Monday, August 18, 2014

Our Love Story


THE TIMELINE:
December 7    First Sight of Natasha & Two Blondes Beside Her (on her blog)
January 17/18 First Time Hearing Each Others Voices (4:30pm trying to find her house)
January 18      First Sight Face to Face (5:30pm)
January 19      First Get To Know You Email
January 25      First Date
February 9      First Family Lunch With Natasha's Family (without Natasha there)
February 9      First Family Blessings From Her Side
July 26            Engagement
October 11      Wedding (Coming Soon) 

IMPORTANT BACKSTORY INFORMATION
   Natasha met her extroverted first love and husband Lynn Erskine at Kingswood University (previously Bethany), where I now teach.  They pastored at Emmanuel Baptist in Truro Nova Scotia until Lynn’s heart stopped unexpectedly while finishing a long evening run on Sept 2, 2012.  Earlier that morning he preached at church and watched an afternoon movie with his family before Lynn parted from this earth and his beautiful wife and two beautiful blonde haired blue eyes daughters Roya (4) and Alea (2).  (For those wanting a fuller picture, click here to link to blogs on "Honoring Lynn Erskine" and "Understanding Natasha's Grieving")
    Around October 2012, I had a pastor's wife come up to me in Michigan after a time of prayer and spiritual discernment and share that God had impressed on her these words to share, "Rest.  And she will come.  And there will be two blondes beside her."  I was very single at that time.  Then, after dating a brunette seriously for over half a year, I had disregarded this comment and wasn't looking for a relationship.  But around December 2013 a mutual friend mentioned a young woman of God in PEI(Prince Edward Island) that I should potentially meet and when I found her blog to see who this woman was, this picture below of Natasha is what I saw.
Needless to say, when I was given the chance to deliver a painting to her, I thought it necessary to make that opportunity happen even though I had no huge expectations as to whether I was simply a delivery boy or whether something might come of this random rendezvous.

FIRST SIGHT & DATE
So I’m driving to meet her completely different than I pictured.  Instead of coming in all suave and handsome in my suit and tie, I’m pulling up in a 15 passenger van with the campus logo plastered all over it and at least three students about to burst at the seems if they don’t get into a bathroom soon.  We’ve barely heard each other’s voices or met in person, simply emailed one liners to coordinate me delivering this oversized meaningful painting from Michigan via a mutual friend.  To top that off, our first vocal interaction is over the phone with me making sure I’m not lost in getting there and I am pretty sure on the detour to get there I received a complaint on my driving because of a combination of the bad weather, my city paced driving, and the student in my passenger seat giving very discombobulated directions.
So we pull up and two students run in to use the restroom before introductions even take place.  We shook hands and about five or six of us went in while the rest waited in the van.  We all had a cordial conversation between the island counter and living room while students went in and out of the bathroom.  I noticed an amazing crisp and healthy looking pizza on the table and a rather warm cozy feel to the house as we settled in.  Natasha’s two girls, Alea and Roya were loving the company and daintily running around and playfully jumping around and tackling each other.   I loved getting to connect with them for a few seconds on the princess theme although they were to razzled to really say anymore to.  We opened up the painting for Natasha to look at and you could tell that she was an appreciative woman and already pensive with many thoughts still to come as she started to take in the painting with her eyes canvasing the letters “RESTORE” and the added elements around the picture.  I was disappointed in myself not having more of the details surrounding the painting memorized to share with Natasha and if I am being completely honest to try and impress her with my analysis… but this wasn’t my night.
It was time to go and my friend Nathan’s daughter who is a beautiful spunky eight year old blonde was riding with us on the way down already curiously asking questions about this young widow and whether she had any daughters and she had already taken me aback on the way down by asking if we could pray her when we stopped in.  So I thought she would want to when we got into the house but she shyed away, so it was my time to step up after initiating.  I put my hand on the back Natasha’s shoulder and that is one of the two moments I remember most vividly the first time we met.  She was petite!  I felt like her feminine soft yet firm features showed through as I rested my hand over her shoulder bone and muscle to pray.  My hand felt strong on her shoulder.  At that moment I remember feeling honored to have a chance to be in that home to pray over Natasha and her family.  I had gotten the impression that the grieving process had caused Natasha to pull back from relationships and not let the “crowds” of her friends in too close as she processed and grieved and here we were, welcomed into her personal space and world for a few moments to leave her with prayer, a little fellowship, and a painting.
The other moment I remember that first night was saying goodbye.  The other students had gone ahead, so I took a moment before I stepped out to tell her how much I already respected her from a far and looked up to her because of how many hold her in such high regard and look to her as an inspiration.  I felt like it was my moment to leave life giving words with her, whether we talked again or not.  I couldn’t tell by heart huge eyes and meaningful stare, whether what I had said was truly a thank you with a smile behind the gaze even though it wasn’t on her lips or whether it was her saying thank you while I had ventured with my words to a place that was more painful and unhelpful than fitting.  But I think this is a Natasha sincere look that I have yet to master.  I feel like Natasha’s sincere gaze could instantly go one of two directions depending on the next words or emotions that transpire: 1.crying, sadness, hurt, and possible confusion OR 2.loving smile, genuine appreciation, and an invite to a deep connection instantly with her heart and inner life through her eyes.  So I said goodbye unsure of which I had caused, but prayerfully hoping I had experience the latter and just leaving that up to God.  I was wondering in my head if and how I would send at least on followup email as I drove away and leave it at that if there was no response.
Something horrible I realized which was a double whammy, was that I was so caught up in the moment that I left the cardboard box I delivered the painting in which I meant to throw away for Natasha.  That had a twofold purpose.  One, to be a gentlemen.  Two, to help avoid the fact that it has mailing addresses on it because I ended up not being able to take the painting on the plane and had my dad send the painting up to me in Canada.  Which means from the powers of deduction, that if he was delivering it to Canada, he could’ve just sent it straight to her house… I really didn’t have to deliver the painting.  Guilty as charged.  I really wanted to meet this girl in person and seized the opportunity, but had not given my hopes up at all because I knew very well that this could be the only time I ever met this mysteriously alluring girl and nothing else may ever transpire conversation wise, friendship wise, or relationally.
I got home from the student leader’s retreat and she had emailed me!  It only had two open ended questions at the end, but that was all I needed.  What followed was almost daily emails back and forth racking up multiple email threads to over 40 or 50 responses in our first month to two months of knowing each other…  There was a connection in communication with this girl that I have never experienced before.  They were just words over email, but they literally would move me… I was just being strongly drawn to the person beyond those words and questions in a way that I didn’t even know was possible.
So we decide to meet up a week later to see if this spiritual connection and the strong words and emotions could really be true.  They were.  I’m a personable person, so I don’t read much into a first date or meeting and the conversation, but we had a great time.  I was surprised at how strongly I wanted to kiss this girl that I barely knew when I have kept pretty strong boundaries on not kissing a girl early on before there is a defined strong commitment relationally already in place.

WHO'S NATASHA (FOR MY NONCANADIAN FRIENDS)?
  • She was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada
  • Natasha and I are the same age (she's 6 months older)
  • She grew up in Moncton, went to a Christian school, and comes from a musical family.
  • Her parents are both solid Christians and raised their kids in a Christian environment.
  • She always has had a beautiful voice and led worship and sang through high school and college
  • She went to Bethany Bible College (Now Kingswood University) for a ministry degree
  • She definitely has an undeniable anointing and inseparable heart for ministry and others
  • She is intentional and thrives in smaller group or one-on-one conversations
  • She has always had more of a petite figure growing up
  • To live a healthier stronger life, Natasha and her daughters have chosen to eat more gluten dairy free as a family
  • Natasha has two girls named Roya(6) and Alea(4) and a cat named "Thumbelina" they bought after Lynn died as a snuggle buddy.
  • Natasha grieved Lynn's death the first year or two through her blog which is followed and appreciated by many for her coaching and gifted writing
  • I believe Natasha is a living example of this Mulan quote: "A Flower That Blooms In Adversity Is The Most Rare And Beautiful Of All"
DATING
Working around both our school schedules to date/court a mom with two girls who live 3 hours away was quite the challenge.  We definitely had to make the most of weekends, vacations, and Facetime.  You can read "Our Love Story As A Book" if you are wanting the full scoop from our first date to marriage or how in the world I progressed from contently single to happily getting married.
 
ENGAGEMENT
I’m not sure whether to be embarrassed about this or not, but while walking on the beach and talking I “unofficially” proposed a few days earlier on the beach simply just reaffirming to Natasha that I loved her and wanted to marry her, but was waiting for a ring before I felt like it was right.
July 26, 2014 around 10:30am we got engaged on a private beach in Holden beach, North Carolina.  I called Natasha’s parents back in Moncton a couple hours before and asked for their blessing over the phone.  I cherished the moment where her dad prayed a blessing over me before I hung up.  Even earlier we had already both gotten up before everyone that morning and had our morning devotions side by side in a peaceful place.  Fittingly my preset reading plan fell on the vine and branches passage on abiding in John 15 which is the only Bible passage I would’ve directly connected to Natasha as a confirmation from God considering her blog’s named “Abidinginmylove.” And that directly reflects her heart’s desire.  Natasha and I had been ring shopping a couple days earlier, but she also knew I didn’t have a ring yet so she didn’t completely expect anything to happen today when I asked her to go on one last walk with me on the beach before we left that Saturday morning.  Earlier I had walked down with my dad and had a father son talk and written “Will you marry me?” in the sand for Natasha and “Can I be your daddy?” for Alea and Roya.  My dad and I outlined it with shells in the shape of a heart.   
Since it was earlier in the day, the beach was empty except for the occasional runners or walkers.  I took Natasha out and walked a little ways away from the heart and told her that I loved her and what she meant to me and we prayed together and I think she knew it was coming by that point, but I got down on my knee and asked her to marry me with a fake diamond ring for her to put on until we went to go pick out her real ring later that night.  She said, "Yes!"
 As we were hugging in celebration, the middle aged man below in his hiked up white shorts walked right behind us and comically trugged right through the middle of our heart and walked over the words in the sand without even knowing or giving it a second thought.
            We walked back down the wooden walkway holding hands to bring the girls back out and to ask them the second question.   
We had to pull them away from a movie and they walked down the wooden rails to the beach with us holding their hands for entertainment.  When we got down there, they weren’t overly excited to be there but they were snuggly so we walked them down and showed them the heart and got them to try and read what was there.  
 I told them that I had asked there mommy to marry me and then brought them to the second question and told them I that I had a pink ring for each of them and wanted to ask if I could be there daddy.  Alea said something along the lines of, “Of course, I told you we wanted you to be our daddy!”  Roya who is more of the processor more snuggled and settled into my shoulder and I asked her quietly if she would be happy if I would be her daddy and she simply said, “Happy,” and was cuddly while I held her the whole walk back to the house. Mixed cds I make for Natasha and the girls have also been a special way we have connected so I also had a Disney cd for the girls and a “Beautiful Love Engagement” cd for Natasha when I asked.
            When we got back to the house my family was there with camera and I had a bouquet of flowers for Natasha and two small ones for both of the girls.  I couldn’t have made that all happen without my sister Jen and my parents and Kelly’s suggestions on when and how to make everything happen and stuff like making the flowers happen.

A WEDDING & NEW FAMILY COMING YOUR WAY!!!
October 11 in Canada (Coming Soon)

If this still hasn't been enough info here are a few repeated details fleshed out of the our meeting to marriage process: "Our Love Story As A Book Extras"

6 comments:

David Drury said...

So excited for you guys!
May God continue to bless this story, His story.

Tammi Dyrud said...

Very exciting; thank you for sharing your story! May God continue to bless you all as you embark on this wonderful adventure.

Shannon J Skafte said...

I'm so very Excited!!! and very impressed - a Mulan quote (this gets you cool points :D ) I Love it!!

Anonymous said...

Natasha, I have followed your blog, made some comments, and I am so happy for you and the girls. They look so happy, as you all do. May God bless your marriage with years of Grace and Happiness. Brent sounds like a wonderful man of God, and you can tell he loves you all very much. You should not only write your book but your story should be a movie....May God bless you all....

Vicki Gerlek & family said...

Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Brent! How special to be with your family and to have their involvement in making this such a special time! God's blessing to you four as you plan and prepare for October. Want lots of pictures of that wedding!!!!

Hoot from Heaven & Normie who loves you! said...

How incredible to have seen you grow into the Godly man you have become and to know God has blessed the four of you, to bring you together as a family! Congratulations for always doing things the right way! Many happy years to come!