{31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way} :: Lesson 24~Engagement Story {His Version} ~ God Has Mercy on Indecisive Guys

Hi everyone, this is Brad. I'm a guest on Andrea's blog today. She told her engagement story to all of you on Monday. So now I'm gonna tell my side of the story.

It was back in the summer of '96 when I first met Andrea Gilmore. And she is correct. We met whilst she was showing her belly button ring to her friends. I walked up on a group of girls, and since I was the new guy in town, I was trying to meet as many people as possible. So I stuck my head in a group of girls and said hi, and there it was, out for everyone to see. Her belly button ring. I made a funny joke and then moved on to the next group of kids.

I really got to know her better when she participated in the internship at church. I had a girlfriend at the time, so I didn't really see her as girlfriend material. But I thought she was nice (That's not the same as saying she had a really nice personality just in case you were wondering *wink*).

In the fall Andrea decided to go off to college. All of us who had worked with her in the internship were sad to see her go. She had become a valued member of the team and we were certainly going to feel her loss. She and I had become good friends and would stay in touch as she went away to school. During that time I had broken up with my girlfriend. I know you can see where this is going. The stars were beginning to align!

She and I had developed our friendship during her time at school. I think it is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I couldn't really think of her and I in a relationship because of the age difference. The struggle in my heart was beginning.

Over the Christmas Holidays she came home. We hung out. We kissed. Boom! There were fireworks. It was on! But not really.

In her second semester, she developed kidney stones and had to be hospitalized. I happened to be out there on a trip with several of the pastors from our church so we got to see each other. Being the pastoral guy that I am, I made a hospital visit to see her, and spent a good bit of the afternoon there. I had started to look at her in a different light by this time, so it was kind of interesting. I prayed with her and went on my way. But I knew something was a little different.

It wasn't long after that that she decided to withdraw from school because she had gotten so behind in her studies because of the hospital stay. She told me she was coming home, and I decided to do something about it. I asked her dad if I could bring her home from school and he obliged. I wanted to see if there really was something there, and I thought this might do the trick. I picked her up and brought her home and we decided to date. After about a month, I called it off because it didn't feel right to me. Thus continued the struggle in my heart.

The next couple of years were pretty rough. She came on staff in the Youth Department, and wouldn't you know, she was assigned to help me! We continued growing our friendship and did most everything together. Ministry was great, personal life was not. I got into this cycle of wanting to hang out with her, but not wanting people to know that we were hanging out together. You can see the problem here. This went on for about 2 years. To make a long story not quite as long, let's just say I was not fully in touch with my feelings.

In the summer of 1999, we decided to take the Youth Choir on a 3 week mission trip to Europe.  Andrea and I led the team of 50 kids with a hand full of moms, and my 1 lone guy, Rob Stennett. To this day, Rob is my hero! Anyway, it was on that trip that I fell in love with Andrea. She had planned the whole trip, and even had another kidney surgery right before. She came 4 days later than the rest of us, but she came. She was tough. I liked that. I watched her interact with the students, lead prayer meetings, and get us all around Europe. She was amazing. And she was only 21. I thought to myself, "what would she be like at 30?" I liked what I thought the answer was. I was falling in love.

We came home from that trip, and unfortunately, went back to more of the same relational dynamic.  Let's just throw it out there. I was a loser. I couldn't get myself to admit I loved her. It wasn't until I was on another trip to Turkey in the fall that something changed.

I was talking with Andrea who was at home taking care of all the business in the office. I called her on her day off and asked how she was doing.  She said she was going to Denver later with a friend. I named a couple of girlfriends to which she responded "no." She was going with a boy! We hung up and I got really mad. I didn't know why I got really mad, but we all know that I was jealous! I know jealousy is wrong, but in this instance it really helped me out! I was coming to some conclusions about our relationship.

We were in the airport in Athens, Greece getting ready to come home early. All the pastors were talking about how they were surprising their wives.  I said, "I want a wife to surprise."  That led to a conversation where 3 questions were posed to me about Andrea. I answered yes to all 3 questions.  "So, what's the problem?", they said. To which I responded, "Nothing!" We went immediately from the ticket counter to a jewelry store in the terminal where I purchased a diamond ring that I was going to give to Andrea upon my return. I called her from the airplane on one of those gigantic phones and asked her to pick me up at the airport. After some persuasion, she said she would. My course was set. I just had to win her over.

I spent the next 4 days winning her heart because I had kind of lost it with all my indecisiveness. We went out every night and I told her things would be different. And they were. I bought her flowers that she took to work. The card read "I love you and I don't care who knows." She was beginning to believe me. I asked her dad for permission to marry her. He said they had been waiting for me to come around. I guess everybody knew before I did. Why am I always the last one to know?

I got home from Turkey/Greece on a Wednesday. On Saturday, I took her to the park where we had a nice picnic. We went for a walk in the woods, and I knelt down on one knee, took out the ring I had purchased in Greece and asked her to marry me. Freakiest moment of my life. She didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to say. I think we both screamed! It was like an out of body experience. We gathered our stuff and headed to town as the newly engaged couple. We called family and friends and began to spread the news. It started to sink in. And it felt so good.  I knew that Andrea was a great woman, and I didn't want to miss out on a life with her. That thought pushed me over the edge.

We got married 2 and a half months later on New Year's Eve 1999! What a celebration that was. I remember it as one of the best moments of my life. We had so much fun with our family and friends, and were excited about our new life together. We knew it wouldn't always be easy, but we knew we would get to do it together and that made all the difference.

So what's my lesson to be learned here?  I think there are several.  But here's the one I'll land on.  God is merciful to guys who can't make up their minds about marriage and put their potential wives through the ringer. Hey guys, that's not a license! It's an encouragement to figure it out and get your business in order so God can bless it instead of have to have mercy on it! Either way, I'm grateful for my wife, my kids, and the life we have together. I would never have dreamed it this way. But that's why He's God and I'm not.  His dreams for us are always better than the ones we dream for ourselves!


This post is part of the series {31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way}. Did you miss a lesson? Catch up here.


  1. Awesome story. Thanks for sharing your side of it. We love you guys and your kiddos. God broke the mold with you two :)

  2. That was a funny story....all mostly true too. And you look 16 in the picture. Which is good, since Andrea was like 16. I'm kidding!! But not by much.... Love you guys! Glad you finally came around.


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