Editor's note: This was written two days ago. I wanted to ponder it and meant to publish it. Then I got my feelings hurt by my husband and wasn't very inspired to hit the "publish" button. In fact, I thought about erasing this whole thing. Hey, I am who I am. If nothing else, I am honest. But here it is...so go ahead...get on with my THAT story.
My heart has been breaking lately for the victims of the flash flood here in Arkansas. As of today, there are 20 people who had life taken from them as a result of this fast and furious flood. Its made me think about some things. And it makes me wonder....and I just heard Tim McGraw sing about "My Best Friend"....so here is where I am.
Do you have a story that is THAT story? You know, one that you never get tired of telling, the one that means so much to you? It might be a story that makes you smile, cry, laugh, or all of the above. I have a couple of THAT stories. I can't tell you my one favorite, but I can tell you two my "tied for first place" favorites.
The story of Kale's arrival and the lessons he taught us (and continues to teach us)
The story of God throwing Ep at me
Most of you know the one about Kale, so here is my Ep story.
I should tell you that I like telling this story not just because its how I met my best friend and love of my life, but because its also one of my best examples of how God reminded me of some things. I should also tell you that this is the abbreviated (yet still long) version.
I was dead set on being in charge of my life at the time. I made my own decisions. I did what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted, and nobody ever better try to tell me different. I was 23 and knew all I needed to know in life. Are you laughing yet? I was entering my final year of college, dating a guy to which I had once been engaged, and trying to figure out what was going to be my path after my professional stint of being a college student was over. I knew how many kids I was going to have, how far apart they would be in age...I knew it all. The thing was, so did God. See, this was before I truly acknowledged the fact that God was in control and my life was His. I believed in God, felt entitled to a certain life because of my belief in God, and talked the talk without walking the walk. As much as I fought God on it, he threw Ep at me. I walked in to all four of my classes that fall to find this guy sitting in each and every class. In class, I mentioned my dad being a state trooper. I walked to my truck after class and found a note: "Call me....xxx-xxxx. Ep" and I still remember looking around and wondering how he knew which truck was mine. I later asked him that. He gave me his standard--"I don't know." Ten plus years later, I can tell you how...he is watching when you don't realize it...and he is much more observant and knowledgeable than he lets on to be. He knew which truck was mine because he had either purposely or coincidentally noticed me getting in/out of my truck at some point. Will he admit it now...nope...claims he has no idea...doesn't remember. I didn't call him. See, he wasn't in my plan. But he was in God's. So after class the next day, Ep approached me and asked me if I knew of Capt Fletcher from the state police. I told him no, but I bet my dad knew him because my dad seems to know everyone in this state, especially the people who wear or once wore uniforms. Ep laughed. He understood. He told me that his dad (Capt Fletcher, yet retired) does know my dad. Turns out, his parents remember when my mom was pregnant with me. Despite the fact that I was supposedly exclusively dating this guy from my past...I started going to lunch with Ep. There were times that lunch turned into dangerously close to dinner time and we were still at our lunch spot. And that still makes me laugh. We once spent 3 plus hours in a Taco Bell in Fort Smith. Our butts fell asleep. We didn't care. The people who worked there must have thought we were insane. At times we would sit there in complete silence for minutes on end, yet it wasn't uncomfortable and most of the time we were looking deeply into the other person's eyes. I know that sounds mushy. Really, it was the first time I remember feeling like someone was looking into my eyes and seeing straight into my heart and soul. Honestly, that is how it felt. Every great once in a huge blue moon while, we still have one of those moments.
Eventually, it came to a point where I needed to make a decision. I was ready to cut things off with my boyfriend and see where things went with Ep. Then I chickened out. I took the safe route...the route that was at least familiar, despite not being sure if it was the path I wanted for my fiuture anymore. Then God reminded me who was in charge and gave me a swift kick in the hiney. To this day, that journey brings a sly smile to my face. Its not just a special story about me and Ep, but also one about how God will lead you down the path you need even when you don't know the best path to take. I now know that that other guy wasn't the one for me. I would have never respected him the way that a wife should respect her husband (which is the way I respect Ep...really, quit laughing...I do!!!!). I would have never seen the world the way I have. I would not be who I am now. I wouldn't know that I love adventure, that the world is truly bigger than me, that I love to climb, and I don't know if I would know what its like to be loved for just who I am (even on my bad days). This path that God kicked my hiney down...the path with Ep...its exactly the path for me.
Of course, God knows that Ep and I have struggled (what couple hasn't?) and that we have had our share of speed bumps, frustrations, tears, and moments of doubt. Yet here we are. Ep is my other half. I still know who I am, but yet I would feel so lost without him. He and I both have grudgingly made changes as we adapt ourselves to what "we" need instead of what "one" of us wants/needs. We don't slow down often enough to really just sit and look into each other's eyes...we have too many distractions such as this noisy two year old who rules our home, iPhones, tv's, and the list could go on. I once asked Ep if he remembers much about when he first met me or what he thought of me the first time he noticed me. His reply? "I wondered who you thought you were." I don't think he meant that in a quizzical/deep way. I think it was more along the lines of "who does this chick think she is anyway?" with a roll of the eyes. Well, that should have been his first clue to run...and run fast. He didn't. Thank goodness. He chased me. He chased me until I chased him back and that is when he ran. And boy oh boy did we go on some adventures with all that chasing and running. Some were good adventures and some weren't so much fun (yet just as life altering and lesson teaching).
The bottom line is this. When tragedy strikes in a way that shocks me, I always ponder it for a while. This latest tragedy made me wonder if I were taken off this earth in a swift moving flood, would my husband know how much I love, value, and cherish him? Would he know that I still laugh out loud at the story of how we became (and are still becoming) "us"? Would the man who is constantly moving forward, for once, not roll his eyes at me looking backwards in time? Would people know how much I love him and how much he means to me? Would he know that he is my THAT story?
I hope so.