…I was finished with school, broke, stuck in a bitterly cold Chicago, with no full time job in sight. Don’t get me wrong – this is not a Cinderella fairytale, it’s a realistic glimpse at part of God’s story.
After much prayerful thought and an offer from a kind brother to move to Texas, I was on my way. I picked up my brother from O’Hare at 8 pm; we loaded up the U-Haul, attached it to my Jetta and left in the dead of night. By the next afternoon, bleary-eyed, we arrived at my new home, just north of Dallas Texas.
The next few months were full of job hunting, church hunting, and trying to get acclimated to the quickly approaching summer melt down (this WA state kid doesn’t like 100+ degrees – and yes, it can be TOO sunny!).
By June, the Lord provided a job through “people who knew people” at an agency that “Helps those who do good, do better.” That is to say a company that uses technology and storytelling to help non-profits fundraise.
As I got to know people, moved out of my brother’s house and closer to Dallas, I started attending Watermark Community Church. Watermark stresses the importance of living in community, not just a group of social networks, but a biblical community. I knew I needed friends, and I knew I lacked community, so I decided to go “all in.”
Early February of 2009, I met up with what were essentially 12 other complete strangers – women who, like myself, wanted to get involved in community. We started meeting together weekly at one of the girl’s house just down the street from church. After only meeting a few times, our host, Sara, suggested that we plan a game night in order to get to know people from Watermark (all of us were Very New to the church). She said that her next door neighbor was our age, attended Watermark, and was involved in a guy’s community group. And so the plans were made.
Game night took place on 4/11/09. I know this date, because it happens to be my “Happy to Be Alive Day” (anniversary of my open heart surgery). It was fun to play games and meet new friends. Something I didn’t quite see the significance in, was meeting JJ, Sara’s next door neighbor.
The summer quickly came, and quickly sped along. My company moved to a different location, so my commute grew. I was finding it more difficult (and expensive) to live by myself then I had calculated. I started getting involved more at church and became part of the Student ministries team. I started attending The Porch – Watermark’s weekly church/meet up for singles in the community. In short, Life became busier and quality of life continued to improve as the months went on and friendships deepened. (see my blog posts over the last year for more detail).
In October, thanks to some very wise counsel and a wonderful offer from Sara, I moved closer to church and became her roommate. If you were reading closely, you’ll have put together that I also gained a next door neighbor, JJ.
Nothing changed at first, the next few months plodded along, the fall changed to winter, and soon 2010 was at our doorsteps. JJ and I were acquaintances, we ran into each other occasionally at The Porch and didn’t really realize what was about to happen.
JJ was living with his brother and another roomie, so as the calendar flipped from 2009 to 2010, the three of them, and the two of us (Sara & I) started hanging out occasionally. From game nights to carpooling, to more mutual friends and church events, picking pennies out of my car, to (perhaps most *significantly*) watching LOST every Tuesday after The Porch; it became a regular occurrence to hang out. JJ & My friendship grew the more we hung out and the more we found we had in common.
Somehow this crazy kid with blue teeth from cotton candy didn’t scare him away at the church 10th anniversary party. Something was up. “The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air…”
In early February, Dallas got an unprecedented 10 inches of snow, and I got the day off of work. With my roommate out of town on business, I pestered the neighbors until they would have a snowball fight with me… It was a grand day. And JJ & I discovered even more we had in common.
By late April, we knew what decisions were in front of us, so we started down the path called dating. In Mid June, we started attending a premarriage class through Watermark and as the class wound down in August, it simply confirmed what we already knew. He joked that it would be at least a year. To which I replied “a year? Try two!”
But I’m a “timeline” girl and I have to have a plan… and I KNEW that since he hadn’t met my parents and wouldn’t meet them until an already planned trip in September, I was going to have to wait a bit. It had only been a few months; I could surely be patient and wait at least another, right? Besides that I already was aware that I’m one of the hardest people to surprise. I can’t help it; I just accidentally pick up on the clues.
This brings us to this past weekend. We drove down to go camping with his family. The trip had been on the calendar for a month or more, so I was looking forward to spending time with JJ’s family, but also see this lake of his, full of his childhood memories.
Friday, JJ suggested we go watch the sunset. (He had been talking up the sunsets at the lake are the most beautiful he’s seen anywhere.) As the evening came to a close, we walked out to a spot to watch the sunset. Sitting down on the rocks, we found a Penny. (Pennies for Debra anyone?) We sat, watched the sunset, enjoyed a light show from a looming thundercloud, and talked about the premarriage class, tying up all the loose ends from that. As it was just about dark, JJ turns to me and says he has something for me. Handing me a piece of paper I though “awww. That’s sweet. He wrote me a nice note.” I unfolded the paper to find a certificate indicating we finished premarrige class and were eligible for a discount on TX marriage license fees if we got married within the next year. He then proceeded to suggest he had a ring on hand. Shocked, I blurted out “are you Joking!?!” He asked if he would joke about something like this to which I stated “YES!” He acknowledged that was valid, but no, he was not joking. After switching to a tux-t-shirt, he got down on one knee and pulled out a ring. Obviously, I said yes.
We walked back to the campsite where his family (Everyone, his family, my parents and brother, my roomie, KNEW!) had decorated and set up a lovely celebration.
We spent the rest of the evening calling and texting family and friends.
We are now in the midst of all the planning… we’re looking at a middle – to late November wedding, so the clock is a ticking! So many things to be done. A ring to find (he gave me a promise ring so that we could both have input on the ring, but he could also surprise me with the timing of the proposal), invites to get out, a dress to find, details, details, details!
In the avalanche of all the tasks to do, there are some I needed to make sure are not to forget. I wanted to just say thank you to all my dear sweet friends and family. For those of you who have encouraged me over the years, prayed with me, laughed with me, cried with me… Thank you. Thank you for continuing to point out (in perhaps different words) that the point of life is to Glorify God, in big things but perhaps even more so in all the ‘little things’.
We look forward to celebrating this wonderful occasion with those who are dear to us. And JJ & I are thrilled to be a part of God’s bigger plan and that for this moment in time God’s plan happens to mean we get to go on an adventure together.