Last week I let you know that we are beginning a new series of letters— this time to My Girls.  For months and months I’ve been writing letters to my son, all about how women think and respond and are deep down inside.

This will be a series of letters about things like finding satisfaction and dealing with disappointments and learning how to love the men in our lives with skill and wisdom.

In order for you to understand the context of my own story, for the next couple of weeks I’ll be inviting you into the intimacies of how I met and fell in love with Phil all those years ago.

I’ll tell you what I saw in him, why I fell in love, and what I thought my life would be.

In the weeks ahead I’ll let you know mistakes I made and lies I believed. I’ll tell you what I was thinking then and what I think now. How I’ve changed and what I wish I’d known.

But first, let me start at the beginning…



Part One

I was born with my nose in a book.

My earliest memories are of my mom’s crisp white blouse against my cheek as I snuggled into her while she read me stories. In story-land her voice smoothed to a musical cadence, her beautiful hands spread out the pages of pictures, and her words transported me into the dreamland I craved.

Maybe that’s why I emerged from childhood with fond nicknames from my family: bookworm, dreamer, ding-bat- Di. Over and over I heard my parents admonish me to “get your nose out of that book long enough to see the world around you!” 

I lived in story, just popping in and out of real life for brief visits. 

Is it any wonder my fairy tale-take on romance mixed and melded with my Bible reading and sermon-hearing as I entered the years of dating and marriage?

Growing up, my family did not know or follow Jesus. My parents were good people determined to offer the kind of home that had eluded them in their childhood: stable, loving, affectionate, firm.

When they stumbled on a church that preached Jesus and taught the Scriptures, all five of us went forward to the prayer room and surrendered our lives to the One who changes everything.

That decision set my parents on a road to reorganizing their marriage under the wisdom of the Word. I watched from the sidelines as they figured it out one halting step after another.  Learning to communicate, to lead, to submit, to humble themselves… in my teenage-know-it-all-ness I didn’t appreciate the transformation taking place.

All I saw was that I was going to do it differently— I was going to do marriage right.

I was fifteen when I first met Phil.

 For two years I sang in his 100-voice high school choir and never dared say a word to him. I stayed safely in my shell— a shy high school girl who could barely look at, let alone speak to the coolest man in the church.

In those heady days of the Jesus Movement of the 1970’s our youth group was alive with an almost electric sense of purpose. Our generation was being awakened to truth and beauty in the midst of a souring sexual revolution.

We were high on marriage, adamant about honoring each other, and busy dating.

Nearly every weekend we dated. With friends and in groups, the young men we got to know through the youth group were quick to ask us out. It would have been considered rude and snobbish to say no.

Socially awkward, with remnants of that little girl shyness still clinging to my insides, I dreaded almost every date. What would I say? How could I avoid those long, uncomfortable silences?

I’d make a list of questions to ask and things to talk about as I got ready, barely able to push past that sinking feeling that I was in for another evening of trying too hard to be fun and talkative… when all I really wanted was to be home, quietly curled up with a good book.

Don’t get me wrong. The young men in our church group were interesting and good guys. They became pastors and leaders and elders and missionaries; CPA’s and attorneys; doctors and successful businessmen. These were cream-of-the-crop young men who treated us well and kept their hands to themselves. Most of them prayed before our dates and walked us to the door when they brought us home.

And every girl in church was in love with Phil Comer.

He was tall and lanky with wavy brown hair and laughing blue eyes. He drove a souped up 1970 Lemans, wearing aviator sunglasses and soft suede desert boots.

Bigger than life, he exuded charisma and warmth. When he opened his big Bible to teach, his passion for following hard after God caught me in a maelstrom of emotion.

I wanted to be the kind of Christian he challenged us to be. I wanted to become the kind of woman he would notice.

I wanted him.

Towards the end of my senior year of high school something happened that made me dare drum up the courage to actually talk to him.

Phil’s cousin had been in a terrible accident and was dying from her wounds. Every day he made the trip to San Francisco to see her, to share the Gospel, and to pray with her. My family had just started praying together for the first time in our lives and his story had caught at our hearts.

So I told him.

And when I’d finished my awkwardly rambling words about praying and my family and who-knows-what-else, out popped the words I immediately wanted to grab back:

… I just want you to know I love you.

I meant we, really I did. We, as in my family. We, as in us: he was loved and prayed for by us.

But that’s not what I said.

And its not what he heard. 

From that moment on I couldn’t seem to quell my growing infatuation with the man. He was all my storybook-dreams come true.

He was smart and driven, a drummer who’d left his rock band with a captivating story of conversion— he was just so incredibly cool. Phil was a warrior, a leader, compelling, charismatic… and way out of my league.

Unbeknownst to me, my accidental confession had ignited Phil’s interest. He tried to get to know me, but I was so painfully shy I avoided him. How could I talk to him? What would I say? Exactly which shade of red would my face flame to?

All my worries haunted me enough to stay a safe distance away.

But that didn’t stop Phil.

(…to be continued tomorrow)

Please feel free to e-mail in your questions for this new series about love and marriage from a Biblical perspective at hespeaks@ajesuschurch.org