July 7

Once upon a time, an eligible and attractive young man named Ryan attended a weekend conference. Just your average Mennonite conference on a hot summer weekend. Lots of men preached. Old friends met up. Music happened. Good food was served. Young men thought of young women.

A certain John Coblentz and his family also attended the conference. Ryan was very pleased to discover this. Of course he had not come for that reason, it was just—so much the better.

John Coblentz. Hmm.

Ryan recalled with fondness a 16-year-old daughter of John who had captured his interest some years previous. She was now nineteen—“plenty old enough, and you can’t stop love.”

Perhaps some opportunity would present itself?

Presently Ryan ran into a young man named Joe, a casual acquaintance of his who actually hailed from Shari Coblentz’s hometown. Incidentally (no ulterior motives or undue interest going on here), they fell to talking.

[Ryan:] Hey Joe! Good to see you again.

[Joe:] Well Ryan Zook! How’s it going?

[miscellaneous chat]

[Ryan:] What have you been doing with yourself?

[Joe:] How’s your summer been?

[Ryan:] So. Did you drive down here by yourself?

[Joe, smiling:] No, Shari and I came down together.

[Ryan, coolly, with his hopes crashing and burning around him:] Oh, really? I uh, haven’t heard the news—you guys dating, or…?

[Joe, proud and bashful:] Yeah, yeah. Engaged, actually.

[Ryan, swallowing hard, thinking how long it’s been since he’s seen this girl, telling the corners of his mouth to lift in a smile:] Is that right? Well, congratulations to you.

He was proud ever after that he offered his congratulations before asking his last question, perfectly calmly of course, and tossing it off as a matter of course.

[Ryan:] You mean Shari Coblentz?

[Joe, with a startled look and then a burst of laughter:] No, no! Sherri MILLER!


I confess it: I’ve always been grateful to Joe for his naiveté. I’ve always been privately certain that this fear-of-God moment is what tipped the scale. Ryan asked my father for permission to date me the next day.

Which happened to be July 7.

And he’s been taking me out ever since. It’s been a great eleven years, hon.

Ironic, isn’t it? that to each there was only one Shari in the world?

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Janelle Glick
10 years ago

So this is how it happened! I love these stories. Happy anniversary of the first request.

Sharon Yoder
10 years ago

Very funny. Moral of the story: Assumptions can tamper with the best of intentions.

10 years ago

There are many Sherris (no offense intended, Joe). There is only one Shari.

Mama Zook
10 years ago
Reply to  The Boss

Now, not the boss knows there are many Shari’s in Oregon…restaurants, that is!! But truly only one Shari Coblentz, (now, Zook), and we are so glad that this fairy tale love story turned out the way it did!!

10 years ago

What a cute story – I love it! The very beginning of your “love story”. My husband and I met while both of us were working at the grocery store (he still works for the same company, but in the main offices). After we started dating, I found out he had been engaged TWICE before! So thankful those other two times didn’t work out, we’ve been married 26 years now. ♥

10 years ago

Love it! 🙂 Here’s to many more years!!

Rachel S
10 years ago

how cool =)

Rach (Wengerd) Eicher
10 years ago

🙂 I forgot about that story!

Ruth Byler
10 years ago

Thank you for that story…i had forgotten! 🙂 And after that there was a Shari who could not stop smiling! It even made the hay-unloading youth activity seem like a more cheery job for her! 🙂

April 14, 2014
9 years ago

Am I gathering that you long distance dated from Minnesota to Pennsylvania? Email me the eleven years worth of advice you’ve collected. 🙂 April 14 is my July 7, and I stumbled across this post and just smiled.

9 years ago
Reply to  April 14, 2014

No, I was from Minnesota originally but lived in Ohio during our dating years–so we dated Ohio to PA. But then I went to Minnesota for a couple months of Bible school… and then he went home to Oregon for the summer… so yes, we long distance dated! No advice except hang in there. It’s tough. But the delight of being together again makes up for it. (Almost.)

April 14, 2014
9 years ago
Reply to  Shari

We will share a zip code for six more weeks. Then it will be Minnesota to Mexico for a bit, Virginia to Pennsylvania for a year or so, and who knows? after that. Thank you for being honest, but not all doom and gloom. I am glad to know it can be done. 🙂

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