A (love) story to tell

I used to swear I’d never get married.

I changed my mind.

When we first started dating, Manny and I agreed that–if it worked out–we’d one day have quite the story to tell.

He was in the Air Force, stationed in Guam; I was at a small Christian university in South Carolina. Our paths crossed on the island of Saipan at a tiny international school in the western Pacific. We’d both ended up there, through circuitous paths of our own, teaching ESL classes.

I didn’t think it would ever work out.

I blogged about the Saipan trip, both the beauties and challenges of it. What I didn’t mention–what I didn’t know at the time–was that I’d meet the guy I’d be spending the rest of my life with while I was out there.

8/11/12: FB chat with a dear friend.

Riss: You’re up late.

Me: Yeah. Chatting with a friend who’s a mile down the road at a coffee shop. And I have too much on my mind to sleep.

Riss: Really? What’s up?

Me: There’s this guy. I’ve spent the last few days with him and with a couple of missionary kids… I like him. He seems to want to talk.

Riss: I knew it.

Me: I can’t figure this guy out!!! It’s bugging me!

Riss: Dude. Listen to yourself.

On the way back to the states at the end of the summer, I stopped in Guam to spend a few days with the guy (at that point, strictly just a friend) and his sister. The night before I left, I wrote a post about the frustrating futility of making friends on the other side of the world, because I was convinced I’d never see the guy–or his sister–or any of those new friends again.

We started talking seriously when I got back to SC.

Getting thoughts from a trusted mentor, 11/25/12:

Maybe the Lord had you both out there watering camels (reference to the Isaiah-Rebekah story). God’s plans don’t always fit into tradition. As long as there are no red flags, prayerfully go on.


Go for it.

Flash forward a few months: several thousand Facebook chats, phone calls, and Skype convos later, I was at the Greenville, SC airport, waiting for his plane to touch down. I’ve never been so nervous in my life.

Days after that, I’m skipping school to travel up to Pennsylvania to meet his family. My future family.

Journal entry, 2/2/13

Pretty sure I agreed to marry him before he asked me.

I remember a moment in the woods behind the family home on Tuesday. Manny and I were walking around the property–he pointed out memories as we followed the cleared-out pathways around the land…he stopped and put his hands on my shoulders, turning me towards him. “Steffani, do you want to become part of my family?”

I said “yes.”


Journal entry, 2/18/13

Message on Isaiah 40 this morning. Since the beginning of last summer, those verses have been on my mind.

During my mission trip to Mexico in the early summer, I was meditating on the bigness of God as my mission team van drove through the Sierra Madres. Everyone else in the van seemed some degree of carsick. I was enjoying the roller-coaster-y mountain roads and thinking of Isaiah 40.

Those verses speak of…sheer bigness. Something beyond the scope of human understanding. A faithfulness I can’t wrap my mind around.

Standing on Mt. Tapochau on Saipan for the first time, I remember thinking of those words. Something unspokenly beautiful about the massive, all-encompassing goodness and faithfulness of the God I serve.

” Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.” Isaih 40:15.

It seemed too beautiful to be real. Yet that beauty is just a fragmentary picture of the God who created it.

Standing on a covered bridge beside Messiah College in PA, my cold hands wrapped up in Manny’s, I said “yes” and the implications of that one word seemed bigger than all the mountains and islands that testify to the awesome love of God. The bigness surrounded me in that moment.

The partnership I’d agreed to build with that man would outlast any other human partnership; the concept was staggering. It was the start of a relationship that has the potential to testify of a bigger kind of love.

Our covenant can communicate more clearly than the desert mountains and Pacific islands the kind of love that Christ has for His bride, the church. By God’s grace, it will.

Married life could be the biggest adventure yet.


  1. Yes, God is big. . . His love for us continues to amaze me. I am praying the journey as your love grows will be blessed. . . and that by God’s grace, it will.

  2. Manny- She made you look good, real good….God gives us so much more than we deserve…Esto Deo fidens persistas et fidelis esto usque ad mortem.

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