Last Thursday I told you about how I--cool as a cucumber--notified Mark that we could commence a romantic relationship. I took him back to the Indianapolis airport and sent him on his way until Thanksgiving break when we would see each other again. Being the perfect gentleman that he is, we shared a solid hug goodbye at the airport.
For the next month or so we tel-netted daily. We would’ve talked on the phone daily, but this was back when long distance phone calls cost $17 a minute and Skype wasn’t a word. I continued to fall hard for my preacher man and God continued to root out stupid habits in my life that were not only dishonoring to Him but also dissatisfying to me. The old was shrinking and the new was growing--it was a confusing time, especially for my sorority sisters who were wondering where the old Jen went and why the new Jen was constantly going giddily to the school’s computer lab.
Over Thanksgiving break, while I was home, Mark said it. Yes he did. Just threw it out there, “Jennie Owen, I love you.” I responded--again, as cool as a cucumber, “What?! You can’t just say that!” As the blood drained from Mark’s face I quickly recovered with something like, “I mean, you do? Really? Well, wow. I love you too.”
From that fall through the following summer we lived in different states and often hemispheres almost all the time. Mark stayed in Colorado and then went to Okinawa as a single intern with Cadence. I went to Indiana and then as an intern to New York City and Nicaragua. We emailed many times a day and saved up for weekly phone calls. Each time we had a brief reunification in Denver the goodbye was absolutely heart-wrenching.
During the fall of my junior year I had a chance to spend the semester as an intern. I chose Denver to be near Mark. In January he was planning to return to Japan and I was planning to go to Spain for a semester abroad. Instead we got married. The end.
Just kidding! I’ll tell you a few more details if you care to keep reading. During that semester we saw each other every day. My friends back in Indiana were a little concerned about the temperature of our relationship. They asked, “You wouldn’t leave DePauw for this guy, would you?” or “Please tell me you’re not going to throw away your college education and do something drastic.” My response was always, “No way. Of course not. Are you guys suggesting I would get married in college?? That’s ludicrous.”
My friends and family in Denver were terribly confused. My high school friends wondered where the girl who could drink them under the table had gone. My family was accustomed to my fierce commitment to singleness. I’m pretty sure some thought I had joined a cult and Mark was the one who had invited me.
The time for another goodbye drew near. Mark finalized plans with Cadence. I had bags packed and tickets purchased for a semester in Seville. Then, with the force of a rushing river current, we both felt like it was just wrong to depart from one another again. We began to consider marriage--and when I say we began to consider it, I mean Mark mentioned it, I freaked, then I took a deep breath and a day or two later called him at work (OppenheimerFunds at the time) and said to him while he stood in the break room, “Let’s do it. I think we should get married. Forget Japan and Spain.” After Mark got his breath back he said something like, “K.”
In mid-December, after conferring with my parents, Mark proposed. It was snowy and sweet and on a rocky cliff in a park overlooking Denver. I said yes. We pranced off to a Christmas party where our peers and their parents all said, “What the...? Are you serious? Well, congratulations, man! That’s crazy!”
Being super sure that God had given us to one another and that getting married at this seemingly abrupt time was His will, we didn’t mess with a long engagement. It was 2 1/2 months. The time factor made wedding planning incredibly easy. I called the florist and said, “What kind of flowers do you have available for March 6th?” They said blue. I said, “Cool. I like blue. Hey, Mom! My colors are ivory and blue.” “Ok, dear.” And so--in front of 350 friends and family--some sold-out Christians who thought it was awesome, some crazy old friends who could not make sense of it, and some vocal doubters who truly said out loud, “It’ll never last” within our ear shot--we became husband and wife.
We were, by far--years even--the first of our friends to get married. I was 20 and Mark was 23. I did finish college at the University of Colorado at Denver (our honeymoon was during my spring break!), Mark received a Masters of Divinity from Denver Seminary, we interned together with Cadence, we had a baby, and we left for the mission field full-time. We essentially grew up together and entered the wide-world of adulthood and careers as one. It’s been almost 15 years and I would do it all over again.
And to think, it all started with a car full of cute boys on the highway.