It was fall of 2016, the last time I wrote here. I had completed five semesters at Baylor, graduated from nursing school in Houston and taken a leap of faith, coming back to this little town where I grew up. I had no professional job lined up, and I “knew” I’d never meet my husband here, so by all accounts the move seemed like the WRONG decision. I was 23 years old with no concept of how my life was going to turn out.
I moved back, anyway. I wanted the freedom of the wilderness, the comfort of being known by people. And, the uncertainty of what would happen next was exciting.
I worked part time at a bike shop and played all summer long. I lived in a corner of my parents’ house and spent more time sleeping outside than sleeping in a bed. I had almost no responsibilities, no bills, and I spent every paycheck on some new expensive piece of gear. A mountain bike. A backcountry ski setup. Whitewater stuff.
I also felt strongly that I needed to invest time into the youth of this town, the way young adults invested in me while I was growing up. I met with the youth pastor of the church that “raised me,” and he brought me on the team. He took me out to coffee one day and said, “so I know you said you’re here because you want to disciple girls, but there’s this guy named Ben...”
I laughed audibly. “I’m not here to date guys. I plan to go to the big city for that. I know all the guys here. I grew up with them. Not one them is going to be my husband.” I looked up “Ben Pope” on Facebook and laughed harder. “NO.”
A few weeks later, I was sitting on a yellow school bus surrounded by high schoolers. We were getting ready to leave for our youth group’s annual multi-day raft trip. Onto the bus walked a man who made me stop talking. Tall, jet black hair. Black aviators, a green Marmot shell, and an orange pack. I caught my breath and asked Jared who the HECK that was. “Ben Pope,” he said.
I spent the next 4 days doing everything possible to get Ben’s attention. I only rode on his raft. I said I wanted him to “teach me how to guide.” (hah) I strung my hammock next to his. I kept asking him for help with this or that. He hardly noticed. All the kids kept telling me “HE HAS A GIRLFRIEND,” but I was smitten.
Days turned to weeks, and I invited Ben on every possible group trip. We went rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking. Always in groups. Until one day, as we were leaving for a kayaking trip, I noticed he looked sad. “What’s wrong?” I asked. He told me he and his girlfriend had broken up. Their lives were diverging. She was going to go to Nashville to sing. He wanted to stay and be a firefighter. I lied to him and told him how sorry I was.
That night, as he was playing the guitar around the campfire for us all, I reached up and held his hand.
We spent the rest of the summer flitting about like shooting stars. We drove all around the state of Oregon, finding the most stunning secret spots. We hardly slept. We were madly in love.
In October, we told “everyone” we were dating. By then, I was working as a barista at our local coffee shop. I’d get off at noon, and we’d hit the slopes. We skied all winter and did road trips all spring. I had moved into the basement of a local family’s house, and we spent every waking moment together. He’d kiss me goodnight, and when he reached the door, I’d always ask for just one more. I’d listen for his Jeep to turn over and then wait for his text that he made it home.
He tells me now those were long, cold drives. ;)
He was living as a student in the fire station. He had a twin sized bed and a little room. Sometimes I’d drive out there and knock on his window to sneak a kiss in the middle of the night.
Eventually, I needed to get a job as a nurse. I was paralyzed by nervousness and couldn’t bring myself to drive to meet managers and drop off resumes. So, Ben drove me. He drove me around and around and around until I got called for an interview.
By the end of June, we were engaged. How we finally got there is a very long story for another time.
We were engaged for two months and married in September. By December, I was pregnant with our Daisy Grace.
It feels like the whirlwind that is “us” hasn’t stopped or slowed down since. But I think that’s just life. We live pretty simply and without a lot of commitments outside our home. But we are project people, so we’re always working on something.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all this, it’s that God really does give us the desires of our heart when they are aligned with His will. I always kept a list of the character traits I wanted in my husband. I dated a lot of guys who didn't have them all. A lot of people suggested I revise my list or learn to settle. "It's a bit long," they'd say. I sometimes wondered if maybe they were right.
Now, I'm glad I didn't listen.
I should find that list, tucked away in an old journal somewhere. I don't remember each detail of it, but I know Ben Pope checked every box.
I’m grateful to God for the gift of him.
hey, i'm jordan.
i write here because i think our words are worth sharing.