It was still winter at Duke but the cold started to lose its chill as signs of spring began to come to life on campus.
I love the changing of seasons. I especially loved it that year. North Carolina was beautiful.
I realized that my life was changing too. Before I knew it, my one year internship at Duke would be over. I couldn’t believe it. I was already reaching the point where I needed to start making some decisions about what I was going to do after the spring semester ended. Was I going to extend at Duke or move on to something different?
I definitely knew that I loved my job. I had already become so close with my co-workers at Duke and with so many of the students. The thought of leaving made me sad.
But then, there was my relationship with Grant. After Grant’s visit at Christmas, I no longer wondered whether or not I wanted to be with Grant – I knew that I did. The question now was when that would happen.
Grant had never beaten around the bush with our relationship. He never made me wonder about his feelings for me. I knew he wanted to marry me. I knew it because he had told me. He hadn’t officially asked me, but he had told me his ultimate intentions for our relationship.
Wow, he wanted to marry me!
I smiled to myself as I walked across campus. So much had changed since I had come to Duke.
While the thought of marriage made me smile, sometimes it made me scared too. I wasn’t quite ready to talk about it.
It made me scared because everything was so uncertain. Grant was going to be in Japan on unaccompanied orders with the Marine Corps until the Summer of 2010. That was a long time to be apart from him – a year and a half until he even came back to America.
And visiting was hard too. It’s not like Grant could hop on a plane any time he wanted to visit me. Would our relationship be forever long distance? Would I visit him in Japan at some point? Obviously I would need to spend more time with him in person before I committed to marry him.
And I couldn’t imagine jumping on a plane and going to Japan to visit Grant. The thought of making a trip like that alone was obviously out of the question.
I’ve never considered myself to be a very adventurous person. I get scared of ferris wheels and even the most mild of roller coaster rides at the state fair. “Adventure” has never been high on my list.
While my friends in college would talk about all the countries they wanted to one day visit or live, I just thought about how wonderful it would be to go for a run on the beach in the Lowcountry.
I did hold to one form of adventure though – whatever God’s plan was for me. I was committed to following His adventure for my life, even if that meant living or going somewhere far away.
But Japan was awfully far away.
And now, unexpectedly, half my heart was there.
My plane had just landed in Midland, Texas and it didn’t take me long to realize that I was in the middle of nowhere.
It was late February. Grant’s family wanted to get to know me so they asked if I would mind flying out to Texas to spend a weekend with them.
I was glad they wanted to meet me and agreed to go. Even though I wished Grant could be there, I was excited to meet his family. I figured that getting to know his family would help me get to know him even better.
Even though it was dark when I arrived in West Texas, I could tell that there weren’t any trees for miles and the air felt dry and warm.
I was born in Texas, but this was my first time to visit since my family had moved to Beaufort when I was four years old.
I spotted Grant’s family and they welcomed me with hugs and smiles.
I shut the bedroom door and glanced around Grant’s room. His bedroom just so happened to function as the guest bedroom in his parents’ house, so I got to stay in it. I loved that.
Grant didn’t grow up in Midland, so this wasn’t his childhood bedroom, but it was filled with all of his childhood and high school things.
I set down my bag and looked around the small room that looked warm and cozy in the lamp light. I felt like I was in a museum. It was the Grant Castleberry Museum and I gazed quietly at everything in his room as if each object would tell me something about the man that I had come to love.
The first thing I noticed was a picture frame hanging on the wall to the left of his bed. It was of his dad, Kelly. The picture was taken in the desert and his dad was adorned in a flight suit and there was a fighter jet in the background.
To the right of his bed was the tallest pair of boots I had ever seen. I was later to learn that these were Grant’s Texas A&M senior boots.
On the nightstand there was a picture of Grant in overalls with his hand held high in the air as he led an Aggie Yell.
I glanced at the bookshelf. It was filled with books by John Piper, John MacArthur, and quite a few Louis L’Amour western novels. I spotted a photo album and I pulled it out started flipping through it.
I smiled as I looked at pictures of Grant from high school. Grant had told me over the phone that I could look at anything in his room. I really appreciated that because I knew that he was trusting me with something important – himself.
After an hour or so of looking through pictures, I pulled a small journal off the shelf. I debated back and forth whether or not I should open it.
A journal is kind of personal, after all… but Grant did tell me I could look at ANYTHING. I’m pretty sure a journal falls under that category, right?
The debate was over. I opened it.
It was Grant’s prayer journal and the entries were dated 1998. Tears started to roll down my face as I read his prayers. They were the most genuine prayers I had ever read.
One prayer caught my eye. It was a prayer for his future wife. “God,” he wrote on one line, “please prepare her heart to be a pastor’s wife.”
I thought about my background as a pastor’s daughter and now working in full time ministry. Had God been preparing my heart all this time to be Grant’s wife?
My eyes were heavy and I laid down on the bed Grant grew up sleeping on in high school.
Wow, I thought, God sure knows what He is doing.
The next couple days were a lot of fun as Grant’s family showed me all around their small West Texas town. I saw oil rigs, tumble weeds, and even a road runner for the first time in my life.
His parents even bought me a pair of cowboy boots. There was no going back now.
One evening, Grant’s mom and I sat and talked about Grant’s growing up years. I asked her a ton of questions as I tried to fill in all the years of Grant’s life. I wanted to know everything about him.
One story stuck out to me and I will never forget it.
Susan told me about a time when she and Grant were at a busy shopping mall when Grant was eight years old.
All of the sudden, they ran into a young mom who was sobbing hysterically because she couldn’t find her little girl.
Grant got down on his knees in the middle of the crowded mall and asked God to please help him find the little girl.
Grant then stood up and walked into a store a little ways away and started looking in the clothing racks. There, sitting among the clothes, was the little girl. Grant took her by the hand and brought her to her mother.
I just sat there and listened. All the pieces were coming together for me. I had been amazed at Grant’s faith, and I began to see that this was nothing new for him. He had been this way since he was a little boy.
“I think,” I remember Grant’s mom saying,”because Grant’s dad died when Grant was so young, heaven was just so real to him. He knew that his dad had gone somewhere, that he didn’t just disappear. And because of that, he prayed to God in a very real way.“
I could only hope that I was privileged enough to be an answer to one of Grant’s prayers.
I boarded the plane to head back to Duke. I pulled out my journal and started to record everything about my visit and all that God had showed me over the weekend.
As I journaled and stared on and off at the clouds outside my airplane window, it hit me that I wasn’t afraid of all the “unknowns” and all the “uncertainty” anymore that surrounded the future of my relationship with Grant.
I wanted to marry Grant and I realized that I was more ready than I had previously thought.
to be continued…