So I decided I would blog “our story”. I had wanted to do this for our anniversary but my lack of brain cells during pregnancy kept me from getting my act together.
With Valentines Day just around the corner I figured I could do it for that. I think I should probably split it into a series though because you all know I have a problem with brevity. So here goes…
My junior year of high school I began attending church with my friend Shawn at what was then Westbrook Chapel (it’s now Calvary Chapel Westbrook). Shawn was excited to bring me because the high school ministry there was “cool and not like you think church is”. Well, he was mostly right and the music certainly wasn’t what I expected at church. It was actually pretty good.
I remember when I first started attending that there seemed to be a sort of revolving door of musicians, not much consistency. Pastor Mike (now our senior pastor) was still teaching at that point. One weekend Keaton Polson would do a simple set with an acoustic guitar, another time Caleb Magnino would be leading, or Brian Easter (then a freshman) would do a crazy set which involved lots of songs with hand motions and shouting, etc. A month or so after I started attending, Pastor Mike became an associate pastor at the church and Dave Lomas was moved up from junior high to high school ministry. I remember some of the seniors being a bit disgruntled by this, but not having been there a long time I really hadn’t developed a huge attachment to anyone in particular.
A few weeks after Dave took over, he announced one Sunday that he had hired Stephen Wuertz to be the new high school worship leader. Stephen did a good job and I liked that we had someone consistent up there. It seemed more organized.
That summer, my sister and I joined the “Lifeguards” team. Dave had come up with this whole summer long pool/beach themed Bible study. It was funny because we met at the church and not anywhere near water. There were tables set up in the high school room. These were the different “pools” and each “pool” had a “lifeguard” who would lead the Bible study/discussion. It was during our leadership meetings that I first got to know Stephen a little better. I didn’t really “like” him though at this point. I actually liked someone else, but it would be way too embarassing to admit who on here (and let me just say I am so glad things did not even begin to go in that direction with that person!).
I also joined the “drama team” which performed skits on Sunday morning. My good friend Marissa was the leader for this team. So funny tangent/story. Marissa and I have known eachother since I was in 4th grade. She’s a year older than me and has always been a little funky/artsy. Her 5th grade classroom was right next to my 4th grade classroom. One day when I saw her wearing her very funky rainbow leggins, Doc Martins and a big yellow t-shirt I just thought she was the coolest person ever and I wanted to “grow up” to be Marissa. I even did the same oral language piece as her the year after she went off to junior high. Being on the debate team in high school together was like my dream come true. We’d finally be friends! Yes, I am a crazy weird stalker. 🙂
The drama team, worship team and a few other leadership teams met during the week once school started so Dave could lead us in a leadership Bible study. We also studied the book Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, a precursor to The Purpose Driven Life.
At this time I sort of started re-dating a boy I’d dated my sophmore year. He was off at USC though and it only lasted about two months before I learned by overhearing a conversation that he was cheating on me. He wasn’t a Christian and it was probably better that things didn’t work out.
So that brings us to about February 2001. I was almost done with school and still attending Westbrook. I was even making a few friends there. I remember immediately latching on to a girl named Katie who moved to Bakersfield with her family from Kansas. She joined the drama team too and like me, she hadn’t grown up at Westbrook so she didn’t have any long-standing friendships with anyone that I would be intruding upon.
Marissa went off to join Americorp at some point and I became the drama team leader. At this point I also started really feeling the need to pray for Stephen pretty much daily. I did not like him though, not quite yet anyway.
Some point after I graduated I did start to like him though. Megan, who was basically the go-to person if you were a girl in high school, and Katie quickly became who I told all my secret feelings to. I remember lamenting for hours with them and in my journal about how much I liked Stephen. How it was hard to pay attention to God during worship because he was singing. Oh the sillyness of it all! Summer camp that year? The worship music that year was so awesome, only increasing my adoration more. I seriously thought I would explode with my feelings. Luckily summer camp was only a week long so I didn’t have to be tortured with my adoration for long.
After that I started attending the college group Bible study with Megan. I even remember a confession session in her little red car with Courtney S., home from Azuza, which is totally hilarious because Stephen had the hugest crush on her at the time (I was oblivious to this). When we arrived at the Bible study together I was so giddy when Stephen came over and talked to us. Now I know why. Haha.
When college started that fall, I remember Stephen asking me what I was taking. One of the classes I was taking was logical reasoning. Stephen said if I ever had any trouble with it he would be happy to help because he had tutored that class for a year. Here was my great big opportunity! While I did have a bit of trouble with the class, I actually exaggerated my lack of understanding a bit so that I could get tutored by Stephen. Am I the biggest dork or what?
This went on for several weeks. Meeting alone in the study rooms at the CSUB library, getting help with my homework after worship/drama practice, etc. I could barely contain myself.
So I did what any reasonable and shy dork would do. I created a hotmail e-mail account (email@example.com) and began sending Stephen e-mails (he had given it to me so that I could e-mail him with homework questions) confessing my feelings. At first Stephen thought that his friends, Caleb and Larry, were playing jokes on him. Those two had apparently given him quite the tease fest over his crush on Courtney and so he figured this was just another one of their practical jokes. I think I lasted about two weeks with e-mails back and forth between us before coming clean.
In true pacifist fashion, I confessed my identity in an e-mail one morning before we were supposed to meet for logic tutoring. Well Stephen pulled one back on me. We went through the entire tutoring session without him acknowledging that he had read the e-mail in which I had confessed my identity. Talk about torture!
Finally, just as we were wrapping things up. He says very casually, “So I, uh, got your e-mail.” I’m sure my face turned bright red at this point. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was basically somewhere along the lines of, “I haven’t ever really thought of you in that way. I’m not sure how I feel. I don’t know if you will fit in with my friends. Let’s try being friends and I’ll think/pray about it.” Stephen told me much, much later that his initial response was, “no way” when he read my e-mail, mostly because he still had a crush on Courtney and we hadn’t ever really hung out together.
Anyway, this all happened somewhere between September/October of 2001. Marissa came back from her Americorp duty sometime after that and we started hanging out all the time. She would pick me up and we’d go over to the “bachelor pad” where Stephen, Caleb and Jeremy made their home. Everyone from college group would also head over there after the Bible study to hang out. Marissa even took me to a few Eleventh Hour concerts with her.
In another attempt to gain Stephen’s time and attention, I asked for and received an acoustic guitar for Christmas. I then began taking guitar lessons from Stephen. I just remember my dad being so embarassing and awkward when Stephen would show up to our house for guitar lessons. I think he even made some remarks about us dating and stuff.
In January, Marissa’s birthday came along and a bunch of us were supposed to get together at the Marketplace to help her celebrate. We met up with everyone and then a bunch of the guys began to dictate what movies they wanted to see and what they wanted to do even though it was Marissa’s birthday and what she wanted to do was drink coffee at Starbucks and see A Beautiful Mind. Not interested in her birthday plans, everyone but Stephen and I ditched out on the birthday celebration.
We were sitting in Starbucks, Stephen and I both wearing grey turtleneck sweaters when Marissa announces (without knowing about the whole crush, secret e-mail, etc.) that, “You two would be good together. I think you would make cute kids.” Ummm awkward. We both just sort of laughed it off and went on with the evening.
I don’t think Stephen and I would have ever gotten together if it hadn’t been for Marissa. By taking me with her to hang out with the guys she showed Stephen that I could mesh with his friends which also helped him get to know me better and feel more comfortable around eachother. Not so awkward.
February 1, 2002 a bunch of us had gathered at “the bachelor pad”. I had noticed since Marissa’s comment that Stephen had been flirting with me. Or maybe it was in my head. I was so confused! I do know that one Sunday he made a point of sitting next to me, which never happened. He also kept poking me and just random stuff.
That night we all sat down to watch Shrek. A few minutes in Marissa’s mom called and said she needed to be home. I had never seen the movie before and was kind of bummed. Stephen immediately volunteered to take me home so I could finish watching the movie. I thought something was definitely up at that point.
I’m not sure when, but Stephen totally started holding my hand at some point during the movie! All the other guys fell asleep during the movie. So when it was finished we basically tried to leave as quietly as possible. On the way home I became quite the inquisitor. “What does this mean?” “Did you really mean to hold my hand?” “Does this mean you like me now?” Stephen said we’d have the “define our relationship” talk the next day…