Texas Heart – Part 10

I gripped the black steering wheel on my car tightly as I drove down I-95 towards Savannah.

It was Christmas break and I was on my way to pick Grant up from the airport.
We had been talking about his trip for weeks. We had said so many times over the phone to one another, “I can’t wait to see you!”
I had been counting down the days since Thanksgiving. I thought this day would never come.
And now, suddenly, it had, and I wasn’t sure I was ready.
It’s always that way isn’t it? When you are waiting for something, the waiting seems so long, but then whatever you are waiting for suddenly arrives, you aren’t sure if you are actually ready after all.
I took a deep breath as I turned off the radio. I hadn’t heard a single lyric in the Christmas song that was playing, it was pointless to have it on.
I was wearing a yellow silk ruffle top and dark jeans. I had tried on about 15 outfits before deciding on this one.
Picking up Grant from the airport was a big deal. This was his first impression of me since I was an awkward teenager. I wanted to look pretty, but not too “done-up.” Casual, but not too casual. Dressy, but not too dressy. I mean, this was a complicated thing. No denying it.
It was almost too much pressure. I took another deep breath. Why did it have to be this way? Why couldn’t we be like everyone else in the world and just go on a regular first date?

And what if other people were right about us? I had had more than one person raise an eyebrow when I told them Grant was coming to see me for Christmas. “Wow, that’s either going to be an awesome 10 days or an awkward 10 days,” they had said.

Would it be awkward? I mean, I had never, ever spent time with Grant. Ever.

Okay, this kind of self-talk was getting me nowhere and only making me more nervous.
I pulled into the airport parking garage and turned off my car. I pulled down my visor mirror.
Ugh, why is it when you try too hard to look good you never look the way you want to?
I shut the mirror. And started to pray. I prayed that God would help me relax and enjoy my time with Grant. I prayed that our time would bring further clarity to our relationship.
I took another deep breath. I couldn’t deny I was excited. Grant was going to be in Beaufort for 10 days. 10 days!
I glanced at my phone to check the time. I had been waiting at the Savannah airport already for over an hour. I had arrived early, way too early. I wanted to make sure I was there to greet him when he arrived if for some reason his flight came in ahead of schedule.
Who was I kidding? International flights never arrive early.
My phone started to ring.
GraceAnna, it’s Grant!” I’d never heard his voice sound so excited. “I’m calling you from my pay-as-you-go phone. You won’t believe it! We are in Jacksonville, Florida! Our plane got rerouted because of a storm. I probably won’t be there for another hour. I’m so sorry!”

“Grant, it’s okay! I’m fine. Are you okay?”
“GraceAnna, I’m doing awesome!” I smiled. If there was one thing I had already learned about Grant it was that he was the most positive person I had ever met in my life. He had been traveling across the world for over 24 hours without sleep, and now his plane was getting rerouted and he was doing “awesome.”
But I’m just dying to see you,” he continued. “Well, and there’s this lady sitting next to me whose taking up basically the entire row. Wow, I’m so ready to be there!”

“Grant! Can she hear you?”

“No, I think she just got up to get a Twinkie!”

“Oh, Grant,” I felt my nervousness ebb as I started to laugh.
“I’m serious, GraceAnna. She’s at a Burger King or something and they are holding our plane waiting for her to get back. It’s ridiculous. Oh, got to go, There’s saying something about our plane about to take off. So I should be there soon. I love you.”

“I love you too, bye!”

I hung up the phone. The irony hit me. I just told him that I loved him and we hadn’t even been on a date yet. That was kind of funny.
I took another deep breath. It had been so good to hear Grant’s voice. I hadn’t been able to talk to him during his entire trip, which had made me more nervous. His voice had a calming affect. See, everything is fine! I told myself.
And I waited.
Grant’s flight number on the board started to blink. His plane had landed.
It had been about an hour since I’d talked to Grant on the phone when he was in Jacksonville.
I got up and walked to the top of the ramp before the security checkpoint. The Savannah airport is small, so there’s just one long terminal. I could basically see down to the very end of the terminal from the top of the ramp.
I saw a group of tired looking people heading my way.
Grant nor the Twinkie lady were in sight.
I was nervous again. I couldn’t believe it. Grant and I had been writing and talking since beginning of August. And now I was going to see him for the first time. This was huge.
What was it going to be like? What would he think when he saw me? Would he like my yellow top? Would I be like he hoped?

I stood there. It seemed that everyone else on the plane had exited before he had. People were hugging and greeting their friends all around me.
The suspense was killing me.
Suddenly, I saw him. I saw him.

He was wearing a maroon fleece, light colored jeans, and he had a Marine Corps backpack on his back. He was wearing maroon the last time I saw him 6 years before. It must be his color.
He was smiling at me. I waved.
I watched him walk up the long ramp. It was like watching a photograph come to life. I couldn’t believe it was him. I was in shock.
He finally reached the top and made his way over to me.
“Hey, GraceAnna!” he said in the familiar voice I had come to know and love.
He hugged me and I stared up into his face. Something didn’t feel right. I felt like I was hugging a stranger. I hugged him and closed my eyes. Everything was okay! I told myself, this is Grant.
“You’re beautiful,” he said as he just stood there staring at me.

“Thank you, Grant.” But I hardly even enjoyed his words because my heart was pounding out of my chest. What was going on? I had expected his arrival to be like a fairytale. This was supposed to be the culmination of every wonderful word we had spoken to one another over the past 4 months.

“It’s so good to finally see you,” I managed to say, but my heart was telling me a different story.
to be continued…

Texas Heart – Part 9

The Fall semester at Duke was flying by. I was busy each day walking around Duke’s campus, leading my sophomore Bible study, and meeting with freshman girls. It was so fun getting to know each student.

I loved that I got to spend time on a college campus but I wasn’t cramming for exams and going to class.

Often times I would step into Duke’s beautiful chapel during the day for a few minutes to reflect and to pray. I would stare at the stained glass murals that followed the stories of the Bible in the Old and New Testament and I would think about the lives that each mural represented. I would try to trace my way through the Bible following the stained glass around the chapel walls.
Then I would think about how God had brought me to Duke and all that He was doing in my own life.
It amazed me how He has continually been working in the lives of His people from the beginning of time.
It amazed me that He could even care about the little things in my life.
He was showing me that through bringing Grant to me just how much He did care. I couldn’t believe it. But I shouldn’t be surprised.
Grant and I were growing closer and closer with each day and I would daily find myself talking to the Lord about our relationship. I was praying about our relationship that day in the chapel.
You see, I was struggling with something.
And it wasn’t my love and respect for Grant. Somehow, I already knew that I loved him. I never thought I could love someone so quickly and so assuredly, but I did.
I was struggling with something else: I didn’t know how to explain my relationship with Grant to other people.
I knew that it should be simple enough, but it wasn’t.
Because Grant was in Japan, it wasn’t like people could see us spending time together and say the typical, “I saw Grant and GraceAnna on a date together!”
I never thought I would miss that kind of talk, but I actually did because now I had to initiate on my own that I was dating someone.
And could I even use the word “date” since we’d never actually been on one? And what if someone asked me when the last time was that I actually saw Grant? And what if they asked how much time we had actually spent together?
I did attempt to tell people though. The conversation usually went like this,
“I’m talking with a guy, well dating a guy.”

“What? Who?”

“Well, his name is Grant.”

“How do you know him?”

“Well, it’s kind of a long story, but I met him in when I was in high school.”

“Oh, so you went to high school with him?”

“Well, no, but that’s just when we met.”

“So y’all were friends?”

“Well, not really, but we knew of each other.”

“Okay. So, how did you reconnect?”

“Well, actually through Facebook.”

“Oh…. Okay. Where does he live?”


“Oh. Wow. When was the last time you saw him?”

“6 years ago.”

“Oh. Wow. Well, um, neat.”

No matter how hard I tried, I felt at a complete loss to explain to others the legitimacy of our relationship. And the fact is, I knew it sounded strange. All other people heard was that I was dating seriously some guy who was a Marine in Japan that I’d met once. It sounded sketchy.
(Now, I will say that for those who knew me growing up and knew Grant’s family and story, it was not strange or weird at all! They thought it was so amazing that we had reconnected and were beyond excited for me.)
But even in my struggle to explain my relationship with Grant, God was teaching me something. He was teaching me to trust Him and not worry about what other people thought and said.
So I prayed for boldness, and I tried my best to explain.
I want to come see you,” Grant told me one day over the phone. It was close to Thanksgiving.
“Really?! When?”

“Well, I had originally planned to go home to Texas for Christmas, but instead, I’d like to come see you.”

“Grant, I would love that.”

And so, just like that, Grant started making plans to come to South Carolina.
“I heard they met over the internet,” I heard the hushed voices whisper in the next room.
I was on a break from Duke and hanging out with some friends. I was alone in the next room and I tried not to overhear what they were saying, but as I folded my clothes into my suitcase, I couldn’t help but hear their words.
He’s coming to visit her for Christmas. I guess they are really serious.
“Wow, for Christmas? That’s pretty intense, meeting the family and all. And it’s only been a few months.”

“Yeah, and she hasn’t seen him since high school. And even then they didn’t really know each other.”

“Well, hopefully it will all work out. Sometimes those types of relationships do.”

“Yeah, I sure hope so.”

I put the last item in my suitcase and sat down on the sofa. I picked up a pillow and rested my hands on it. I felt the tears welling up in my eyes.
Maybe I shouldn’t have told anyone about my relationship with Grant at all, I thought to myself. I should have waited until after he visited, and then I could tell people. Then it wouldn’t sound so strange.
But I knew that it would be even stranger if I kept the whole thing a secret for months. Since Grant and I were becoming serious, I had to start telling people.
And if they didn’t get it, then they just didn’t get it.
As I sat alone in the room, I called Grant on his phone. It was after 2am his time, I knew I would wake him up. But I needed to talk to him.
“Hello?” his groggy voice answered on the other end.
“Hey, it’s me. I’m really sorry to wake you up.
Is everything okay, GraceAnna?” he could hear the tightness in my voice.
Yes,” I said, as the tears I had been trying to hold in started to fall.
What’s wrong? Tell me what’s wrong.
I told him about the conversation I’d just overheard and how I had been feeling when I tried to explain my relationship with him to other people.
I feel like people don’t understand. And I want them to understand and be excited for me.
“GraceAnna,” Grant’s warm voice broke into my tears, “It doesn’t matter what other people think. What matters is what you and those who know you best think.
“I know.”
It’s just difficult for people to understand because they’ve never met me and I’m all the way in Japan. But after I come see you, it won’t matter anymore, okay?”
You’ve got to stop this and just trust the Lord.
I know.” I took a deep breath. Grant always knew just what to say. And it always amazed me how he wasn’t afraid to tell me the truth. I loved that he guided me like that.
“I’m sorry, GraceAnna.” This time I could hear the sadness in his voice. “I’m sorry that I’m not there to pursue you in person. I’m sorry that it’s hard for you to explain. I’m sorry that I’m stationed in Japan right now. But that’s why I’m coming all the way across the world to see you, okay? If I could be there now, I would be. And after I come, everyone will understand. People mean well. They just care about you and don’t want you to get hurt. I love you, GraceAnna. It’s all going to be fine.”
Grant, I love you too. I can’t wait to see you in less than a month.”
I know, I’m counting down the days! Now, turn that frown upside down and go out there and have an awesome day!”

I laughed and now I was smiling, “Grant, that’s corny.”
It made you smile didn’t it?
Yes, it did. Thank you, Grant. I’m really sorry I woke you up. I just needed to talk to you.”
“GraceAnna, you can call me anytime you need to. Anytime. I love you, girl.”

“Bye, Grant.”

“Bye, sweetheart.”

I hung up the phone and walked over to the mirror and wiped away my tears. I gave a big smile and tried to determine if I looked like I had been crying. I decided I looked good enough.
And he’d just called me “sweetheart!”
I took a deep breath, opened the door, and I did just what Grant told me to do, I had an awesome day.
to be continued…

Texas Heart – Part 8

I always believed and prayed that the Lord would lead through the direction and guidance of my parents as it regarded guys that I dated. That wasn’t always easy. Sometimes my dad would say “no” when I thought he should say “yes.” I remember one time in particular when I was in high school that I thought that he was way too strict. He just didn’t understand!
But, I was a Christian girl with Christian parents, so I knew deep-down, that if I rebelled against my dad’s leadership in my life, God would not be pleased. I knew that God had placed the guidance of my parents over me for my own protection.

Growing up in high school and later in college, I trusted them.
I know that was only evidence of God’s grace in my life.
When it came to Grant, I thought that they might be hesitant about him pursuing me since he was all the way on the other side of the world. I thought that they might say that he should wait to pursue me until he came back to the states. I thought that they might tell me that it would be strange for us not to spend time together and only to communicate long-distance. But I was wrong.

You see, they loved Grant. They thought him pursuing me was awesome. To them, he was a direct answer to their prayers. They knew his family background and they spoke with him on the phone and learned about what he’d been doing over the past few years, and they were sure that he was God’s answer to their prayers. (Now, they didn’t tell all this to me at the time).
And so, my dad gave Grant “official” permission to pursue me.
It wasn’t an immediate thing. As Grant says, “he played hardball” and made Grant wait several days before getting back with him. He had to “think about it” and “talk it over with GraceAnna.
But my dad did say, “yes.” Which only made Grant pursue me harder and more intently.
That’s one of the things that was so different about Grant. He was so sure of himself. As Grant got to know me, he had no doubts about the fact that he wanted to have a relationship with me. He wasn’t playing with my emotions, or wavering back and forth with his feelings.
When we talked on the phone, he guided the conversation, not me.
He wasn’t afraid to call me and write me and put himself out there. And of course, he hadn’t been afraid to call my dad (well, he will admit now that he was nervous), but he wasn’t afraid. There’s a difference.
Because Grant was so sure, he made me feel sure. I wasn’t afraid to write him and respond to his interest in me.
It’s as if God was making His will for me so clear and gently telling me it was okay to step through this new doorway in my life. I had the people who were closest to me holding it open for me.
And so, from one end of the world to another, I began to fall in love with a guy that I’d only met once in my life.
Grant’s first letter to me arrived on September 20, 2008. I came home from a long day on campus and picked up my mail from my apartment postal box.
My heart jumped when I saw a yellow envelope with handwriting I’d never seen before. I forced myself to drive to my apartment with the letter in my lap and park my car. I sat there and stared at the envelope. Grant’s handwriting on the outside was in all caps and he had written out my entire name – GRACEANNA MAUDE BROGGI. I slowly opened it, my heart pounding.
The card had a Japanese structure on the outside and Fall leaves. I knew he had obviously picked the card out especially to send to me.
I read Grant’s writing for the first time. I loved it. It was cursive and a little hard to read. But for some reason, I’ve always liked it when guys don’t have perfect handwriting. I don’t know why I like this, it’s weird I know. I guess I relate it to a sign of masculinity.
His letter was long, but it wasn’t mushy or filled with meaningless idioms. Like always, Grant talked about real things – his thoughts, his feelings, and what he was doing.
I laughed aloud as the topic of football came into his first letter. It would.
But his letter was also spiritually encouraging.
There is one section of his letter that absolutely amazed me and it still does. Grant wrote,
“I remember you saying that John 7:37, where Jesus mentioned the water that eternally satisfies was one of your favorites. I don’t think I told you this, but it’s also one of mine, GraceAnna. Let’s always drink deeply of our Savior! His love will always be more than enough. Let us always pray that our souls will find our longing fulfilled in our Savior and not in each other (because we cannot satisfy the longings that each of us have in our heart). But if God is our portion forever, then we will be able to love each other with the love of Christ, because we know that we are not “completing” each other, but that the completion of our souls can only be found in the cross and in Christ. That being said, I can pursue your heart with the right intentions, because I have not placed you as number one in my heart. I have the freedom in Christ to pursue you with a righteous love for you (that I believe God has placed in my heart).”

I looked up from his letter, tears in my eyes, who was this guy? Was he angelic? Seriously, where had he been all my life?

But what surprised me most in his letter, was not that, but was what I read towards the end.
“GraceAnna, you once said, ‘love is trust,’ well, you have my complete trust and my heart. It has amazed me how God has filled my heart with love for you. I love you, GraceAnna Maude Broggi! I intend to pursue your heart all the days of my life.

1 Samuel 2:30

I sat there in my car in amazement and shock. WOW!
It was end of September, September...we had started talking at the beginning of August.
Even though it had only been such a short time, we had been talking A LOT – for hours every night and countless emails. There had been a ton of communication in two months, to say the least.

But still, how could he write that? How could he be so sure that he loved me? How could he say that he was always going to pursue me? Wasn’t he afraid to be so bold?

However, his letter confirmed what I had already been learning about Grant. He just was who he was. He just expressed what he felt. He didn’t beat around the bush. He didn’t over-analyze and hypothesize. Telling me that he loved me was just natural for him.
He told me the same thing on the phone later that day. It was just, “I love you, GraceAnna.” It was completely normal for him to say it. There was no hesitation in his voice. No preface. No ceremony or bells ringing.
I was amazed by this. I mean, I had read I Kissed Dating Good-bye* after all. Wasn’t he supposed to propose immediately if he said those words?
But Grant didn’t speak those words without meaning or thought behind them. He just already knew that he loved me and so he didn’t hold back. He already knew that he wanted to pursue me for the long-term.
And honestly, that’s one of the most amazing things about our “relationship.” It was like God had been preparing us each separately for so long, that when God finally had our paths cross, it was just so right. We both knew somehow that we were meant for one another. We recognized that God was bringing us together. It was different than anything else either one of us had ever experienced.
And so, just as if it was completely normal, I found those three words rolling off of my tongue, “I love you, too.”
And I realized it was because I actually did.
to be continued…
* I think that I Kissed Dating Good-bye is a good book, I was just making a point about Grant’s personality.

Texas Heart – Part 7

{Had to add some more to the story on Valentine’s Day}

I was wearing a peach skirt and a white scalloped top the first time I heard Grant’s voice over the phone.

He had asked for my number the night before on Gmail chat. Since he was stationed in Japan with the Marine Corps, there was a huge time difference and when he had asked for my phone number he was on his way out the door for work.
“I’d like to call you when I get back tonight. It would be about your mid-morning,” Grant wrote. “How does that sound?”

“Sounds great.” I typed back.
I was nervous all morning. What would it be like to finally talk with Grant? We had been writing one another for three weeks and I already knew that I liked him. A lot.
I got dressed and ready for the day and I waited. It was Saturday and I was going to be eating lunch with some friends.
I was dying. When would he get back from work and call? What would I say? How could I make myself not sound nervous?

Would I say, “hey,” or “hello,” or “hi,” or “hey there”?
And seriously, why was I nervous? I couldn’t remember the last time I had gotten nervous talking to a guy. Why did he make me feel this way?

I heard my phone ring. I sat completely still – frozen. It was a number I didn’t recognize. It had to be Grant. I couldn’t believe I was finally about to talk to him.
Oh my goodness. Suddenly I was afraid to pick up. Oh, but I have to pick it up.
“Hello?” My voice was definitely nervous, no disguising it.

“Hey, GraceAnna, this is Grant! I’m sorry it took me so long to call you, I just got in from a long day at work.”

“Oh, it’s no problem, I’ve been busy all morning.” Busy worrying that is.

I stood there in my peach skirt and scalloped top and I felt my heart melting.
I didn’t know what his voice was going to sound like. I had heard it on the news video that I had watched online, but talking to him on the phone was completely different.
His voice was seriously the most amazing voice I had ever heard in my life. It was warm, gentle, enthusiastic and yet masculine all at the same time.
So, how are you today?” he asked. I can still hear now exactly the way he said it that day.
I melted again. “Oh, I’m fine. I’ve just had a very leisurely and relaxing morning.” This was a complete contradiction from what I’d just said a moment before about how busy I had been all morning. Busy and leisurely? That made perfect sense.
Yeah? Well, that’s great, GraceAnna, it’s so good to finally hear your voice. You have a southern accent.
I had forgotten that this was also the first time he had heard my voice. Oh no! I suddenly realized in my nervousness I was talking in a southern accent.
I don’t really think I have a southern accent, but if I get worked up or nervous, I sort of have one.
I tried to sound more relaxed. “Oh, really, well, it’s not that southern. I mean, if you heard some other people talk from S.C. you’d know what I mean.”

“I like it.”

“Oh, I’m glad.” I was now a complete puddle on the floor. It would take hours to get me up off of it.

We talked on the phone for a very long time. I never once sat down. I stared out the window at the dumpsters of trash behind the Kroger that was across the street during our entire conversation. Very romantic.
We talked so long that when I said good-bye I realized it was past lunch time and that I had to go to the bathroom really bad. But I hadn’t even noticed. I felt neither hunger nor thirst. Nor anything else apparently.
I don’t remember very much of what we talked about in that first conversation, but I do remember one thing –
by the time I hung up that phone, I was head over heels for Grant Robert Castleberry.
“I can’t even describe it…” I wrote in my journal in September of 2008 as I sat in the cafe in the Perkins Library at Duke waiting for a student to arrive. “It’s like I’ve known Grant forever and I am so comfortable talking with him. We discuss everything. I can tell he really cares about me and I’m not sure why. What made him write me? I have enjoyed his friendship immensely and I find myself hoping and praying that he’s here to stay.
Grant and I had added daily phone calls to our already daily emails. We had only been talking and writing for a little over a month, but things were moving along fairly quickly. We were growing closer with each passing day.
I wasn’t sure where our friendship was going, but I knew it was headed somewhere fast.
I was still waiting for the student I was meeting with to arrive when my cell phone rang. It was my dad. I knew I didn’t have much time to talk, but I picked it up.
Hey, Dad, I’ve only got a minute. I’m about to meet with a student but wanted to pick up.
Oh, okay. Well, I just thought you might be interested to know who I just got off the phone with.”
“What? Who?”

“Grant Castleberry”
What?” I exclaimed way too loudly as I got a few stares from diligent studying Duke students. I lowered my voice and looked around, my appointment still hadn’t arrived. “Are you serious? What did he say?”

My heart was beating fast. Grant calling my dad was a big deal; I knew that.
Well, he wanted to ask me a few questions.”

“Dad, just tell me!”

“He really likes you, GraceAnna. He wants my permission to pursue you.”

“Well, what did you tell him?” I could barely contain myself. Right then my appointment walked up. I motioned to her that I’d just be a minute.
I told him that I’d talk to you about it. I know you’ve got to go, we can talk about it later.”

“Okay,” I knew he was right. The student I was meeting with was patiently waiting. “I’ll talk to you later.”
I turned my attention across the table and thought, how in the world am I going to focus now?

to be continued…

Texas Heart – Part 6

My Journal – August 28, 2008

It’s amazing how much change has come into my life at once. Grant Castleberry has begun to write me. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him. I feel like we connect deeply on a spiritual level. I have been encouraged by his spiritual intensity and leadership. It has also been nice to know that he truly cares about my ministry here at Duke and that he cares about me and prays for me. He has shown interest in the “real” me, who I really am, and my faith.

I never expected that he would come into my life, never wished it, never planned it. In so many ways, it’s hard for me to know what I really think of our “relationship.” He’s a friend I’ve never really met. I’m a little scared to continue writing someone I’ve never interacted with in person.

I know that a true man is a man of integrity. This is the type of man every Christian woman dreams about. I know it is my hope and dream as well. I have given this area of my life to the Lord and will continue to trust Him. I don’t want my heart to get hurt or broken. But I know that God cares for me and I am continually amazed by Him. Like the Psalmist says, “I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad!”


It had been about three weeks since I had received the first message from Grant and we had been writing one another every day.

We immediately connected on so many levels. It wasn’t like I had planned to keep writing him or that I was trying to “keep something going” between us, it was like I couldn’t help but write him.

I enjoyed reading every one of his messages and I couldn’t wait to write him back.

I was loving my time at Duke and I was getting used to my new job. It was a super busy time as students had arrived back on campus and my days were filled with campus events and appointments with freshman girls.

I loved the beautiful Duke campus and spending every day there. In the midst of all the busyness, I would find time to slip into the Duke library and check my email. A message from Grant would brighten my entire day.

Grant was different than any guy I’d ever conversed with. He asked me so many questions. And not just basic questions, but spiritual questions. And he shared his thoughts with me. He would tell me what he was learning from God’s Word and how he felt God was leading him.

He would share stories with me that would make me laugh. I would sometimes catch myself laughing aloud reading his emails.

But even more than how much I enjoyed reading his emails and writing him back, I couldn’t get over how alike we were. I mean, we were definitely different in a lot of things – I could tell that our personalities were different, but in terms of the things we believed, I felt like I was talking to myself sometimes.

We shared so many, “me too” moments and “I feel the exact same way!” and “I’ve never heard anyone say it like that. That’s how I would explain it!”

Over those first three weeks of messages, I learned a lot about Grant. I found out that he grew up his whole life in Texas (besides the time he lived in Beaufort when his dad passed away). He played all sorts of sports growing up, but he loved football the most and was captain of his football team in high school. He was always sharing his faith and leading Bible studies at the public schools he attended (this point continually blew me away – I couldn’t believe how rock solid his faith was and had always been). Grant would think it was funny the way I would say, “How did you grow up attending public school and still be so untainted by the world?”

{This was later on – but Grant told me a funny story once about how he “tract-bombed” his school. He used to go to a Christian Tract Store and pick out tracts that he thought would best relate to his classmates. Then, while everyone else was goofing off during recess or breaks, he would slide a tract in ever single locker in his school. Grant thinks this is a hilarious story now, and while it may not have been the most effective method of sharing Christ with his classmates, it spoke volumes to me about where his heart was.}

I learned that when he was 14 years old he shared the Gospel to over 1,000 students at a youth event. Afterwards, an older man approached him and asked him if he had ever considered being a pastor. That night, God planted the seed in his heart that God was calling him into ministry.

I also learned that he had always, always, known that he wanted to attend Texas A&M and that no other school was even an option. Both of his fathers had attended there, as well as his mom, and countless other family members.

He also felt God leading him to join the Corps of Cadets and be a Yell Leader so that he could have a bigger impact and witness for Christ.

Even though by the time he graduated from college he knew he wanted to go to seminary and be a pastor, he felt that God wanted him to serve his country first. He wanted to “give back,” and so he joined the Marine Corps.

And now he was stationed in Japan. Yes, Japan.

That did pose a little problem in our “relationship.”

I knew I was growing close to Grant. In fact, that’s the part that scared me. After only three weeks of writing him, I knew that if he were to stop writing me for some reason, it was already going to hurt.

How did I let this happen? I couldn’t believe I’d allowed myself to get attached to this guy so quickly. But I couldn’t help it. I thought he was amazing.

And that’s the whole thing, he was too amazing. This couldn’t be “real.” He couldn’t be real. He probably just seemed awesome, but really he wasn’t.

Yes, these were the things I was telling myself.

I was starting a new job in a new place. I needed my heart to be focused at Duke, not in Japan to a guy that I’d only met for like a minute years before.

But that was the funny thing about our “internet relationship” (as my brothers would later joke me about), Grant helped my heart focus on the things that I needed to focus on. He helped my heart focus on Duke.

I remember one day walking out of the library and feeling scared.

Lord, I prayed. You have brought Grant into my life. I know this without a doubt. For some reason, you have wanted me to have this “relationship” with Grant. Regardless of where this goes, I know that this has only encouraged me spiritually. But if you want this to continue, please confirm this to me. Please show me. And if this isn’t your will, please step in and end it now. Amen.

In an answer to my prayer, later that day I received an email from my mom.


I found this video on Grant Castleberry. You’ve got to watch it.


I sat alone in my room as I opened up the video.

It was a video that a local news station had done on Grant while he was a yell leader at Texas A&M. It documented his story, including the death of his father, and how it had impacted him.

As I watched Grant talk in the video (it was really the first time I’d ever heard him talk), I knew that he was genuine. I knew that he was real. I knew that writing him was okay because he wasn’t leading me along. It was as if God was giving me a big “yes” to keep writing Grant.

Tears streamed down my face as I heard the genuineness in his voice that I had been reading in his emails.

He was so amazing. I knew that God was doing something special in my life.

Oh, I hope he keeps writing me.

My computer chimed. I walked over and opened up a gmail chat from Grant. It was the first time he’d ever “chatted” with me. “GraceAnna, would it be okay if I called you?”

My heart skipped a beat, well a lot of beats.

To be continued…

The video I watched of Grant is below.

Texas Heart – Part 5: You’ve Got Mail

My first few days getting settled in Durham, N.C. were busy. Mom and I had to find furniture for my apartment, unpack all of my stuff, and take care of all the little things that you have to do when you move to a new place.

It was a fun and special time because my mom lived in Chapel Hill as a college student when she attended the University of North Carolina, and then she lived in Durham after she married my dad while they were on staff with Campus Crusade at Duke. So, she had a lot of memories from that area and was able to show me around (at least the things that hadn’t changed in 20 or so years).

After a few days, the time was coming for her to head back home. I was excited about starting my new job, but also sad to see her go. It meant I would really be on my own.

One night, while we were unpacking some of my things in my new room, my computer made a notification noise. I had my laptop set up so that when I received emails on my personal account, it would alert me by making a noise and a little note would pop up on the screen telling me who the message was from.

My mom was sitting at my desk in front of my computer and I was hanging up clothes in the closet when the notification noise chimed.

What’s that?” my mom asked.

Oh, my computer is just alerting me that I received a message. There should be a little pop-up notification.”

My mom looked at the screen and then I heard her say, “GraceAnna, you just received a message from Grant Castleberry.

“Really?” I felt my heart jump. I had completely put him out of my mind since the beach, and now I couldn’t believe his name was coming up again. I set down the hangers I was holding and came over to the computer screen.

I stared at the notification window for a moment. I’m sure it was nothing, why did I feel nervous?

“Well, aren’t you going to open up the message and read it?” my mom anxiously asked as I stood there.

Yes, I will,” I replied calmly, pretending that I wasn’t as curious as I really was.

My mom got up and walked out of the room, sensing that I wanted to read it on my own.

I clicked on the email message that directed me to my Facebook page. As it loaded I wondered why Grant had suddenly written me. What in the world might he have written?

It seemed to take an eternity to get his message loaded up. When it finally loaded, I noticed that the subject line of his message was “Howdy.”

I thought that was an interesting way to say hello. I don’t think anyone had ever told me “howdy” before unless we were at a barn dance or something like that.

Of course, I didn’t know that was how Grant always greeted people and that it is the way that Aggies greet everyone – whether they know them or not.

I had a lot to learn about things like that.

It was August 5th, 2008.


You probably don’t remember me and were probably trying to figure out who I was when I sent you a “friend request.” My family came and visited the church years ago and we went out to eat afterwards. I still remember that your dad preached about false prophets. Kind of funny, at the time, for some reason, I thought that you were a whole lot younger than I was. I guess a year seemed a lot different back then…I’m amazed at your family’s legacy. Wow! By the looks of things you and your brothers have done some amazing things. That’s such an awesome testament to the type of parents yall have.

I came to your campus when Texas A&M played Clemson in ’05. I know, you don’t have to rub it in…but I want you to know, that we should have won that game. I guess it would have been your sophomore year. I loved your school though (the people were so friendly). I also think it’s cool how your older brother went to USC and then your younger is going to the Citadel. Needless to say, yall will have some awesome family reunions.

So your working for Campus Crusade now? What are your long-term plans? Have a great rest of the week, friend.


His message made me smile and I loved how personal it was even though I didn’t know him at all. It meant a lot to me the way he commented on my family and didn’t just ask about me.I had received messages from guys before, and never once had they asked about my family.

And I couldn’t believe that he remembered what my dad preached about 6 years prior.

My thoughts wandered to the Texas A&M/Clemson game that he mentioned. I remembered the game well because my brother Grant attended the game with me and was cheering for A&M.

After the game, we went down on the field together and spoke with some ofthe members of Parson’s Mounted Calvary (I didn’t know the name of those guys at the time – I just knew they looked like old fashioned horsemen).

I had no idea that Grant Castleberry was at that game.

I was sitting there staring at the computer screen when my mom walked back in the room.

So,” she asked casually, “What did he say?”

I got up from the computer and motioned for her to sit down and read it. I walked back over to the closet and continued hanging up my clothes.

She read it and then said, “Hmmm, soo, are you going to write him back?

“Yes, I guess so.” I replied coolly.

I glanced at my mom and couldn’t help but notice the slight smile on her face.


The next evening, I sat down to write Grant back. I had waited an entire 24 hours to respond to his message. I didn’t want to seem too eager.

I typed out a response to every one his questions and I thanked him for his kind words. I read over my message several times. It sounded good, so I hit “send.”

What are you up to?” My mom asked as she walked into my room.

“ I just wrote Grant back.”

“Oh, what did you say?”

“I just answered all of his questions and thanked him for writing me.”

“That’s all.Did you ask him anything?”

“No, I didn’t. Is that bad?”

“Well, no it’s not bad, but he probably won’t write you back because he’ll assume that you want to end the conversation.”

I knew my mom was right. I had been so careful in my response. It was something that I had become good at in the past few years – being really careful.

There were two reasons for this. First, I never wanted a guy to feel like I was chasing him. Secondly, it was a protective mechanism. I was afraid to get hurt.

I had been hurt before and now I was afraid to put myself out there. I was afraid to let that happen again.

But this was ridiculous, why would I not ask him a single question? I couldn’t deny that I was interested. I wanted to know more about Grant.

So I sat back down and quickly sent a follow-up message. I asked some random question about campus ministries at Texas A&M.

It wasn’t a question I needed the answer to, but I was leaving that door open, just in case he decided to write back.

Just as I was getting up out of my chair, I heard the notification noise on my laptop.

I sat back down. He couldn’t have written me back already?

He had.

He answered my question and asked me a few more.

This time I was bold, instead of waiting 24 hours, I decided to go ahead and write him back right then.


The next day, my mom and I ate lunch together before she left to go back to Beaufort. We sat across the table at California Pizza Kitchen.

We had had such a fun time together the past few days.

When I had first arrived in Durham, I hadn’t felt ready to have her leave. Now I felt settled. I knew I would be okay.

We talked about the next few weeks and the things I would be doing.

Then, my mom said with a smile on her face, “Well, it will be interesting to see how this whole “Grant Castleberry thing” turns out.”

“Mom, I can’t believe you are saying that!” I said completely serious. “We’ve sent a FEW messages to each other. That is ALL. It’s not like we are getting married!”

My mom just smiled.

To be continued…

Texas Heart – Part 4: A Goodbye Prayer

Our vacation at the beach ended, and about a week later, I was loading up my car to make my move to N.C.

I hadn’t heard anything from Grant Castleberry since the day he had added me on Facebook and I had stopped thinking about him. I had so much on my mind as I prepared to move to Duke and I figured that since he hadn’t sent me a message, his “adding me” was just a random thing and that I would never hear from him again.

I packed every nook and cranny of my car, filling it with most of my belongings. This felt like the biggest move of my life so far.

When I went to Clemson, it seemed like a big move at the time, but I realized later that college is more like a transitional phase than a final move from home. I still had my bedroom at home that I would come back to on holiday weekends and summer breaks.

But now, all of that was about to change. This felt different. I was leaving home for good. I wasn’t going back to college. I was going to start a new job in a new state. This was a new phase in my life. And I would probably never move back home.

My brother Jameson helped me load up my car.

Wow, you are packing a lot of clothes,” Jameson commented at least three times. “Well, Jameson, I have to pack everything and I just don’t know what I’ll need. And N.C. gets a lot colder than S.C. so I need every coat and sweater.” Yes, I am a true southern girl.

When we had shoved the last possible thing in that we could, it was time to go.

My mom was making the trip up to N.C. with me in her car to help transport my things and to stay a few days to get me settled in.

Jameson and my dad gathered with us in the driveway before we took off. It was overcast that day and we stood in a circle as my dad led us in a prayer before we left.

Praying before trips is something that we’ve always done in our family.

I stared down at the oyster shells underneath my feet as I listened to my dad’s voice.

This was more emotional than I thought it was going to be, and unexpectedly, I felt tears well up in my eyes.

I didn’t feel like a “grown” woman moving away. I suddenly felt like a five-year-old little girl. What was I doing leaving home? How would I live on my own? Could I really do this?

My dad’s words brought comfort as he prayed for the Lord to keep us safe on our drive to N.C. He prayed for my future ministry at Duke and that God would use me and bless my time there.

Then he prayed for something I didn’t expect him to pray for at all.

“Lord, we pray if it be your will, you would bring GraceAnna a husband very soon. I pray that he would a be a man after your own heart.”

I didn’t know it at the time, but this wasn’t the first prayer my dad or my mom had offered up for my future husband. I was later to learn that they had been earnestly praying that entire summer, on their knees, for God to bring someone into my life.

I think they knew that I wasn’t by nature the “independent” type. I grew up with a protective father and I was sandwiched between four brothers, so I had always felt and been well taken care of.

And while I was still under my father’s protection as I moved to Duke, I was, in a sense, stepping out on my own. I know that they didn’t want it to always be like that for me.

I was 13 years old the first time I ever prayed for my “future husband.” I was hanging out with a girl who was at least 5 years older than I was.

The last thing that was crossing my mind at this young age was a husband.

Obviously, it wasn’t the last thing that this older teenage girl was thinking about.

GraceAnna,” she asked out of the blue, “have you ever prayed for your future husband?”

Oh no! I remember thinking. Is that something I should be doing?

I didn’t want to tell her that I hadn’t, and not only had I never prayed for my future husband, I had never even thought about him. Ever.

Well, umm, not exactly,” I finally answered.

“Well, I think it would be a good idea if you did.” I remember her saying.

I thought she was so old and so wise. So I vowed to pray for my “future husband” later that day.

I don’t remember exactly what I prayed, but I remember feeling a relief afterwards that I’d prayed for him and now I could get back to being a 13-year-old.

Even though it makes me laugh when I think about it now, I do think that God used that conversation in my life to plant a seed in my heart for the future.

It wasn’t until years later in college, that I actually started praying for my “future husband.”

I joined a Bible Study my freshman year and one of my leaders shared that she wrote out prayers to God for her future husband.

I remember that evening feeling like I did that day when I was 13 years old. It had never crossed my mind to write out a prayer letter for a man that may or may not possibly be in my life one day.

I went up to my dorm room later that night and pulled out a blank sheet of notebook paper.

I remember feeling kind of ridiculous as I started to write. But nevertheless, I wrote out a prayer for my future husband.

I prayed that whoever he was and wherever he was that he would be sold out to Christ. I prayed that he would keep his heart and his mind pure. I prayed that he would wait for me.

Off and on throughout college I would write similar prayer letters for my husband.

The funny thing is, that summer after graduating from college, I hadn’t really been praying for my “future husband” at all. I had come to a place of enjoying my relationship with the Lord and trusting in His will for me, whatever that might be.

I had read a book that year called, Did I Kiss Marriage Good-bye? And after reading it, I started wondering if God might want me to be single for a while. I didn’t want to spend my days pining after a life that He hadn’t given me and that might not be His plan for me.

Maybe there wasn’t a “future husband” out there for me at all. Maybe God had something completely different in store for me.

I wanted to follow the Lord regardless of whether or not His plans matched up with my dreams.

I wanted to love God for who He was, not for what He could give to me. I didn’t know how to do that, so I just started praying for God to help me be content in His will instead of praying for him to bring a guy into my life.

So, when my dad prayed those words, it took me by surprise. It felt good to hear him pray for my future, because I realized that I did still want to get married. And I remembered all those college prayer letters and that immature, yet heartfelt 13-year-old prayer.

My dad said, “Amen” and after exchanging hugs and tears, I got in my car and pulled out of the drive.

I stared in the rearview mirror as I watched my dad and Jameson get smaller and then our yard disappear in the distance.

Well, I thought. This is it. I’m leaving Beaufort for good.

To be continued…

Texas Heart – Part 3: A Forgotten Photograph

“Well, GraceAnna, I’ll tell you what I know,” my mom began.

We had gone for a walk down the beach, just the two of us. It’s something we’d been doing every summer for the past eight or so years since our family had been vacationing at Fripp Island.

The specific subject matter of our conversations would change with each passing summer, but the nature of our walks remained the same: mother and daughter time.

We had already walked down to one end of the beach and we were on our return trip and I had just asked her what she knew about Grant Castleberry.

I stared out at the limitless ocean, squinting my eyes as I listened to her words.

“I know that his mom and dad used to live in Beaufort back in the mid-eighties. His dad’s name was Kelly and his mom’s name is Susan. They were involved with the start of Community Bible Church. Kelly was a pilot in the Marine Corps. I don’t remember how exactly, but I know that the jet that he was flying one day was involved in a terrible crash just off the coast of Georgia, and they never found his body.”

I was taken completely aback by the story. “Wow, are you serious? How old was he?”

“In his mid-twenties I believe. I know that Grant was young, maybe two or three years old. After Kelly’s death, he and his mom moved back to Texas. His death impacted a lot of people.”

“I’m sure.”

“When we moved here, I remember a few people telling me the story. In fact, our church’s radio station was dedicated in memory of Kelly, because he spent the final years of his life investing in the ministry of CBC.”

I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. I was trying to process it all – a husband and a father dying at such a young age. I couldn’t imagine anything more tragic.

We waded through a tide pool as my mom spoke. When she mentioned the radio station, I suddenly remembered something.

A photograph.

When I was growing up, my brothers and I would often go with my dad to our church’s radio station. He would host a program each week that he called “The Bible Line.” People would call in from all over Beaufort County and ask him questions about the Bible.

He still holds the weekly program, and people still call in from all over.

While he was in the studio “On Air,” my brothers and I would sit quietly in the room next door and read or do schoolwork.

Eventually, I would get bored and analyze every crack and cranny in the room. I would stare at the tile in the ceiling or at the pattern on the carpet.

I remember one day getting up from the sofa and walking over to a bookshelf that was on one side of the room. There was a picture frame there. The photograph was of a man and a woman and a blonde headed little boy about two years old.

The man was dressed in a pilot’s uniform and was holding the little boy. All three of them were standing next to a fighter jet. I stared at the photograph just like I had stared at everything else in the room.

Next to the picture frame was a little model jet. It was just like one of the jets that are on display outside the gate of the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station.

The couple looked young and happy in the photograph. Never once did it occur to me that the man in that picture might not even be alive.

At the time, I wondered who they were.

IMG_1316Now, years later, I finally knew.

I couldn’t believe that I had somehow missed the story all these years.

My mom continued, “Do you remember, maybe 5 or 6 years ago, when Grant and his mom and his step-father came and visited CBC? We went out to lunch with them after church. They were in town visiting Kelly’s memorial marker that is in the Beaufort National Cemetery.”

“Yes, I do remember that.” The lunch was something that I had completely forgotten about before now. Because I grew up in a pastor’s family, eating lunch after church with people was a weekly routine.

It was hard to keep track of all the lunches and all the missionary kids that we ate with after church.

But after my mom mentioned it, I realized that I did remember that day and meeting Grant. He stuck out to me because I have a brother named Grant and I had never met anyone else by that name. At the time, I didn’t know what his last name was.

I was 16 years old and very much consumed with my “busy” teenage life. I sat at the table with the adults while my brothers sat at another table with Grant.

I remember watching Grant get up and walk across the restaurant to refill his drink. He was tall and lanky and he wore cowboy boots, khakis, and a button-up starched maroon shirt.

I’m not really sure why I remember that. He just looked different. Definitely like something straight out of Texas.

I also remember that he didn’t say much to me besides hello.

That was all right with me. I had other “important” 16-year-old things to worry about.

And that was that. That was my whole encounter with Grant Castleberry from Texas.

I didn’t know that his trip to Beaufort that weekend was extremely important to him. I didn’t know that it was the first time he was visiting his father’s memorial marker since he was three years old. I didn’t know that the 17 year old boy that I watched walk across the restaurant to refill his drink was profoundly impacted by his father’s death. I didn’t know that Beaufort held a very dear and special place in his heart. I didn’t know that he had a rock solid faith even at that young age. I didn’t know that he already wanted to be a pastor.

And I definitely didn’t know that he thought I was cute but was afraid to talk to me because “Dr. Broggi” was present.

Oh, there was just so much I didn’t know.

It was so great to meet their family that day,” my mom’s voice broke through my thoughts. “We had only ever seen Grant in pictures, so it was special to meet Kelly’s son and see what a fine, Christian young man he had become.”

We were almost back at the villa now and I saw my dad and some of my brothers walking out to meet us.

I was still processing it all.

I didn’t realize that this was just the beginning. There was so much more I didn’t know that I was about to find out.

To be continued….

Texas Heart – Part 2: A Higher Calling

Later that day, I laced up my running shoes for an afternoon run on the beach. I started out going against the wind, so that my return run back to the beach villa wouldn’t be so hard.

As I ran, I started thinking about the past year and all the things that had led me to move to N.C. to work for Campus Crusade for Christ at Duke that Fall.

My plan when I went to college was much like most non-feminist, southern girls. I hoped to meet a husband in college, and get married when I graduated.

I was not only raised to believe, but fully embrace myself, that there is no higher calling for a woman than to fulfill the feminine and God-given roles of wife and mother.

I know that’s not really popular to say. It certainly isn’t popular to tell your professor while you are in college that you are studying in their class because you hope to use what you are learning so that you can be a good wife and mom one day.

Certainly that couldn’t be ALL that one would aspire to do? Everyone knows that being a wife and mom is important, but not THAT important. And where’s the personal fulfillment in spending your time helping a man and changing diapers day in and day out? Surely, we are a more educated generation now. You should use your education for a higher calling.

Now of course, not every woman ends up being a wife and a mom. That’s not God’s plan for every woman. But there are plenty of single women that I know that exercise these godly traits (a supportive/mothering heart) even though they aren’t married. They pour into the lives of children and families around them, and wholeheartedly embrace their femininity in the realms that God has called them to work and serve. And they are amazing.

And that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be as educated as I possibly could be to be a wife and a mother. And if I didn’t get married or have children, I wanted to be able to support myself financially after college and be able to invest in the lives of those around me.

So, I chose Early Childhood Education as my major. There was a huge part of me that wanted to be an English major because I loved all my English courses in high school and I didn’t consider myself to be very “crafty.” Creating and decorating bulletin boards is just not my thing. Decorating and constructing crafts is what I often thought of when I thought of Early Childhood Education. But that’s not what it is at all. Though I did decorate a few bulletin boards before graduating. To my surprise, I kind of enjoyed it.

But I loved children. And I couldn’t think of a better way to invest my father’s money than to learn how they develop and grow. Surely that type of education would last a lifetime.

By the time I reached my senior year at Clemson, I was so glad I had chosen to study Education. I adored my class of five year olds that I taught my last semester of college. I can still hear their voices that would exclaim in the most southern of accents, “We love you Miss Broggi!”

I also began to realize as graduation approached, that getting married anytime soon was nowhere on my horizon. It wasn’t that there weren’t great Christian guys at Clemson, there were. Just nothing had worked out.

I can remember those early morning drives to school in the dawn light. My roommate and I were memorizing the book of Philippians together that year and I would recite it aloud on my drives to school.

I felt God’s presence in a new way on those drives. He used His word to draw me closer to Him.

One day, on my way home from school, it dawned on me that I was completely content in my relationship with the Lord. And what I mean by that, was that I realized I didn’t need a boyfriend, a fiancé, or a husband to complete me. The Lord was enough.

I didn’t know what my life would be like later on. I wasn’t presuming that I would always feel that way. I still wanted to get married, but I just knew that at that moment, He was enough. And that He promised that He always would be enough, no matter what.

I also realized that marriage and children are blessings – they aren’t guaranteed, and can never “complete” any woman on the deepest level. Only God can complete and fulfill the deepest longings of a woman’s heart.

Easy to say and yet difficult to live, but I understood it and I honestly felt that completion in the Lord. I was amazed that I could genuinely feel that way emotionally, not just intellectually. I knew that was something God was doing in me. I would never be at that point on my own.

It was during that time that I decided that working for Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Cru) would be the best way to invest my time as a single woman. I was really involved with the organization during my time in college. I loved leading a Bible study. It was one of the highlights of my time those four years.

While I wanted to teach, I knew that teaching would always be there for me. God had given me a heart for ministry, and I felt Him tugging at my heart to invest some time fully devoted to it. I couldn’t escape that pull.

I watched as God opened up the door for me to go to Duke. I decided that I would work there for a year, and then reevaluate whether or not to teach children or continue in ministry.

So, I came home that summer to raise support, since Cru is a non-profit organization. Asking people to invest financially in what I was doing was harder for me than I thought it would be. I realized I was stepping out on my own.

But God was faithful. I raised all my support fairly quickly and now I was spending a few days at the beach with my family before I made the big move to N.C.

I was thinking about these things on my run that day. It didn’t seem to take too long before I reached the rock jetty at the end of the beach. I turned around and felt the wind pushing me along instead of working against me. I picked up my pace as my run became easier.

I couldn’t believe I was done with college. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t even dating anyone. But I wasn’t sad about it. I was so excited about what God had in store for me.

My thoughts wandered back to Grant Castleberry.

That was an interesting last name – Castleberry. I’d never heard of that last name before. I liked the way it sounded.

Why did he add me on Facebook? I mean, did he suddenly think of me for some reason?

Wait, what am I doing? Why am I thinking about him again? I literally remember laughing aloud on my run.

Grant was not the first male human being to add me as a friend on Facebook. I never thought twice about something like this before. What was my problem?

It’s Facebook, come on! Not even the “real” world! And seriously, he hadn’t even sent me a message. All he had done was add me. If he had wanted to talk to me, he would have said something. For all I know, he clicked on my name by accident.

I decided that I would ask my mom to tell me the story of his family when I got back. It all seemed so random that I concluded that there must be more that I didn’t know.

I sped up again, turning up the volume on my iPod to drown out my own ridiculous thoughts.

To be continued…

Texas Heart – Part 1: Howdy

I still remember the notification popping up on my Facebook in July of 2008 – “Grant Castleberry has added you as a friend on Facebook.”

I had just come inside from being out on the beach. Our family was vacationing out on Fripp Island like we do every year, and I had come in for a break from the heat.

Who is Grant Castleberry? I thought as I stared at the computer screen. The name didn’t ring a bell.

I glanced at his profile picture and I saw that he was standing in front of some Japanese or Chinese temple.

Huh, I really have no idea who this guy is.

Though the picture was small, I did notice that he was tall and built and had a huge smile on his face.

He’s pretty cute, I thought.

Before I had time to look any further, my family started coming in from the beach. I left my laptop open, forgetting all about Grant Castleberry.


A little while later, I was standing in the kitchen of the beach villa when my mom asked, “GraceAnna, how do you know Grant Castleberry?

She was checking her email on my laptop. I had forgotten all about leaving my Facebook page open on Grant Castleberry’s profile.

“I don’t know him. Do you?”

“Yes, you remember him don’t you? His parents helped start CBC before your dad and I came here, back in the eighties. We met them years ago when they came back to visit.”

“Vaguely.” I still didn’t really remember him, though I did have a recollection of eating lunch with his family. I came over and looked at his profile again.

“Well, aren’t you going to accept him as a friend?” My mom asked.

“Yes, I am. I was just trying to figure out who he was first. Mom, random people can add you on Facebook all the time. I just want to be careful.”

“GraceAnna, he’s not random.”

With a click of the mouse, I accepted his friend request and mom and I looked at his profile.

Wow, GraceAnna, he looks like such a strong Christian,” was the first thing my mom said. “And look at all these pictures of him with his family. What a neat looking guy.11_566707087374_1021_n

“Mom, he added me on Facebook, that is all,” I said in a very matter-of-fact tone.

I had to admit, I found myself a little intrigued. After my mom got up and left, I looked at his profile myself.

Over 3,000 Facebook friends? What? Who has that many Facebook friends?

As I looked a little further, I did realize what my mom had said was true. His outspoken Christian beliefs were all over his page. I thought that was unusually refreshing. You don’t see that kind of thing on Facebook very much.

And then, I started scrolling through the hundreds of pictures on his profile page. I realized he must have been pretty popular at his university, Texas A&M, because there were pictures that had captions like, “I was this close to Grant Castleberry!

There were photos of him in cowboy boots, pearl snap shirts, and overalls. There were pictures of him at dances and at football games and in church settings. He seemed like he was always busy and always the life of the party. And he was very southern. A different kind of southern than the Clemson/S.C. southern I was used to. This guy was obviously Texan through and through.

Then I noticed that in a ton of his pictures he was wearing a white uniform. Oh, he was a yell leader. I had heard of that before.

This guy was becoming increasingly more interesting.

All the sudden, I caught myself. What was I doing? Why am I looking at this guy’s profile?

I closed the laptop and instead chose to focus on what was in front of me – enjoying the last few days with my family before I moved to N.C. to start my new job at Duke

To be continued…