Ben Stories

Everyone in the room roared with laughter, and all I wanted to do was get out of there as fast as possible, but I couldn’t move.

I was on summer staff Red Rock Bible Camp, and one of the staff members was showing off his ability to perfectly imitate anyone’s way of walking – he had just imitated mine with uncomfortable accuracy, and there was something disturbing about seeing a bearded, six foot guy swinging his arms and moving his hips in a way I recognized immediately, even though I’d never consciously paid attention to the details of how I moved.

The rest of the summer staff in the lounge thought it was hilarious, but I sank into my chair, trying not to cry. I hated to be embarrassed and have attention drawn to me in a roomful of people. But if I got up to leave the room, I’d have to walk, and they’d all be watching me to see if he had gotten it right. I remember feeling trapped and panicky, trying to think of how to get out of there before I burst into tears.

Ben was also on staff that summer, and although we had become friends right away, he didn’t know me very well at that point yet, but somehow, he noticed how uncomfortable I was, and knew exactly how to help me. He quickly elbowed the guy beside him, they jumped up, grabbed my chair, and carried me out of the room.

They put me and my chair down right outside the doors to the lounge and ran back in, leaving me alone to flee to the safety of my cabin with no one watching.


A little girl living at Red Rock Bible Camp was lost, and no one had seen her for hours. She had followed her little brother into the bush, and taken a wrong turn. It was during Staff Camp a few days after I first met Ben, and the staff spent one terrible afternoon searching for her, walking through miles of bush and calling her name, until she was finally found later that evening.

The full time staff were all so busy dealing with the crisis, no one had time to serve dessert when we took a break for supper. The dessert cart was put out, and it was announced that we should all help ourselves while those in leadership left for an emergency meeting. It was a quiet meal as everyone forced down some food before heading back out to search. I remember looking up just in time to see Ben jump out of his seat, head for the dessert cart, and start serving all the other staff members. Nobody needed to do it – we could all just have gotten up and served ourselves, but as I watched him, I was thinking it was a really kind and thoughtful thing to do, caring for a group of people feeling tired and stressed.


It was my twentieth birthday, and my camp mailbox was filled with little notes and cards from my friends. There was a note from my new friend Ben – “If you ever need to talk, come find me, and whatever I’m doing, I’ll stop to buy you a chocolate bar and hang out for a little while.” A few days later, I went to find him to take him up on his offer. I remember finding him with the weed whipper, wearing safety googles and ear phones. He stopped what he was doing as soon as he saw me, and I said, “I think today would be a good day for that chocolate bar, whenever you have time.”

He said, “I have time right now.”


This weekend, it’s 16 years since we got married.

Ben and KendraFor some reason, I keep thinking back to that first summer I met Ben, and all the little snippets of memories I filed away in my mind as I got to know him. He was dating somebody else, and I liked a different boy at camp, which changed how we became friends. He didn’t flirt with me and do things for me just because he was trying to start anything – he was always just his kind, thoughtful self, and even though he hadn’t known me very long, he somehow seemed to sense exactly what I needed. He would drop whatever he was doing to care for a friend.

I kept thinking of him as a very nice friend for many months, until one day, it finally dawned on me that someone as amazing as Ben was exactly who I’d been trying to find. He wasn’t dating anyone anymore, I had finally seen the light, and suddenly his friendship was far more important to me than I’d realized.

I went straight to my dorm room and called him at his dorm room 20 minutes away, trying to sound terribly casual, mentioning I’d be in town later that week, and we should go for coffee. He sounded enthusiastic when he agreed, but I felt very awkward, because everything had just changed for me. I tried to act the same as I always had, but when he asked me why I was in town, and the truth came out that I needed a new battery for the answering machine in my phone, I think he started to get suspicious. He asked, “Couldn’t you have gone somewhere closer for that?!”

But I don’t remember what I said. I just remember him pouring milk all over his brownie, drowning it into a soggy mess, and eating it with as much satisfaction on his face as he still gets today.

We hung out “as friends” a few more times, and then it was his turn to awkwardly call, asking me out on an official date. It’s so funny to think back to those early memories, because in some ways, he really hasn’t changed. He is still always looking out for me, somehow knowing what I need, dropping everything he’s doing to help me out, ready to listen, wanting to make me feel better. If I could still eat chocolate, I’m sure he would bring me some all the time.

Thank goodness God finally opened my eyes all those years ago. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this for anything.




How Ben Really Won My Heart

I’ve been trying to think up something to write about for Valentine’s Day, and just kept coming up empty. No ideas. I’ve already shared the story of how Ben and I met, and apparently I had nothing else romantic to say for Valentine’s Day.

But then last night, a memory popped into my mind of a part of the story that I haven’t shared before, and it has to do with one of the things I love most about Ben.

So that is what I will share with you today on Valentine’s Day:

As I’ve written about before, Ben and I met at summer camp, and became good friends. Because he had a girlfriend, I wasn’t really terribly interested in pursuing a friendship after the summer was over, however. I wasn’t all that good at friendships with boys. I’ve always preferred deep relationships, which usually got complicated with boys, so it was an “all or nothing” deal for me. If he already had a girlfriend, then our relationship wasn’t going to go anywhere anyway.

However, after a few months back at Bible school, I heard that Ben was no longer dating anyone, and we happened to meet up at a volley ball game (which sounds so casual, but really I changed my plans for the evening last minute totally because I knew Ben would be there!). Suddenly it seemed like there was a point to being friends again!

Especially since he was so much better-looking than I had remembered from the summer…

We hung out a bunch of times that winter, but Ben definitely took his time. And my dad had given me strict instructions to play “hard to get”, and not let on how interested I was. (Ben was always his favorite, right from the start, and he really didn’t want me to mess anything up!)

So things dragged on far longer than I thought necessary, and I did my best to be mysterious and all that, although Ben let me know later on that it hadn’t really worked, and he always knew I was interested. Sigh.

Well, I did my best.

Anyway, after a few months of “just being good friends”, I was getting extremely impatient. Around that time, another boy entered the scene. To this day, I’m still not really sure what he wanted, as I wasn’t his type at all. He had dated millions of other girls, so maybe he’d just run out of new material, but for whatever reason, I became the object of his attention for a few weeks.

It was extremely annoying, since I had no desire to be that object. He was very forward and smooth, obviously from all the practice, and it always made me feel suspicious.

On one particular weekend, the Bible school I attended was holding a large event, and I was volunteering in the registration booth. Although Ben attended a different college nearby, he came out one evening for part of the event. I played my little “cool and calm” role, but really inside, I was outrageously excited to see him. He very casually mentioned that we should get together sometime, and I very casually agreed that sounded like a good idea.

Then he sauntered off, and I was completely frustrated with him for being totally unreadable and so annoyingly friendly and unflirtatious.

Shortly after that, along came Boy #2 to my booth, where he proceeded to fling himself over the counter and landed right in front of me, practically in my lap. He said he had come to “help” me, and then hung around, whispering in my ear and other annoying things like that.

When he finally left, and I was done working in the registration booth, I went in search of my best friend to tell her everything that had happened.

I ended it all off by wailing to her, “Why can’t BEN be the one throwing himself over counters for me???!!!”

To which she responded, “Because then you wouldn’t like him as much as you do.”

I chewed that one over for the rest of the night, and for a long time to come.

Ben never flirted with me or tried to manipulate my feelings.

Ben treated me with the utmost respect.

Ben was always kind and gentle, and would never stoop to making our friendship into some kind of silly “game”.

Ben was not “smooth”. He was sincere, and his good, good heart showed all the time. Sometimes he wasn’t exactly sure of how to express himself in the best way, but it made him even more enduring.

Ben was patient and took his time, but was definitely, without a question…worth the wait.

Boy #2 soon got tired of me, and moved on.

Ben kept his slow and steady pace. When he finally asked me out on a date, it was wonderful.

And he has always continued to be genuine, sincere, gentle and patient. With me, and with everyone else.

His good, good heart continues to show, and I love him for it.

photo credit: Morgan Braun

When Labels Tell You Lies

I met my first boyfriend the summer I turned 18. It was all very romantic, because his eyes were very blue, and that seemed important at the time.

We were working at summer camp together, which is an intense environment, and can cause people to do intense things, like dating someone they’ve only known for two weeks.

Anyway. It was not a healthy relationship, and he hurt me in many ways. I probably hurt him, too. And then it was all over, and I experienced heartbreak for the first time.

I tried again with someone else a couple of years later, and things didn’t go much better. My emotional baggage was piling up so high that by the time I met Ben, it was kinda hard to see clearly, with all that baggage in the way.

But if there was ever someone with limitless patience, kindness and sincerity, it would be Ben, and so we worked things out very nicely.

I don’t really think much about all that stuff from the past anymore. But I’ve been reading a book. It’s a book that explains a lot of the connections between the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects to the body.

It’s a book about how old hurts and heartbreaks, bitterness, unforgiveness, and broken trust can affect us in huge ways if we do not experience healing and restoration.

Now, I have not normally been into all that kind of stuff. I have a wonderful, happy life, and I would never have thought that there was much to restore in my past.

But there’s this: I remember a girl in high school telling me that I had the stupidest laugh she’d ever heard.

I laughed a lot quieter after that.

I remember a friend telling me that instead of singing, I should stick to playing piano.

I sang a lot quieter after that.

I remember the ex-boyfriend telling me I was pretty, and good for looking at, but not much else. He said I wasn’t smart enough, and so he felt we had nothing in common.

So I wrapped my insecurity tightly around me like a robe, and accepted all of those labels.

And even now, after all these years, they still come back. You can bet that I’ll think about them when I laugh or sing, or try to add up everyone’s score during a game, or try to have intellectual discussions with people.

Those labels in my head are saying: “I have a stupid laugh, I can’t sing, and I’m dumb.”

Putting that all out there makes it sound like I’m pretty pathetic. Who actually thinks stuff like that??

More people than you think, I’m guessing.

The weird part is that I don’t really completely believe all that stuff.

But I still remember it. Those words buzz around my head like an annoying fly that I keep brushing away.

And in real life, I would finally get so tired of the buzzing that I would go find the fly swatter, and kill the dumb fly already.

I’m at that point. It is time to get rid of those labels, and those memories.

How do you do that?

Well, this is still a work in progress, but here’s what I’ve figured out so far:

1) Forgive.

Forgiveness can take the sting away. Someone once told me that you make the choice to forgive, and then you say it out loud: “I choose to forgive ____________.” Every time the thought comes back to you, you say it again. And again, and again. And then you pray like crazy.

2) Look at the bigger picture.

I’ve been thinking about this one a lot lately. All it takes is a little bit of perspective, and some imagination. For the first time, I thought back to that ex-boyfriend, and I tried to imagine what would make a person say something so cruel. And you know what? As an adult, it is so much easier to see a whole different side to that relationship. I can see now how he had so many insecurities just like me, and neither one of us could carry the weight of the other’s burdens. We hurt each other out of our own hurt. He had no idea what he was really doing to me, or how I would allow it to impact me for years after. People often say things they don’t really mean.

3) Replace those labels with words of truth.

God gave me this old laugh of mine, and it makes Him smile when He hears me using it.

God gave me this voice, and it fills His heart with joy when He hears me singing at the top of my lungs.

God gave me this mind, and these abilities, and He rejoices when I use my God-given strengths to bless other people. And who says that adding up a row of numbers is a true measure of intelligence anyway, for crying out loud?!

So, with forgiveness in my heart, and a view of the bigger picture, it is time to step lightly and freely into the beautiful future.