(Nels) Going to the chaplain officer basic leadership course was new and stretching to me. I was beginning to see the Army in a different way. All my growing years my dad had been an Army Chaplain, so I had been surrounded by military personnel, and the military was deeply a part of who I was in my psyche. Yet I had never personally been a soldier, or an officer, and this training was shaping me into both.
During this time I was preparing my heart and mind to be a leader—of soldiers, yes, but more importantly of a wife. I will never forget grinding through new levels of fatigue and exhaustion. 4:30 a.m came daily for physical training, followed by a full day of Power point, discussion, or field exercises. Little did I know how helpful that training would be for starting a family—with the late nights with crying babies, trying my best to assist in taking care of Kaya, our firstborn, in the long hours of the newborn night. But wait—that is too far ahead! Back to the engagement.
One thing I was certainly thrilled about, I was making “man-pay” to buy Jordan a ring during CHBOLC. Being a seminary student, money was as elusive as the whitetail deer I was accustomed to hunting. Wait, it was more elusiveJ At least I killed deer. Moving on—I was thrilled to be making decent pay to buy Jordan a ring, and I planned on proposing to her as soon as I could after training.
Ring shopping is a trial–Finding the right ring is not easy. I simply could not find a ring that I loved. Either the band was ugly, or the diamond was not pure enough. I learned a whole new vocabulary of rings words. I wanted to find the prettiest/most elegant band, and the purest diamond I could get. It was a trial, but a worthy trial. My reasoning was this—this ring is going to last a lifetime, and the specialness of this gift is of utmost importance to me. I can’t buy love, and I am not trying to, however I want my gift to show that my heart wants to give unendingly. If it is within my means, I am going to do it, because this love is priceless—and I’m ALL IN!
(Jordan) Oh! What an agonizingly long summer. We went from seeing each other everyday and spending most of our waking hours together to writing letters and talking on the phone when we could work it in at the end of Nels’ very long days. When we could actually talk, he was so exhausted that it seemed like he wasn’t really all there. I scheduled my days around those phone calls. Even though it was so hard, I think it gave us a good opportunity to sort of “prove” ourselves – that we weren’t just in this relationship for the good, fun and easy times. God gave us grace to continue to grow together even in our separation. We prayed together and also had the chance to talk about a lot of marriage-related things.
Nels returned to Kansas City in late July. And wow, after that wait – one of the best feelings in the world is picking up your soldier (dressed out in his ACUs!) at the airport. Coincidentally, one of the worst is dropping him off there – when you’re pregnant, puking and have only been married about 3 months. But here I go, getting ahead of myself…I was so happy to have him back and to still have a few weeks of summer to enjoy together before we were back to the grind of school.
He had been back for a couple of days and had to leave to go visit his parents. I couldn’t go with him because I was working. I knew he wanted to see them since he had been gone for the summer, but I was really bummed that he had just got back and was leaving again. Little did I know that he was picking up my diamond!
to be continued…