*NOTE* the Bride's words will be in italics
"I was willing to wait"
Barrett- It all started for me in the spring of 2009. We were invited to a weeklong camping trip in Kentucky called Family Week; a week of fellowship and fun with likeminded believers. I was excited about going and seeing some of my good friends, never knowing that this trip would be the start of something amazing.
I first noticed Devin during a dance class where I saw that she picked up on the dance steps quickly and I found myself following her when I couldn’t see the leader. I didn’t think anything more than, “Wow, she is a great dancer…” A few days later after seeing her beat some guys in a foot race I thought to myself, “Not only is she a great dancer but she can also beat my friends in a race.” There were other things I noticed about her like the fact that wherever she was everyone always seemed to be having fun, she was always smiling and laughing, and she could play guitar and sing really well. I approached my Dad about the possibility of pursuing Devin and was told that she was only sixteen-years-old and to pursue her would not be an option because of her age. I was disappointed but I understood. I tried to put her out of my mind but there were different times throughout the next year that I would see a picture of her and think, “Man, it’s too bad she is only sixteen…”
The following year my family made the trip to Kentucky for Family Week again after enjoying our time the previous year. Devin was also there with her family and when I saw her I realized that I still admired a lot of things about her and once again approached my Dad about pursuing a relationship with her. My Dad felt that she was still too young but said he would pray about it. He encouraged me to maybe think about pursuing someone closer to my age. He had nothing against Devin or her family but felt that her age as well as the seven year age difference between us would be a concern to her and her parents. So once again I tried to push that idea from my mind but because of my age and desire to get married and the fact that I liked Devin, it was a thought that stayed in the back of my mind.
That summer plans came together for my family to go to Israel in the fall for two and a half months. When I found out that Devin would also be in Israel with some of her family I got this anxious, excited feeling. I was hoping that during this trip my parents and I would get to spend some time with Devin and her family to get to know her better. My Mom really liked Devin so she kept that idea in my Dad’s mind.
"He said that he would pray about it"
So, in the fall of 2010 my family went to Israel. I saw Devin a lot in the vineyards and on tours and every time I was around her I got really nervous. So after spending time with Devin and her family in groups I got to know more about her. I did find out she would turn eighteen in March the following year. My family really enjoyed spending time with their family so before they left Israel we planned an afternoon together touring around Jerusalem. I had a blast that day. They had supper with us at our apartment that evening and we spent our time talking and laughing. We took them to the airport the next morning and through conversation I found out that Devin’s Mom and Dad were six years apart. That reassured me somewhat about the issue of our age difference. That evening I talked to my Dad and he gave me a couple options. He said I could consider pursuing someone else or I could wait till she turned eighteen. He did tell me that he wasn’t sure Devin’s Dad would say yes for several reasons: one, he had two older daughters that were not married yet, she was the youngest and was not yet eighteen, and also the age difference could be a possible concern. I didn’t hesitate with my answer; “I will wait till she turns eighteen and ask her Dad.” I was willing to wait even if there was the possibility he would say no. A couple days later my Dad came to me and asked me again if I was sure I was willing to wait. He wanted to make sure I was committed to this. When once again my answer was yes, He said, “Ok, than that’s what we’ll do.” So it was decided that we would wait till Devin turned eighteen to approach her Dad. Once the decision was made I felt so much more at peace about the situation. I no longer felt stressed or anxious.
The following January it was a pleasant surprise for me to see Devin and her family in Tennessee at a gathering. We happened to be passing through and didn’t expect to see them there from Virginia. But once again we had a great time with them and as usual our time was spent in much fun and laughter.
The next time I saw Devin was in April, 2011 at Family Week in Kentucky, the place where this all began. But it was different this year. Devin had turned eighteen the month before so she was now old enough that I could ask her Dad. I talked to my Dad about it and asked him how we were going to do “this thing”. Was I supposed to ask Devin’s Dad, was he going to ask him, or would we both go together and talk to him? My Dad told me he would pray about it and left it at that. I was fine with his answer. Our family spent time with Devin’s family that week as we shared meals together and enjoyed visiting at each other’s campsites. I was waiting for my Dad to tell me it was time to talk to Gene (Devin’s Dad). When the days started going by and my Dad hadn’t said anything yet I started to kind of get upset. What was he waiting for? But Family Week wasn’t over yet and I knew that before they left we would talk to Gene. So you can imagine how I felt when the last day of Family Week came and the Schaefer’s left and Dad hadn’t said anything more about talking to Devin’s Dad. I was pretty upset. I had waited all this time to ask and now they were gone and so was my opportunity to talk to Gene about Devin. I was off by myself when my Dad came to me and said, “Well, I talked to Gene…” What! He talked to him? Suddenly my anger left and all I felt was nervous excitement. “So, what did you say? What did he say?” My Dad then proceeded to tell me that he talked to Devin’s Dad about my intentions and after Gene got over the initial shock that someone had asked about his “baby girl” he said that he would pray about it and talk to Devin’s Mom, Lorrie. He told my Dad that he wanted to get to know me, personally, a little better.
Over the next couple of weeks my Dad and I emailed Gene, sharing about our family, beliefs and some of my personal convictions. He replied with some questions for me as well as sharing with us some things about his family and beliefs. We had a few phone conversations as well. That was definitely a stressful time of wondering and waiting for me. Wondering what kinds of questions Gene would ask, what he wanted to know about me and if there was at all a possibility that he would say yes.
"Yes I want to know"
Devin- I will never forget the day I was out in the garden with my Mom and she turned to me and said, “Devin, I need to talk to you about something.” My first thought was, “Uh Oh, what did I do now?” My mom quickly assured me that I had done nothing wrong but there was something she needed to tell me. I don’t know why, maybe it was how she said it or the look on her face, but I started to get kind of nervous. She then proceeded to tell me that someone had asked about me. I was shocked! With two older sisters, it had never occurred to me that I could get married before they did. I always knew that someday I would want to get married and have a family but for some reason I always thought I would be older when that happened. Now I know that our lives don’t always go how we think they will or should. The Father has a plan that is much bigger and definitely much better than we could ever imagine or hope for.
So after I got over the initial shock, well, actually, I’m not sure I did get over being shocked, my Mom asked me if I wanted to know who it was that had asked about me. My first thought was, Yes I want to know! But just as soon as that thought entered my head another one followed. I voiced this next thought out loud to my Mom. I told her that after thinking about it I wanted to wait and pray before knowing who it was. I had never made a decision like this before and I wanted to be able to pray for peace as well as the ability to hear the Father’s voice when making a decision about this. I felt for myself that to know who it was might prevent me from truly hearing. I spent about three days praying and felt a peace about the situation and knew that I would be able to give an answer based on what I heard from the Father and not just from what I felt was right. So, a few days later when my Mom asked me if I was ready to know who had asked I told her I was. In the few seconds between when she asked me and when she told me I think every emotion possible went through my head. I was nervous, excited, anxious…I held my breath as she turned to me and said, “It is Barrett Warren.” She was smiling and I was crying. If I thought I was shocked before, I was really shocked now. But the shock didn’t last long. Almost as soon as that feeling hit me it was quickly exchanged for an amazing sense of peace. I couldn’t stop crying but they were happy tears. I was still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that someone wanted to marry me. And it wasn’t just anybody it was Barrett Warren. Soon after meeting the Warrens at Family Week I came to admire Barrett and his family a lot and the thought of pursuing a relationship with him was exciting but it was also very new for me.
The next couple of months were the hardest for me though. Our family had never experienced anything like this before. I think it was hard for my Dad to grasp that not only his youngest daughter but his youngest child would possibly be getting married. We talked about it several times and I think he wanted to make sure I was ready to get married. He stayed in contact with Barrett through emails and got to know more about him and his family throughout the summer. Both of our families were planning on being in Israel that fall and my Dad told Barrett that he wanted to talk to him in person. So I knew that an answer would be given in Israel. I already knew my answer was yes but my Dad had not yet made a final decision. It was not because he had anything against Barrett or his family he was just not sure if I was old enough yet and he wanted to talk in person with Barrett because he finds it easier to talk to a person face to face instead of through an email or phone conversation. I did a lot of praying that summer. I prayed for patience for myself as I waited and I prayed for peace and understanding for my Dad. I knew this was not an easy decision for him to make. This was his daughter’s future he was looking at. The waiting was hard and sometimes stressful but looking back I see that it was a time of growing for me and I am thankful for the time and thought my Dad put in his decision.
"I didn't even look at him"
I spent my summer waiting and praying, praying and waiting. In one of my conversations with Gene he told me that since both our families would be in Israel he wanted to talk with me there so we could talk in person. There were many times during those months when I felt impatient and anxious, wondering what we would talk about and what his answer might be if indeed I got an answer in Israel. When those times came I tried to occupy myself to get my mind off the impatient feelings. I prayed often during the weeks and months before leaving for Israel that his answer would be yes. But I had no way of knowing what he would say.
I was nervous about seeing Barrett in Israel and would you know it, the very first day we get there we are on our way from the airport and we have to stop by the Warren’s apartment. I was planning on just staying in the van but Barrett’s Mom and sister, Sarah, came down to say hi so I figured I should get out and say hello. Barrett had also come down but I didn’t even look at him. I just gave his Mom and sister a hug, said hi, and got back in the van.
My family had been in Israel a month before Devin got there with her Mom and sister. Her Dad came two weeks later to join them for his three week stay. I was excited about seeing Devin but also a bit nervous, so that day when they showed up at our apartment unexpectedly I didn’t know what to think. I wanted to see her but I was so nervous that I decided to just stay inside. My Mom had other ideas. She never said a word. She just pointed at me then pointed outside. I knew exactly what that meant. She wanted me to go outside and say hi to Devin and her family. But when I got out there Devin wouldn’t even look at me, much less say hello. She talked to my Mom and sister then got right back in the van. That made me really nervous. That she didn’t say hi to me or anything was out of character for her and that made me think that she must have known something and that her answer would probably be no. I tried not to worry about it but I couldn’t help it. I worried.
I saw Barrett and his family a lot while we were working in the vineyards, on tours, and at gatherings. I was anxious for my Dad to get there so they could talk. But before he got there I talked a lot with my sister who was in Israel with me. She really encouraged me to be patient and when I started feeling anxious or worried to pray about it. That really helped me but I was still wishing for the time to go by faster so my Dad would arrive soon.
After the original nervous and awkward feelings of our first meeting they were quickly replaced with an ease and comfort of being around each other. It really helped that I enjoyed being around her, listening to her talking and laughing with me as well as other friends that she was with. I was still very anxious for Gene to arrive in Israel so we could talk.
The day finally came when Gene was in Israel. Due to the fact that we were staying in two different locations, it was several days before I saw him and got a chance to talk with him. I remember the day well. We were in a vineyard spreading fertilizer and I asked Gene if we could talk. He said that was fine so we grabbed our buckets and headed for an empty row, hoping to find some privacy to talk. But with so many other people working in the field that day that was not the case. But, we were able to exchange a few questions and answers every once in a while. In those few private moments I learned that Gene had tried to talk to Devin but was facing the same problem we were facing that day. There were so many people around that he was having a hard time finding a time when he could talk to Devin alone. But he also told me that Lorrie was all for it and very excited about the possibility. He told me he still had some questions for me and would like to try to find a time where we could talk. So, I left that day with no definite answer but I did have the assurance that we would talk again so that helped.
It was very frustrating at times finally having my Dad there in Israel but not having an opportunity to talk with him and have the long conversation that we needed to have. Although, we did get a few words in here and there, there was still more that needed to be said and talked about. But rarely did we get the chance to talk so our conversations were kind of spread out throughout the first week he was there.
"I was waiting for the right time to talk to Devin"
The time finally came when I got an opportunity to talk to Gene alone. Two days after our talk in the field, their family came to our apartment for Shabbat. After we had eaten I asked Gene if he would go on a walk with me so we could talk. He agreed and I found myself walking the streets of Jerusalem with Devin’s Dad. It was on that walk that Gene turned to me and said, “Barrett, I give you my blessing to pursue a relationship with my daughter.” I was very happy to hear those words and enjoyed the rest of my walk as we talked about family and other things.
Since I now had Gene and Lorrie’s blessing I wanted to move forward with things but I didn’t know what the next step should be. So, several days later, during a tour in Jerusalem, I approached Gene and asked him if he had had a chance to talk more with Devin and if so what was the next step. Gene told me that he since we last talked he had not been able to talk to Devin alone. I then asked him what he thought about the possibility of me talking to Devin. He gave me his permission to approach Devin and talk to her about pursuing a relationship.
It is funny how a person’s timing for things works out sometimes. That same day, that I later found out Barrett had talked to my Dad, my Mom came to me and said that I really needed to find a time when my Dad and I could talk because Barrett was going to want an answer and we still hadn’t really had much of a time to talk. I decided that I was going to talk with my Dad that evening when we got back to our house. Little did I know what was in store for me that very day!
So, I now had Gene’s blessing as well as his permission to ask Devin to marry me and I wasn’t about to let another day go by without talking to her after having waited so long for this day. I was excited, yes, but I was also more nervous than I have ever been before. I was waiting for the right time to talk to Devin but with so many people around that day it was proving to be quite difficult. And the waiting wasn’t helping my nerves one bit. We continued our tour of Jerusalem, stopping at various points of interest where the whole group would gather for a bit of discussion about the particular place we happened to be. I sat there at every group gathering watching Devin and just waiting for the opportunity to talk to present itself. The longer I had to wait the more nervous I became but I knew the time wasn’t right yet so waiting was my only option at this point.
Lunchtime came and I, who am usually a big eater, was not at all hungry due to the multitude of butterflies dancing in my stomach. Some friends of ours who were eating with us kept handing me slices of pizza saying that I needed more, that I hadn’t eaten very much yet. Of course he knew nothing of my nervous excitement nor could I tell him yet, so I just quietly slipped the many offered slices of pizza to my Dad who understood completely why I could not eat. After lunch the group was told that we would all be meeting at a shop in the Old City of Jerusalem owned by a Jewish man who would be speaking to our group. I had been wondering all day how I was going to go about approaching Devin with people around all the time. When my Mom heard about the meeting at the shop she came to me with an idea. Why not talk to Devin while everyone was in the shop talking. That way there would be no one around and we could have the privacy we would need for our conversation. I thought it was a perfect idea so I asked Gene if he was ok with that and he said that was fine. A plan was made for us to get Devin away from the group so we could talk. So, I thought I was nervous before. Well, I was even more nervous now than I had been at lunch. But mixed with those nervous feelings were also feelings of excitement. The time had finally come and I could hardly wait.
"The plan was set in motion"
We continued our touring that day by making our way to the Mount of Olives and from there we walked down into the streets of the old city. I was enjoying the time spent in Jerusalem and several times during the day I found myself with the Warrens talking and laughing and just having a great time. Later on the groups split up for lunch and were told to meet at particular shop when we had finished eating. We were going to be meeting with the shop owner who would be sharing with our group. So, after we had eaten we made our way to the small shop where I began to help set up chairs for the meeting. I had just reached for another stack of chairs when Barrett’s Mom, Nancy, walked in the shop and said, “Devin, could you come here a minute?”
I set down the chairs and went over to the door where she was standing, wondering to myself what could she want? We stepped out of the shop and she told me that Sarah wanted to know if I would go on a walk with her because she wanted to talk to me about something. My first thought was, Oh No! What did I do? My next thought was, Oh, great, she probably wants to know why I am taking so long to give her brother an answer. I’m not sure where those thoughts came from and they made me kind of nervous but I didn’t want her to know that so I agreed to walk with her. We started walking down a small side street and I was waiting for Sarah to start talking. But she wasn’t saying anything. I really started to get nervous then. She had asked me to go on a walk with her so we could talk and she wasn’t talking. Not only was she not talking but she was glancing around nervously as though she was looking for someone. Just when I thought I could take the awkward silence no longer we came around a corner and there a little ways away stood Barrett and his Dad. I stopped suddenly and then the realization hit me. I had not come out here to talk with Sarah; I was here to talk with Barrett. We walked over to where the guys were standing and then Sarah left my side and went to stand beside her Dad. I was standing there awkwardly by myself then Barrett came over to where I stood and asked me if I wanted to go on a walk with him. I could tell he was nervous by the look on his face and also by the fact that he would not make eye contact with me. I was nervous as well but decided to just act calm, cool, and collected so Barrett wouldn’t know just how nervous I really was. We started walking, never getting out of sight of Barrett’s Dad and sister. What made me most nervous was the fact that I thought my parents did not know Barrett was going to talk to me and that we were doing this in secret. But the first words out of Barrett’s mouth reassured me that my parents were aware and had given their permission. He said, “I talked to your Dad and he gave me his blessing and permission to talk to you.”
The plan was set in motion and my Dad and I went to wait for Sarah to bring Devin to us. My nerves were working overtime. This was the moment that I had been waiting for and it was finally here. I had it all planned out what I was going to say, how I was going to ask her, and all that good stuff. And then she walked around the corner with Sarah and all those well thought out words went right out of my head. Sarah went over to stand by my Dad and I knew that was my queue. I went over and asked Devin if she would go on a walk with me. She said “sure” in such a way that she didn’t appear to be nervous at all. We started walking and I began by telling her that I had talked with her Dad and he had given me permission to talk to her. Then I said “So, I guess you know that I asked your Dad if I could marry you?” She said she did and then about the time when I would have given my “speech” that I had planned and rehearsed in my mind, she started telling me about the past few months from her side, about her family and different things that had been going on that had caused the long wait for an answer. By this time I had already forgot all my preplanned words so before any more time could go by I just said the first thing that came to my mind: “So, does that mean your answer is yes?” She stopped talking and looked at me then without hesitating any longer she said, “Well, yeah, I guess it is.” When I heard her answer I let out my breath that I hadn’t even realized I had been holding. She said yes! She really said yes! We were both just standing there looking at each other and I realized how awkward it was. I voiced that: “Uh, this is kind of awkward.” She agreed with me. I asked her what we were supposed to do now. Do we hug, shake hands… Devin laughed and we just decided to walk back over to where my Dad and Sarah were standing.
"I danced as I waited for our plan to unfold"
I can’t even describe the way I was feeling as we walked back to tell Barrett’s Dad. All I could think was, “I am going to get married!” When Barrett told his Dad that I said yes, Sarah came over and gave me a big hug. Monty had tears in his eyes as he also gave me a hug. The three of us waited there while Monty went to get Nancy and tell her the happy news. When they came back to where we were waiting I saw that Barrett’s Mom also had tears in her eyes as well as huge smile on her face. There was not much said just lots of smiles, hugs and happy tears. We talked about it and decided that we would wait to tell the group but that we would tell a few friends. We went to join the group and I was sure that Barrett was going to give our “secret” away because he kept looking at me with this big goofy grin on his face the whole rest of the day.
That evening we went to the Warren’s apartment so we could start making plans. First we had to come up with a way to tell everyone. Different ideas were suggested but the one we all agreed on was given by a friend who had thrown out an idea, not really being serious but the more we thought about it the more we liked it. This was the plan. We decided to announce our betrothal using the story from Judges 21 about the Benjamites who stole their brides while the women were dancing in the vineyard. So the day of the “announcement” came and we told only a handful of people what was going to take place so they could help it all work out. We got a group of people to play music and picked a handful of girls to dance including my sister Leah and Barrett’s sister Sarah. They were the only dancers who knew what we were planning. The rest of the group was told that they were going to be a part of a promotional video that was being filmed. So everyone gathered in the vineyard and “picked” grapes while the musicians played and the girls danced. I was in one of the dance circles and as the music started I danced as I waited for our plan to unfold. I had this nervous excited feeling and I kept looking around for Barrett. Leah told me to stop looking around or people were going to start wondering if more was going on here than what they were told. After the music had been playing for a few minutes I heard someone shout something through the vineyard. Here we go. This is it!
I was told that I would know when to go “steal” my bride so I waited and listened for what would be my signal to go. Then I heard a voice saying this: “Look at all those beautiful young ladies up there dancing. Someone should go get himself a wife. Barrett, you should go pick one of those girls for a wife!” I knew that was my queue to go so I took off running through the vineyard and up to the hill where the girls were dancing. I grabbed Devin’s hand and kept running further up the hill and to the other side where my Dad was waiting with the “getaway car”. We just drove around the vineyard then came back to help explain to the partly confused, partly surprised group who were standing in shock at what they had just seen. We gave them the short version of how all this had come together and to let them know that they were all invited to the betrothal ceremony that would be taking place there in Israel. Everyone was excited to hear our news and we got many hugs and congratulations that day.
The next few days were spent planning the betrothal. We both wanted to have it in Israel and Devin’s Dad was leaving in a week so we had to have it before he left. We spent long hours with our parents planning the ceremony, what we would say, what scriptures we wanted to read, and all planning all the fine details.
Things went really smoothly as we made plans for our betrothal. Since it was such a short amount of time that we had to get ready for it we were quite busy. But everything got done. We were able to get a Ketubah in Jerusalem that we both really liked as well as our parents.
The day of the betrothal came and the ceremony was perfect. Our Dad’s read scripture and Barrett’s Dad shared about different things in our ceremony that paralleled with scripture. Barrett washed my feet as Yeshuah washed his disciple’s feet then he gave me a ring. We read a scripture then our parents took turns blessing us and praying for us. We read our Ketubah together then we had some of the elders in our group come up and have a time of blessing and prayer for us as well. After the ceremony we had a time of fellowship with celebration and dancing.
We give all thanks to the Father for bringing us together and orchestrating our story. We are looking forward to the day of our Wedding Feast where we will be joined as Bride and Bridegroom. * But even more so are we looking forward to the day where we as the Bride of Yeshuah will be joined with our Bridegroom at the great Wedding Feast!
*Barrett and Devin celebrated their wedding on April 1, 2012