Match Made in Heaven (or Steubenville)

Have you ever had one of those moments when, in retrospect, the hand of God was so obviously present in your life?  Today is the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe and it’s also the anniversary of one of those moments in my life.  If you have patience and a stomach for the silly and saccharine, feel free to read on. 🙂

First, let me set the scene.  It’s early December at Franciscan University of Steubenville, towards the end of finals.  Oh finals… that time of high drama and magic.  That time of senseless procrastination followed by frantic bursts of intense studying and productivity.  That time when the dorms were deathly quiet inside and outside, but you could still find random pockets of shenanigans as students tried to let off steam. Inevitably, you or someone you know is getting together or breaking up with a boyfriend or having that super exciting or super sickening RDT (relationship defining talk).  Or if you were me, you were having a silly college girl existential crisis.  See, in December of 2005, I was a junior and single and when you go to Franciscan, if you reach junior year without a boyfriend, you might as well start getting cats and letting yourself go because you’re basically an old maid.  (See what I mean?  Silly.)

Well, it was more than that, I guess.  I had been feeling very anxious and restless and I had actually started a novena to St. Therese just to pray for peace.  I have a hard time with novenas because I don’t feel comfortable asking saints for specific things and for special signs.  I knew that St. Therese often sent roses in answer to prayers sent her way but it had never happened to me and I didn’t expect it to.  Besides, I felt that my petition was a lousy one.  I just prayed for peace in my heart (very much a Steubie phrase) about all the things that were bothering me.  I think it was a combination of boys, finals, jobs, real life looming after senior year.  All that fun stuff.

On the morning of December 12th, I think I had one final left so I was at the library with my wonderful roommate at the time, Monica.  Towards lunch time, she asked me if I wanted to go to noon Mass with her and I said sure.  It’s wasn’t just a mindless sure, though. I remember thinking that was exactly what I needed at the moment; Mass!

{Before I go on, let me explain that throughout the next 2 hours while all this stuff was happening, I was kind of walking in a haze and being led very strongly through it all.  It was like I was being steered through these events and I had no control over what I thought or felt or even did.  It was weird at the time and looking back on it, I still feel weird.  I’ve never had this happen to me since.}

So off we went. When we got there and knelt down to pray before Mass, a very powerful feeling overcame me.  I got a very strong sense that I needed to really pay attention at Mass that day and offer it up for my future family.  This seems like a really stereotypical desperate Franciscan girl thing to do, doesn’t it?  Sure I was guilty of letting my eyes and mind wander during Mass and looking at different guys and wondering “Is he the one, Lord?” (Shoot me, that’s really embarrassing to admit) But no, this feeling was different.  It wasn’t flighty or silly, it was a really serious sense that it was important for me to pray for my future spouse and future children. So I did!  When Mass began, the priest mentioned that it was the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I love the Blessed Mother, and Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the unborn so, it was perfect! I really prayed and focused on the Mass and afterwards I felt so refreshed and blessed.  Just going to Mass and having that experience was enough to shake me out of my funk and help me relax about my future.  But that wasn’t the end of the story…

When I got back to my room after lunch, there were two red roses outside of my door with two Our Lady of Guadalupe prayer cards and a simple print out of Our Lady’s words to Juan Diego:

“Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.”

I was stunned!  Here was a rose, an actual real rose, with the answer to my novena petition, in the Blessed Mother’s own words! I had never before had such a blatant, can’t-deny-it encounter with the divine!  It was such a gift and I knew I’d never forget that day.

Later in the day, my household sister and good friend, Therese, asked me whether I’d received a rose and told me it was her cousin’s household that had put the roses outside of every girl’s dorm room as a service project.  She laughed as she recalled how she borrowed his car the day before and it was filled with roses and she couldn’t see out the back of the car!  “Isn’t that nice?” I thought.  “They are sweet guys…”  and I left it at that.

Story.  Isn’t. Over.

I actually started dating someone the next semester and I really thought he was part of the answer to my prayer.  I had to have that amazing spiritual experience before my heart was ready to actually meet my husband.  It was kinda true… BUT, we dated for a year and then broke up in our last semester of college.  If there’s anything worse that being single in your junior year at Franciscan, it’s breaking up with your boyfriend right before graduation.  Big bummer. Cue another Ellen existential crisis.  But, the good Lord knows I don’t handle these things well, and that summer I finally met Dave and the rest is history. 🙂 I kinda knew Dave in college, but not really.  You see, he was my friend Therese’s cousin.  That’s how I knew him.


It was a couple of months before we happened to put all the dots together.  Dave was reminiscing about being his household coordinator and he mentioned a service project that they had done back in the day. His household had a big surplus in their budget so they wanted to do something nice with their money.  Dave had the idea of getting roses for all the girls on campus on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  He figured it was finals and everyone was stressed and it was a nice way to honor and lift up all the women on campus.  But it was supposed to be anonymous.

“What!!??!! Wait!! That was you??  That was your idea???”

This picture illustrates two things: 1. Dave has been and will always be the biggest doofus and not afraid to ruin a picture. You should see his license picture. Ooof.  2. Dave and Our Lady have always been tight.  He affectionately refers to her as Guadie.

So there you have it!  The story of how my husband gave me a rose and the answer to my novena, 2 years before I met him, right after going to Mass and praying for him and our future children.

It’s a nice story, don’t you think?

11 thoughts on “Match Made in Heaven (or Steubenville)

  1. That's a great story, Ellen! I can't believe I never heard it before. Next up, how I rejected Paul repeatedly over the course of 4+ years and then followed the advice of a fortune cookie one day and gave the poor guy a chance. I think you win.

  2. I like the version I told at your wedding :-D. That is a wonderful story, though. I think my story with DJ is similar, though not as obvious and when I look back at life before DJ I really can see the hand of God lifting me up and out of all my problems and on to a path where I would meet my helpmate. God is good!

  3. I think a McSisters series of posts about how they got together with their Misters is in store…. It has a nice ring to it, don't you think? McSisters and their Misters 🙂

  4. That's more than a nice story, Ellen. I love all the "it's a Steubenville thing" references. To anyone who didn't go there, it does sound a little crazy! 🙂

  5. Oh. My. Goodness. I can't even begin to TELL YOU how much our STORIES ARE SO SIMILAR! I'm getting goose bumps right now. I'll have to post it on what of these Marian Mondays. Praise the Lord! Gosh, I love Our Lady. She is amazing!

  6. Pingback: The Story of ED, Part 1 | McSisters

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