As Kelsie and I embarked on what would become a life-long journey together, our relationship was unlike anything I had envisioned. I was still in Thailand and she in Oklahoma. My acquaintance with her family had reached the ripe old age of three weeks, and neither of us had ever seen each other in person. Our budding new friendship sounded more like a success story from an online dating site than a Christian courtship. Yet none involved could deny that God was leading.

Kelsie receives her first bouquet from me while I was still overseas.

Kelsie receives her first bouquet from me while I was still overseas.

I think she liked them.

I think she liked them.

Let me clarify at this point what exactly we had begun. Neither of us had agreed to marriage. How could we? We knew only the barest facts about each other and were proceeding primarily based on the sincere belief that this was God’s direction.

Our approach was practical. Separated by thousands of miles, we focused on exchanging information and seeking to confirm that this was, in fact, God’s will. It was understood that both of us were free to back out at any time if we did not believe God was leading us to proceed.

Unlike most young people entering courtship, we could not meet face to face and so relied heavily on written correspondence. Looking back, both of us have observed that God used this apparent limitation as a means of maturing and strengthening our relationship. As we wrote, we discussed a variety of issues including our views on children, finances, the family in general, church, ministry, education, and employment. Woven into the fact exchanges were plenty of personal details and the simple, excited chatter of two young people who are rapidly falling in love.

But love was one word I refrained from using at the beginning. Too many have cheapened that word by applying it early and often to anything and anyone who happens to catch their fancy. I wanted Kelsie to know that when first I confessed my love for her, it would be more than just words.