This post was manually recreated from archive files after the original LeBlancLife blog was taken down by an internet virus. We may occasionally add additional legacy posts in the future and will include them under the category Ported.
The pilot just turned off the “fasten seat belt” sign and the attendants are moving around getting ready for food/drink service. I think tonight is microwaved hot dog night :). The flight is not too full so I have all three connected seats in my row all to myself. My usual aisle preference (good for stretching your legs into the aisle) is trumped tonight by the breathtaking view out this window. A few thousand feet below us, the clouds are thick like an ocean of bleached white cotton balls. I really haven’t sat and figured it out, but I bet we can see for thousands of miles. At the end of that view, the horizon is boldly colored with fierce orange and pink hues that fade upwardly into the blue and eventually dark of night.
I’m sitting here grinning like a school boy on Christmas Eve. See, it was only 6 weeks ago, yesterday, that nearly this exact same scene played out as I flew from Newark to San Diego for work (today it’s Newark to LA). The sun was setting and I uncannily also had a window seat to watch the marvelous colors over the bed of clouds. It was on that flight that I knew for the first time, exactly when Kristin and I were going to get married (Part 2 below). I can’t wait to get to that part, but before I do, I’d like to take you back to just before she and I began dating.
How we knew we’d get married…before we even started dating
I mentioned here before that I hoped to get lunch with you and share with you the amazing story that God is writing. Well, that hasn’t worked out for various reason (mostly because there are a few thousand of you regulars and just one of me – *smirk*)…so I’m getting the courage to actually share the details with you all. These are intimate details of our lives that we hold in high regard. So as much as is possible, please treat them that way.
It was just short of 11 months after Misty died that I first realized I was going to be able to love again. I found myself looking around every corner wondering if this or that attractive girl was someone I should date. I wasn’t sure what to make of these feelings, but before long God spoke to me very clearly and directly. I remember it like yesterday. I was in Richardson TX for work and visiting a church service with a friend of mine from there. The speaker for the evening was the wife of the Pastor. I sat there for over an hour while she delivered one of the most riveting/knowledgeable/biblical sermons I have ever heard in my life. About half way through I felt like God slapped me in the face with a bit of truth I had been missing. It was like He firmly reminded me that I needed to consider who would be perfect for me and for Olivia. And someone that we would be perfect for as well. So it was there, on that trip that I decided to make a list of priorities and committed to pray until God brought the right person into our lives.
My list included some obvious criteria like “she needs to be called to serving in a church” and “she needs to be sold on living in NJ”. It also had some difficult ones like “she has to be strong enough to talk about Misty to Olivia or sit through dinners or events where I speak about her” and “Olivia has to immediately take to her…in a way that is way beyond normal or average”. I had an off the wall request as well…I asked God to bring someone into my life who wasn’t around for the last couple years with Misty…someone from out of town who hadn’t stepped foot in the local churches while they were all praying for Misty. See, I didn’t want anyone who had any preconceived ideas or any thoughts about my being a good husband or anything. I didn’t want to start with anything like that…I just wanted to get to know someone and bring them into that part of my life gradually. I wasn’t looking for someone who might just want to be with me because they knew I’d stick it out to the end with them. Now this was a particularly sticky request seeing that I just asked for someone who was sold out to live in the area. And lastly, I knew that I wanted to be with someone who had an equally traumatic experience in life. I wanted to be able to relate on the most intimate emotional levels and I felt that I had to be with someone who kinda understood where I had been. I know this seems like a crazy list of things, but this is honestly what came into my mind that week as I sought for the things I needed to pray about finding in a person. If you don’t believe me, talk to Dr. Librizzi, my counselor…I let him in on all this pretty early (I’m obviously joking…he won’t talk to you about me, but I really did make this list!).
So I’m praying for these things and one night not too long after, the words just jump off the page to me. It had been right in front of my face all along and I didn’t even see it. My list was Kristin. She had moved back to NJ from CA just weeks after Misty’s memorial service. She wasn’t around for any of it. But she came back because she had a burning desire to be back in NJ near her family. After she was back, she felt compelled to step up and take a leadership role in her church. She was leading a woman’s group and so clearly impacting people in incredible ways. If you were to talk to the girls in her group, none of them would question her gift and calling to ministry. On top of that, Kristin had basically lost her mom at the age of 8 and grew up wishing she knew her mom better. I mentioned this on here before (Divine Appointment: Dating Again), but when she met Olivia she had a deep desire to help her in some way. After all, Kristin had been there. Also, the first time Olivia met Kristin she asked me to go ride in her car with her (never before had that happened with anyone) and then the next week when seeing her at a public get-together she ran past all the girls she knew much better and ran to Kristin. This was after meeting her once. Check in that box 🙂 I think I have made my point.
So one night as Olivia and I picked her up and made a Starbucks run after she got home from work (she was a day shift nurse then), we sat in the car as Olivia dozed off and we began to talk about “us” for the first time. I told her that she was exactly the person that I wanted to be with, but there was one problem. I wasn’t really able to “see” her in that light. She was like a sister…not a girlfriend. Her response to me will go down in my all time favorite quotes list. She said: “I feel like God has been telling me I’m going to marry you, but..well…I’m not really always attracted to you either”. We burst out in laughter; probably more from discomfort than amusement. We looked away and sheepishly back at each other not knowing what to say. Finally I weighed in: “OK, this is kinda crazy, I’m going to take a week and fast and pray about this. We’ll talk later.” With that, I began fasting and praying. I took a personal retreat to the White Mountains and it was there that I can say I really felt like I talked with God. Now, I’m not one of those “super-Christians” who will tell you that God told them to look under the seat at Chucky Cheese and they find a $100 bill or anything. In fact, I try to reserve the “God told me” thing as much as possible. But really, I can’t get away from it here. So many times throughout this whole process I have felt like God has really and clearly spoken to me. So there I am, at the end of my hike about to turn around and head back. I’m standing on top of Little Haystack Mountain after coming over the incredibly picturesque Franconia Ridge and there I fall to my knees in tears. Images of my friendship with Kristin pass through my mind as if showing me pieces of the puzzle that I had missed; pieces showing me how the whole thing just fit together in a way I couldn’t have dreamed up. As I kneel there I feel an overwhelming peace and a sense that God is telling me that this whole thing, my friendship and soon-to-be relationship with Kristin, was His doing. Of course over the course of the next month Kristin and I quickly became very attracted to each other. It was as if, once the walls were down, the feelings grew very quickly. Today we are amazed we were “just friends” for so long! We actually met back in February and began just talking about ministry. Soon I was helping her move into her house and hanging out every week. By May, we talked multiple times a week and our friends will tell you that I spoke of her as if I respected her more than anyone I knew. She spoke the same way of me. See, God allowed us to be “just friends” for months so that when he spoke to us about being together, we had a 100% confidence that we knew the other person’s character…and a 100% confidence that it was a character we wanted to be with. I have such an appreciation for the 6 months of friendship we had that was not in any way tainted by infatuation. So, the last week of September brought the beginning of our dating relationship and like I said, before we began we basically knew where we were going.
But here I am today, on another trans-continental flight watching the sun set. Well, by now the sun is down and the only lights are that of a few small cities within view; cities that faintly glow just below the vanished horizon. But I’m remembering a few weeks back when the date of our impending wedding became remarkably clear. Now, I’d like to share that story.
How we knew when we were getting married before we were even engaged
Like I said, we had begun the relationship knowing we were going to get married. I tried to take a step back and be slow for the sake of “caution”, but the writing on the wall was too clear. After a few months of dating we approached our counselor about how to know when to get married. We knew that our relationship was, in many ways, on display…so we wanted to set a good example. He first stressed the value of good decision making processes (I’ll write about this soon) but shortly after that he made a bold statement to us that has drastically impacted us. He said: “I have a feeling that God is going to give you a symbol or a sign from the Bible that will clearly show you when to get married”. I’m thinking: “whew, ok buddy…that’s a little weird, but we’ll give it a try…” And so we did. We fasted and prayed for a week and came together to discuss. Unfortunately, I didn’t really feel like I had any “revelations” so I asked Kristin to take another week. She had felt a great peace about a certain month, but I asked her to keep that quiet until we really prayed more about it.
The next day, I was on a flight to San Diego in a scene much like what I experienced just over an hour ago. I opened my Bible and began to read the book of Ruth. Within minutes, tears are streaming from my eyes and I’m hiding my face from the man seated two seats over from me. I bury my face in my Bible and read the story through a few times back to back. See, this story (which by the way is recognized in secular institutions as the “Mona Lisa” of short romance stories) is about someone who lost their spouse…and after grieving that loss, God revealed a new plan. God divinely arranged a new marriage and put all the pieces together. The new couple strove to honor God in their relationship and he blessed them by allowing them a place in the direct lineage of Jesus Christ. WHOA…wait a minute. There’s a story in the Bible about God not only allowing remarriage, but showing it as clearly arranged and willed by Him. I was blown away by this, but it didn’t stop there. Every few verses I’d find the words jumping off the page. The descriptions of Ruth were exactly the way I’d describe Kristin. And the descriptions of Boaz…well, he was totally the man that I’d want to be and had some characteristics that I feel I’ve worked hard on. If you ever see me with my MacArthur study Bible, ask me to flip through the book of Ruth. I scribbled in ink all through it, coloring each page with notes and revelations. The book is full of comments to remind myself of how I felt when I first read it….to remind myself that for the first time in so long, I felt like God was ordering my steps again. For the first time in way too long, I didn’t have to doubt myself in saying that God really does want what’s best for me and Olivia.
As I read Ruth I knew that somehow this story was what I was looking for. I felt like God was holding my heart closely and painting a picture for me; a picture of him knowing the ways of my life well before I ever walk them. A sense that even in the writing of the Bible, there He was penning a story that I would someday feel was my own. A little research on the book and I find out that every year, on the day of Pentecost, the book of Ruth is read and honored around the world. That was it; the symbol our counselor had told us to wait for. I had no idea when the day of Pentecost was, but I knew there was going to be a wedding on it. When my flight landed in San Diego I pulled out my phone and quickly searched the internet for the date: May 23, 2010. When I got back home I visited Kristin and told her the story and as I told her the date her face lit up. I remember the adorable smirk on her as she nodded and spoke: “Yeah…May was my month. May was totally the only month I really had a peace about”. That’s it…we’re getting married in May. It was remarkable because before that very conversation we had been tossing around dates like October, or maybe as early as August. Never did we think May. But alas, none of these things were really our ideas.
So last Wednesday when I proposed on a flight to Vegas, the reason I proposed on a plane wasn’t for shock value (though, we all know I don’t mind that). The reason was because it was there, on a 757 operated by Continental Airlines and traveling from the east coast to the west coast…it was there that I heard the voice of God in a new way. So I found it a fitting place for me to eventually give her the ring 🙂
UPDATE January 2011:
You can now check out our wedding film, courtesy of world renowned wedding videographer Rob Adams!
These comments were copied from the old LeBlancLife Blog.
Venessa Benson January 27th, 2010 2:07 am
Amazing! Truly amazing! I am so happy for what God is doing in yours and olivia’s lives!!!!!!!!!
Jen January 27th, 2010 8:48 am
Precious! It is in times like these (and of course many more throughout life) that we are reminded that indeed, in all things God truly does work for the good of those that love him and have been called according to His purpose. I’m sure it’s a scary thing to have such intimate details of your life laid out for others to read, and to comment about! Thank you for giving us this opportunity!
Shannon Daneman January 27th, 2010 9:05 am
What a beautiful story. I wish you, Kristin and Olivia all the best – it truly seems that God has been so good to all of you! I’m sure this is more than you could have ever hoped for. My aunt was recently over my house working on a project for her friend Jackie’s (?) birthday (Kristin’s stepmother, I believe?)- and she mentioned how she had met you! What a small world!
Victoria January 27th, 2010 9:59 am
LOVE IT!!!!! Thank you for sharing that with everyone….may God continue to bless you and your growing family!
Matt Linardo January 27th, 2010 10:33 am
Reminds me of how I “knew” I would marry Christine long before we really started dating….Thanks for stirring up great memories and for being so open and honest with your feelings, emotions and thoughts, I know that can be a terrifying thing to do.
Debra January 27th, 2010 10:44 am
WOW! WOW! WOW! I love God stories. I love when He speaks and I miss it desperately when He is silent or when I can’t hear Him because of me … because, really, I believe He is never silent. What an amazing testimony, Darren. I am so so so so happy for you guys and thank you, thank you for sharing that story with us!
Taylor January 27th, 2010 10:44 am
Your story is so incredible. Congratulations!
Emilie Olson January 27th, 2010 2:00 pm
Covered in goosebumps! you have blown me away again Darren and I promise one day to get to meet you all! Love and happiness for you all.
Jamie Helton January 27th, 2010 3:24 pm
Thank you Darren again for sharing the most important aspects of your life with all of us. Most of all showing us how God works in our daily lives. May God continue to Bless You, Olivia, & Kristin. Thanks Again!!
Sarah Rose January 27th, 2010 4:41 pm
Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. May the Lord continue to bless you and may you continue to be sensitive to His plans and purposes for you, Olivia, and Kristin.
Rebecca Fisher January 28th, 2010 9:39 am
Beyond words happy for you all. I just know this is only the beginning of how God is going to use your family. Love reading what He is doing in all of your hearts.
krishana sichinga January 28th, 2010 11:33 am
BEAUTIFUL story! i love how God works these things out 🙂
Jackie January 28th, 2010 9:55 pm
Thank you for sharing that! So happy for you!
Lyndsay January 29th, 2010 10:04 pm
I just love it. Simply love it. The world needs to hear this story…. I am so happy for you guys!
Claudia Edwin January 30th, 2010 12:25 pm
This was absolutely beautiful, thanks for sharing with us. Congratulations and all the best wishes to you, Kristin and Olivia.
traci February 1st, 2010 5:34 pm
I have been following your story for awhile now and CAN NOT WAIT to see where God leads you two!!!!! I absolutely love how neither of you had ‘THAT’ feeling for each from the start but when it was Gods time it came. I also love how Olivia had a huge role in choosing her new mom ♥ Can not wait to see you two in just a couple years down the road. You deserve THE BEST!!!!
Kathi February 2nd, 2010 11:16 am
Darren, That was a beautiful story!! 🙂
Stacia February 3rd, 2010 3:37 pm
Thanks for sharing your story. Andy and I were “just friends” for almost 5 years before our first date. It was so great because we really knew one aother and each other’s character quite well from social events, Bible studies, and serving at church together. I can also relate to the “feelings weren’t there at first” thing and the “list”. Andy fit my list perfectly and he was there all along, but I didn’t see it until God showed me. Also, I remember saying, “On paper you are the perfect match for me, but I don’t have the butterflies and that worries me.” A few weeks later, the butterlies came. I think I just needed to KNOW first before the cofusion of emotions. Anyway, we are 10 years down the road and I still know that we were made for each other- of course that’s not to say that there hasn’t been tons of learning and growing and stretching along the way.
tammy February 4th, 2010 11:46 pm
I am so very happy for you
Brenda Delaney February 5th, 2010 6:43 am
God…there is no one like Him! Congratulations again!
Morris February 9th, 2010 5:44 pm
I’m so happy for Kristin, Olivia and youself. You and your family are on an amazing jouney that is an inspiration. Thank you for sharing, that takes courage.
Jos February 9th, 2010 6:54 pm
I’ve been following your story for some time now…this is such a wonderful new beginning. God really is the best writer of any kind of story. I think He majors in romance though 🙂 How everything worked out is just so beautiful. Am so happy for you, Kristin and Olivia.
Julie Edgar March 4th, 2010 6:08 pm
Darren, Kristin and Olivia,
I couldn’t be more happy for you three! God is so incredibly good. I think it’s totally fitting that you marry on the day of Pentecost. I love the book of Ruth and I will always think of your story when I read it.
Tammy March 30th, 2010 9:29 am
I would like to get in touch with you for the sake of a young father who last his wife this morning to cancer. He is a christian but I think could use a voice like you in his life.
hope you don’t mind me asking.
Michele April 2nd, 2010 3:24 am
God is amazing!
Thank you for sharing.
Blessings, blessings, blessings!!!