it begins.so this is turning out to be quite the story.
allow me to explain.
the weekend before the elections, i felt the Lord impress on my heart very strongly that i was supposed to go to the Prayer Furnace for sunday morning service. i hadn't been there on a sunday morning in YEARS, so this seemed like a bit of an odd thing to do, but I was excited about it nonetheless. i was sure that something exciting was going to happen.
so, i hauled my way to the city that morning in november. the message was great, and my friend angela was there, which was an unexpected surprise. i had a great time, but nothing stood out to me that morning as being the Reason why the Lord instructed me to go. i was a little perplexed. on the way out, i was talking to this dude and his wife, and they were asking me where i lived. when they found out i lived in mundelein, they were surprised and asked me if i knew the Barkules, this couple who live near me who host a wednesday night young adult church at their home every week. i had heard their name tossed around a few times, as we've had people come into Torch who go to their deal, but i'd never met them, and i didn't really know anything about them. anyway, the couple said i should go to the Barkules' sometime and check it out. i smiled and nodded, thinking to myself that my schedule was just too busy to do such a thing.
so i'm driving the 35 miles back to my home. i miss the I-94 and Hwy 41 split, and end up taking 41 (read: the longer way) back to my neck of the woods. when i'm about 10 minutes from home, i notice that on rt. 60 in vernon hills, there is a new Corner Bakery. i LOVE Corner Bakery. i spontaneously decided to stop there for lunch on the way back.
i'm standing in line to order, and i see this teenager walk in front of me who is wearing a Onething conference hoodie. two people that looked to be his parents were right behind him, and they both had shirts on that seemed like they might have been from IHOP. i thought this was very interesting. not something you see every day in the suburbs of chicago.
so, i did what any normal person would do. once i was done ordering my food, i followed them.
turns out this family was sitting at a table with about 15 other people. i awkwardly started conversation with them and said that i had noticed their clothing being from IHOP, and wondered where they went to church.
they said, "oh, yeah. we try to go to Onething every year. we go to a house church around here."
"really," i said, "which one?"
"oh, it's this couple... their last name is Barkules. they are sitting down at the end of the table. you should meet them!"
RECAP. 45 minutes earlier, i was in the heart of Chicago proper, and someone asked me if i had ever met the Barkules. i drive home, and through a strange series of driving mistakes and hooded sweatshirts, i run into the Barkules randomly at Corner Bakery.
tell me that isn't God.
so, i share this story with the Barkules at their table in Corner Bakery, and they hug me and we smile and agree that this is probably the Lord. they invite me to come on Wednesday night, so i do. the house group was a ton of fun, and many of the people there are nuts about You, which makes me feel at home.
during the service the first night, i end up seated next to this guy. i was sitting on a chair, and he was on the floor, so for awhile i didn't see his face. i remember seeing his Bible before i ever saw him. it was all written in and marked up, which i always think is pretty awesome. it's not too often that you find people who devour their Bibles.
at some point in the night, i saw this guy's face. daaaaaaang. let the reader understand, there are not too many dudes that turn my head. i don't know what it is... as much as i can acknowledge that a guy is good-looking, i just haven't been attracted to anyone new in a very long time. i think i've just fallen so in love with Jesus, that a handsome guy is a dime a dozen.
but this one, he was different. i saw his face, and my first reaction was embarrassment. i was EMBARRASSED that he was so ridiculously good-looking. i couldn't look at him without smiling, and i figured that was waaay too obvious for having just met him. so, as we were worshiping, i just avoided making eye contact with him, though admittedly i did observe him a little when he wasn't looking in my direction. what a killer smile. daaaaang.
he introduced himself later to me as Stuart.
thus begins our story.