I think it was my mom who first suggested I try ChristianMingle. In an email from July 2011, she wrote “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” because she knew I was skeptical. Almost a year later, I became a paying member when my roommate told me I had to “go online.” I had dated in my church but needed to expand my pool to include other possibilities. I had also been on other websites, and decided that if I wanted a decent Christian guy who was serious about dating, I was going to have to pay.
I gave myself a month. Two weeks in, I met Mark, after expanding my search to all of California. I’m not going to lie, it was his picture that first drew me in. He had a boyish smile and a rugged look that said to me “adventure.” We seemed like a good fit, especially once I read over his COMPASS and thought about how our color codes matched up. I was a blue and he was a white. I’ve gone back to that test several times and I can say that we definitely both embody those colors! The COMPASS helped me realize that Mark was worth getting to know, despite the 100 miles in between us. What I also liked about Mark’s profile was that he was a strong man of faith, he taught Sunday school to kids, and he seemed to be genuine. Recently, I had a friend say that Mark is a “gem” and I think that she is exactly right.
We first started by exchanging emails on April 4, 2012. His sense of humor was evident immediately and that drew me in. I didn’t want to waste a ton of time in the “get to know you” process via the internet but I also was pretty cautious. After texting for a few weeks, I dropped enough hints so that Mark asked if we could meet in person. I was excited and I let him plan the date.
Our first date was an odyssey, as has been the rest of our relationship. We met up in downtown Los Angeles and walked around looking at architecture, libraries, hotels, and experiencing city life. I had taken the train there so later on, I was really cold and wanted to go back home and change. Mark agreed to drive me, and when I decided he was trustworthy, I took him on a tour of my town, Pasadena.
We walked all around doing everything from sneaking into a concert at a church to wandering around a bookstore looking at zombie books to me trying to impress him with my lackluster piano skills at an outdoor piano art exhibit. We ended up at City Hall in a beautiful courtyard, where I had the creative idea to play hide-n-seek, since we were all alone and I had always wanted to do that on a date. Mark agreed and so we played briefly. I remember thinking that if he were up for that kind of adventure; he might just be worth my time. When he asked for a second date, I said yes.
It’s been a year now. We’ve been through so much. Weekends are spent driving to meet up. At first, we would go to various cities between LA and San Diego. We’ve been camping, offroading, to weddings, to church retreats, funerals, birthday parties, baptisms, and on many, many adventures. Together we’ve discovered towns in Southern California neither of us had ever been to before! We’ve traveled across the country together twice. He’s seen me through a bad bout of food poisoning the day that we had to get on a plane and I was too nauseous to pack my own suitcase, he helped me write my Grandma’s eulogy, and sat through a very depressing 2.5 hour long movie when I had to speak at an event, even though it cut into our time together as a couple. I was there when he had to Gerry rig our vehicle during an offroading trip where the car broke down. I helped encourage him to transition out of a job that had him in the car hours a day. He says I’m the only one that “gets him” because my extroverted ways pull him out of his comfort zone.
Throughout it all, we’ve tried to keep God as our main focus. Whether we’re in public or by ourselves, Mark makes it a point to pray and thank God for all of the blessings we have at every meal and beyond. He’s the grounded one in our relationship and his humility and trust in God’s provision has helped me throughout this process. We’ve visited each other’s churches together and try to encourage one another in our commitments whether it be in his Sunday School teaching for kindergarten to third graders or in my work with high school students at my church.
Recently, a year and a week after our one year anniversary, Mark completely surprised me by planning a trip to re-enact our first date. As the date progressed, we tried to stop at the various places and remember what it was like. I thought he might be up to something but once we spent a good hour in the bookstore with me trying to ask him which candle smell he liked, I figured he had nothing much planned. At the last stop, City Hall, a building with amazing views and picturesque landscaping, we found that we weren’t alone. The place was packed with people taking prom and engagement pictures! We went out front for a little privacy and Mark slipped off to the truck to get my shoes. I was still looking for a place to play hide-n-seek when he came back and suggested we walk in the grass. As I pointed to a place across the street, he knelt down and asked me if I would marry him. I was in complete shock and babbled out a lot of questions before answering “Yes!”
We’re still getting used to being engaged and living 100 miles away but we’re really thankful to ChristianMingle for bringing us together. We know we likely would never have met if not for the website or for God, who has been such a constant throughout our lives. We can see his fingerprints all over our relationship and our journeys. We can’t wait to share our lives together!