Here is the condensed version (in my, Amanda's, words) of how He and She became Them.
I met Ben when I was still going to school at OSU (go beavs) and driving up to church in Beaverton at least once a week. My life was pretty much spiralling out of control in my own mind. I was trying so hard to walk with Jesus, but I just kept messing up. It seemed like I had totally lost myself, and anyone who had known me for longer than one year could tell. I had two beautiful and amazing friends, Anna and Fawn, who pretty much kept me floating. Well, now I know it was Jesus hanging onto me, but it was Jesus through them. Once I finally realized that He was holding onto me, I started to recognize His love, and to me, that was the beginning of the best life I could ever imagine.
Around that time I felt like God was calling me to go on a trip to India with Solid Rock, I didn't really think that I would get selected, since I didn't REALLY attend that church, only The Way (the college group on the weekends). I was so nervous to walk my application up to the team leader and turn it in. Guess who the team leader was...Ben Newell. First thought in my head:
"I wonder if I'm going to fall in love with him and marry him?"
God is so good, I found out that I got selected for a team of 12 to go that summer. That team would actually end up yielding some of my best friends today. As the weeks went on, I still didn't really know my leader very well, though I did think he was pretty cute. We would see each other at church on the weekends, and I would go back to school during the week. Pretty soon I went the whole week from the drive home on Friday night to the drive up the next Friday night, thinking about Ben. We actually never even talked that much, we just caught each other's looks from across the room. (cheese). By the time we had our first real, in depth conversation, it seemed like we already knew each other. Ben worked at the church as the missions pastor, and I was 19 and in college. I felt like I had a crush on my camp counselor. I never in a million years thought anything would happen between us....but at the same time, I kinda knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to keep being around him.
Then it happened. I was at school in Corvallis, having lunch with some friends, and my phone rang. It was Ben Newell (heart throbbing). WHAT!? Why was he calling me? I ran home to mentally prepare myself for a telephone conversation with him. Let me explain..I HATE the phone. I am awful at the phone. Plus, the thought of having a conversation with Ben made my hands sweat...aka incredibly nervous.
I finally got home, and called him back. I might have peed my pants a little, I cant remember. I prayed the entire conversation that I wouldn't sound like a dork, but I'm sure I did. We talked for hours. (He mostly talked, lets be honest). I got off the phone and instantly started kicking myself for all the stupid things I probably said. But here's the short version of how our next conversations went:
Ben: "I'm not sure whats going on here, but I think God is doing something in my heart, I think you're amazing"
Me: (in my brain, and kind of out loud) "what?"
Ben: "I want to take you on a date, are you OK with that?"
Me:(in my brain) "what?"
Ben: "This is a fun date, I'm having fun. Lets pray"
Me: (in my brain) "what is happening right now?"
We will both say that after that we pretty much knew that was it. We became instant best friends. We dated under the radar, which was amazing. Not secretive, but protected at first. We really got to see each other in groups and be ourselves, and then spend time together one on one without the opinions of a million people. We got to know each other and love each other before anyone got to tell us what the thought. I felt like God was saying, "here, as if My love isn't enough, here is a leaving, breathing, walking example of my love for you, that covers a multitude of sins and doesn't care about your past, and only sees the best in you, and protects you, and cares for you, and really truly thinks you are beautiful inside and out, and redeems all the time you thought you lost.
By the time we went to India that July, we had already had the following milestones:
♥ first kiss
♥ "I love you"
♥ "I want to marry you"
That November we got engaged in New York City, and got married in March.
♥ ♥ ♥
That version was not condensed, was it?