Girl and Boy and a Cricket Makes Three


As Lee and I lead up to our 10th Anniversary, I am chronicling some of the favorite memories of our years together.  You can read our love story here.

By the fall of 1999, Lee and I were an official “item.”  Although neither one of us could ever really call each other “boyfriend and girlfriend.”  It sounded silly and trivial and we’d giggle every time we said it.  We also felt very strange and junior high when we would walk and hold hands.  Because we knew that marriage was imminent, it almost felt like hand holding and labeling trivialized our relationship.

When we returned for what would be my senior year at Baylor, Lee decided to go to the K-Life Board of Directors and tell them about our relationship and his intentions for it.  Because he was on staff and I was a volunteer leader, technically we weren’t supposed to date.  I was willing to step down as a volunteer if I needed to in order to officially date Lee, but I did not have to do that.  The Board was not only supportive of Lee and I, they were excited for us.  And for that entire school year, they really poured into us as a couple.  What a blessing that was.

So we were free to move forward as an official couple, and move forward we did.  Every available moment we had, we spent together.  Because I was in my final year and it was kicking my tail academically, Lee and I spent a lot of time at Barnes and Noble – me studying, him staring dreamily at me…

Okay, not really – I think he usually prepared his K-Life talks or Bible studies, but I like to think that he was so distracted by my beauty that he got nothing done at all during that time.

For those of you who have been in Waco in the autumn, you will know that what I am about to write is no exaggeration.  Every fall, Waco experienced what can only be described as the Plague of Crickets.  Thousands upon thousands (maybe millions) of crickets would swarm the town, covering buildings, falling from the sky and altogether making my life a living hell.

I’ve told you about my unnatural fear of crickets here.  This fear stems from my years as a Baylor student.  And the fall of 1999 was the worst cricket infestation of all my years there.  You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing one or 10,000 crickets.  They were in restaurants, churches, libraries, classrooms – every-freakin’-where

One evening, as Lee and I sat in a quiet corner of B & N studying and talking, I kept a wary eye on the crickets that were crawling on the wall next to us.  It was at a particularly intense moment of conversation that I felt a tickle on my calf.  I gasped and slapped at my leg, shaking my pants around a little.  Lee laughed and called me paranoid and we moved on. 

A moment later, I felt another tickle on the back of my knee.  I yelped and shook my leg under the table.  When no cricket came tumbling out, I decided that maybe I was being a little crazy.  Until…

I felt something crawling on my thigh!

At this point I leapt to my feet in the silent but crowded book store where several people were studying and began hopping and dancing about as I stuck my hands down my pants and dug for the voyeristic little cricket.  I finally felt my hands close around it and I snatched it out of my pants and threw it across the room with a scream.

I looked around to see all eyes on me and Lee doubled over in laughter.  I gave a little smile and wave, then slowly sat back down all shaky and hot.  Lee was still laughing.  I glared at him and leaned forward.

“Lee,” I hissed.  “Did you see that?”

He snorted.

“Lee!” I was desperate for him to understand the seriousness of the situation.  I had just been viciously attacked, for crying out loud.

“That cricket was in my pants,” I stage whispered in horror.

Lee sat up and wiped his eyes, then looked straight at me.  “Well,” he said with a grin.  “Lucky cricket.”

My mouth dropped open and my face got hotter still.  Then we both started cracking up. 

And then we left…And I have had a severe Crickiphobia ever since.

Girl Meets Boy

Lee and I are just months away from our 10 year Anniversary (July 22).  Last week, I purchased our tickets to Milan, Italy for mid-September where we will spend ten days driving through Switzerland, Austria and Italy (we may even try to swing through France if we have time) to celebrate.  As we ramp up to this big milestone in our marriage, I will be recording some of the favorite memories of our life together beginning today with when we met…

scan0003It was March of 1998.  I was a 19-year-old sophomore at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.  One of the things I did with my free time was volunteer with a youth discipleship organization called K-Life.  Our two area directors were getting married and moving on, so they brought in a new guy, who would start serving as the Waco area director in the fall.

His name was Lee Stuart.

He came to one of our leaders meetings and the memory of that night is seared into my brain.  He was sitting on the floor, against the wall next to the front door of the K-Life house.  He had on a baseball hat, shorts and a T-Shirt and I thought he was adorable.  I tried not to be too obvious with my staring…

Did I mention that I was dating someone at this point?  Yeah – I should mention that.

We were split into groups to write monologues for an upcoming Easter Cross Talk where people would portray different characters from the crucifixion.  Lee was placed in my group and we were assigned Peter.  He laid on a bean bag behind me and we contemplated what Peter must have been thinking and feeling during that long night.  I fought hard not to be a silly, giggly girl.  I was being all aloof and cool.  I wasn’t going to be that girl who fawned all over the new guy, even though my heart was racing… 

After the meeting was over, I stood talking with a couple of the other girl leaders about the new guy.  “My only fear with him,” one girl said, “is that all the female leaders are going to see him as someone to date and he’s going to be a distraction.”

“Oh yeah, totally,” I agreed.  “Hopefully people can remember that he’s not here to find his wife but to lead the ministry.”  I said this while envisioning myself in a wedding gown.  Nice.

It should also be noted that Lee does not remember this first meeting.  Boys! *eyeroll*

Lee left the next day and I went about my business at school, dating my current boyfriend and planning for my next semester, which would be studying abroad in Kiev, Ukraine.  I went on a tour with my choir in May to Spain, then came home for a little downtime with my family.  During that time, I found out that Lee was working as the Program’s Director at Kanakuk Kamps, so I did what any self-respecting girl who had a little crush would do.

I wrote him a letter.

You see, I had worked at Kanakuk the summer before and I knew what kind of girls were there.  Cute girls.  Athletic girls who loved God.  The kind of girls that would  be very attractive to someone like Lee.  And he was quite the catch so I didn’t doubt at all that girls would be after him.  I knew I had to get my name out there before some other girl swept in and stole his heart.  And yes, I was still dating someone else at this point – but I was keeping my options open.  Clearly…

So I wrote Lee a letter telling him how excited I was to have him come to Waco and that I was praying for him as he prepared to move and change jobs.  I was completely shameless and my motives were anything but pure. 

I headed back down to Waco in June for a semester of summer school and while I was there, Lee and the other director, Dana, came down for a couple of days to meet some of the kids.  I met up with them for ice cream.  I laid on the charm and sent Lee on his way, confident he would be thinking about me at least for a little while.  Turns out he was pretty smitten by the time he left Waco. 

I’m good, folks.  Really good.

A week later, my boyfriend and I broke up.  I really liked that guy and I was very sad to see the relationship end, but I was equally relieved because I had a feeling, deep down, that Lee was the man I would end up with.  It’s the terrible cliche that you always hear, but in my case it was true.  I just knew.

I would see Lee one more time the night before I left for Ukraine.  I went to the K-Life house where a group of the leaders was hanging out.  Lee and I tried swing dancing together.  We were flirting terribly, but both trying not to be obvious.  I’m not sure we totally succeeded.

The next day, I left for Ukraine and I wouldn’t return until January.  And the first time I saw Lee upon my return is a pivotal moment that both of us remember…

To be continued at a later date…