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This Western Love: how the cowboy went east to find his bride.

November 25, 2012

Love does not always come when you expect it or where you expect it.

In the old days it was fairly common for a cowboy to go east to find his bride-to-be. Back then there wasn’t as many people out west and the women that came west typically were coming with a man, so if a cowboy who was settled wanted a wife he literally had to go get one. In fact my husband’s great-grandfather went from Eastern Oregon back to Pittsburgh, PA to find his love and brought her back to the ranch after his second visit. These days cities are closer together and women are easier to come by.

I will admit, my husband Sean’s  reason for going to Ohio for college was not only to find a wife so he might have gotten more than what he bargained for.

Our meeting, dating and marriage is nothing short of God’s work in our lives and it was quite the adventure one step at a time. Here is how we met.

In the fall of 2006 I (Liz) went to visit Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. I was a senior in high school at the time and was pretty determined that I would be attending another college of choice, but my mom insisted I look at Franciscan since it was a college I had always dreamed about going to. The whole visit went really well, but one person really stuck out in my mind and it was a guy I met while I was there. Now the reason why he stuck out was because he was out of the ordinary; he was a gentleman and had no problem striking up a conversation despite the fact he had never even seen me before and had no idea that I wasn’t a student there at the time. This man was a cowboy. I couldn’t believe it. I traveled from St. Louis, Missouri to Steubenville, Ohio to visit a college and I meet a genuine cowboy from the west. You probably figured it out by now, but that cowboy is now my husband. Now it would’ve saved a lot of time if we talked all day and got to know each other and had fallen in love at first sight, but I believe it was God laughing saying “Wait to see what I have in store for you.”

After visiting the college and having a great experience I immediately applied and got accepted, and in the fall of 2007 I started college. However, that cowboy didn’t take too long to show up in the picture again. Within the first couple days of being on campus I ran into him again. There wasn’t anything particularly special about us meeting again, but it still sticks out in my mind very vividly. It dawned on me that I had met him before when I had visited the school, I said to him, “Your the cowboy from Oregon!” He was a little confused, but I further explained. “I met you when I was visiting the school, you told me that you were a cowboy from Oregon and since I’ve never met a real cowboy before, I remembered you.” Now he didn’t quite remember the our meeting, but he does remember talking to a girl at some point in the student center. Obviously, I didn’t really stick out to him, but that didn’t matter, because I was just meeting new people.

Sean is one of those people if you meet him once, he would always remember to say “hi” to you on campus if he sees you, so, whenever I ran into him he would say “hi” to me. This wasn’t too bad, but it started kinda getting weird when I would be half-way across campus and he would yell, “Hi Liz!!!” We had never really talked anymore than our reunion conversation, which was pleasantly awkward, but I just assumed he was a nice guy and never thought anything more of it.

The first couple weeks of school went by and I started to run into Sean more often. Friends that I was making started overlapping with Sean’s friends and more and more we would see each other and talk to each other. Sean would always sit at the same table for breakfast, lunch and dinner and occasionally I would poke fun at him for never sitting with anyone else. One day he sat down for lunch with me and a couple mutual friends, we ate lunch together and then he walked with me back to our dorms. He asked me what I was doing that weekend and I told him that I was going on a camping trip with a couple friends. I didn’t want to be rude so I invited him to come join us. He thought it was a great idea and asked for my number so he could call me when he decided if he wanted to come or not. I really wasn’t interested in him, in fact there were other guys in mind but I just thought it would be nice to have another person coming along that I knew on this little weekend camping trip. However, what he didn’t tell me was that he had already been invited to the camping trip and decided he didn’t want to go, but when I invited him he suddenly changed his mind.

The camping trip was a lot of fun. It was my first real big college experience of being able to do whatever I wanted to do and I was meeting new people left and right! Sean wasn’t on my mind at all, but apparently I was making an impression on Sean.

Several days after the camping trip we all started talking about the crummy late-autumn  rain and decided that it would be fun to go out and play football in the mud after classes were over that day. Well, classes finished and I started calling everyone and nobody wanted to play because of various reasons. I decided it was probably a bad idea, so I started working on some homework when I got a phone call. It was Sean. In an excited voice he said, “You ready to go?!” I was not in the mood to play football anymore so I told him everyone cancelled so I was just going to work on homework, that answer didn’t deter him. Before I knew it, he had convinced me to go out and slide down the hills and get extremely muddy. It was just the two of us and it was pretty weird event but even I will admit, I had fun! This was when Sean really started to like me and decided to start getting to know me.

Things evolved slowly following all those events but Sean and I got to know each other better over the next couple months. Sean would help me out with some schoolwork every now and then but I wouldn’t have called it anything really special, just friends basically.

Then came fall formal. I wanted to go but I didn’t want to go without a date. I kinda assumed that Sean would ask me but I wasn’t quite sure if I really wanted to go with him because I didn’t want to give him the wrong impression that I liked him or something. Within due time Sean asked me to formal but he asked me a month in advance which is apparently not normal for someone who is “just a friend.” The night of the formal came… it was the most awkward night of my life.

Sean had this whole night planned out with his friend but I didn’t know any of the people who were going in this group, except for one friend of mine; she helped me make it through the night! Sean came and picked me up and wouldn’t stop complimenting me on how nice I looked, which was nice of him, but a little overwhelming for me.

We all gathered into the car and started off to a “secret location” which ended up being a golf course that had a Christmas light display. The only problem was that it took about an hour longer than expected and when it was all said and done it was the worst light display I had ever seen. Sean, always keeping high hopes, didn’t let that setback ruin his night. We then went to dinner at Applebee’s with a group of people I didn’t know, my friend and I tried to make light conversation, but it seemed pretty pointless. Finally after a long agonizing dinner we headed to the dance.

The location of the dance was at an old brewery in West Virginia, it had several levels so the main dance floor was on the bottom floor and the drinks and socializing spots were on the 2nd and 3rd level. I took the opportunity to get lost with my friend so I didn’t have to spend the whole evening being with a guy that really liked me that I wasn’t so sure about.

After an hour of playing “hide-n-seek” with Sean, he finally tracked me down and asked me to dance. The first dance wasn’t so bad since it was more of “group dancing” music, but then the next song was a slow song. Sean, naturally, asked me to dance and I couldn’t say no. The song was a country song that Sean knew and so he started to sing it to me. At this point I was so uncomfortable that I decided to not look at him by putting my head on his chest, so I didn’t have to look him in the eye (I know I was a wimp). Apparently that was the wrong sign for Sean, because he took that as a sign that I am really starting to like him.

Following the dance that seemed to last forever, some friends invited Sean over to ride the mechanical bull that was in another part of the brewery (why it was there we had no idea). Sean wouldn’t back down from the challenge so gladly saddled up and took the bull for a ride. After a good ride the guy running the bull was so impressed that he offered Sean a second ride. Once again, not backing down, Sean mounted again and took his second ride. However, during that ride, his hand got caught and he ripped the skin off his knuckles. Not noticing the damage he went to adjust his tie, which resulted in him getting blood on his white dress shirt. Not only was I embarrassed by the whole bull riding thing, I now was with a guy who had blood on his shirt.

I just wanted the night to be over.

Finally the dance came to an end and we all got in the car to head back to campus. I pretended to fall asleep in the back seat so I didn’t have to try to initiate a conversation. When we got back to campus the guys asked if we wanted to go out to a restaurant for a midnight snack. I pretended to groggily wake up and confessed that I must head to bed, because I was exhausted. I was more than happy to be dropped off at the curb but Sean, being the gentleman that he is, escorted me back to my dorm.

When we got in the dorm I quickly headed up the stairs and was ready to say goodnight and goodbye, but Sean insisted on complementing me again. He then asked me what I was planning on doing tomorrow and said he wanted to take me out to breakfast. This was not something I wanted to do, but because I didn’t want this little date to go any further I told him maybe and that I would let him know the next day after Sunday Mass. I hugged him, and said goodnight.

Most awkward night ever for me… Best night ever for Sean.

That night I talked to my roommate about the whole experience and she just thought it was so thoughtful everything Sean did for me (at this point I had never really dated any “men” so I didn’t really see all the thoughtfulness that went into it). I told her that I didn’t want to go out to breakfast with him the next morning, but she insisted that I must allow him to take me out because of all the thought and care he put into planning such a special night. I unwillingly agreed and decided I would go out with him in the morning.

The next day at mass I looked around the crowded church to see if I could see if he was there. I was pretty excited that I couldn’t find him, because maybe it meant he wasn’t there and we wouldn’t go on another awkward date. As I tried to quickly leave mass following the procession, sure enough Sean was there waiting for me at the door. “Hi Liz! I’ve the car, so I’m ready to go when you are.” I gave him a forced smile and said, “Okay, ready.”

Sean then drove us to a local breakfast shop not too far from school. This date was different, more down to earth, more Sean and more me. We had a nice conversation about his life and family and I finally felt comfortable with the fact that we were alone, together on a date. Too bad that didn’t last too long. After such a nice breakfast and conversation we got in the car and headed back to campus, where Sean made it unbearably hard for me. “So, Liz, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you and the dates we’ve been on… So I was thinking that I would really like to go on more dates with you next semester…” Here I am in the car, no where to go, no where to hide, and then came the biggest excuse I’ve ever made. “Um, well, you know I’m taking 18 credits and working, so I’m going to be really busy next semester, so I don’t think I’ll have time to go on dates…” It was really quiet the rest of the ride home.

So, Sean left discouraged and I left… Not so sure what to do next, so I decided the best thing I could do was go to God. I was frustrated. I always dreamed of meeting a guy like Sean. Polite, kind, a gentleman and a cowboy. Here I had all that I had ever dreamed and for some reason, it just wasn’t clicking for me. It came to the point that I had to look myself in the mirror and ask what was wrong with me, because Sean was doing all he could and I didn’t want to accept any of it. Now, there wasn’t a huge revelation my talk with God that night, but what I did hear was to stop worrying about the things on the outside and see myself and Sean for what is on the inside… And that made all the difference.

The next day I called Sean up and asked him if he could help me with some homework. The day following that I had lunch with him and following that day we hung out with friends and watched a movie… Within a two week period, it was like things had changed completely and I was seeing Sean for who he was, and I couldn’t have been happier. It was like the whole formal dance and date never existed and I was just hanging out with my really good friend, whom I was getting to know better everyday.

The end of the semester was coming fast so Sean took another chance and asked me out on one more date before Christmas break. He took me down to Pittsburgh, PA to go ice skating and get to see downtown. We had such a fun time ice skating together and at one point I fell down and Sean picked me up and we held hands for the rest of the night. At this point I was really starting to like Sean and could feel the first “butterflies” of having a crush on this cowboy.

After all the awkward moments I finally let go of my pride and let God show me where I needed to go, and I’m so glad I did. During Christmas break we talked on the phone and continued to get to know each other and upon being reunited we started dating. It’s all history from there.

Sean and I dated all through college and got engaged our senior year. I finally took the big leap after much deliberation  and moved out to Sean’s families ranch the summer before we got married. On October 9, 2010 Sean and I were wed and we still live happily on the ranch with our little addition, Cecilia who arrived in November of 2011.

I knew God would have to put a man in my life that pursued me tirelessly and that I didn’t like at first. Why you might ask? Well, I was very pushy and if I liked a guy I wanted him to know and have him start pursuing me right away. That didn’t quite work out very well and it was a huge turn off for most guys, so when I met Sean and I wasn’t very interested in him, it was the biggest blessing I could’ve asked for. Just goes to show that God knew way better than I did, and I’m sure glad his will worked out.

In the end Sean went back to Steubenville, Ohio (pretty close to Pittsburgh, PA) and found his wife-to-be and took me back to the ranch to become his ranch wife… Just like his great-grandfather did before him.

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  1. Hi Liz!

    I really appreciate reading about how you guys started dating since I hadnever heard the pre-engagement part of your love story!

    May you have a blessed Advent season!

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