Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The North Meets the South (part 1)

Although I'm sure many of read this story on another website, I've thought to include it written among my journey recorded here.  It has been a long road of lessons learned - both of wisdom and trust. But I thank God for every milestone passed, every step of faith made, and every blessing He has granted me both through sorrow and joy.

He is the Author of dreams come true.


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It began before they met.

An adventurous southern boy with a thatch of of sun-lightened hair urged his granddaddy Desmond for another story of World War II, while a thousand miles north, a little figure in a pink dress sang with the birds, weaving among waving poplars and tall pines. Curious and tender of heart, Abigail spent hours observing beetles, catching pollywogs, and stalking frogs, frantically scrubbing her face when her grandmother applied make-up for the first time, and finding great satisfaction in dressing up each Sabbath, playing piano for primary class. As the years passed, no one could deny that Christopher had a mind entirely of his own, determination to match the broad blue southern sky, and a gift with his hands as he worked with car parts, stood alongside the men as they built their church, and responded to the next door neighbor when she called due to a weekly mechanical or plumbing crisis.

A story was being written with their choices, marked with both challenges and triumphs, paved by tests of faith to encourage more faithfulness and trust. And while many busy humans on the small globe called earth worry that the Lord may neglect them, or secretly cherish their plans in place of His, some still believe that He has a treasure chest of dreams in store for those who are willing to trust that His are more beautiful than their own.

A Mother's Mistake


Christopher lived in rural Alabama where he met many people and had a close support group of friends in his life, but decided to expand his horizons through the internet and signed up on Adventist Singles. It was quickly seen how few girls were actually living by Adventist standards and sharing his same perspective in life. He had remained on the site for one and half years when far north in Vermont, one could observe a peaceful but soon-to-be-disturbed scene.

Reclining on her quilted bedspread with feet dangling in mid air, Abigail leafed through the pages of her notebook, recalling past memories. Tucking wisps of brown hair behind her ear, her mind began to wander from thoughts on the white page before her eyes to the unknown plans the Lord had for her life. My 19th year so far has been a quiet one, she thought to herself, picking up her pen to write on a fresh new page. But I feel a contentment not only born of trust, but also acceptance - knowing that He has my best interest in mind.

"Abigail!" a call from up a flight of stairs followed by muffled words

Sprinting across cold tile flooring to her doorway, she rested a hand on frame. "What?"

"Abigail..." her mother paused at the top of the stairs as a shaft of light streamed downwards, illuminating a path to where her 19 year old daughter stood. She looked sheepish. "I signed you up on a single's site by mistake."

Abigail was seated at the family's computer at the kitchen counter in seconds, choking down amazement, amusement, and bursts of horrified surprise. A girl's profile on Adventist Singles was on the screen - and it was hers.

Suzanne Cosgrove had recently caught up with a childhood friend to be married to someone met on Adventist Singles. Curious to see profiles on this site, she entered her eldest daughter's information, thinking it was for statistical purposes or determining which people to pull up in her search. "I honestly didn't know it would create a profile for you!" she assured her daughter. "You may delete it if you want."

"I certainly will," Abigail folded her arms with an astonished laugh. Meeting her match on an online single's site would have been one of her last choices. Would her friends think she was desperate to find someone? And what were the chances of actually finding one who shared her perspectives and convictions? This was difficult enough to do in person, much less over the internet where so many factors about a person could be missed.

True to her guess, there were few single young men who shared her convictions and life values. Seeing that eliminating matches would prove to be great entertainment for the rest of her family while she was at work, Abigail consented to leaving her profile on for a few days. Maybe she would even meet some friends, her mom suggested. "Just look at it like a single's retreat."

"I'll try," she looked still less than thrilled.

First Sight On a Site




“We have a few people that you could look at and decided if it’s a yes or not,” Suzanne mentioned as her daughter walked by the kitchen counter in scrubs.
Willingly she dropped into a stool by the kitchen counter and scrolled through a list of small pictures and usernames, noting with amusement how many her sister and mother had ruled out while she had been at work.

Pausing at one profile with the username of cowboycd and peering at the same picture by it, she stopped. “What about this person?” She could find nothing about him listed that would give her reason to rule him out, and he appeared very wholesome, kind, and quality. Slowly she read through his written introduction. Satisfied, she clicked "yes" to him being an interest, little realizing how far a simple click of the mouse would take her.




Not long after, a 22-year-old with chestnut brown hair and blue eyes sat at the kitchen table of his Alabama home, and logged onto Adventist Singles after a long day of work. He only checked the website periodically, and although he had been hoping to find a young woman to get to know and spend the rest of his life with, sometimes he wondered if he would. Stopping at one profile in particular with the username of abbysue, he clicked to see more. He liked the way she described herself, noted their similar interests, and thought she was pretty.

The following morning, each received an email stating, "You Both Said Yes!" Abigail was astounded, Christopher was pleased. Both paid for a month's subscription to the website to enable communication and he messaged her later that evening, beginning a habit of both parties frequently checking for message notifications.

What is this person like, and why have I never seen or heard of him before? Abigail mused. Rummaging through storage, she emerged with a brown clipboard which became the stabilizer of multiple papers listed under the title, "The Analysis of Christopher Duman."

“This is crazy,” Abigail murmured aloud, placing her cell phone away and pacing the bedroom floor after an evening of texting questions and answers. I wasn’t expecting this, I wasn’t looking for this, I wasn’t asking for this. Lord, is this just another distraction? Is this actually something ordained by Your hand? I’m confused now that I’ve met someone who has the potential to be an interest, because I didn’t expect to meet someone for years in the future. My heart feels a spark while there are still so many unanswered questions and things I don’t know about this young man. But if you’re leading for us to get to know each other, please make it crystal clear. I don’t want to hurt either of us.

Christopher had been hoping to find a young woman who loved God and shared his same interests, but sometimes he wondered if he ever would. As communication progressed with Abigail, he liked both her and what he saw, but did not jump to conclusions or assume a false certainty of God's leading. We will see how things work out by and by, he thought to himself.

On Thanksgiving Day as Abigail and the women folk of her family prepared for the big meal, Christopher texted her, continuing to ask questions about her life. When evening finally came and Abigail settled into a lonely chair at the end of her family's dining room table, an unusual text came in.
"So what are you looking for?" it simply stated. Chris was purposeful in his question.
She immediately understood what he meant, but decided to flip the question back. "What are you looking for?"
"Someone that loves the Lord to spend the rest of my life with. And you?"
Abigail leaned forward, amazed at his clarity and forthrightness. "That is what I am looking for too," she replied slowly. "Someone who loves God and can work together with me for Him."
Eagerly she awaited his reply. Christopher texted back. "Well it sounds like we might be a good match."
Abigail clung to this thought, fascinated by it's possibilities. Could it be?

That evening they had their first conversation on the phone. Abigail's mind raced with a thousand questions as she bit her lip through 5-second silences over the phone, marveling at his southern way of talking and straightforward answers, while Chris asked her every question that came to mind in the space of one hour, from what her favorite hobbies were to whether she enjoyed "crawdad fishing."
"Why yes, I do," she replied slowly with a peculiar expression, looking up at her mother and sister sitting anxiously on her bed nearby. "Just so long as they don't pinch me."

From the days onward, Christopher called nightly. Both asked every question they could think of, and then sometimes waited in silence as seconds ticked past and neither could think of what to say. Abigail was pleased to learn that Chris loved kids, and enjoyed being involved at his local church. They shared the same convictions on issues including music, dancing, women's ordination, abortion, and diet. She appreciated his sense of humor. Chris liked it that Abigail was a feminine girl but also caught frogs and hiked mountains.
I think we will have a pretty good idea after we meet, Christopher thought to himself, sinking into the couch after a long day of work. Though I already think we will make a good match.

As the days passed and the two talked each evening while on the phone, Abigail would scamper upstairs and Christopher would wander into the kitchen, both to update their parents on how each conversation went and what topics were discussed. Both were very close to their families, and would only proceed with the blessing of their godly parents if this friendship was meant to blossom into something more.

The North Meets the South




The Generation of Youth For Christ conference held in Orlando, Florida, proved to be an unforgettable one for the Cosgrove family, barely arriving in their hotel room when Christopher texted Abigail to let her know that he was on his way to the lobby to meet her.

Abigail frantically ran between her suitcase and the wall mirror, holding back both nervous and excitement. "Mamma, what is this person like?"
"We don't have long to find out," she commented.
"Eat a granola bar Abby," her dad urged. "You haven't had supper."
"I can't eat anything!" she exclaimed. "I'm too excited." Choking down a quarter of the bar nevertheless, she finally hustled her family out of the door and down to the lobby.
Everything seemed to be in a blur when her mother verbally exclaimed, "that's him," followed by a murmur from Amy who felt the statement was spoken too loud. Christopher leaned his broad shoulders against a lobby pillar, a grin slowly forming around the corners of his mouth. He immediately spied Abigail out of the little group, noticing her 5'2 stature and thinking that she was pretty. Although quiet at first, she was very polite and kind. He liked her.

Together the group made their way to the registration booth and ambled through the crowds of people. Christopher led the procession with long strides while Abigail's mother silently urged her to keep pace with him and think of something to say.
Shyly glancing to the young man walking nearby, she marveled that this was the person she had been talking to long distance, now in real life.

Along the way, the Duman parents recognized their tall son making his way through the crowd and stopped the little group, full of smiles as they in turn met the Cosgrove parents. After spending an evening strolling around the exhibit hall and through the conference center, Abigail reluctantly waved good-bye to Christopher as she and her sister Amy closed the hotel room door behind them. It was difficult to explain the growing excitement within her each night at GYC as she would give a report to her parents of the day's events. Observing and spending time with each other in person, a mutual respect and care was beginning to form between the two young people as parents supported and most importantly, God blessed.

They soon learned many things about each other. Chris was a tease. Abigail loved floating through crowds of strangers. His calm, steady, and confidant bearing gave her assurance with several challenges that arose during the conference. Her happy laughter seemed to make every day sunshiny.

They went on outreach together, spent time with each other's families, and continued to observe each other in person, but Abigail began to feel suspense. She appreciated it that Chris respected that they were friends getting to know each other for the specific purpose of deciding whether a relationship would begin, and had refrained from giving any verbal indications of affection. But now as each day passed, she wondered what he was thinking and tried to wait patiently for him to say something about their friendship.

One evening, Chris did ask the question.
"So what do you think of me so far?”
Abigail stood still, unsure of where to begin. “What do you think of me?”
He gave a little nod and a smile. “I like what I see.”
She replied shyly. “I can say the same."

Boyfriend and Girlfriend



Ensuring that neither parents had concerns and sure of his choice, Christopher asked Abigail to be his girlfriend. "I found what I was looking for," he told her gently.
She said yes. It was difficult to contain her excitement that evening - shocked at the change of events since November, amazed at the sweetness of being dear to one who had become so special to her, and praising God for leading in ways that she never could have imagined or dreamed.
“You know, it was a mistake that I ended up on the single’s site," she told him with a twinkle, "but it was the best mistake ever.”

Continuing their relationship long distance, they braced themselves for time when communication would be limited to the cell phone.

"I know that I have much more to learn about Chris," Abigail wrote in her journal as moonlight sparkled over millions of pure white snowflakes resting outside of her snug log cabin. "In the months ahead, our friendship will grow and mature, and become fruitful for God’s glory – I have no doubt. But for now I remain here in awe that the Lord made a simple mistake of my mother’s into a supposedly chance meeting and beginning of a friendship that would lead to a relationship that would change my life forever."