|(Obviously after we started dating)|
The First Date
A couple weeks later I get a phone call that sounds something like this: "Hi Jen, this is Chris Bowen. Do you remember me?" WHAT?! Seriously, of course I remembered him. He proceeded to ask me out on our first date. His Dad had a couple extra tickets to the SEC Championship football game, Tennessee vs. LSU, did I want to go with him?
Jen: "Sure, what time?"
Chris: "I'll pick you up at 8:30am"
Jen: "8:30am?!? What time is the game??"
Ok, a couple quick things you need to understand. First of all, I was working night-shift at the time and 8:30am was not a time of the day I ever saw. Secondly, I did not grow up in the South with SEC football, so I had no concept of how big of a deal this was. After a quick tutorial in what to wear (orange not purple), I agreed.
This was no typical first date. Not only was it an all-day affair (he picked me up at 8:30am and we didn't get home till 10:30pm), but I also met his parents and a lot of his Dad's friends at the same time. In hindsight, not a bad way to do it. There was absolutely no pressure or expectations. We had VIP fan-fare passes, so we had fun playing around in the GA Dome before the game.
I actually fell asleep in the middle of the game. (Remember football is not my thing AND my sleep habits are super screwed up) But thankfully Chris didn't notice. Unfortunately TN lost, but Chris was a good sport about it. Don't worry, I let him grieve. It was a fabulous first date! Despite the loss and untimely nap, we continued to talk and date for several months. But quite frankly, before too long it was anything but fun.
Around Easter the following year (2008) we broke up. The relationship was more of a chore and neither of us were really happy, but I was still devastated when he broke up with me. Well, maybe devastated is too strong a word. Let's just say I was very upset. For several reasons, including the break-up, I decided I needed a change. That summer I moved to Denver, CO for a travel nursing assignment. (For the record, I LOVE Denver and would move back there tomorrow given the opportunity.) In June, right around the time I was leaving Chris started contacting me again asking if he could write me letters?! What?! I seriously thought he had some nerve. I did not want to have anything to do with him. But I finally gave-in and told him he could write if he really wanted to, but I wasn't sure if I was going to write any back.
Well write letters he did. I kid you not, I got at least 5 letters/week- good, sweet, honest letters. And after a couple weeks decided I would write back. Through writing letters we got to know each other in a way that we never had before. When we dated the first time we both had unrealistic expectations of the other; we were both looking to each other to be something to us that only God could be. During our time apart the Lord worked in both our lives to convict us of our own sin and lead us to repentance. This allowed us to be open and honest and develop a relationship through these letters. Over Labor Day weekend that year Chris flew out to Denver and convinced me to move back to Atlanta at the completion of my contract. I moved back to Atlanta in October knowing this was probably the man I was going to marry.
|Chris was a trooper and hiked to the top of Mt. Elbert (14,439 ft) with me the day after he flew into Denver|
When Chris had broken up with me in April he said: "You know, if this had worked out I thought we would be engaged by the end of the year." Who says that?!? Anyhow, things did not work out how we might have hoped at the beginning of the year, but in God's sovereign plan and timing we did get engaged that same year. On New Years Eve Chris took me up to Alpine Camp for Boys in Mentone, AL where he had worked all summer. We hiked around the camp and town. Since he had written me all his letters from camp, I was certain he was going to propose here. Wrong. I was so disappointed the whole drive home, while Chris was secretly gloating because he knew he had fooled me and I was in for a surprise later that evening. We had plans to go out with some friends that evening, so I ran home to shower and change when I found a surprise on my door step. Stargazer lilies (my favorite flowers), 2 dozen roses, a set of pearl earrings, bracelet, and necklace, an antique letter box and perhaps the best letter Chris had ever written me.
It was a super long letter. Along with all the normal sweet things you would desire to hear upon an engagement, he also explained that he had bought the pearls at the pearl market in China in 2004 with the intention of giving them to his future wife and that those pearls had been bathed in prayer for me! Tears! I drove and met him at the park across from my old house where he proposed.
Here we are right afterwards. You can tell I've been crying...
Then we went on to celebrate with friends
We were married July 11th, 2009- the best day of my life!
I have all my letters from that summer in my letter box and continue to add new letters to the box even now.