One of the job requirements of my lofty (volunteer) position as Social Event Coordinator for Twenty-Somethings involved sending out email announcements and reminders for the various group outings that I organized.

And I’m pretty much incapable of just saying: “We’re going to the symphony Friday night at 8. Get me your money before then, please.”

Instead, in true Abbie-form, I wrote paragraphs (riddled with parentheses, of course), told corny jokes, made punny references, and just generally entertained myself (and maybe three other people) every time I sent out a reminder.

Imagine something very similar to most of my blog posts in (slightly) abbreviated email form, and you’ve got a pretty decent idea of it, I think.

Apparently, one of the three people I entertained was Shaun.

Honestly, although he claims to have thought me beautiful from the beginning, I don’t know if I truly would have captured his interest if it hadn’t been for those emails.

You could always tell the people that actually read them all the way through because they didn’t just RSVP, they played along with my little jokes or told me they wanted to come but couldn’t even remember what time anything was because they got so distracted by the random, unrelated story that I wrote at the bottom of the email.

But Shaun did one better.

He wrote stories back.

I would give just about anything to still have the email that he sent me after the bum-tagging, ping-pong trouncing events of that New Year’s Eve party I mentioned in Part 1 yesterday.

I sent out some sort of reminder about some event or another a few days after, and he responded with something funny and flirtatious to which I responded with some baiting reference to having beaten him in ping pong…

To which HE responded with a narrative about what really happened that night and how it had all been an elaborate ruse to lull me into thinking that I had won, fair and square, when, in reality, he’d been slacking off (after all, he’d tagged my bum me prisoner in Capture the Flag, so he had to let me win at something).

Uh huh.

I can’t remember all the details, but I remember grinning so hard the entire time I read (and reread) it that my brother walked up and said, “What’s with you? You’re smiling like an absolute goofball.”

And I looked up and said, “I’m reading an email from Shaun, and it’s hilarious.”

To which Shae replied, “Shaun? Really?”

You see, until you get to know Shaun, you might assume that he’s a bit on the quiet side, maybe even shy.

He’s not really.

But he is an observer more than a contributor—at least initially—to most large social situations, which aren’t his favorite…although you rapidly discover that he has plenty to contribute if you bother to listen.

He’s also very kind, which I’m a huge fan of, but I’m most attracted to kindness with a heaping helping of sarcasm and wit.

I had witnessed the kindness factor already (just a small example: a few months before, he had helped my dad and my brother with some building projects around our house simply because he had construction experience from working with his dad and wanted to lend a hand).

But the cheeky wit surprised me.

Intrigued me.

Excited me.

Because I love words (please tell me this isn’t news).

And any man who skillfully and humorously manipulates the written word, especially, get high marks in my book.

Shae took a long look at my profile (I’d already turned back to the computer screen to read Shaun’s email one more time) and said, “Well, aren’t you popular?”

Thing is, I kind of was.

There were two other guys that I knew were interested in/pursuing me at the time.

But this was hardly normal for me.

You see, I’m what my friends, family, and even Shaun call “intimidating” to guys.

I had/have a strong personality.

And growing up, I never pretended to be dumber than I was and especially not dumber than the guy sitting next to me, no matter how cute he was.

In fact, I tended to assert my intelligence by using bigger-than-strictly-necessary words and other such geekiness.

And if I could beat a guy at something—sports, spelling, spitting (okay, not that last one; it was just alliterative)—I did.

I cringe a little now at my own arrogance.

After all, not pretending to be dumber than you are and making sure that a boy knows how smart you (think) you are are two very different things…and I’m pretty sure I erred on the side of the latter more than once.

No wonder I only ever dated one guy before Shaun.

But still, somehow I had managed to catch the eye of three intelligent men, and to say that this girl didn’t have a clue is an understatement of colossal proportions.

There was just one problem (okay, way more than that, actually) with all this male attention.

Each guy had one major flaw—a deal-breaker, in fact.

And Shaun’s was the most deal-breaking of all.

You see, he wasn’t a Christian.

And I had asked Jesus to forgive my sins, come live in my heart, and be Lord of life when I was five-years-old.

I remember it with slow-motion clarity, even though my 9-year-old know-it-all of a brother was convinced that I couldn’t possibly have known what I was doing.

And I never doubted once that anyone I might marry would have a similarly long history with Jesus.

It had practically nothing to do with marrying someone of the same “religion.”

And it had almost everything to do with wanting to marry the kind of man who could lead me and our future family in a way that would glorify God and challenge me spiritually.

A non-Christian, or even a new Christian for that matter, wasn’t going to cut it.

And yet I found myself emailing back against my better judgment, anticipating his responses, sending out more Twenty-Somethings reminders than absolutely necessary (composed with even more obsessive attention than usual to wording and humor) in hopes of further piquing his interest.

I asked him what the “T” stood for in the “S.T.+ last name” that made up his email address.

He conjectured that the E in my middle name might possibly stand for “Ermintrude.”

And I just kept grinning like a fool at my computer screen.

And then one of the guys who was interested in me told me some intriguing news.

Apparently, on January 5, 2004 (I think I have that right), Shaun had had an encounter with Jesus—had acknowledged him as Savior, had asked him to forgive his sins and bring purpose and transformation to his life, just like I had 16 years before.

I was genuinely happy for him, but I don’t remember thinking that it necessarily had much to do with me.

And then one day—by some bizarre turn of events—I found myself headed to a racquetball date with my brother…Shaun…and both of the other interested guys.

It felt a little like playing the dating game, while wearing wind-shorts and carrying a racquet.

And all I could think was: Dang, Contestant #3 (that would be Shaun) has the sexiest legs I’ve ever seen, and I sure wish #’s 1 and 2 and especially that pesky brother of mine would—poof!—disappear.

He made a reference to Pride and Prejudice, for crying out loud.

And then all I could think was: Lord, the very existence of a guy with his legs, smile, sense of humor, and at least a passing knowledge of one of the greatest romances ever written is proof that you love me.

I started daydreaming about his asking me out.

Problem was, I never got past the asking part.

Because I wasn’t into dating right then.

I had used the, “I am so flattered you asked, but I don’t feel God leading me to date anybody right now,” line on at least two guys in the previous year, and it was true enough, if somewhat convenient since I hadn’t actually been interested in either one.

The only other relationship I’d had lasted almost 3 years, 7 months of which we were engaged.

It was the kind of friendship/romance that left me wondering, “If he wasn’t the one, and I know he wasn’t, even though we seemed so compatible in so many ways, then how will I know who is the one?”

Deep musings for a 21-year-old, I know.

But I’ve never taken romance lightly.

And I still hadn’t decided what I would say if Shaun asked me out when a number I didn’t recognize popped up on my cellphone one evening at Subway where my mom and I were waiting in line to order the foot-long turkey on Italian herbs and cheese that we always ordered when we went to Subway.

I usually didn’t answer numbers I didn’t know, but this time I did, with a tentative, “Hello?” that I’m surprised he was able to hear over the din of the restaurant.

A voice I could barely make out on the other end said, “Hello, is this Ermintrude?”

For a split second, my brain stalled.

And then it all clicked, and I let out the kind of laugh that would make Julia Roberts proud and which made every last person in Subway stop mid-bite to stare at me.

Not that I cared.

I was too busy flirting with the guy of my dreams.

But then the dream-guy came right out and said, “I was wondering if I could take you out to dinner sometime.”

And for the second time in 3 minutes, my mind went completely blank.

I don’t know how long I actually paused, though Shaun says it felt like an hour, but I do know I was praying like a maniac while trying to reason through every possible pro and con of saying yes or no (neurotic much?) until I finally came up with…

Oh, but wouldn’t you love to know.

But I’m not going to tell you.

Not until tomorrow anyway.

{Insert evil chuckle}

See you then!

P.S. If it sounds like I’m ragging on my brother in this post, take a minute to think about how many times his name comes up in just one story.  Yeah. We’re tight.


  1. Oh, how I love this flirtatious little dance! Just catching up on your blog and I am so anxiously reading your love story. You and Shaun are simply adorable….!

  2. Aaaabbbiiieeeee! What a place to leave the story hanging! (loving the story by the way!)
    Ermitrude! LOL

  3. Oh the suspense… the love…. the waiting…. its all there like a edited Barbara Cartland novel, well not quite, but isnt it heart wrenching to like someone… and hope he kind of likes you back…. and then he finally rings you…. I can still remember my (now husband) ringing me to ask for a dinner date… and me dancing around the lounge room and my father looking at me like I had two heads. Paul was seven years older than me and my parents felt he was to old for me. Over time he managed to win them over with his sincere attitude, love for me, and the fact that my parents could see he was reliable and true. Cant wait for part 3.

  4. Ahh…I love this story. Isn’t it amazing how the Lord works in our lives? When I first met my husband (we weren’t dating at the time) he wasn’t a believer but he came to know the Lord while we were dating and is now the most amazing Christian man I have ever known who has such a heart for the Lord.
    Can’t wait to read more 🙂

    ~Stephanie @loveolympiajune

  5. As I was reading today’s post, I couldn’t help but think back on my own love story. I definitely resemble being “intimidating” to guys. I too have a strong personality. I grew up with brothers and have always felt comfortable around guys. I’ve known my husband for the greater portion of my life. We were in school together since Jr. High, and we had known each other through church waaaay prior to that.

    Too make a long (loooooooong) story short, I like to say that my husband and I “pseudo-dated,” meaning we hung out all the time, went to dinner and movies, participated in many a “date-like” activity, all the while never ever ever ever were we willing to admit that there might be more to our friendship that met the eye. We were best friends. Then there was a noticeable shift in our friendship. Then we dated for about 14 months. Then we got engaged. Four months after that we got married. Now, we’re going on 4 years of marriage (and still best friends!).

  6. Oh goodness. I am LOVING this story. Maybe I’m a little misty-eyed? I’m Lame. Lame Lame Lame-o.

    As a young 20’s gal walking through the giddy, hand-holding, share a revolving door space phase in a relationship… when the tiny tiniest things seem like the BIGGEST deal ever, I’m really enjoying reading how things started for you guys. Looking forward to your next post!

  7. Even though I know how the story ends, I want to know how you two got there. Thank you so much for sharing this oh-so-personal part of your life. Looking forward to tomorrow…

  8. I just finished reading part 1 & part 2 ….back to back…..LOVE it! What fun to read about your love story 🙂 I so wish i would have written down our love story (our 12th anniv. is in July), so I could relive all those little things that made my heart skip! Also loved the section in part 1 where you talked about your recent trip….my hubby and I are the same way! We LOVE getting away w/o the kids and revert to our courtship days sooo quickly. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for part 3!!

I love hearing from you guys!