I’ve been knowing Jeff Hirschoff for 10 years now. That’s a bit of a time, one third of my whole life almost. How do you come to know someone? Tonight I was thinking about it.
December 2003. I’m on a little short bus. I don’t really know any of the other people with me, but I’m sure excited to be on that bus. 15 minutes into the drive, Jeff jumps up from his seat and pukes into the trash can at the front. Uhhh, ‘This is not good’, I’m thinking. Because our short bus is headed to the Denver airport and we are all flying around the world to Jordan that day. Jeff is supposed to be our fearless leader, the one who knows where we’re going and how we’re getting there and he’s puking his guts out.
After emptying his breakfast into the can, he looks up. “Vitamins my mom sent me.” That’s his explanation. Vitamins. I offer him my unopened bottle of water. “Thanks” he said. That’s my third memory of knowing Jeff Hirschoff.
My second memory of knowing Jeff Hirschoff is in the fall of that year. It’s the interest meeting for the Middle East trip. I know nobody in the room, but I don’t care. I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life hoping for a chance to be making this trip. I’ve wanted to see the Middle East so badly I can hardly believe I will soon. I remember seeing Jeff bustle in with his clipboard and notebook. Very serious. There were two trips that year, one for “adults” and one for the younger version of adults I guess. We all were in the same meeting. Jeff got the names and emails for the young ones and that was it. Bustled on out. His memory of that meeting is much different. He should write it down sometime. I apparently knocked his socks off, but you wouldn’t have known it. He was all business. That’s my second memory of Jeff Hirschoff.
My very first memory of ever knowing Jeff Hirschoff is some good bit of time before that. I was sitting in a Wednesday night church service. The missions pastor was up front introducing the new missions intern. He was going on and on about this guy, his past missions work, the places he had been, all the Bibles he had smuggled into closed countries… 20 trips smuggling Bibles. My 23 year old, indebted, working-for-the-man self couldn’t possibly imagine someone young doing all that. “This guy must be like 50 years old…” I remember thinking. Because at 23, 50 was still old, and what young person could possibly have the time or the means to take so many trips. Then, I heard the pastor saying “Jeff Hirschoff, stand on up.” Across the isle, just a couple rows up from me, Jeff stands up and gives a little wave. ‘WHAT?!!? That guy’s like almost my age! That’s crazy! He’s kind of short.’ … Those were my exact thoughts. My first memory of knowing Jeff Hirschoff.
Spring 2004. I’m sitting in a little room with the same group of people that had been on the short bus. They are my good friends now. We gather every week to pray for Jordan, the leaders there, the people we met who are trying to be a light in a culture that wants to snuff them out, and we pray for each other. That night one of the girls starts praying for Jeff, for who he is, God’s plans for him, for his future wife. And then, out of nowhere, I hear the audible voice of God… one of the few times I ever have…. “That’s going to be you.”
WHAT?!?! I’m pretty sure my eyes few open to see if anyone else heard the same thing I just did, because it sounded pretty loud and clear to me. Cheeks burning, I looked around, but nobody else seems to notice. I close my eyes and promptly tell God… “Heck no it isn’t.”
For the next three years, I was pursued by Jeff. Two Jeff’s actually. Jeff Hirschoff and Jeff Miller. Jeff Miller, the missions pastor who seemed to always have a plan for your life, spent three years trying to convince me to give Jeff Hirschoff a chance. God kept pestering me about it too.
Jeff had a couple strikes against him. He was short and he was very serious. At 5’10” I’m far from short. And I come from a laughing, laid back family who jokes and teases. I always pictured myself with someone who was funny and easy going… and tall… hello! someone just like ME. My regular conversations with God went something like this… “Come on God! I could do tall and serious, or short and funny. But short AND serious?!!? This will never work.”
Finally, between God and Jeff Miller’s proddings and Jeff Hirschoff’s pursuings, I decided I should just give the poor guy a chance, mostly to prove them all wrong that this would never work out.
December 2006. I’m walking down the isle in a big white dress towards Jeff Hirschoff, with Jeff Miller beaming like a school kid next to him. Yeah, that proving everyone wrong bit didn’t quite work out the way I thought it would.
I was thinking about all this tonight as I was washing dishes. It is almost our anniversary. Seven years of being married to Jeff Hirschoff. 10 years of knowing Jeff Hirschoff. There are two kids tearing around the house chasing each other, making more noise than they probably should, but we let them because they are excited and I like hearing them laugh. A third one is in my belling kicking me, letting me know he’s still there. Almost seven, ten years later, how is all this possible?!? It seems like such a short amount of time and such a long amount of time all at the same time.
Jeff is still short, I’m still tall. He’s still pretty serious, but I like to think I’ve lightened him up a bit. Over seven years I’ve seen how our differences make us better together. I probably wouldn’t get much done without Jeff. He probably wouldn’t have nearly as much fun without me. It works out pretty good.
Knowing Jeff Hirschoff. I wouldn’t change much about it.