It all began at a local coffee shop the summer of 2006.
I had a day off from camp (where I was employed for the summer) and decided to meet a friend for coffee. Bob was there studying, as usual.
At this point, Bob and I had known of each other for a couple years. In fact, family tried to set us up, but I was away at school not interested, and neither was he. When we saw each other that day in the coffee shop our hello was a bit awkward, but as our small talk continued something felt distinctly different.
A few days later I got a call from my long lost friend, Megan (married to Bob's brother). Megan was wondering if I'd like to join her and some friends at our local coffeeshop following their church's worship service. I agreed, knowing there was more behind Megan's call.
Let me stop for a moment and give a bit of background.
Somewhere in my early teens I accepted God's gracious offer to take Jesus' sacrfice as my own. As I stumbled through those years of Christian infancy I made a lot of mistakes. So many mistakes that I questioned if I ever understood what I claimed to believe. Despite my foul decision making, God continued to provide people who portrayed His radiance and love which in hindsight convinces me I was one of His all along. After I graduated high school I was drawn to Southwest Baptist University and it was there God bestowed one of His greatest gifts to me, a community of girls. These girls taught me what it is to bear up with one another, to love, and to continue the fight to know and understand our Creator. Those four years were life changing and crucial for my faith, but I still had the baggage from all those years of bad decision making. Baggage that kept me from believing God would send a godly man who'd want me as his wife.
On my way to meet Megan, I fervently prayed for God to protect my heart and actions. I felt so weak and vulnerable and knew I couldn't handle another sour situation with a "Christian" man.
After meeting Megan and attending their Sunday evening church service, we headed to the coffee shop. Bob and I sat next to each other and chatted the entire evening. On our way out the door he asked for my phone number and called me a couple days later to see if I'd be interested in a movie with himself, Jake, and Megan. I, of course, agreed and met them for the movie that weekend.
From that moment on we became inseparable. That is until I left for my senior year of college three weeks later.
Right before I left I was having a hard time with Bob and I's new friendship/relationship. All of my insecurities were rearing their ugly heads, especially the one saying I wasn't good enough to be with him. We'd also not had the infamous DTR (define the relationship), so I felt confused about what I should be feeling. The day before I headed to school Bob sat me down and basically said, " I don't play the dating game and I'm looking for a wife. If that freaks you out we should end our relationship now." I remember doing everything I could to hold back tears. This was exactly what my heart needed to hear, a man stating his intentions, because he took seriously another person's emotions.
Once I arrived at college everything moved quickly for Bob and I.
Two months into dating he left for Africa and for whatever reason I was terrified, sure he'd return wanting to break up. Much to my surprise he returned and told me he loved me for the first time.
This was THE turning point in our relationship. We'd both agreed not to use that language until we were convinced marriage was inevitable...
Two months later he proposed.
The proposal came as a complete shock. I'd just returned from NYC with my college bestie when Bob asked me to dinner. We headed to Brio, where we had our first date, and everything felt completely normal. After dinner, Bob asked if we could stop by his house to pick up a Christmas movie before going to my parents. When we reached his house we went into his room and I immediately knew something was different. It was clean! Not just picked up clean, like spotless which I had yet see :) I also spotted a gorgeous bouquet of flowers made up of tiger lillies, one of my favorites. Shocked, I looked to him and he began a beautiful speech, followed by his proposal. With every bit of assurance, I said yes. We hugged and then he grabbed his guitar and began singing a song he had written for the occasion. The song was phenomenal.
Our engagement did not last long. Maybe 6 months. I was still in school 3 hours away and we had planned to get married the weekend after my graduation. It was nuts. Not to mention, Bob was finishing his Masters, working, and fixing up the house he'd purchased for us. I think he lost 20 lbs over the course of two months, because he worked so much and didn't make time to eat.
My mom graciously planned the majority of my wedding so I could finish school. She was a God-send. Running all the errands, attending meetings, etc. I wouldn't be surprised if she received an ulcer from it all. But the wedding ended up beautiful (see some pics here)! I mean, of course I would make changes looking back, but the majority of my changes wouldn't be decoration details as much as carving out time to pamper the wedding party. Those poor friends of ours. They stayed up late with us as we painted our house and spent hours prepping food for the reception. Absolute gems, they were.
One of the most beautiful pieces of our wedding day (and love story) is that Bob and I shared our first kiss at the altar.
It's not that we believe kissing before marriage is wrong. Waiting was just best for us. Best for me. Having the past that I do, I harbor a lot of hurt and confusion towards men. By Bob setting this standard it helped me trust his care over my heart and see how a man should honor a woman.
It was also a direct answer to prayer.
Unknowingly, my good friend Julie had begun praying for my heart and my future spouse the summer I met Bob. She prayed three specific things over me, one being that a man would show me love without physical affection. Once Bob and I became engaged Julie read me the journal entry where her prayers began. The entry was dated a week before Bob and I reconnected at the coffee shop.
I wept after Julie and I's talk.
After all the mistakes I'd made, my Lord had not only sent a man who exemplified His character, He specifically worked it out so that my heart would have time to heal and see redemption. It was as if God was reminding me, I washed you when you became mine. All of you. Your past has no weight anymore. You are free.
It still brings me to tears thinking about it.
I consider it an honor to be this man's wife and more than that I marvel at the work of my Savior.