Mary Jane, Coffee & U2


It was pouring rain.

I’d been in a history lecture, then a tutorial, all morning. I needed nourishment AND coffee.

I had just dropped a class that I had really been looking forward to, but didn’t realize that 12 graduate school credits in your first term  – especially after being mostly in bed for the previous 2 years – was a bit much. The professor was at the other end of the 4 seat coffee bar. I was looking for any one to engage conversation with (besides him, I felt guilty).

I’d been in Vancouver almost 36 full days. I was getting used to the grey drizzle, the “late” rising sun (I was from the “other side” of the time zone). Things being closed on Sundays AND Mondays and no mail coming on Saturdays.

There was a familiar scent in the air. I, personally, find it comforting (although not officially trying it) because the smell surrounds memories of my childhood. This tallish guy, who had AMAZING posture was investigating the source of the scent in the air (which was particularly strong in the Biblical Studies section of Regent Bookstore, where the coffee bar was situated). The ex-RCMP officer who worked at the bookstore and the guy with AMAZING posture (is his neck a little stiff?) left the bookstore and came back with “solved it” expressions on their faces. The professor bought peanut M&Ms to share (although we were eating soup and sandwiches, we all still had a bit of the munchies).

And the AMAZING posture guy, who apparently had noticed that I was the only “under 50” single woman entering that term, explained the account of the construction workers (later he refers to them as angels) having their maryjane over the college’s air intake. I, anxious to avoid any more conversation with the professor passing out snacks – turned towards AMAZING posture guy, and he willingly engaged in conversation with me.  First, he said he’d just gotten his ticket to the U2 Elevation tour, I foolishly asked if there were any still available (I had just noticed the billboards a couple days before – didn’t realize U2 sells out in moments I never had money to actually GO to “big” concerts).

We entered into his love of U2, I had a fondness of U2 because of the House of Seven guys who introduced me to the band in college, sang covers, and one of the guys (a reason I had come to Regent) owned EVERY single and album that had been put out by U2 when I knew him in college (PSan!). I knew a bit about U2 so after everyone else had left, (AMAZING posture guy had a name) Ken sat down, ordered a coffee and we chatted about the last song on the new album “grace.”

At a theological school, conversations about grace happen a lot.

But two people who suffer from autoimmune diseases relying on grace from others and God, talking about U2 over coffee …

for two hours…

because of a scent of marijuana in the air…

is beautiful.

Ken went back to work that day (2 hours after leaving his desk to investigate the smell) not knowing that within 3 months our wedding would be planned. (Neither had I).

A couple weeks later (Feb 11) Ken laid out a fleece – his brother was leading worship at a church very close to where I was living and he had let me know he would be helping his brother lead worship (drummer that he is). He asked God to see me if he was to pursue me.  I didn’t go to the church. Instead, I went to Starbucks to work on my first REAL paper for graduate school. Ken, disappointed that I wasn’t there, was running some errands after church and walked into the Starbucks – he didn’t see me. Not until he was leaving. Two hours later he left (late) to his next event.

In the meantime he was my chauffeur for Regent events (as independent as I wanted to be, my body was physically not capable of it). Taste of the World (Regent is a highly international school, and this is the most incredible pot-luck ever). After events at various pubs (man I love Vancouver Pub Food). I even acted a little jealous regarding a good female friend of his and made a bit of a fool of myself with a pint of Guinness…

Shortly thereafter (Feb 21), he was picking me up to take me to a Pub Night with other Regent folk – and I was tripping around – probably the ONLY time in our relationship I was nervous. He carefully said, as he was watching me drop things and acting goofy, “I am having a hard time not falling for you.”

And with all my tripping around, all I could think of was “Don’t let me stop you.”

That night I attacked him with kisses after a couple beer. I don’t think he expected it. But he didn’t really stop me. ;)

Yes, there is a lot more to the story, A LOT more. My physical pain, his understanding of it, and his continued prayers for me. The bus strike and his picking me up to go to school. His taking me home (leaving work in the middle of the day) when I was in too much pain to bear walking. His adoring me, but not objectifying me. I felt safe with Ken like I had NEVER felt safe with ANY man (even the gay ones). I did NOT feel like an object, I felt like God’s daughter, a princess – and he treated me as such.

The day I knew I’d marry Ken was VERY shortly after we met. Seriously. We met on the 1st of February, 2001. He picked me up for the Pub night on a Wednesday night (21st). We went to his parents house THAT weekend to celebrate his brother’s birthday, who had THAT WEEK met Madonna & Guy Ritchie. When ALL of his brothers made me feel as SAFE and like a princess of God the Father – I knew he was the one. A few days after knowing his heart, I knew that mine was safe with him.

And it helped that his mom, who was making pizza and hands were covered in kneaded dough shook my hand by rubbing my elbows (something my mom would do). And one of his brothers, even then, pulled the chair out from underneath me (maybe to test my sense of humour?) and all of the sisters-in-love already joined into the family quizzing me around the table – and stood up for me with a family friend who wasn’t so friendly towards me.

I hadn’t planned on coming to Regent to find a husband. I came to pursue a MDiv, then I was going to go to Fuller and get PhD in Psychology. I got my Mrs. on August 18th – and maybe when all our kids are in school (which won’t be until our oldest graduates from high school!) I’ll pursue my Masters. But now, I get to be a Princess, a Queen, a Mother.

Thank you Dear Husband, Ken, AMAZING posture guy, for falling for me. And for accepting my failures – not letting them stop you from loving me. And for getting me that ticket to U2 (and even paying for it) for that Good Friday – and then driving me home for Resurrection Sunday – and getting the guts up to ask my Dad for my hand (even though mom and I had already booked the reception lodge for the weekend AND my Dad had already planned where the wedding would be, in the backyard of the home he built).

Happy Eleventh Year of Meeting Anniversary!

6 responses

  1. I love you two so much… thank you for sharing your wonderful stories with us all. You really should write a book, Jen! Love from Ohio! gen

  2. Aww, I am a sucker for romance! What a beautiful love story, and how amazing what you’ve done together since then. And what a lovely wedding picture!

    • A friend (Jo Swinney) wrote a book a few years ago called Cheerful Madness, a collection of engagement stories that inspired her own engagement. (Ours is chapter 2, the whirlwind romance). So fun to be involved in that project and read the story from DHs perspective too!

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