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A California Love Story

By: Liz Wickham

He started out as just another “You should meet him” conversation.  I stood arranging flowers with my friend Mrs. Ludlam, preparing for the evening’s dance event.

“There’s this guy coming tonight…and I just think the two of you would hit it off.  He’s a seriously solid, godly guy with a sweet family. You’ll know him when you see him; tall, dark, and handsome.  His name is Richard Wickham.”

Richard Wickham? That’s his name?  Seriously great name.

I’d had several similar kind recommendations from mom-friends before.  I was 21 and unattached, busily engaged with endeavors like school, piano teaching, and ministry.  While marriage was a very present and cherished hope, I was waiting for something special. Someone special.  

Simply put, I had fallen in love with the person of Jesus Christ. I wanted a guy who mirrored our Savior.

Coincidentally, I ended up noticing Richard that night without knowing that he was the aforementioned guy.  His tall, graceful form initially caught my eye. Then I noticed how every young girl who danced with him left with an illuminating smile.  In a room full of dancers much younger than himself, he seemed comfortable and happy to participate.

When it came time to choose a partner for the next dance, I may or may not have stood in his general vicinity.  To my delight, he turned, scanned, spotted, and asked, “Shall we?”

I was immediately drawn to Richard. 

He possessed a contagious energy. A random detail–but his solid, strong hands impressed me.  This man was no wimp.

At the end our dance, he said “Hey, it was great dancing with you! My name is Richard by the way.”

That’s the guy?!  

Shortly afterward, a friend/wingman messaged Richard, inviting him on a group day trip to the mountains. I secretly hoped Richard would single me out for small talk.  He didn’t.

At the day’s end, it was obvious he had no interest.

I felt a tad disappointed (ok, more than a tad).  But I wasn’t one to waste mental energy on something that clearly wasn’t happening, so I soon put him completely out of mind.

In December 2014, I started hosting monthly game nights at our house.  Richard became a consistent guest. Looking back, it’s as if a veil had been dropped over my eyes.  I simply didn’t see him…not in that way, anyway.  He was just Richard–the talkative one with word BACHELOR stamped across his forehead.

But I got to know him within the context of our friends.

Rich was a happy, helpful guy.

He inspired people in every conversation. His heart for God was sincere and actualized.

Little did I realize that I was on his radar. For a solid year, he’d become more and more intrigued by the game night hostess with crazy curls. He never flirted or tugged on my heartstrings. While our friendship was amicable and even affectionate, he wanted to save emotional intimacy for a serious relationship.  

And then, on a wet December evening, Rich decided to take the plunge.  He texted, requesting to speak with my dad and I that night.

I was shocked.  

Rich?!  Interested in me?? But he’s….Richard! Never on the hunt, never even talking about marriage…

But there he stood on my doorstep in the rain, collared shirt and tie speckled with droplets.

It took him an hour to say what we all knew he came to say.  He nervously picked at the china plated custard pie I’d handed to him.  Finally, he spoke of his serious intentions:

“I want to get to know you. I want a family.”

I was tickled and touched by his blunt honesty. He deserved the same from me.

“I’ll be honest.  I have no feelings for you whatsoever. But I respect you, and you’re my friend, so I’d be a fool if I didn’t give this a shot.”

He was thrilled—elated that my heart was a clean slate, my mind free to evaluate him objectively.  That night, I felt completely honored as I sat beside my dad, faced by a man who wanted to pursue and cherish my heart.

We spent the month of January asking tough questions.  We discussed our values: theology, parenting, and other deal-breakers.  

Richard intentionally shielded my heart during that season.

He focused on our friendship, transparently answering all of my questions.  Avoiding romantic gestures and words that could potentially sway my ability to think clearly, he did not cultivate intimacy with me—emotionally or physically.

Don’t get me wrong romance was definitely there, waiting under the surface.  I prayed fervently for wisdom in my decision. Slowly, cautiously, as Richard’s godly character was proven to me, I allowed the seeds of romantic love to take root and blossom.

On February 4, Richard received my dad’s blessing on an official relationship.

We could not stop smiling.

Next came dates, quality time with our families, love letters, endless FaceTime calls, and, before long… planning for an autumn wedding.  It didn’t take us long to be certain of our love and our desire to commit to each other for life.

On June 10, 2017, Rich surprised me atop a breezy hillside.  There, with friends and family watching from a distance, he dropped to one knee, called me his love, opened a box, and asked me to be his wife.  

God’s beauty and kindness are clearly seen in my ongoing love story with Rich.

From the day we were wed on October 1 of 2017, marriage has grown sweeter by the day.  Richard continues to pursue my heart, drawing me closer to our ultimate Lover and Friend.

So tell me!

What qualities are you looking for in a guy? How do you envision the unfolding of your future love story? I’d love to join you in the comments below.

Liz and Richard

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30 Responses to A California Love Story

  1. this is so sweet! i hope and pray God gives me a man who loves the Lord as you described.
    some of the qualities i look for are that he is called to missions because that is the call God has placed on me and it would be amazing if my husband had the same call. another thing is that i want him to be a leader, hard worker, strive for purity, and to love the Lord most. apart from spiritual things, i would like him to obviously be handsome, strong, and tall.

    i loved your love story! you can truly see how the Lord crafted it!

    • Liz Wickham says:

      I love hearing about your desires for a godly husband, Christen! Keep praying. God answered each of my prayers in a husband, and then some!

  2. Ainsley says:

    I loved this so much! For me as a single, it was really cool to see that even in the times of waiting, God was working behind the scenes. It showed me that you really have to fall in love with God first and that ultimately the right guy will pursue you. This really opened my eyes to things I would like to see in my future husband and relationships. Thank you so much!

    • Liz Wickham says:

      That is absolutely right on, Ainsley! Richard mentioned that the main reason he pursued me was because I was striving to pursue God…not guys. I’m so glad this was an encouragement to you!

  3. thefreckleddisciple says:

    I love how much your husband respected you while you were making a choice, and how you were pleasantly surprised by his interest in you. I want to be so caught up in God and the life He has given me, that when a man says he’d like to walk the path to marriage with me, I am honestly and truly surprised.

    • Liz Wickham says:

      Amen! It was such a blessing to have that solid time of innocent friendship with Richard first. Keep delighting yourself in Him, and His joy will be more than sufficient–whether you’re single or married!

  4. whitefamily says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! It reminds me to keep seeking and serving the Lord where I am no and to trust Him to bring someone into my life in the future. God bless your marriage!

  5. Nanna yo's says:

    Ewww. If someone out the blue told me they wanted a family I’d RUN FOR THE HILLS

  6. Amanda Silva says:

    I love to read about sweet love stories where God is the center! Please keep sharing those stories

  7. LBell says:

    Wow! What a beautiful love story! Praying more young people will see the beauty of a slower paced God honoring way to approach a relationship. SO Happy for this lovely couple!

  8. Ana says:

    She was 21-22? That was a kid, she didn’t even have a developed character, formulated dreams, preferences, life experience.

    Who would want to marry such a young girl? Only someone whose priorities are fertility, beauty, youth and how easy it is to manage the other person.

    Young girls, be wiser. Work on yourself first, become mature.

    • Laura says:

      These girls talk about early 20s like it’s middle age. It works for some people, but there’s no need to worry or rush things. That is so young and there’s much to learn about being an adult on your own that will make you a stronger person. I wish the norm in this community was considered to be a slightly later age. I worry it encourages unnecessary anxiety in young women.

      • Daisy R. says:

        Come on ladies why are ya’ll judging her because she was married early? And 25 isn’t early! My parents were married at 20 and are now celebrating their 27th anniversary. And I don’t know any couple more in love! Just be careful telling God what the perfect age is 😉 And remember age doesn’t determine your maturity. Lots of love xoxox

        • Ana says:

          Hello ladies,

          I am glad that you understood my concern in the right way. I did not mean anything malicious, it was a sincere concern.

          26 is a slightly different thing, in 5 years one can learn a lot about the world. Still young for me, but that is just personal taste.

          I know many couples who were married “until death do us a part”, 30-40 years (in fact most of them, divorce is not common in the community where I grew up). But still, joyful couples, who do not end up being regretful, bitter and despising the other side are rare.

          So, in my opinion, it is not about getting married early or late, it is about having time to know if marriage is your vocation at all and if it is, choosing the right person. We should not rely on examples of our parents or grandparents. Their examples teach us how much suffering and misconduct there is in marriage, hidden from the eyes of children, pretending that they are “OK”.

          At the age of 23 I wanted to get married, started dating… Now when I am 28, I am so joyful, single and am slowly getting to know that God has another vocation for me.

          In short, I would recommend any girl to wait. If you get married young and realize that Lay Third Order (this is most probably going to be my vocation), Consecrated Virginity, or religious life is your calling, you will regret that decision the rest of your life. I know so many women who regret choosing the wrong vocation (mostly marriage and physical motherhood). Discernment and wisdom are very important.

          We are all called to motherhood, but I believe that spiritual motherhood is so understated today. It should be mentioned more often as an option in Christian circles.

        • Shanae B says:

          My parents got married at 17 and 18 and just had their 30th anniversary! They were very young but that was God’s timing for them!

    • Shanae B says:

      She said she was 21 in 2014 and got married in 2017 which puts her at getting married at 25 or 26 (depending on when her birthday is).

    • Liz Wickham says:

      Hi Ana! I so appreciate your concern for women to marry when they’ve grown into mature womanhood. That is so important! And though I’m still learning and growing, I was 25 when we got married (young or old by some standards) and I was grateful to be surrounded with wise, godly parents and peers who encouraged me to dig deep into my relationship with Christ from a young age. That, after all, is the true mark of maturity… “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…” Ephesians 4:14-15

  9. Daisy R. says:

    Oh my heart this story is about the sweetest, pure thing ever. I especially love how you two decided to talk through and discuss some of the important topics that might be “deal breakers” in the relationship. Although I wonder how ya’ll managed to keep your heart from jumping ahead before it’s time. I’m sure it wasn’t easy but it was all worth it in the end!!

    • Liz Wickham says:

      Hi Daisy! Keeping my heart in check was a true answer to prayer. I wanted the affections of my emotions to follow the truth that I saw in Richard and our relationship. I prayed like crazy! It also helped that I had been through a relationship before that taught me just how much needs to be known about a person…just how painful heartbreak can be…and just how solemn of a decision I was facing. But God was faithful. He gave me wisdom and surrounded me with other wise counselors.

      Keep pursuing Christ! The blessings of marriage are all the more profound when you’ve laid the groundwork in your relationship with Him.

  10. Allie Nielsen says:

    The Lord is so good!! Your story is so sweet and God is His perfect timing provides!

  11. Catalina cortes says:

    It’s not only a beautiful love story, but a godly love story. Thank you for sharing, it teaches a lot of how a godly guy looks like. “He did not cultivate intimacy with me” WOW. Our first priority must be the intimacy with God, that’s what we need, not intimacy with a guy or boyfriend. Through your story I can get to know how to build a God-honoring relationship and see that in practical ways, which it is what the Christian girls need. God bless you!!

  12. Heather Hemsley says:

    Ahhh!!! So cute seeing this story written out, although I’ve heard it before!! This is one of the best love stories I’ve heard and seen. I love and miss you so much Liz!!!!! <3

  13. Michaela says:

    Wow! To be honest, no one has ever so clearly laid out what a Godly and healthy courtship was like until I read this. I recently got out of a relationship that was all heart strings and no foundation in Christ and when it ended, I was really broken. Your story has given me a new perspective on how Godly relationships are meant to be and it has really shaken up how I see my brothers-in-Christ. I was always told that I need to focus on God and not on looking around for a relationship but no one ever showed me what that meant until I happened upon this in my email inbox. Your story has given me a new set of glasses to look through instead on my typical Rosy ones. Thank you for sharing and giving us an example on what it means to pursue a God-filled, God-chasing and God-honoring relationship with a member of the opposite set.

  14. Olivia says:

    Your story is exactly what I always imagined mine will be. It’s such a sweet, beautiful story of a man and a woman putting God first and seeking His guidance. I’m usually very slow and cautious, never one to jump into something. A little less than a year ago, a young man I knew asked my dad for permission to begin a relationship with me. I was ecstatic; it was exactly what I was waiting for, but I was still surprised. We began to get to know each other and each other’s families more than we did before. We asked each other lots of questions concerning our beliefs, convictions, and personal preferences. At first, it was going great, but then I realized he seemed to agree with me on EVERYTHING … even things I knew the rest of his family didn’t agree with, and things he didn’t really live out in his life. Fortunately, my parents were a big part of this relationship and they helped me to realize that this young man was playing with my heart in order to get what he wanted. Although it was hard for me to break the relationship, I felt at peace about it afterward and now I am so relieved that the relationship didn’t go any further than that. Thank you for sharing your story, and I pray that the young man God really does have planned for me will put God first in his life so that we can have a story similar to yours. May God bless you!

  15. Amelie says:

    He had no feelings for you but he wanted a family? I don’t mean to be rude but this seems kind of weird. There’s nothing wrong with feelings, God gave us feelings. Idk, this whole love story seems very stoic and cold?

    • Bella says:

      Hey Amelie!

      I agree! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with feelings, and yes! God gave us feelings! I personally think they’re one of His greatest gifts. I wouldn’t by any means call this particular love story cold or stoic, though I totally understand your initial impression. I would call it wisdom to not entangle soft, fluttery but also fickle and treacherous feelings into a situation that you’re honestly not sure will turn out. Relationships that are built on Christ from the start have so much more solidity than the ones that are built on attraction, feelings, or ‘love at first sight’.

      I have a friend who was interested in getting married, but knew he had some wildly unpredictable feelings. He decided to observe for a time, and for months quietly watched the young women who he had heard express convictions similar to his own to see if their lives actually bore the fruit. Not many of them did! But there was one young woman who consistently did the right thing but rarely prated about her ‘convictions’. Before he allowed himself to develop feelings for Ashleigh, he carefully evaluated her against his requirements for a wife and soon found that she had been made for him.
      That was when he finally felt that it was time to involve her, but he still did not allow himself to fall in love with her, because for all he knew she wasn’t interested. Well, long story short, she had been noticing him herself, and they eventually did fall in love perfectly safe from anything that might have made it impossible to marry.

      Hope that helped some. I definitely understand what you were wondering!

    • Clara says:

      Hi Amelie,

      I actually have the blessing of knowing this couple and it is one of the sweetest love stories I have ever encountered; not at all cold or stoic. On the same note as Bella, the way they went about things was to honor each other and prevent heartbreak and too deep of emotional entanglement at the early stage.

      Being intentional about feelings may seem stoic but doesn’t mean that the feelings aren’t there. And sometimes they can be all the more special when you wait.

  16. Julie Hilts says:

    What a beautiful story! I pray that my daughters will have stories similar to this someday . You both honored God first and He has blessed you lavishly! Congratulations!!

  17. Bianca says:

    Thanks for sharing Liz, this is so sweet!

  18. First him! says:

    Love this!❤ Liz I’m so happy for you!
    Although I know some people have different thoughts… I just recently met a wonderful couple who married at 18 and 19 and are now in their 50-60s and are very very still happy together!
    I hope y’all remember they got married back then at 14 up… and that Gods in control of our futures!

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