Monday, February 6, 2012

Once Upon a Courtship (part 4)


Arrangements had been made with Nathan to come over for lunch with the family on Friday, his day off. My dad figured this would allow us to meet face to face for the first time in an environment that was comfortable for me. At first this plan sounded great; however, as I had time to process things that unforgettable Tuesday night and pray about this possible relationship, I came to a realization Wednesday morning: I did not want to meet Nathan Britton for the first time ever in front of my family. As dear as my family is and as comfortable as I feel around them, the thought of meeting a guy in their presence whom they all already knew, a guy who had interest in me and who had been pursuing me indirectly for three months, was a bit daunting! Such a meeting had the potential to be awkward and strained as I knew I would feel self-conscious and closely watched for my reactions.

I called my dad that morning, therefore, and asked if it would be okay to amend the plans just a bit. I asked if I could contact Nathan via email and suggest a private first meeting at a restaurant during his lunch break the following day. My dad was more than happy to accommodate my request, stating that the ball was now in my court with this relationship and to do whatever I thought best. Thus, with great relief in my heart and a tremendous sense of gratefulness for an understanding father, I sat down at my computer to compose an email to Nathan and present the idea to him.

Five full minutes passed. My fingers poised over the keys, I continued to stare at the screen in front of me, the email still blank. How to begin? What to say? Where does one start when writing to a young man under these unique circumstances? I finally took a deep breath and just decided to be honest:

Dear Nathan,


I think I have sat here at my computer for a full five minutes wondering how to begin this email to you, and I still don't really know where to start...


I find myself caught up in a bit of a whirlwind at present. To come home from a foreign country wondering what the Lord has in store next and discover that a Godly young man has been getting to know my family for the past 2 1/2 months with *special* intentions, that he has contacted trusted friends to further pursue and confirm these intentions, that he has written me a beautiful letter of introduction, and that he has bought me my favorite flowers to welcome me home...I'll admit, it is all a bit surreal. It's a good thing I love surprises because I think this probably has to be the biggest one of my life! :)


Before going any further, I would like you to know how grateful I am and how honored I feel for how you have handled this whole situation. It means a great deal to me that you approached my dad first, that you have taken the time to get to know my family and friends, and that you have waited so patiently for my homecoming. Such character in young men is rare these days and a true testimony to the working of Christ in your heart and life. Thank you also for the lovely letter and beautiful flowers! Your thoughtfulness and kindness made my first day home something rather unforgettable.


Now it is my turn to begin getting to know you through the stories, pictures, sermons, and emails that my family members have been sharing with me, and I have to say, it has been a fun process! I do feel, though, that I have a lot of work to do catching up as you have a three month head-start on me! :)


That said, I have a proposal to make now that I have had time to process this whole new experience. I know my dad made arrangements with you to come for lunch on Friday (which I am very happy about!), but honestly, the idea of meeting you face to face for the first time in front of my family is a bit daunting. Since they already know you and will be watching closely for my reaction (and yours too), I think that such a first meeting might be a little awkward. So here is my proposal. What is the possibility of meeting you ahead of time in a more private environment? If you are available tomorrow during your lunch break, or even after work if that is better, I would love to get together with you at a Panera Bread or coffee shop or some such place to have the pleasure of meeting you myself without gawking bystanders. :) Then when you do come on Friday, the ice will have already been broken so to speak, and we can be relaxed and enjoy the day with my family. How does this idea sound to you?


My schedule tomorrow is very open. Katelin and Nathan come into town in the evening so I'd like to be here to welcome them when they arrive, but otherwise, I have no fixed engagements or plans. I understand that you work tomorrow, so if your schedule is booked and it doesn't work out to get together, I would totally understand and perhaps we could settle for a phone call instead. If, however, you have any windows of time for a visit over hot chocolate or a bowl of soup, let me know what time would be best, be it lunch time or later in the afternoon. And please know, I am very willing to drive to whatever location would be most convenient to you, especially if our meeting would be during your lunch hour, so as to make the most of your break time.


I feel so blessed by the Lord for all that has been transpiring over these last few weeks and months and look forward to whatever He has in store for the future! His perfect will is my heart's desire, as I know it is yours. My prayer right now is for wisdom, discernment, and a surrendered heart.


May Jesus draw you closer and closer each day as you seek Him faithfully, and may He grant you wisdom for each step in the journey.


Katrina


Another deep breath and I hit the "send" button. Now, to wait for his response...


Later that afternoon, it finally came. (I won't tell you how many times I checked my email while I waited...I'm afraid it would be a bit embarrassing.)

Dear Katrina,


It is absolutely wonderful to hear from you! I've read so many of your literary works (565 blog posts + many other writings ;), but not until now has one been addressed specifically to me. I feel honored! : )


I can only respond very briefly right now. Expect a full response very late this evening or very early tomorrow. I will be going nonstop until about 11:00 pm or so today. However, plan on lunch tomorrow! Details will come in the next email along with a proper response to your message. :)


Until then...


In His Grace,

Nathan


His email made me smile. 565 blog posts? Had I really written that many? And he had read all of them? Wow...this guy was something else.

The "proper" response he alluded to was waiting in my inbox the next morning.

Dear Katrina,


Good morning!


Oh, where to begin? First off, I want to say thank you for your great response and kind words. It is you, though, who deserves so much credit and praise. To come home and discover all that you have about me must have been quite surprising indeed. Yet, you seem to have handled it like few others could. That speaks volumes to your character and helps confirm the many wonderful things I have heard about you. Thank you, Katrina, for so passionately seeking Christ Himself who has beautifully molded you and and continues to mold you into His precious image.


It has been a bit of a journey for me thus far. The more I learn about you the more impressed I am with God's great work in your life. It certainly was not always easy for me. Imagine it, calling people you don't know to ask questions about a person you've never met. ha! Now that was an adventure. With more calls, however, came more reassurance as your friends and family told me more and more about Katrina Rebsch. Your parents have been wonderful and very helpful every step of the way. They have been a blessing to me! Now, though I have a bit of a head start on you, there is still so much more I would like to learn. And I'm sure you have a million questions which I look forward to answering! : )


As for lunch, you know, I really enjoy awkward... and gawking. Are you sure you don't want to meet in person for the first time Friday? :) haha Your point is taken. I would be most honored if you would accompany me for lunch today. And did you mention hot chocolate? Now that is speaking my language! : ) How does 11:45 am at Panera Bread sound? We would have about one hour to visit and break the ice a bit. I will plan on seeing you there. If that won't work for whatever reason, just shoot me a quick email and we can figure something else out.


I am looking forward to meeting you very much! And may the Lord receive glory and praise through it all!


In His Grace,

Nathan


I hadn't even met him yet, but just through this beginning correspondence, I found myself impressed. Nathan seemed to be a young man with a great sense of humor, a consideration for others, and a way of speaking affirming words that truly edified. With these observations, the hope that had been reawakened in my heart the other night continued to grow. Maybe, just maybe....

As I prepared for that first meeting with the young Mr. Britton, I was amazed at the peace I felt throughout the morning. I was not nervous at all, which surprised me. There was an inexplainable sense of rightness to it all, I guess you could say, and I rested secure in whatever God's plan was for this relationship. There was also a sense of awe and wonder that continued to envelop me as I tried to believe this was all really happening!

Around 11:42 a.m., I made my way into the bustling Panera Bread where we had agreed to meet. Nathan was nowhere to be seen, so I found a seat near the front door and waited for his arrival. Very soon, I recognized a tall, broad-shouldered young man walking confidently down the sidewalk whose appearance matched the pictures I had seen of Nathan. I think my heart probably skipped at beat in that moment! Here goes...

I was immediately impressed with the gracious way Nathan held the door open for a crowd of women ahead of him on the sidewalk and then patiently smiled and nodded as they made their way into the restaurant ahead of him. "Quite the gentleman," I thought to myself as he soon spotted me and made his way to the table where I was sitting. As we greeted each other, I noticed he had a firm handshake (which I really appreciate - especially in a guy! No dead fish wimpiness please!) and warm, golden-brown eyes that seemed to dance with light and joy. His friendly, easy manner made me feel comfortable right away and we stepped into line to order our food, chatting away like old friends.

What followed was a most delightful lunch time conversation with a most amazing young man. We talked about our families, our backgrounds, and our relationships with Christ as well as passions, interests, and goals in life. Nathan's character spoke volumes to me in that first meeting. He was kind, witty, encouraging, fun-loving, mature, serious about the things of God, full of smiles and laughter, and gentle. Even with all my parents had told me about him ahead of time, I found it incredible how much we had in common. Not only did we share a similar upbringing and the same beliefs/views on so many topics, but we also discovered that we enjoyed the same activities in life: music, sports, games, reading, writing, deep conversations, spending time with family, teaching the Bible, etc.

Out of all the subjects we touched on during our conversation, there was one thing that Nathan said which especially stood out to me. I asked him what his passion was in life and he responded with two answers.
1) The Cross of Christ
2) The desire to carry forth the Godly legacy he had received from his parents to his children and his children's children. This, therefore, meant making wise decisions even as a single, 25-year-old guy and walking in integrity, knowing that future generations would be affected by the way he was living his life even then.

Suffice it to say, I was pretty wowed by this answer and the direction Nathan had chosen for his life accordingly.

All too soon, our time together had to come to an end. As it was, we had pushed an hour-long lunch break into an hour and a half (and we could have kept going!). Nathan had to return to work, however, so we parted ways with mutual anticipation of the following day's planned activities with my family.

I drove away from Panera Bread utterly in awe of God. Nathan Britton had proven to be so much more than I could have imagined. Spending time with him had been truly refreshing and had deepened my faith to realize that Godly, set-apart (and single!) young men did indeed still exist! I didn't know yet where this relationship would go, but I was very, very hopeful that the gallant young gentleman whom I had just sat across the table from, whose character reflected Jesus Christ, and whose focus in life so clearly matched my own might just end up becoming someone very special indeed...

I'll admit, although I had not been nervous ahead of time, I was a teeny bit nervous as I drove home, wondering what Nathan now thought of me. After all, he had had three months to build up an image in his mind based on my writings and the descriptions of friends and family. I wondered if he was thinking, "This girl is way different in person than she seems on her blog!"
Later that day, however, an exchange of encouraging emails with Nathan put my heart to rest that this was certainly not the case! :)

Friday came, and with it, a most enjoyable afternoon and evening spent in the presence of my new friend. He joined my family for lunch, played games with us afterward, helped me bake various goodies in the kitchen for a young adult fellowship at church that night, and kept us in stitches during the get-together with his hilarious sense of humor.







Once again, I was incredibly blessed by the refreshing experience it was to spend time in Nathan's presence. As we used the opportunity to get to know one another and observe each other in various environments, it became obvious that my dad had given Nathan permission to try to win my heart, because he wasted no time in beginning the process! The sweet ways he stood up for me in games, defended my honor against my rivals, and encouraged me with affirming words (even when I couldn't make a successful batch of banana pudding to save my life!) blessed me greatly, and caused me to feel like I was living in a dream. God's goodness in bringing this amazing young man into life left me in complete awe and wonder.

The following day, Saturday, Nathan again came over to spend time with my family. Dinner and a movie were on the agenda for the evening. Before eating, however, he and I went on a walk around the neighborhood. Everything I had learned about Nathan thus far had been wonderful, but I was feeling the need to connect with him in private and ask him some rather pertinent questions that would help me better understand what he believed about issues that were very important to me.

We walked and talked for a full hour. During that time, I questioned him about his views on courtship, marriage, the role of husbands and wives, beliefs on parenting and the discipling of children, his thoughts about being in full-time ministry and how he would balance the needs of his family with the needs of his church, and many more such topics. As I listened to Nathan express his beliefs on each subject, I was more and more amazed. Every single one of his answers were the same answers I would have given had someone questioned me on these matters.

By the time we arrived back home, I was so excited I felt like I might burst! Though I had just met him a few days previous, it was clear to me from all I had learned from my parents, my friends, and personal observations, that this Godly man, Nathan Britton, was everything I had ever prayed for in a future husband...and more! Our conversation that night simply served to confirm to me that this story we were living was being written by the Lord Himself and that I could proceed forward with all my heart.

Somewhere in the course of the evening, I noticed that Nathan and my dad stepped outside into the backyard for a brief conversation. Since I was busy helping with the meal, I didn't think much of it. I simply assumed that my dad was checking in with my dashing suitor to see how things were going between us. I did, however, wonder exactly where we stood now. It was obvious we were friends...but were we more than friends yet? Could it be said that we were officially courting? Or were we still in a "pre-courtship" stage? I made a mental note to ask Nathan about it later that night.

After a delicious dinner with wonderful fellowship around the table, Nathan and I eventually ended up on the living room love seat looking at pictures from Maiden's Quest retreats while waiting for the rest of my family to join us for the movie. All of a sudden, Nathan walked over to his backpack in the entry hall and came back carrying a small gift bag. His golden-brown eyes were shining, and he gave me the bag with a shy smile. I wasn't sure what to make of this, but I gratefully took the bag from his outstretched hands and began to open its contents.

Inside, was a beautiful card with flowers on it and inside the card, another handwritten message.

Dear Katrina,

I have been so very blessed by you. You are a woman of great character who clearly loves the Lord. With this on the forefront of my mind, may I officially court you? This may already be established, but asking formally gave me a great excuse to write you. I await your reply.

Most Sincerely,
Nathan

If I was a woman given to tears, I am sure I would have cried right then and there at the incredible sweetness of this man sitting beside me. Instead, I looked over at him with a big smile and a most excited, "Yes!" to his question. I was absolutely thrilled...and not just with the multitude of dark chocolate "Bliss" candies that filled the bottom of the gift bag! Once again proving to be several steps ahead of me, Nathan had seen the need for a clear definition to our relationship and had sensitively taken the initiative to establish that with me. I was filled with a tremendous sense of security as I knew I could trust him to lead and to lead well.

That night was the beginning of an official relationship with this incredible man that has turned my world upside down and inside out in a most delightful way! For the past month now, we have spent as much time together as possible, especially during the days he was still on winter break from school, and have had the opportunity to make many special memories. We have shared many meals together, taken multitudes of walks around the neighborhood, spent hours singing around the piano (Nathan's voice totally rivals Josh Groban's in my unbiased opinion), played sports at the park with our siblings, spent time at each other's churches, coached an AWANA game night together, gone on dates, spent time with my relatives, baked cookies, ridden 4-wheelers, and talked and talked about nearly every topic under the sun!

Our first picture together

Discussing theology during one of many long conversations!

First date to Taste of Texas - I love Nathan's expression!

What a handsome fellow!

One of our favorite pastimes.

Young couples' day at the park!
L-R: Katelyn Crosley and Joel Britton, Nathan Britton, Katelin and Nathan Day

Striking a pose while playing putt-putt golf.

So happy to be his girlfriend!

Riding my grandpa's 4-wheeler during a family day at my aunt's property in the country.
How I love to go flying with this man!

Coaching children during an AWANA game night.

My new little buddy.

Coach Nathan gets wrapped!

Another gift of flowers and a special little note from the most thoughtful man ever!

The "smolder" look.

My Gallant Guy

With each passing day, I am more and more in awe of the Lord and overwhelmed by His immense goodness! Nathan's name means, "The Gift," and this is precisely what he has been in my life: a precious and indescribable gift from my Heavenly Father, who, through his tender words and caring actions, has taught me what it truly means to be cherished in a way like I have never before experienced. As we grow together in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, each day only becomes sweeter and sweeter.

Our prayer in sharing this story is that it might serve as a testimony to the greatness, the faithfulness, and the wonder of God, who truly is the Author of the best love stories ever! We hope you are encouraged to trust Him completely, not just in the area of romance, but in every part of life. He is truly able to do exceeding abundantly above all we could ask or imagine!

To God be the glory...great things He is continually doing!


8 comments:

Bridges family said...

Oh Katrina, truly your blog posts have been one of the highlights of these past few weeks for me....as I see the way the Lord has worked in your life to provide this good gift for you! God is good, He is so good. Keep us updated!

Much love <3
Smile!
Kate :)

Clan of 7 said...

How wonderful Katrina! I am so excited to hear what the Lord has done, is doing, and will do in your relationship with Nathan! May the Lord bless you both as you seek to follow His will for your lives!
-Kelsey

Lindsay said...

Katrina, I've thoroughly enjoyed making up part of the audience with whom you've shared your incredible journey over these past few weeks! Your story surfaces in my mind every now and again as I go about the day, and it hasn't ceased to warm my heart and bring an almost-unbidden smile to my face yet! God's fingerprints are so evident in all that has transpired, and I'm looking forward to seeing how He continues to bless you and Nathan.

Susannah! said...

Beautiful story!!
I'm so happy for!
God Bless!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful Christ honoring story! I have immensely enjoyed reading how God has brought you both together! May God Bless you both as you continue on this new journey!
Deanna

Kelsie Steele said...

Oh wow, I just LOVE the picture of the two of you singing at the piano together!! All are great shots, but that one is esp. good! Of course, I loved reading the story too, but most of it was not new to me! What a great God we serve! SO happy for you, my friend!

TexasLady said...

Just finished reading the 4 courtship posts... WOW! I'm so happy for you. Thank you for sharing ya'll story with all us in blog world.

Benita Stanford said...

What a BEAUTIFUL, romantic love story!!! How GREAT is the Lord our God!! I am SO BLESSED by you in so many ways! You are a beautiful young lady and I am so happy for you!! What a wonderful "Gift" God has given you!

Thank you for sharing....I will be sharing your story with others for the encouragement that your story emulates and for God's Glory in the results of waiting on His will.