|5th wedding anniversary, May 2008|
The year was 1998. Lindsay, a blonde haired, blue-eyed farm girl was excitedly packing the green suitcase that she had received a few months ago for her 14th birthday. Just weeks earlier, mama had announced that they would be going to a homeschool conference at Bob Jones University. The young girl, who was home schooled since 2nd grade and rarely went out of town was beyond excited! A few days spent with other teens who were also home schooled sounded too good to be true for a girl who lived out in the country and dreamed of having friends her own age. Public school was not an option for her parents, who felt the Lord was clearly leading them to home school despite the unpopularity of their decision (Homeschooling was not so popular in the 90's), and despite not knowing any other homeschooled girls the same age as their 14 year old daughter, Lindsay. This decision was sometimes very hard for her to understand. She loved her older brother and younger sister and also the adults in her life, but that was not enough. She desperately wanted some Godly friends her own age, she wanted to be invited to birthday parties and other teen events. She began praying ernestly for a best friend, a friend who loved the Lord and wouldn't look down on her for being somewhat sheltered, country and homeschooled. Though she never prayed that the friend would be a girl, a girl was what she was expecting! While she had just recently begun to secretly notice the opposite sex, there was never really a boy that stood out to her at the small country church her family attended and there didn't seem to be any boys interested in her anyway. She could have cared less, She was busily planning out her life, trying to graduate highschool a year early, working on the family poultry farm, thinking up ways to make money and selling labrador retriever puppies to save for a car and to fund her goal of going on several mission trips when she got old enough. Though her ultimate goal was to become a wife and stay at home mom to many children. If God did not have a husband ready for her after going on all the mission trips , finding a way to pay for college was her next step. She knew that her family often struggled financially and that if her dreams were going to happen, it would be up to her to find a way to pay for them! Trusting God with her life could be a real struggle, she already had it all planned out...so she thought! Little did she know that God was getting ready to rattle ALL of her big plans.
In early June, Mama and the 3 kids piled into the old station wagon for the 3 hr drive to Greeneville, SC to attend the homeschool conference. Lindsay opted to stay in the dorms with all the other teen girls in hopes of making as many friends as possible during the few days that she had there. She got settled into her room and immediately went out into the dorm lobby to start making friends. That afternoon, she walked down the sidewalk to the orientation with a girl her age on each arm and a big smile on her face. As the 3 girls entered the building and began running around to see what there was to do and where to sit ect. Lindsay noticed 2 brown eye's starring at her very intently. She turned to look and it was a dark haired boy, probably around 16 or 17 she thought. He didn't seem as skinny and lanky as most boys her own age. He was more mature looking. This was the first time she had ever noticed a boy openly starring at her. It made her nervous and suddenly very shy. Butterfies began to flutter fiercey in her stomach. She had never felt this way before. It seemed the best thing to do was to hurry and sit down. As she sat there, waiting on the orientation to begin, she began to rationalize the whole thing.. "Well, he is cute. I like his dark hair and brown eye's but surely he's at least 16 or 17. I don't know why he would even be starring at me, I'm sure he will stop once he finds out that I am only 14". The boy sat down 2-3 rows in front of the girls and he kept starring back at her. She always looked away and pretended not to see him out of the corner of her eye. She thought, thank God for good peripheral vision and the other girls to talk to! She began to worry about the clothing she had brought to wear for most of the week. Big t-shirts and wind pants, she hadn't even given thought to liking a boy at the camp...why didn't she bring more flattering clothes? The camp went on, she played lots of games, attended bible studies and did lots and lots of socializing. The dark haired boy continued to stare at every opportunity. At times, she thought he would stare a hole through her, one time she even noticed him sitting next to her brother and talking to him and then starring some more. She still pretended not to notice. Finally, toward the end of the week, The cute dark haired boy seemed to get that the starring wasn't helping and started doing it less and less. Lindsay worried a little that maybe she had avoided him too much. She figured out from friends that the boy's name was Daniel but told no one that she secretly liked him! She made made sure not to get herslef in a situation where she would have to talk to him for fear that she might say something awkward or silly. On the last day of the camp, The teens rode on buses out to the woods to participate in a obstacle course. Lindsay noticed that Daniel got onto the same bus as she as they were leaving the obstacle course. She was already sitting next to someone near the middle of the bus and there were no empty seats anywhere near her. 'She was very surprised when Daniel stepped onto the bus, took a quick look around and began to confidently order everyone to change seats and told them where to sit. Once he had the bus arranged the way he wanted, there was an empty seat directly in front of Lindsay and he sat down in it. That was a little obvious she thought, what a drill sergeant! Ordering everyone around like that! She decided that she liked it, It showed that he was driven and would do whatever it took to sit where he wanted. On the bus, the windows were open and it was raining. Lindsay didn't like the rain in her face so she rode most of the way back with her head in her lap, It also helped avoid the awkwardness of Daniel sitting in front of her. Daniel was not to give up so easily. He propped his back against the side of the bus and put his arm on the back of the seat so he could easily stare over the back of it. She continued to be thankful for the rain and kept her head down. Daniel made a few comments about the rain and wanted to know why she was ducking her head. He also asked her where she was from and she replied, Georgia. He said oh, well I'm from Virginia, a little town you've probably never heard of called Bluefield. Finally, the awkward bus ride was over.
Everyone headed back to their dorm rooms to get cleaned up for dinner and the last night of chapel. Lindsay began to feel sad about the thought of leaving all of her newfound friends and yes...Daniel. She knew that he liked her, but he didn't know that she cared a thing about him. She began to regret brushing him off all week. The chapel time ended and all the teens began to exchange addresses. Lindsay thought, "well maybe if she could get up the nerve to go ask Daniel if he wanted her address and he will get the hint that she did indeed have some interest afterall. She finally got up the nerve to walk up to him and asked quietly "do you want my address?" He looked a little surprised and said yes he did so she gave it to him. This did not work at all, He very obviously did not get the hint. Everyone was exchanging addresses and he also got the addresses of many other girls and other boys were also asking for her address, which she kindly gave them. It seemed to just be the friendly thing to do that night. The night wore on and some of the boys headed to the gym to play basketball. Finally, Lindsay and the girls were talking and some of them mentioned how they thought it was so obvious that Daniel Rich was crazy about her, Finally Christina looked her in the eye and asked point blank if she liked Daniel back. She admitted that she did and before she could say anything else. Christina decided to run off and ask Daniel officially if he liked her. She saw Christina talking to him and turned bright red. She rushed out of the building and headed toward her dorm room. She wasn't fast enough, she glanced back and saw Daniel running after her in his faded burgundy t-shirt and jeans. He caught up to her but did she was nervous that she couldn't slow her pace any. He kept up with her and asked "Do you like me?" Her heart felt like it was going to pound out of her chest and she couldn't speak so she just kept on walking. By this time he turned to Christina who had also caught up to them said " She still hasn't answered my question." Lindsay continued looking straight ahead and asked casually "what question?" she then to turned to him and by this time his face was really red and he cocked his head to the side and asked yet again, "Do you like me?".
She replied, "I guess so" and continued on to her dorm room. Nothing else was said that night and she went on to bed but couldn't sleep. She had never felt this way, she was soooo excited! She liked Daniel and he liked her back! It was official! Would she see him again the next day before they headed back to separate states? She certainly hoped so! The date was June 11, 1998. Little did she know that her life would never be the same after that night... This was the beginning of an incredible and sometimes heartbreaking 5 year journey.
|The Rich Family ~ December 2011|