Shannon here: Aspiring author, Sherry Shindelar gets the scoop on her son’s real-life-romance through an interview with her daughter-in-law. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter Monday’s drawing. Deadline: March 4th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Sherry:
Minnesota Boy Meets the French Girl
For February, the month of love, I interviewed my daughter-in-law. I loved watching her romance with my oldest son unfold. There were sparks from the moment they met. Here is their story:
JD and Naomi grew up worlds apart. He in the woods of northern Minnesota, and she in Belgium and France. Their paths crossed when Naomi came to the Minnesota, where she’d spent a brief time as a child, for college,
- As you prepared, to come to the U.S. and start college, were you hoping to find a boyfriend, or fall in love?
I was a freshman and had no intention of dating. I had been frustrated with guys up to that point- especially with someone who was very flirtatious with me but then let me leave Europe without a word of commitment. I was so hurt and disappointed by that, that I distinctly remember praying alone on the porch at the lake home two weeks prior to meeting JD that God would have complete control over that aspect of my life. I saw it as stressful and all-consuming. I was ready to focus on God, my studies, and making new friends.
- Tell me about the first time you met JD:
A friend invited my sister and me to a picnic by the lake. Three students walked over to us, and I noticed JD first because of his obvious good looks and inviting smile. His surfer necklace definitely caught my eye too- I thought it was a good look. I noticed his height right away too- that was a must in a partner for me. I was insecure enough about my height… I needed a tall man so I didn’t feel worse about it! He ticked a lot of boxes without saying a word to me, if only there wasn’t a girl walking right next to him! I assumed it was his girlfriend, so I shook off any feelings of hope and tried to just get to know him. I felt silly for even letting my mind wander even for a moment. The problem was that he walked away after we exchanged names and small talk, and I wasn’t sure if we’d talk again. That bothered me.
As the picnic drew to a close, I gathered up the courage to go to the food table (despite not being hungry) where he was standing and strategically asked him for the ketchup. It worked! We picked up where we’d left off, and I was again met with a beautiful smile and cheerful questions about how I ended up in Bemidji of all places. He took a surprising amount of interest in my background, which made sense when I learned about his recent study abroad trip. When he mentioned having been to France, and his love for the trip he’d had in Europe, I knew my heart was in trouble. When my sister and I went to the restroom at the park before leaving we talked over the stalls: All I said was “Hannah…” and she answered “You like him don’t you?” I just laughed. A sister’s intuition 🙂
- Tell me about the journey from first meeting to first date?
I discovered JD attended my church and Intervarsity, and had the bulk of his classes in the same building as me. My worry that we wouldn’t have opportunities to get to know each other definitely dissipated! I was so excited to spend more time with him. Every interaction left me wanting more- he was fascinating, helpful, caring, and extremely funny and witty. But the question remained through all these encounters: Did he actually like me?
I was confident that the answer was no, seeing as he was usually surrounded by other girls who were usually laughing at one of his jokes. On one such occasion, when I was sitting across from him at a restaurant with three other girls, I unknowingly crossed my arms in discontent and barely said a word or reacted to the entertainment. I’m not competitive by nature, so I decided to give up on trying to win him over since it seemed futile. He had so many options around him- he would never pick me. To him, that moment was a sign of rejection, and he was convinced I didn’t like him at that point.
Everything changed at the Intervarsity retreat two weeks after our first meeting. We were surrounded by fewer people, and I was relieved to see that despite having other friends there, he still seemed to choose me for company. On one of the nights we stayed up until 4 am doing a puzzle together using British accents and laughing hilariously. On another occasion, he sang to me in French by the campfire in front of the whole group. I thought “he must either be crazy or in love”. I already thought he was the whole package, but his good singing voice was icing on the cake! The next day I called my mom and told her we might in fact go out some day. I could finally see that maybe the competition didn’t actually exist, because he seemed to have chosen me.
BUT! As excited as I was about this prospect, I wanted things to go slow and didn’t expect him to ask me out until months later. Instead, it was two days. After school one day, he said “Naomi… I like you. Do you want to go out to dinner with me on Saturday night?” I couldn’t believe my ears. I stared at the lake shell shocked. Everything was moving so fast, and I was barely 18 and facing culture shock from my recent move to the States, yet it felt completely natural to say yes.
I hadn’t planned to fall in love at age 18 and marry at age 20, but I wasn’t about to throw away something God had seemed to orchestrate so beautifully. Nine years of marriage and three kids later, I still feel this certitude as strongly as ever! I thank God for my husband every day.
Question for Readers: Did you meet anyone in school or college with whom you still have a relationship with? Tell us about it.
About Sherry: Originally from Tennessee and the Shenandoah Valley, Sherry Shindelar loves to take her readers into the past. She is an avid student of the Civil War and the Old West. Her novel, Shenandoah’s Daughter, is set in the Shenandoah Valley. When she is not busy writing, Sherry is an English professor working to pass on her love of writing. Sherry won the 2020 ACFW First Impressions Award for Historical Romance, and she was a semi-finalist in the 2021 ACFW Genesis Contest and a finalist in RWA’s 2021 Maggie Contest and in the 2022 Crown Contest. She currently resides in Minnesota with her husband and has recently completed a western novel set in 1860 Texas. Learn more & connect:
Come back Feb 28th for Edwina Kiernan!