12, 2014

UALR: Sophomore Year 2002-2003

(If you're just joining us for this series, it begins here. Thanks for reading!)

I had finished my freshman year well. I made two A's and two C's my first semester (College Algebra and Hist of Civ I got me with C's) so I knew I needed to take more classes and do better second semester to keep my scholarship, and I was able to. I also went to summer school to get one of my science classes out of the way and to make up my hours lost so that I could start my second year as a sophomore and not as a freshman. (I just remembered that my old buddy Greg and another friend Sam Carrasquillo were in that science class with me. Ha! Memories.)

I have no idea what classes I took my sophomore year. More Gen Ed. I was determined not to declare a major until I was sure what I wanted it to be. I was also very determined to stick to the plan the Lord had laid out for me about relationships.

At Connections I started meeting new friends. Since I was in my second year, there were lots of freshman coming in and I got to try and be a friend for once, instead of needing one. Ashley became one of those friends.
This girl and her solid, Jesus loving, and tender heart was such a blessing to me

Carrie, who served with the worship team, and I started to form a relationship. She was on staff at Metro Student Ministry and I asked her to disciple me. What this really looked like was she and me talking crazy talk, and also a lot about Jesus, over a bowl full of mini-Hershey's a couple of times a week. She was engaged and getting married in December of 2002.

I decided to run for student government. I figured since I had been in student council, I would be a shoo in. Except on a college campus where most people were commuters at the time, it was hard to get to know people. I started making posters with my picture and trying to get the word out about that I was running. At some point in Septemberish, I met a guy named Dwayne. He had noticed my fliers up all over campus. I don't remember the first point of our meeting but it would have revolved around Metro friends, either at Connections or lunch.

Lunch was a big to do. Many of us tried to eat lunch together in the student center every day. One day we were sitting around eating and the discussion turned to some more difficult topics. I don't remember exactly what, but suddenly Dwayne was talking. He was sharing about growing up in the hood and a past life of poverty, poor choices, pain. But then how God had absolutely come in and rescued him, redeemed him, called him son. Suddenly I noticed Dwayne for the first time. I was moved beyond measure of the man he had been and how God had rescued him. I was moved by his boldness and I remember thinking, particularly as I looked at the guys around me: "This is a real man."

I wanted to get to know him better. I made sure I kept my commitment to the Lord. I was not going to give him my number or try to force anything. I wanted God to lead. But I did start trying to get to know Dwayne better. I'll never forget one day in the student center, I put  my backpack down and my shoulders were killing me. Dwayne was nearby and I was like, "Hey, will you give me a quick shoulder rub?" He looked at me like I had four eyes and said, "Uhh, I don't do that." I was super embarrassed because I didn't realize that I was coming on to him. I honestly loved that he put me in check though because it just confirmed who he was in Christ to me. Above reproach.

One day I was leaving lunch to walk to class and he asked if he could walk with me. My heart leapt! He walked me not too far from the student center to my next class, and on the way I realized his next class was literally across campus, in the opposite direction. It was so sweet.

As Christmas break approached, we would walk and talk together a lot. One day he asked if I would mind driving him to his car after classes were over. On the way, he was telling me about these worship nights some friends of his were having over break, and wanted to know if I might want to come. He said, "Maybe I could get your number and that way I can get in touch with you over break." I thought this might be his sneaky way of getting my number without asking for it in that way, so I smiled and gave it to him.

Later that night, I had just gotten out of the shower and I heard someone leaving me a voicemail (back in the day of landlines people!). It was Dwayne! I was totally shocked because most guys had some kind of three day rule for calling girls. In his voicemail he said, "Hey this is Dwayne. Listen, I just got off work and I'm hungry and wanted some pancakes. I wanted to see if you wanted to come with me." Of course I wanted to come with him. But I had just gotten out of the shower and was kind of "in" for the night. So I called him back and told him that. He sounded bummed. So I said, "Well if you want to drive all the way to Jacksonville, we can hang out." And he said, "Do you have pancakes?" I said, "I have Eggo Waffles." He said, "I want pancakes." So I told him, if he were willing to drive all the way to Jacksonville, I would make him pancakes. (Side note: I was a pretty good cook and Daddy told me that's how I would win someone's heart, was through his belly. Just sayin.)

So he came to my house where I lived with my parents and brother and dogs. He met my family on what would be our first date. It was crazy town. And it was laid back and fun. That was December 5. I'll tell you later how I remember.

Several days later, I got this:

Honestly when he handed me a folded up note, I totally thought it was a "Hey I had a good time eating pancakes with you the other night, but you're ugly and I can tell that you like me, but I'm not up for that..." kind of note. I even started crying about halfway through because he tells me he can tell I'm interested. I kept waiting for the "but." But there wasn't one. And a purity covenant? What in the world?! So on December 21st, Dwayne gave me this really cool document that basically said three things: We would not kiss on the lips, touch each other in places that clothing would normally cover, or be out alone together after 10pm. This was accountability for us. And he told me, he wasn't just pursuing me to date me. He was courting me. Courting is pursuing someone for the expressed purpose to see if you should get married. I was floored. This guy was incredible. Intense, but MAN I had respect for that. And he told me he was not taking me on our first date until he had permission from my parents. First guy ever to do that. So he came over and sat with my parents and told them just that. They were floored too. This was legit ya'll. Our first date we went to the state capital and looked at Christmas lights and trees. He wouldn't even hold my hand. He really was trying to get to know me.

Dwayne talked to me a lot about his guys who held him accountable. I got to know his past and he mine. It was easy. From the beginning, our relationship wasn't hard. We got each other in every way.

Some of Dwayne's D group (Discipleship group) from church.

Uhh. Yes he played guitar. Heart palpitations.

Outside of all my swooning, more was happening around me. My friend Carrie got married to Scott Yager just before Christmas and I got to be there. And my friends Matt and Diana were engaged and getting married in January. I was asked to be a bridesmaid and it was my first time to do so, so I was super excited. We had a little bachelorette party, Christian girl style, for Diana and it was a blast. A little dance went down, to a little song about big butts:

My butt was stuffed and so was Jen's. Oh BABY I wanna get wit ya and take yo pitcha. We also might have snuck over and put red lipstick kiss marks all over Matt's prize possession car.

Metro had a New Year's Eve party that year at a local coffee shop. I received a new camera for my parents for Christmas because I had signed up to take a photography class during spring semester. I got a film SLR camera because I would be developing my own pictures in a real darkroom and everything. New Year's Eve was my first night to use the camera. Funny the things you remember.

Me and my good friend Ross. Ross was one of my first college friends. I met him at James' New Year's Party the year before

Brett Latimer was one of the staffers who got to hear me fart on the mission trip the spring before. I loved (and love!) dearly he and his wife Naomi.

The love birds: Matt and Diana

Jen, Diana, and Me.

Doug and Shelley Hunt. Doug was the director of Metro and an awesome worship leader, and I also loved (love!) he and Shelley.

Ahh Brent Jones. One of those hilarious guys who is so funny he'll make you pee your pants. He heard me fart too. He got married to an amazing gal named Sharla, whose writing makes me feel like I should have chosen a different career path. Fo real.

Dwayne and I did go to the New Year's party together, but for some reason I can't find any of those pictures. And we did not kiss. I'm sure we hugged though.

Then Matt and Diana's wedding happened.

First pic on record of Dwayne and I. He could smile just a tad more. Oh, I remember now, something frustrating happened that day with his mom. He had to buy her a heater because her heater went out and she didn't have the money to buy one. More on that later. Maybe.
First day of Spring semester I met this girl: Emily. She had left a hard and heart wrenching situation at U of A and we had a class together. We became fast friends. She was and still is precious to me.

Dwayne and I decided to lead our own D group at my house each week. It was me, Ashley, and Emily, and Dwayne and two guy friends. The irony is that Ashley and Emily both ended up dating those guys before the semester was over. But aside from that, the beautiful thing about this group was it gave us a chance to worship and pray together. Dwayne led worship and it was amazing. The Holy Spirit came and met with us each week and we loved each other. We loved spending time together and the Lord really began to bust down more walls for me about what church was and wasn't.

I loved my photography class. I had a challenging teacher and everything about that class was new and different for me. But I was embracing my artsy side and that was feeding me so much. I also loved being in the darkroom. Like could stay in there for hours, and I did. All the people who have only ever known digital, you have no idea how much you are missing.

I also started working for Bedford Camera and Video that semester. I decided since I liked photography so much that it might be neat to work at a place where I could get to know more about it. I started learning all kinds of things about film, and slide film was one thing I tried my hand at:

You actually have to scan the negative to make a print from a slide. But the color saturation is unbelievable.
So Dwayne and I got to know each other more and got more serious by the day. I had told Dwayne from day 1, that it was very important to me that he did not tell me he loved me until he knew he was ready to marry me. I felt like those words had been thrown around so carelessly for me, and in order for me to know I was not only loved, but safely loved, I needed that commitment from him. I told him, he didn't have to put a ring on it right then, but he needed to know he was ready to marry me. We spent several months "liking each other a lot." On Valentine's Day I dug really hard and got Dwayne a card that says, "I really like you a lot!" And then he got me this card that said "Dibs!" and "you're mine, nobody else can have you. I called dibs." And then he wrote in parenthesis (Except Jesus). And then he whispered in my ear, "I love you." I nearly melted into a puddle in the floor.

Oh, I forgot the funny story about Valentine's. I wanted to make him a romantic dinner and he asked for Chicken Fettucini Alfredo. Now this was not a dish I had ever made before and so I pulled up some receipe that called for Cream of Mushroom soup. I didn't know what the heck I was doing, so I went with it. And uhh, it wasn't great. But we ate it and were grateful. I can make an awesome alfredo sauce now, sans Cream of Mushroom soup.

So at that point I knew he was ready to marry me. He had checked off on my list too. Everything. All of the things. And I honestly kept praying, very intently, "Lord if this is not the man I'm supposed to marry, please tear us apart." I had never had the courage to pray that before, but I knew that I didn't want to be in a relationship with him that was going no where. And yet the Lord kept confirming to me what I was feeling in my heart. This is the one.

Things at home started to go not so well for me. I had started feeling like my once best friend relationship with my mom, started to get a little overbearing towards the end of my senior year in high school. I felt like mom was having a hard time letting go, to the point that when I started college she tried to get me up for school and such, as if I hadn't been getting myself up for school with an alarm clock for years. She would ride me about curfew and call me 8 million times while I was out, always wanting to know who I was with and what I was doing. It was weird. I had always been incredibly responsible, even in my short rebellious phase. And Mom did not like Dwayne. She never could explain why. I even had logical conversations about him with her, but she had no logical reason. She just had a "bad feeling" and I was supposed to trust that. I also never mentioned that starting when I was a teenager, I began to see some immaturity in my Mom. If we would argue, she would pull things out of the air or from the past to throw at me that really produced sideways energy in the conversation and made it to where the argument went no where. And very rarely did she straighten that out and help us land the plane. If an argument was to be resolved, I was going to do the resolving, usually by apologizing for something I didn't even do. In our house, I was also deemed disrespectful if I tried to defend my actions or explain them. Often I was shushed, even though I was being attacked wrongfully by both mom and dad. This did not bode well being that I was now 20 years old. I wholeheartedly wanted to honor God by respecting and honoring my parents, but I really felt like they were being too controlling. I had little say though because I was still living under their roof. I decided I wanted to move out. I could not track down a roommate, so I decided to try to rent a studio apartment. I would need a co-signor on the lease though because I had no rental history and my parents would not agree to do it, and I didn't want to ask Dwayne, so I was stuck at home in an environment that was growing more chaotic by the day. I tried to suck it up and be a peacemaker but it was incredibly hard.

March, April, and May came and went and I had no ring from Dwayne. I began to panic that he really didn't want to marry me and I'm confident that we had DTR (define the relationship) conversations approximately every two days. Bless him. I was talking to too many girls about him too. "What's the hold up?" they said. This did not help me.

School let out and we were both working. Dwayne and I had started attending church together at Mosaic church, where he had been attending for some time. I really loved everything about that church because it was so different from the church I had grown up in. One Saturday in June, Dwayne asked me if after church on Sunday we could drive up to Hot Springs together. This didn't seem strange to me because we did things like that all the time. We had never been there, but I thought, "Why not?" So we left Sunday afternoon. We decided to eat downtown, but Dwayne parked like super far from the restaurant. It was miserably hot already and I was grumpy because of it. We ate at the restaurant and then Dwayne wanted to walk back behind Bathhouse Row. At this point it was dusk so it was a little cooler, but I was still grumpy. Who knows, maybe I was PMSing. Dwayne was also a stroller and I'm more of a speed walker. So trying to pace myself is difficult. We climbed all the stairs to get behind the bathhouses and Dwayne immediately is meandering through there instead of taking a direct path to the car. He's being super sweet and holding my hand so I'm trying to be patient. I remember he would walk into these little balcony type crevices where you are looking directly over the bathhouses, and he did this several times. I'm confident I was verbalizing my grumpiness at this point. Finally, after I decided he was sight-seer of the year, and I was tired, I went into one of the little crevices and sat on the ledge. He came and stood in front of me. We played this little game where he would wink his eyes "taking pictures" and zoom in close to my face and zoom out. He loved my passion for photography. I laughed. It was pretty dark at that point and there was a tree hanging over us too. All of a sudden I couldn't see Dwayne anymore and I look around, and then in front of me: a light. I couldn't understand what he was doing. Then, as I peered closer, I saw it was a box. A box with a ring. And he was on his knee. Er mah gawd. I don't even remember what he said, but I know it was good and I said "Yes!" and he hugged me and gave me a cheek kiss (because that was all we did back then. Purity covenant, yo.) and I started apologizing profusely for being such a jerk, and we laughed.

We climbed back down the hill and I was like, "Oh my! Did you talk to my dad and ask for his blessing?" and he said he had. So we called my parents to tell them our happy  news, and they were so flat and deflated. I tried to shrug it off, but I was disappointed. Then we got a phone call back from my dad, "Listen if ya'll are going to get married, Dwayne needs to ask my permission." Uhh, he did Dad. "No, he didn't." (Mind you, dad is one to forget things. Yes even really important conversations. Or maybe he didn't understand what Dwayne was dropping when Dwayne asked him.) So to keep there from being a fight, five minutes after Dwayne proposed, Dwayne asked again and was granted, permission. Yeah...

But we were getting married and we were so freaking happy that I yelled it to the people walking around us. God had brought me my husband within the year. He is Faithful and True and had proven it to me again.

Valentine's Day card, and a card Dwayne gave me before we got married. Can you tell it's been through a flood? So thankful it survived.

One of our engagement pictures

When this song came out this year, it made us think about this time in our lives. Ha!

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