The Courtship of Samuel
and Aimee Beavers
Our Oldest Son's Courtship and Marriage : 1998-1999
by David Crank
The following is told from the perspective of the young man's father. As you will see if you compare this story to that of my daughter, Heidi (Volume 1 Issue 1), things are a bit different being the father of the young man verses being the father of the young lady. Most of the details of how a courtship proceeds are governed by the young lady's father and most of the courtship activities tend to be with the young lady's family.
Besides seeing a courtship from the perspective of the young man's family, this story also provides one example for how a courtship can proceed when the young man is living away from home in another city. The ideal situation is having both families and both young people living in the same community, but that is not always possible. The principles of courtship can still work, and work very well, when the families are separated geographically and even when the son is living away from home in another city. This story also illustrates several other principles: the need for patience and trust in God, and parental responsibility and involvement in helping their children find a husband or wife.
In our times, so many young people find their future mates either in college or high school. Most young people committed to courtship are committed to not pursuing such relationships until they are ready for marriage. For a young man, this is often a heavier burden as his vocational preparation may require a number of years. That often means not beginning a courtship until after college or after a number of years have been spent working and learning an occupation or building a business. During that time it is easy to fret about where and how you will find your future spouse.
When you really want to be married, and you are finally "ready", it can be disappointing that God has not immediately shown you the one to marry. It can be hard to wait and focus on the things God has for you to do, rather than pouring most of your energies into a search for the right person. Young people in this circumstance need reassurance and encouragement to wait on God and trust Him. Parents may also be tempted to worry. Parents sometimes lament about knowing so few other families committed to courtship and so few families with similar convictions and how so few even of these have young people of the right age and gender to be considered. Out of fear, parents can also search far and wide or suggest matches with the first possible candidates found - rather than waiting on God and truly seeking His direction.
I think the answer is in truly trusting God and waiting on Him. By waiting, I do not mean passively doing nothing, but rather actively praying, seeking God's direction and wisdom and stepping out in faith wherever He seems to be leading. Faith involves patience and not fearing or fretting, but it is also very active (as illustrated by the actions taken in faith in Hebrews 11)! We must truly believe that God exists and will act to reward those who seek after Him (Heb 11:6). God loves us and knows the right time for our marriage (assuming marriage is in His plan for us) and He is able to bring it to pass, overcoming all obstacles that seem so difficult to us.
Moving Away From Home
Samuel was home schooled from the middle of first grade on through high school. Following that he continued to live at home while commuting to college pursuing an engineering degree. During this time he continued to serve in our church by organizing and leading music and in some work with church youth. Though he had interactions with other young people at church, he was committed to courtship and did not date and tried to avoid any relationship with a young lady beyond that of a brother in Christ. By the time he finished college at age 21, he had a good job lined up in the Dallas area (we lived in Houston) and seemed ready for marriage. But at that time there was no one on the immediate horizon that seemed both ready for marriage and a possible good match for him. Samuel would have preferred to be married right after college and before moving away from home, but instead he was moving to the Dallas area alone, to begin his new job. His younger sister was already being courted and would likely be married soon, but he had no prospects. As his parents we wondered how this would work out - we would also have preferred him to find a wife while still living at home! When was God's perfect timing? Would God lead us to a young lady in the Dallas area for him to court? And if so, how would we get to know her and her family? Well God moves in amazing ways! Events that initially seem very insignificant can later be seen as very significant parts of God's larger plan!
Samuel Meets the Beavers Family
A few months after Samuel moved to Dallas (summer of 1996), the Beavers (who live outside Ft. Worth - a short distance from Dallas) were in Houston and visiting their friends, the Whittens. The Beavers had previously lived in the Houston area and had attended church with the Whittens. Since that time, the Whittens had changed churches and Mrs. Whitten (Theresa) had met and become friends with Lori Crank (Samuel's mother). Lori had mentioned to Theresa that Samuel would be preaching and leading music in a small church in the Dallas area in a few weeks. During the Beavers' visit, they heard about this young man from Houston who had been home schooled and was so active in church ministry, who was now in the Dallas area and preparing to preach for the first time. They decided to go and hear him, though they didn't really know either him or his parents.
So the Beavers came to hear Samuel preach and spoke briefly to both Samuel and Lori (had driven up for the occasion) afterwards. They were all very impressed with Samuel (including 16 year old Aimee). Sheila Beavers wrote Lori complimenting Samuel and expressing interest in having Samuel over some time and his perhaps teaching / being an example for their son Corey. Layne Beavers also wrote to me much the same and expressed interest in getting to know us better whenever they came to the Dallas area. A little while later, Samuel accepted the Beavers' offer of hospitality, but felt their home was too distant for him to try to teach Corey on the guitar, or to see them regularly. But meanwhile, Sheila and Lori began to build a friendship, mostly by telephone and letters, which continued to develop over the next few years.
A Number of "Coincidences" and Planning a Trip
On a Sunday near the end of 1997 (more than a year later) an unusual combination of events caused Lori and me to think about the Beavers and the possibility of Samuel and Aimee. We had been praying for Samuel and were increasingly seeing his need for a wife. Samuel had come home to visit for a few days and though we had changed churches a short while before, we decided on this Sunday to visit our old church again with Samuel. We attended the early service and quite unintentionally ended up sitting directly behind the Whitten family. After the service Teresa discussed with Lori how she thought Samuel and Aimee might make a good match. Well, as parents you hear a lot of well meaning friends suggesting different people as possible matches for your children. Normally we paid little attention to these recommendations. But on the way home from church, when Lori relayed what Teresa had said, it was enough to start us thinking a bit. We talked about what Lori knew of the Beavers and Aimee. As we talked, we realized we had quite a bit in common with the Beavers - such things as home schooling, an intent to practice courtship with our children, similar church backgrounds, and a lot of lesser things. We knew relatively few such families in the Houston area and we now knew exactly one such family in the Dallas area where Samuel was. And they also have a daughter who is highly spoken of, who is nearing a marriageable age! Could God be working here? Aimee was still too young, but in another year or two - who knows?
Later that very same Sunday, I was cleaning up my study and came across an old letter from more than a year prior, the letter from Layne Beavers following Samuel's preaching. I had never written back or responded to his kind letter and offer of hospitality and friendship! It had been buried in papers and I had completely forgotten about it. I felt really bad about misplacing this very gracious letter and never responding. And with this happening on the same day as the chance meeting of the Whittens with the ensuing discussion of Samuel and Aimee, I really wondered if God was trying to get my attention here! Maybe it was concerning a future mate for Samuel or maybe just relationships that we should cultivate with this family. So I wrote back in response to Layne's letter (better late than never) and purposed, Lord willing, to find a date in early 1998 when we could go up to Dallas and visit the Beavers. We had no certainty where the Lord would lead concerning Samuel, but became convinced that we were at least to get to know the Beavers better.
Plans were made, but then a number of obstacles prevented our meeting as planned. The Beavers were having a baby, were out of town, we were busy, Samuel was busy or out of town, and so forth! Finally our planned trip to Dallas was rescheduled for August of 1998. Looking back now, the Lord's hand seems to have been very much in this. During this time Lori and Sheila became closer friends through phone calls and notes and we learned much more about Aimee from both her mother and from Teresa Whitten. Also this provided more time for both Samuel and Aimee to mature and be prepared by God for what was to come next. During these months, Aimee also finished her home schooling and reached her 18th birthday.
During the eight month delay in our plans to come to Dallas, we had prayed a lot more, learned a lot more about the Beavers and Aimee and had come to believe that this might really be God's timing and choice for Samuel. We (Lori and I and our two young daughters) came up to visit Samuel on August 15, 1998, with plans to spend the evening having dinner and visiting with the Beavers. Samuel had been a bit reluctant to come, but we convinced him that he should. We had said nothing to him at this point about our thoughts concerning Aimee. We had dinner together, the little kids of both families played together and the grownups and big kids first talked and then likewise played a game together. We all had a very good time.
But throughout the dinner and evening, I felt a bit like Abraham's servant in Genesis 24, standing by the well and praying for the Lord to direct him to the woman appointed to be Isaac's wife. I was amazed at how much we were able to observe and learn about Aimee in one casual evening with her family. This was my first opportunity to meet her and her family (Lori's second or third). The next day on our drive back home we discussed what we heard and saw. Many of the things we had heard from others and supposed seemed validated by actually seeing her in her home and how she related to both family and guests. The more we considered, prayed and discussed, the more convinced we became that God had indeed led us to the young lady appointed for Samuel.
Proposing a Courtship
Over the next few weeks I began an email discussion with Samuel concerning marriage. We discussed his readiness for marriage but lack of prospects and our belief that the time was nearing for him to marry. We reviewed and revised a list we had prepared together some years before, concerning what Samuel should look for in a mate. [See Volume 1 Issue 1 "A Tool for Assessing Potential Suitors"] Then I shared details about a young lady who seemed to meet the criteria remarkably well, and asked if Samuel was interested, but without naming the young lady. With a little fear and trepidation, Samuel responded that he would certainly be interested in such a young lady. So I disclosed who was being discussed along with further information about her. After a number of discussions, Samuel decided it was worth the risk of moving forward with this and proposing a courtship.
I first approached Layne Beavers with the idea, before Samuel contacted him. After a week of prayer, consideration and discussion with Sheila and Aimee, Layne responded favorably towards beginning the courtship. (Actually God had been preparing Aimee and her family during this time, starting back two years earlier when they had gone to hear Samuel preach when Aimee was barely 16.) The first stage of the courtship would necessarily require opportunities for Samuel to get to know both Aimee and her family and for them to get to know him.
Samuel first met with Layne and discussed the process and how he could begin doing things with their family. Over the next few months Samuel and Aimee spent increasing amounts of time together at her house, with her family, talking over the phone and writing letters. Gradually greater openness and sharing developed on many issues, convictions, likes and dislikes.
By January of 1999, Samuel and Aimee had come to know each other fairly well and had become good friends and were beginning to grow fond of one other. By this point Samuel was fairly certain about Aimee as she also appeared to be about him. So with the blessing of both sets of parents they began to allow themselves to become more emotionally involved. The Cranks and Beavers had a campout together in mid-January, allowing another opportunity for the families to get to know each other better. Shortly thereafter, Samuel brought Aimee down to Houston for a weekend visit with his family. Throughout this process, Layne and I stayed in communication, Samuel met regularly with Layne, and Samuel and I had regular discussions.
Engagement & Marriage
In March, Samuel received the permission of both sets of parents to propose marriage. On March 19, 1999, they were engaged. Shortly thereafter, a wedding date was established with parents approval. They were married at Countryside Bible Church in Southlake, Texas (a suburb of Ft. Worth) on Saturday, August 28th, 1999. Samuel's brother Daniel was his Best Man; Samuel's sister Heidi was Aimee's Matron of Honor; the Groomsmen were Samuel's brother Joshua and brother-in-law, Greg, and Aimee's brother Corey; Samuel's sisters Sarah and Christianna were Flower Girls while Aimee's brother Tye was Ringbearer. The couple enjoyed their first kiss at the end of the ceremony. They now reside happily in Lewisville, Texas, just north of Dallas.
|Samuel & Aimee following the Wedding|
Volume 1 Issue 3: September / October 2000, © Unless The Lord ... Magazine