/**/ The Purposeful Wife: The Story of Niall and I

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Story of Niall and I

 Today I thought I'd take another brief respite from our Close Knit Marriage series and share the story of how my husband and I met and ended up married :). It is the month in which we celebrate romantic love after all.

In the fall of 2006, I transferred from a small Bible school in New York state to Baptist Bible College of Clark Summit, PA. It was my junior year. I knew a handful of people that attended BBC, which helped me to feel a little less awkward about being the new kid. I auditioned for a small choral group in the first few days after my arrival, and was thrilled to be accepted.

 The first day of choir practice I nervously found my way to the basement of "Buckingham" (the music building). I was the third person to arrive. As people slowly filtered in, one young man attempted to get my attention. "Are you Vandalen?" He asked.

This will forever embarrass me.  Because Niall has a stray eye, and because I had no idea what "Vandalen" meant, I did not know that he was talking to me. It took me a minute to realize it was in fact me that he was addressing, and all I could offer back was a confused,"What?' and wary look. Turns out the sister of his R.D was a member of the choir, and their last name was Vandalen. But I digress.

As the practice began and introductions were made, someone elbowed Niall and obnoxiously said, "Tell everyone where you're from!" He made a face and responded, "Jamaica!" Everyone laughed.

"Hmm," I thought. "I've never seen a red-headed Jamaican. Maybe he was an MK?" Silly gullible me. Niall happens to be a big joker, and to this day can pull the wool over my eyes with very little trouble. In reality Niall is from Ireland, but he hated being singled out for this fact and just wanted to blend in. This means that my Irish husband sounds very American, and you would never know he was foreign, because he hates the attention and silly questions people ask when they find out where he is from. Again I digress.

 As I went about my business of attending chapels and meals and classes over the course of the next few weeks, I noticed that Niall and I had a lot of common friends. Or so I thought... there I go being naive again. Everywhere I went, he was there, or showed up shortly after. A lot of my guy friends were in the same dorm as him though, so I thought nothing of it.

I also noticed that I really enjoyed Niall's company. Oftentimes after dinner a group of us would stay at the table, drinking tea (a favorite pastime for both of us) and having lively discussions on everything from theology to politics to music. Niall had firm convictions, and was not afraid to share them, even when those convictions made him unpopular. I admired his boldness, and was greatly challenged in my thinking.

Not long after this I began to realize that Niall showing up everywhere I was might be an indicator of greater interest than what I'd initially assumed. I wasn't sure how I felt about that, but he was a great guy and I did enjoy his company. One Sunday afternoon as we sat by the pond (famous on campus as a "couple" spot) he expressed interest in getting to know me better. And then we began the several month period of acting like a couple but denying the fact that we were dating :). To the great amusement and annoyance of all of our friends.
In January Niall officially called my Father and asked permission to date me. To clarify, I know a lot of people get hung up on the word "dating" and prefer "courtship." Personally, I don't care what you call it, as long as you are honoring the Lord in your relationship. Neither of us had a car, so if we went off campus it was always in a group. On campus students weren't allowed to touch members of the opposite sex, so we basically spent a lot of time walking and talking. This was great as it allowed us to focus on the essentials, and not just physical contact. We were able to discuss what we believed and why, on theology, parenting, the Church, marriage, and life in general.

After a rough patch in the late summer of 07, Niall realized that he did want to marry me after all :). He proposed that fall, and in June 2008 we married, a month after graduating college.

Lessons I learned from this experience? True love is not an emotional high of romantic feeling. How did I know that Niall was the one? Whenever I wondered, I would assess on paper his character, and the things that made us compatible. I found that he loved God and wanted to serve Him, was growing in his relationship to the Lord, and that we were in agreement theologically. He was a hard worker (very important to me as I wanted a man who would faithfully provide for his family) and was spoken well of by those who he worked for and who knew him best. He loved his family and had good relationships with them. They liked me for Niall, and I liked them for in-laws. I got along great with his friends, and he got along great with mine, which indicated that we could be good friends (and we were!). We agreed upon what was important in a church and attended the same one together regularly. I wanted to be a stay at home mom who nurtured her children and husband, and he highly valued this desire of mine. In short, it was a logical decision based on righteous priorities. And marriage has been wonderful for us because of the solid foundation we began on.


  1. Children are so cute when they're grown up ;) LOVE ALL 3 OF YOU! Glad you made good choices.
    love ~ mom

  2. I enjoyed reading your story, Rachel! Now off to read your guest post at Money Saving Mom!

  3. I just read your post on MSM and clicked over here for the first time. And this is CRAZY! I went to BBC (and WOL, which is where I'm assuming you went first), too! My husband and I are 2003 grads. Nice to "meet" you! : )

    1. Too funny Tiffany! You got me, I did go to WOL (2004-2006). We just missed each other :). Where are you guys at now? Nice to "meet" you too. I'll bet we know a lot of the same people!


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