Here is our slideshow for those of you who have been wondering about our honeymoon adventures. :) We had so much fun in Ireland and can't wait to go back to explore some more! It was one of the most beautiful and friendliest places we have ever visited.
Towards the beginning of September, I began to come around to the thought of meeting someone online. Oh, I had tried before...tried and failed, tried and gave up, tried and promised myself that I would never do it again. But as anyone who has tried online dating knows...even if you have sworn off meeting someone in this way ever again, inevitably, it will not be forever...inevitably, curiosity will win and with the click of a button, hope will rise again.
I was actually quite timid about signing up for Eharmony this time. I was sure that I was jumping the gun, wasting time and money that I could be putting towards something way more practical. I prayed about it though...and told God that I was signing up, and so please could He make something good out of it. There was a really good sale that weekend...I couldn't resist. To go even further, I thought...well, I might as well try Christian Cafe while I'm at it. And if you think I'm giving a plug here...I totally am. I would recommend these sites to anyone.
After a matter of a few weeks and after several short term conversations...I saw Mike's picture. There was something different about him right away. "From a picture?" you might ask. Yes, from a picture...and then from the words of his heart poured out in his profiles. Long story short....we found each other on both sites before ever writing. I couldn't not say hello...and when I wrote to him for the first time, I found out that he had been thinking about writing to me at the very same moment. We began our first conversation on October 11.
You're probably reading to find out how he asked me to marry him. As I thought about how to write it down today, I thought about the fact that he has been asking me all along the way. Not in a matter of the words "will you marry me", but in every other word and action that has shown his intent and his love. I have never felt so unconditionally loved, so cherished, so protected, so full of joy. We laugh together, we get serious together, we forgive each other, and we dream. He doesn't think twice about making sure that I have what I need, about saying sorry first, about kissing me and holding me close whether we are alone or outside for the whole world to see. He chose to spend the holidays getting to know my family and friends. He whisked me away to New York City because I had said how much I had been wanting to get back there for the past ten years. He sends me a text every morning. We talk for hours every night. He bought me a ring and then bought me new tires on the very same day because I hadn't known to get an alignment on my car. He doesn't worry. He loves and trusts God so much. He listens to my heart...he shares his heart with me. And there's no pressure...we just grow in love every day.
Friday night was February 11. Exactly four months after our first email, Mike recreated our first date. He reserved the exact same table we had sat at. He kept talking a mile a minute about his favorite memories and how much he loved me. He kept saying how excited he was. I asked him what all the excitement was about. :) On the inside, I was totally wondering what he was up to. All night long we drove around with him facing the gps away from me (he's not from here so he still isn't sure how to get around...lol). We stopped at Starbucks for chai's and headed down the park where we had sat talking for hours on a swing the first night we had met. Friday night was VERY cold. We sat on the swing for about 20 freezing cold seconds and then hurried back to the warmth of the car. As we sat in the car we laughed and talked some more, and then there was a moment of quiet and still. I had my head on Mike's shoulder. He began to pray and thank God for how much He had blessed us. He asked God to lead us and guide us. And then, after a few stops and starts...he told me to close my eyes. When I opened them...there was the ring...and Mike telling me that he loved me and asking me to marry him....and I was laughing because I was so happy and so enjoying every moment with this man I have grown to love.
We're getting married this summer!!!
Praise God for the ways in which He leads our lives. Praise God that He knows the desires of our hearts and has the very best in mind for us. I am so very excited to have a best friend for life...so very excited to see each day unfold.
I've tried writing a new post at least three times this week. Each time I get loaded down with all the pictures and words that I haven't written for two months. The process has gotten a bit overwhelming. I have not yet finished what I was trying to say. Which leads to my next thought...
There were a lot of things last year that I meant to do and never quite got to finishing. The short list? Recording a new demo, starting a new workout, keeping a perfectly up-to-date grade book at school. This is just the starter list, of course, but even these three things are strong enough to tell me that I did not measure up to my expectations.
It got a little overwhelming thinking about it all. I told Mike that I loved it when he asked me questions. So, obviously he began to ask really good ones about my music and about school. I quickly realized that I only meant that I like certain kinds of questions. The kind that distract me from the measuring up that I didn't get to do yet.
So, the snow fell last weekend. Four deep inches laid on the ground, keeping the school buses from running for an entire week. I had been worried about finishing report cards. Imagine my excitement at the promise of four extra days of completely no distractions like going to work! Yet, even now (five days later) I am looking at them in their unfinished state. Maybe tomorrow I will get them done? :) Most teachers will know what I am talking about.
In all of my non-report card moments I've been able to do a lot of reflecting. It seems like each time I sit down to listen to a new teaching from the Bible, or read something, or have a conversation with a friend, I have had the chance to deal face to face with my failures, the love of God, and find some rest from all the guilt I've been feeling about not finishing the projects that I promised myself would be really good for me. I think the best part of this week has been handing over these failures to God. I needed to hear that it was okay to fail and to not follow through on some things. I needed to hear that I was allowed to start out fresh and new. I needed to hear that I was still loved. I needed to realize that it really was okay to lay down all of my own expectations and not hold them over my head.
I'm looking forward to a new year without any expectations except for the one that God is on my side, that He loves me, and that His love is more than enough. It's going to be a great year! I can't wait to see each day unfold. :)
Almost exactly one year ago I sat on a park bench and listened to someone tell me how my life would change. It was hard to believe at the time, but there was no stopping what was already set in motion. It was on that very day, as the sun was setting and the cold wind trying to find its way to the inside of my warm winter coat, that God came very near to my heart.
As the realization set in of what was about to take place, I looked up to see a gardener came out of nowhere, right to the very place I was sitting on that bench. He said hello with a big smile, apologized for interrupting, and begin to set new plants in the ground. He was so joyful, so opposite of how I felt on that beautiful fall afternoon. And then there was that bird, that I had never heard the sound of before who kept blurting out his song all around me; kept reminding me of my grandfather when he would sing in the sanctuary of his church. In that moment, I had this feeling that I was not alone...that in my deepest despair...He had shown up to remind me that all would be well.
I thought I knew God pretty well. I thought I understood the depths of His love. What I didn't know was that I had been missing out on so much more. What I didn't know was that half of my heart was laying hidden and dormant beneath obligations and routines...beneath fears of not being good enough and being too much all at the same time.
So He fixed that too.
What I didn't know...was that when life changed... I would love my family all over again. I would appreciate my friendships so much more. I would grow into a place of wanting to give more than I could get. my answers would become less important than my questions. I would learn to depend on God...and He would be enough.
What I also didn't know was that I would be free to love and to be loved in a deeper way than I ever imagined. I didn't know that life would look so much more hopeful, so much more happy exactly one year later. And with each passing day, I am seeing God's heart all along was to give me my heart's desires. But even more than that...knowing the Lord has become my desire...and to me that makes all the difference...it makes everything else so much sweeter...so much more full...so much better than anything I could have ever attained on my own.
If you are reading this today, and way deep down inside you are wondering if there is more....
God is the great designer, great orchestrator of all things good. He is into the perfect details of making things beautiful, strong, and just right.
I didn't know that it was okay to hope for more. Now I know. God is an extravagant, gracious, loving Father. He longs to lavish us with good things. If you let Him take you into the process...He will bring you through in ways you never could have imagined.
Us kids traveled home for the weekend to surprise mom and dad. We snuck in late Friday night and then spent all day Saturday looking at pictures, playing games, talking, eating banana pancakes and delicious t-bone steaks (not at the same time, of course). The best part is that they didn't even have a clue about our homecoming...it made the party even better.
Lots of memories.
The party masterminds.
The newlywed travelers. :)
They eventually warmed up to each other. :)
No party is complete without Jim's salsa and a good game of Apples to Apples.
We ended the night with cake and a milk toast. :)
Congratulations on 32 years, Mom and Dad!
You have raised us to love the Lord and love each other. You have taught us so much about forgiveness, hard work, laughter and the unconditional love that brings us home over the years. You've made a lot of sacrifices. You've comforted a lot of bruises and broken hearts. You've helped us dream big. You've taken us on trips and instilled a love of seeing the world. You've surprised us and loved on us. You've taken time to listen and share your advice. Thanks for believing God through all the good times and bad. Thanks for believing in each other. Thanks for believing in us. We love you. :)