We had just gotten back from a weekend trip late Monday night, so Tuesday was a blur. Unfortunately, it was also my best friend's birthday, and he didn't get much acknowledgement. I have felt bad about that, so I will try to make it up to him here. My best friend is my husband of almost 19 years, John Bairen.
We met in college during the summer of 1991 while I was playing volleyball with my Christian fellowship group one Wednesday evening. John had been walking around Pitt's campus looking for something to do. He saw a group of people playing volleyball and decided to join us. After a few weeks of playing volleyball and then leaving, he decided to join us in the fellowship hall of the church to hear the message that evening.
In the fall, we went out a couple of times, but I was not looking for a serious relationship at that point. A short time after that, he became a Christian. During the next two years, we became very good friends. We had a lot of friends in common and went on fall retreats together and work projects with our group. In March of 1993, nine of us students went on a work project to Camden, New Jersey. We stayed in the fellowship hall of a church that week and worked with their kids during the day and did some construction projects. The day we were scheduled to leave Camden, a blizzard hit. In a borrowed van, eight of us piled in and decided to risk the drive (one girl went home the night before). We had no more food where we were staying and needed to try to get home. We drove as far as old exit 22 on the PA Turnpike (currently exit 298), only 52 miles. Thankfully, there was a Holiday Inn right off of that exit, and they had one room.
For three days, eight students slept in that room together. Four in the group wanted to go back to Pitt in the worst way. The other four of us were making the best of the situation. We sang songs while sitting by the fireplace in the lobby while John played his guitar. We walked down the road to the only restaurant that had any food left. It also only had one employee available, so John actually pitched in and helped her out while we were there. He still does things like that to this day. His compassion for people and desire to help others was one of the biggest things that attracted me to him. He has a really big heart for people.
The week after we got back, I walked up to him after our fellowship group was over. A short time before that, I had made the decision to never again ask a guy out, but I just couldn't stick to it this time. I wanted him to ask me, but it didn't seem like he was going to. When I approached him, he did ask. I found out later that he had the "once bitten, twice shy syndrome" because I had stopped dating him before.
We dated for two months and then got engaged. I knew after one week that I was supposed to marry him. We had become such good friends over the preceding two years, and he had become an amazing man of God. Some of our friends thought we were crazy for dating only two months before getting engaged, but we knew each other so well. We were married on June 11, 1994. We've been together more than 20 years now, and we are still learning about each other.
I loved our wedding! We did so many things that were different than the norm for weddings. Our vows were from Ruth 1:16,17: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” When we exchanged rings, we touched the rings to the thumb, pointer, and middle finger before placing them on our ring fingers. As we touched each finger, we said, "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen." I had seen this in the movie, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and loved the idea, so we used it. We also gave our candles which were used to light the Unity Candle to our in-laws. It was an awesome day!!
We have moved six times since getting married, the last move putting us in Florida. He had had a dream to move south. He waited on God and me to share his dream. We have three beautiful children. He had a dream to homeschool them. Again, he waited on me to share his dream. We are now ending our tenth year. As I look back now, I can see how God gives John wisdom about different things but also gives him patience to wait for me to "see the light."
I often take John for granted and for that I am sorry. Perhaps many married couples get used to each other and too busy with life and don't honor their spouse or give them the accolades they deserve. I want to do that now. I want everyone to know how much I love John Bairen and how grateful I am that God put him in my life. I have learned more about God through him. I have learned about myself through our marriage.
He encourages me to do things I've not tried before. He encourages me to do the things I love to do. He provides for our family by going to work every day. He has done amazing things in his career since we got married. He started out doing campus ministry and raising his full support, which amounted to $200 a month. Neither one of us very much liked asking people for money, so we weren't very good at it. I did work full time while he did campus ministry for four years. Once our first child was born, however, I quit my job, and John went to work. He had taught himself about computers and landed a job in tech support for a local company where a friend of his worked. Since that time, he has continued to climb the ladder of success, so to speak, by gaining much of his knowledge on his own. He is so gifted when it comes to computers. I'm glad I have him to help me when I need it and don't have to call the Geek Squad.
I look forward to many more years with John as we grow in our marriage and we raise our kids together. I am blessed beyond measure!!