Suzanne's Second Estate

A web log of my thoughts, activities, life....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Talking Age on the Boundless Show

Kevin made his Boundless Show debut this week, when we were invited in the studio to talk about our relationship—specifically our age difference. We had a lot of fun chatting with Ted Slater and his wife, Ashleigh, who also have an age difference (only it goes the opposite direction). I really appreciated hearing Kevin's answers and insights. Our discussion is right at the beginning of the show.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


On Saturday my best friend asked me to marry him.

From Kevin's and my first extended conversation (in January), our relationship has come together very quickly. Weeks after we began dating in early March, I knew Kevin was the man God had for me to marry. Kevin knew as well; God definitely led us in the same timing.

Regarding the proposal, Kevin was intent on two things: 1. Surprising me (quite a feat considering our early discovery that we would marry); 2. Making the event a great story for me to tell. I'm a writer, so he knew the story would certainly be told.

For a month or so we've talked about going ring shopping, but we were both too busy to do so. Last week, for example, we were both working at VBS from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and then Kevin would work at Starbucks from 3 p.m. to midnight. So we hadn't gone ring shopping but Kevin requested I leave this past Saturday open for a "date day."

Originally he suggested we go horseback riding, but on Thursday he asked if we could change our plans and go to Estes Park. I said yes; Estes Park is one of my favorite places. On Friday I had a weird feeling he might propose. A few things seemed suspicious, like he was planning to dress up a little and he had asked if we could have dinner with his parents later. But Friday night he suggested we go ring shopping this week and gave this whole (very sincere and convincing) speech about how he wanted me to get the ring I wanted and he didn't want to mess up the experience. (He now claims that was all true and coming from his actual concern that I like the ring.) I bought it hook, line and sinker and ruled out a proposal as part of Saturday's events.

Even when his "surprise" plan—a horse-drawn carriage—pulled up at 7 p.m., I still didn't suspect. I just thought he was creating a relaxing and romantic date for us. He didn't seem a bit nervous as we headed out on our carriage ride toward the mountains. The evening was gorgeous. Kevin is allergic to horses, so he started having a reaction. Around that time, he said, "We should stop and take a picture before my eyes get too red." So the driver pulled over near a clump of Aspens and a little brook. I found it slightly odd that the driver didn't offer to take our picture but instead said he was driving to the end of the lane to turn the horse around.

Kevin and I walked into the Aspens where we took a couple of pictures. After our photo moment, Kevin took both my hands. His hands were all nervous and fidgety, and that is when I knew what was happening. I got an adrenaline rush like the one you feel at the top of a roller coaster hill when you're about to go down the other side. This was it. He was proposing!!!

I listened carefully since many of my friends have said they forget what the guy said when he proposed. Kevin told me some of the reasons he loves me—my smile and laugh, my passion for God and people and children. Then he got down on one knee and said, "Suzanne Hadley, will you marry me?" I said YES!!! (Very quickly, I might add—he's a catch!)

When we returned to the carriage, a dozen red roses were waiting along with sparkling cider and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. He and the driver had an elaborate plan worked out. There had been a code phrase and everything! And a woman I thought was a friendly neighbor walking by was the carriage driver's wife, who had stashed all the goodies until needed.

Kevin picked the ring himself based on only the following from me: "I'd like it to be warm, soft and romantic." He bought the ring in North Carolina when he was there for his brother's wedding two weeks ago. I love it. The ring is unique, and I love that Kevin picked it out himself. He gets an A+++ for the proposal and ring. He accomplished both his goals: He surprised me and gave me a great story to tell.

I am a blessed woman. God has orchestrated our story, from our unusual meeting a year ago, to our ample opportunities to minister together, to our miracle-grow friendship, to our overcoming potential obstacles to our relationship, to our shared passion for children's ministry, to our mutual enjoyment of coffee, to our simple joy in being in each other's company. God knew who I needed; and He knew when I needed him. In January I had no idea I would be engaged in June. The glory goes to God who blesses us with what we do not deserve and sustains us when blessings are less apparent.

"You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees." —Psalm 119:68

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Boomerang Express

So last year, the night before Vacation Bible School, I met Kevin. I was wearing my Wordless Book bracelet, which he noticed, and we struck up our first conversation at Starbucks. This year, we're working together at my church's VBS—The Boomerang Express. The theme is the Australian Outback.

Kevin plays William P. Williams, a goofy outback guide, in the VBS skit. Today he had to look like a radiator blew up in his face.


But seriously, I am having a blast working with my 22 sixth graders. They are a delight. Fifteen of them are boys, and I'm so blessed to see these young men learn their verses, do the song motions, gently help kindergarten kids and sing their lungs out in worship. Today, when I gave a couple of them their prize (an 8-pack of mini-snickers bars) for memorizing all five verses, one of them said, "Thank you so much!!!"

I have to tell you: Things are looking good for this generation.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Not-Single Insight No. 2: Be Open to the Unexpected

Those of you who read my previous post, about how I met my boyfriend Kevin, may have noticed a puzzling time lapse: Met perfect-for-me, evangelism-bracelet-recognizing-guy in June; became not-single in March.

It was perfect and it was not perfect.

Two weeks after our initial meeting, I discovered that Kevin was significantly younger than me. We both decided at that moment (though of course unspoken) that the age difference was a deal breaker.

And so, life returned to normal and all thoughts of anything between us were forgotten. Kind of. The thing was, Kevin just kept popping up in my life. A month after we met, he was hired as a children's ministry coordinator at my church, so I saw him each Sunday. Then I organized a fundraising comedy improv show in the fall, and the woman in charge of finding actors recruited Kevin to act in the show.

Our interactions through those months, though completely platonic, revealed to each of us the character and vision of the other. Because I served fifth graders at our church, Kevin would hear about what I was doing from members of the children's ministry staff. I would watch his leadership in the children's area as well as among our peers.

In his sermon series on Song of Solomon, Tommy Nelson talks about Paul's analogy of a race for the Christian life. Nelson points out that as Christian singles "run the race" God has set before them, they should be looking to see who is to their right and left as they run. Who is keeping pace, running nearby, heading the same direction? "Ask that person to run a few laps," he says (speaking to the men). "That's dating or courtship."

That was Kevin's and my experience. As we were running (metaphorically), we would keep glancing over and seeing the other person. The final straw was when he asked me to co-lead a young adult Bible study at the beginning of this year. I accepted, still in a platonic state of mind, but the connection and cooperation we experienced as we began to do ministry together was too great to ignore. Eventually, we prayed through the age difference issue and felt peace about proceeding in spite of it.

Some dating and married friends of mine have described similar barriers that had to be overcome in their relationships. My sister had to accept her now-husband's speech impediment. Another friend had to come to terms with her boyfriend's diabetes. A third worked through being more highly educated than her intended. The violation of one's expectations can come in many forms.

In "7 Myths Single Women Believe" I wrote:

Just as my junior high mind projected who I would recognize as "the one," my grown-up self entertains expectations of how I'll feel when my "soul mate" arrives on the scene. The truth is, God knows best the kind of man who will inspire me to greater devotion to Him. As I seek the Lord, I can trust Him to reveal that person to me in whatever way He sees fit.

The benefit of a not-perfect element to the relationship is that when God overcomes the barrier, you feel even more confidence in what He is doing. It also forces you away from your "checklist" for "the one" and opens the door for God to give you something you wouldn't have known to pick for yourself. In my experience, that something is better than I expected.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Not-Single Insight No. 1

I believe it's time to do something interesting with my blog again. In the words of Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, "Let's start at the very beginning; a very good place to start."

My life has changed significantly since January 21 of this year.

Many of you know me as the single girl who writes articles for singles (and not-singles). But in January, God began a new chapter in my life as the not-single girl who still writes articles for singles (and not-singles).

The change was so sudden and unexpected that I have struggled to shift gears. Because of that, I have been hesitant to talk (in a public way) about the wonderful man God has brought into my life. But God has been working as steadily in my not-single state as He did in my single state, teaching me things about myself and my relationship with Him. So, on a semi-regular basis, I would like to share some insights from my new perspective as a not-single.

Not-Single Insight No. 1: There's Nothing Wrong With You

Well, technically there is something wrong with you. After all, we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23). But many times during my singleness, I struggled with wondering if there was something about me that was defective. In "Seven Myths Single Women Believe," I wrote:

For a long time I believed that if I were thinner, I would attract a husband. Magazines with images of women with flawless skin and model-thin bodies fuel that inner voice that says, You're not thin enough. You're not pretty enough. Or worse, I wonder if it's my personality. I talk too much. Or I laugh at the wrong times. Or I'm too assertive. It's easy to look at married women and wonder: Why them and not me?

Single women. There is nothing wrong with seeking to improve your faith, character and outward appearance. That's not what I'm saying. But what the Lord has shown me through my relationship with Kevin is that the right kind of relationship affirms the person God has created you to be. The first time I met Kevin, I was wearing a wordless book bracelet. (Read the story of the wordless book).

It was the night before I would begin serving at VBS at my church and I had made the bracelets for all the kids in my class. It happened to be an outward sign of a core passion of mine: child evangelism. I was meeting a friend at Starbucks and the barista (who happened to be a very handsome young man) asked me: "Where did you get that bracelet?!"

I was surprised to have the bracelet recognized. I told the barista, Kevin, that I was teaching VBS and he said: "I'm going to be a children's pastor!" Our initial conversation and "click" arose from something that was integral to who I am. The words from my "7 Myths" article reveal a diminished understanding of God's purpose for relationships. Changing who you are — no matter how tempting — to attract someone veers away from God's design for bringing people together. A childish bracelet and accompanying childlike heart may deter one fellow, but it may be irresistible to another.

God is teaching me that the best kind of relationship is one where each person's God-given traits and gifts are affirmed in the presence and personality of the other.